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  • Intl. TV Newswire: NATPE Deals, ZED Pre-sales, Aardman Distribution January 24, 2020
    In this week’s International TV Newswire Variety recaps more NATPE news from All3Media, Comedy Central Latin America, AMC’s Acorn TV, VIS, El Deseo, Globo and Univision, ZED pre-sales from Realscreen and Aardman’s latest distribution pickup. All3Media Sells to Comedy Central, AMC Networks in Latin America Comedy Central Latin America and All3Media Internatio […]
    John Hopewell
  • ‘Falling’: Film Review January 24, 2020
    Viggo Mortensen may have three Oscar nominations to his name, but I get the feeling most folks still don’t take the guy seriously enough. Maybe they don’t realize that, in addition to his acting work, Mortensen is also a painter, a poet, a photographer and a musician. When “The Lord of the Rings” made him […]
    Peter Debruge
  • The Kids Are All Right: Sundance Docs Showcase Inspiring Young People January 24, 2020
    At this year’s Sundance Film Festival four documentaries spotlight adolescents who inspire change while also holding a mirror up to a society that provoked their pain and path to resistance. In Kim Snyder’s “Us Kids” the director focuses her lens on a handful of teenagers who survived the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass […]
    Andrew M. Barker
  • Chance the Rapper to Host ‘Punk’d’ Revival at Quibi January 24, 2020
    Chance the Rapper is ready to get his prank on. MTV Studios has announced Chance as the host of its revival of the prank show “Punk’d,” which is coming to short form content platform Quibi. “Punk’d” was a hidden camera reality show which aired for ten seasons on MTV and was created by Ashton Kutcher, […]
    Will Thorne
  • Apple TV Plus May Have More Than 33 Million Users But ‘Vast Majority’ Aren’t Paying for It, Researcher Says January 24, 2020
    Is Apple TV Plus — the tech giant’s foray into the streaming wars — a roaring success? That’s been the initial takeaway from estimates by research firm Ampere Analysis, which has pegged Apple TV Plus as having racked up 33.6 million customers in the U.S. alone as of the end of 2019. As initially reported […]
    Todd Spangler
  • ‘Black Mirror’ Creators Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones Quit Production Label Amid Netflix Talks January 24, 2020
    “Black Mirror” creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones have departed their Endemol Shine-backed production banner House of Tomorrow, Variety has confirmed.  The pair, who are long-time creative collaborators, resigned earlier last year, but officially stepped down as directors of the label this week. They set up the film and TV-focused House of Tomorrow i […]
  • Songs for Screens: Why Aerosmith Is Still Gold for Synchs January 24, 2020
    Aerosmith’s star-studded tribute concert as the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year honorees on Friday night (January 24) will cement another important milestone in the historic Boston-founded band’s contributions to the American rock canon. But over the past decade, some of the band’s best-known music has remained part of the cultural conversation through som […]
    Jem Aswad
  • Rosie Perez Could Testify in Harvey Weinstein Trial to Bolster Annabella Sciorra’s Rape Allegation January 24, 2020
    Rosie Perez could be taking the stand at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi requested to bring Perez in as a witness, asking the judge in court on Friday afternoon. Should the request be granted, the D.A.’s office is hoping Perez can bolster actress Annabella Sciorra’s story that Weinstein raped her […] […]
    Elizabeth Wagmeister
  • Mick Jagger’s Rainy Day Podcasts, Warner Bros. Digital Networks Sign First-Look Deal January 24, 2020
    A podcast shingle co-created by Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger has inked a deal with a major studio. Warner Bros. Digital Networks has signed a first-look deal with Rainy Day Podcasts, a new company from Jagged Films partners Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman, producer Steve Bing and writer Josh Olson, with the aim of producing […]
  • Greta Gerwig Credits ‘Little Women’ for Her Writing Career January 24, 2020
    Greta Gerwig, who wrote and directed “Little Women,” told hundreds of writers on Thursday night at the Writers Guild Theater that Louisa May Alcott’s iconic 1868 novel was her own origin story. “I’d grown up with the book ‘Little Women,’ and I loved ‘Little Women,'” she explained at the WGA West’s Beyond Words event. “And […] […]
    Dave McNary

RSS Accuweather

  • Groundhog Day storm brewing? Forecasters monitoring the situation closely January 24, 2020
    The weather pattern seems to be stuck in “weekend storm mode,” and one such potential weather system could take shape and impact the eastern United States in early February, making it the third weekend in a row that the region faces a storm threat. A storm affected the central and northeastern United States with a...
  • Sluggish storm to keep dumping snow over Midwest January 24, 2020
    A slow-moving storm already responsible for dumping more than half a foot of snow on parts of Missouri and Iowa will continue to produce fresh powder over a portion of the Midwest as it sluggishly drifts eastward into the weekend. As snow returns to Chicago and Milwaukee and reaches Detroit, air and ground travel disruptions...
  • Drawn out of darkness: This US town just saw 1st sunrise since November January 24, 2020
    For the first time since Nov. 18, the northernmost city in the United States saw the sun rise above the horizon on Thursday afternoon. Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, is located on the northern tip of Alaska far above the Arctic Circle. After 65 days of darkness, the sun rose at 1:09 p.m. AKST on...
  • Weather impacting NFL Pro Bowlers all week in Orlando January 23, 2020
    Following a late-week storm with drenching rain and thunder, a new storm is forecast to take shape over Texas and advance eastward over the Gulf of Mexico region this weekend. A powerhouse storm is not expected to develop, but the system has the potential to disrupt some weekend outdoor plans from the Texas coast to the...
  • Australians told to be on alert for deadly spider after heat, recent rain January 23, 2020
    After dealing with catastrophic fires then flooding and hailstorms, Australians are being warned to watch out for one of the world’s most deadly spiders due to what experts call “perfect conditions” for the arachnid to thrive. In a video posted to the Australian Reptile Park Facebook page, spokesman Dan Rumsey said the escalated threat from...
  • Northeast to face wide range of impacts from next potent winter storm January 23, 2020
    A storm trekking across the country toward the Northeast will arrive this weekend, but the latest forecast indicates a shift in the amount of snow it will produce — and where the snow will fall. Even though the storm slated for the Northeast continues to trend warmer, snow is still forecast to bury the northern...
  • Tragedy in NJ as 2 teens die after falling through thin ice January 23, 2020
    A pair of tragedies unfolded in New Jersey on Wednesday night when five teenagers fell through thin ice covering ponds in two towns across the state. The separate accidents left two teens dead and numerous others injured, including the emergency responders who worked to save them. In Carteret, located about 25 miles southwest of New...
  • 'Unprecedented' locust swarms devastating several countries in Africa fueled by multiple weather factors January 23, 2020
    Photos show intense swarms of desert locusts surrounding villagers in Kenya, where the insects are destroying crops.
  • Iguanas spring to life after being stunned by cold spell in Florida January 22, 2020
    Winter in Florida? The winter haven for freeze-fleeing northern residents? How could it be? For three days this week, some Floridians have been forced to deal with the most daunting of Southeastern circumstances: freezing temperatures. After spending much of the first half of the month sweating through temperatures that were routinely more than 5 to 15...
  • Death toll climbs in wake of Storm Gloria, which pounded Spain with massive waves, heavy snow and flooding January 22, 2020
    Storm Gloria unleashed fierce winds, flooding rainfall and stirred up phenomenal waves on Spain’s southern and eastern coastlines from Sunday into Wednesday. By Thursday, officials reported the death toll was rising and several people were still missing. Some of the locations that were hit the hardest by Gloria during the four-day stretch include Murcia, Val […]

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John Underhill: A Very Big Thing

Eighty years ago today, November 30, 1939, the Winter War began where Joseph Stalin had been granted Finland in a ‘quid-pro-quo’ with Adolph Hitler, prior to the Barbarossa offensive, a dazed and confused Russia (referred to in international circles at the time as the ‘Soviet Union’) were bloodied and basically beaten after just three months of battle, where Russia suffered 134,000 to 138,000 dead or missing with estimates as high as 167,976 by the Russian State Military Archive in this early ‘war’ of WWII and the following Continuation War pushed the numbers far higher for both sides.

The skiing, sniping Finns lost 25,904 soldiers dead or missing in the Winter War and air raids are estimated to have claimed 957 more Finnish civilians. The 105-day war made Quislings of all the European democracies, their ‘help’ overdue and minimal while the German blockade of the North Sea had prevented most armament shipments to Finland between the Winter War and Operation Barbarossa a year later. 350 Finnish-Americans volunteered to the war effort where Finland received fewer than 12,000 volunteers from across the globe to help defend this northernmost democracy, fifty of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice. The proud Finnish ‘Whites’ battled the Soviet Reds to a standstill at the precipice of WWII, in 1939-40, where since the Russian Revolution in 1918 when Finland broke off from the former Kingdom of Sweden, then subjects of the Russian Tsar until the royal family was no more.

For the Soviets the Winter War disaster proved a turning point in WWII, two full years before Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the war, and Adolph Hitler watched with particular interest as Russian soldiers were picked-off one-by-one in the famous Finnish ‘motti’ and then finished off by the most capable marksmen in all of Europe, especially Finnish national hero Simo Häyhä, the so-called ‘White Death’ to the advancing Russian Army, then outlined perfectly against the white snow in their drab olive uniforms, Simo had over 500 kills during the short war with over 40 Soviets taken in a single day and on December 22, 1939 he was credited with 138 sniper kills in only 22 days of action. Häyhä would go on to live to be 96-years old, but not before a Russian sniper returned the favor to take half of Simo’s face off with an exploding bullet, yet this simple farmer would awaken just in time to see the end of the first war a few days later in March, 1940.

Joseph Stalin was the man solely responsible for this epic military blunder and we forget how Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler were the three amigos before the war, with Germany and the Soviet Union signing their ‘non-aggression’ pact (or the Molotov-Ribbentrop war crimes authorization act), green-lit by Hitler from the safety of his mountain lair. Joseph Stalin, the ‘man of steel’ (real name Joe Jughashvili) started out as a petty criminal with mad organizational skills and as Lenin’s right hand man for all the dirty business that needed doing in Revolutionary Russia, after Lenin met his maker, Stalin strong-armed his way to the top (just as Lenin had feared and tried to prevent) as deftly as Ivan or Peter or Catherine the Great and it was Stalin that was most responsible for the millions of his own people killed in the past 100 years after he personally oversaw the execution of the the Romanovs, gunned down in a hail of bullets, their bodies dissolved in battery acid to remove any trace of the crime, (as well as a 0% chance of a rebirth of the monarchy in Russia). Stalin’s brutal purges signaled to the world that this new Russian leader was capable of the most barbaric political means necessary to attain his objectives and in Stalin’s ‘Five Year Plans,’ he also made sure to include genocide on his schedule of conquest.

In 1932, after the promise of Socialism had dimmed throughout all of Russia and the Great Depression was also gripping the Western world, Stalin knew that radical and revolutionary action had to be taken if he was to retain power over the people and here, recognizing that it was to be on the Western Front that Stalin would need to wage war after the border war with Japan established the easternmost boundary of the Soviet Union in 1905, he began to systematically kill the entire population of the Crimean peninsula. The history of the Crimean Tatars in Russia goes back centuries, as well as the many ethnically-diverse peoples of Europe and Asia who lived in the area for generations, yet Stalin only saw ‘buffer zones’ that when subdued would draw his far-Western homeland of Georgia in the Caucasus region closer to the nation’s power base in Moscow. Stalin’s man-made famine stands as one of the worst genocides in human history, with estimates of as high as 3.5 million Ukrainians starved to death during the Holdomar on purpose, from a plan written for that very purpose. With his genocidal decisions taking full effect by the time the area was ‘softened up’ five years later, Stalin could walk his troops to the Northern European border for the invasion of Finland with a brand new footing in Europe by 1939. After that, Hitler would remark with admiration, “And who now speaks of the Armenian genocide?”

The area just to the west of Ukraine, once part of Ukraine, the Commonwealth of Poland–Lithuania was in a state of disorder and not really a sovereign state, actually a vassal state to the Russian tsars appointing the Polish kings, particularly the last Commonwealth King, Stanisław August Poniatowski, who had been a lover of the Russian Empress Catherine the Great. In 1755 Poniatowski, of the royal Czartoryski family of Lithuania, a former member of the Sejm (pronounced ‘same’) or the republican assembly of the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania, was one of the many lovers of Catherine the Great, just as she was planning the murder of her future Tsar and husband Peter (The Not-So Great) III, born Charles Peter Ulrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, Catherine had him killed with the help of her very first lovers-of-convenience, Grigory and the Orlov Brothers. Before that, through the influence of one of Stanislaw’s influential uncles, Poniatowski was working for the British ambassador to Poland-Lithuania, Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams, where the future king met the future queen (or empress), styled as Sofia Augusta Friderika of Anhalt-Zerbst, the Grand Duchess Catherine Alekseyevna. Despite her marital status to the Tsar-in-waiting, she had a torrid love affair with Poniatowski, who taught the young, nubile Catherine the ways of Western politics, philosophy and love; however their tryst was ended when Tzarina Elizabeth of Russia learned of the relationship and sent Stanislaw packing off to Warsaw, but Poniatowski continued to be manipulated by Catherine as she was becoming great and was later elevated to the throne of the Polish monarchy by force of Russian money and military power, then went on to hand the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania over to Imperial Russia during the famous Partitions.

Poniatowski was elevated to king in September 1764, taking the name Stanislaw II Augustus, intent on bringing Western culture to the aging Polish Commonwealth, he opened a new cadet school then called the School of Chivalry, producing in its first graduating class a 19-year old Lithuanian named Tadeusz Kosciuszko, or ‘Kosciusko’ who would become a war hero in both the American and Polish Revolutions, to this day a beloved patriot in both nations. On August 5, 1772, the Second Treaty of Partition was signed by Russia, Austria and Prussia and the following year Poland was forced to confirm the treaty, on the floor of the Sejm assembly, at the point of Russian bayonets. Many proud Poles fled the country rather than submit to Russian rule, most notably Casimir Pulaski, a former leader of the Polish Bar Confederation who was later condemned to death by the Russians, he escaped to France where he offered his service to the new American Colonies, the ‘Father of American Cavalry,’ Pulaski fought alongside his charge of young American soldiers at the Battle of Brandywine, the Siege of Charleston and at the Battle of Savannah, killed in a cavalry charge in 1779, as a tribute to him George Washington later issued a secret code to identify ‘friendlies’ crossing enemy lines — where the call of ‘Pulaski’ would always have to be met with ‘Poland’ if you wanted to live.

The Partitions of the Commonwealth, especially the Treaty of January 4th, 1793 cut 30% from Poland-Lithuania, then rendered an impotent state incapable of internal rule, with Prussia taking Danzig and the Russians helping themselves to 250,000 square miles of Poland’s borderland, including most of Belarus and all of the Ukraine. Catherine the Great’s greatest lover, her true, hairy-man Russian-long-bearded mountain man (after she killed her first, not-so manly husband) with the help of the Orlov Brothers (telling the courts of Europe that Peter had died of hemorrhoids, no less, heh), General Potemkin, or Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin-Tauricheski (of Battleship fame) later would take Poland by (land) battle, he also the first Russian general to annex the Crimea and when Potemkin and Catherine conspired from their bed to rule all of Europe as the ultimate power couple (even though she murdered the rightful heir to the Romanov throne), the union made Catherine the Great a truly great woman, as Peter before her, because she was willing to do whatever it took to win and in doing so she became a fully Russian woman in all her desires, tastes and audacious behavior, matched with the best of art and culture of the West, plundered and bought by her for immediate delivery to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (aka Leningrad) were the Crown Jewels live — her greatest contributions to Russia.

In one of the first examples of democratic revolution in the world, Thaddeus Kosciusko declared Poland free back in 1793 and on May 7th he issued the Proclamation of the Polaniec ending serfdom in Poland, granting peasants civil liberties for the first time while protecting the lower classes from the abuses of the so-called ‘szlachta’ or rich landowners. The local Jewish community in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth also formed military units as Russian troops poured in to suppress the ‘Kosciusko Uprising,’ even with the indelible stain of the Khmelnytsky Uprising on the Commonwealth, all these Polish patriots also managed to repel a 40,000-strong Prussian army led by Frederick William III after a two month siege on Warsaw, but the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth couldn’t hope to win a war of attrition with Russia and Prussian Germany and on October 10, 1794, Kosciusko made a desperate attempt to prevent the Russian and Prussian armies from meeting up at the River Warta, but was seriously wounded and captured at the Battle of Maciejowice. The news of Kosciusko’s capture spread rapidly, demoralizing the Polish nation, where they said of their leader, “Kosciusko is no more; the country is lost.”

Kosciusko remained a prisoner in St. Petersburg for two years until set free by Catherine’s son, Tsar Paul I after Catherine died, the new Tsar reputedly ordered Kosciusko’s release just to spite his bitchy mother. By November 1794, 24,000 Russian troops and Cossacks burned, raped and murdered anyone trapped in the kill zones and another 20,000 Poles, mostly Jews, died at the Massacre of Praga, which terrified Warsaw into total capitulation. On November 16th, Polish forces officially surrendered and the king was sent into exile, along with thousands of other Lithuanians and Poles sent to bondage in chains to hard labor in the gulags of Siberia, yet although Stanislaw II abdicated, Catherine allowed him to take refuge under her watchful eye in St. Petersburg where he remained as a ‘house guest’ until his death in 1798, before which the former king reflected, “I have always wished for the happiness of my country, and I have only caused it misfortune.” The Partitions were front and center in the debates raging in Philadelphia over the formation of the United States Constitution, where Thomas Jefferson thought a strong President would be no better than ‘a Polish King’ after the well-established Polish tradition of aristocrats electing their monarch from among their own number, writing to James Madison on December 20, 1787 about his fears:

The election of a President of America some years hence will be much more interesting to certain nations of Europe than ever the election of a king of Poland was. Reflect on all the instances in history ancient and modern, of elective monarchies, and say if they do not give foundation for my fears, the Roman emperors, the popes, while they were of any importance, the German emperors till they became hereditary in practice, the kings of Poland, the Dais of the Ottoman dependencies. It may be said that if elections are to be attended with these disorders, the seldomer they are renewed the better. But experience shows that the only way to prevent disorder is to render them uninteresting by frequent changes. An incapacity to be elected a second time would have been the only effectual preventative. The power of removing him every fourth year by the vote of the people is a power which will not be exercised. The king of Poland is removable every day by the Diet, yet he is never removed — Smaller objections are the Appeal in fact as well as law, and the binding all persons Legislative, Executive and Judiciary by oath to maintain that constitution.

Russia, Prussia and Austria signed a treaty of final partition of the Polish-Lithuanian state on October 24, 1795, with Russia receiving  62% of the Commonwealth’s remaining land and 45% of her population while Prussia got 20% percent land and 23% percent people. Austria took the last 18% and 32% of the former proud Polish-Lithuanian state. After that, in Sweden and Norway, the Russians began to press the Finnish War in 1808, and where Catherine the Great justified the partitions as  part of her mission to reunify all the lands of the ‘old Rus,’ the irony of this German woman setting the history of the Russian people is altogether fitting. Russia, named for the Rus tribes of the Pontic (think horses) or Eurasian Steppe, as old as Europe’s oldest settlements in Germany and France.

With her seven total lovers, mostly dumb guardsmen at the end who were well known to Potemkin and Orlov, the sex in the Court of Catherine the Great was the stuff of movies, with Marlene Dietrich and Catherine Zeta-Jones playing the best examples, however actor Paul McGann as General Potemkin was a miscast, where Michael Douglas would have been Oscar-worthy, IMHO. Grigory Orlov, Catherine’s first Russian lover, would become one of the richest men in Russia and the Orlov Family would become some of the biggest bankers in the world, but in 1791, General Potemkin died in Moldova and Catherine became less and less connected to reality, dying at 67, she was smeared by the fake news media afterwards by one of her cuckolded lovers, more interested saving his used-up manhood than the truth.

Russia was also shaped by the descendants of the ‘Golden Horde’ sent forth by Genghis Khan, who’s father was poisoned and killed by the Tatars in 1170, leaving the young Temejin (real name) to fend for himself — and after building the Mongol empire by marriage and tribal war — Genghis Khan became the scourge of the developed world, uniting all the Mongol tribes over an area of 12 million square miles, the largest empire in history. After the defeat of Genghis Khan’s arch rival and former friend Jamuca (literally breaking the back of his most powerful enemy) the Ruler of All Men, Genghis Khan then took the fight to Northern China in 1206 and on to Beijing and the Great Wall, these nomads of the Steppe then laid siege to the heart of China, starving out the ancient city in one of the first man-made famines in history, yet this conqueror also introduced one of the world’s first legal systems to his vanquished lands, his word the law of the land and through his hegemony over all of Eurasia, after his exploits in Iran after killing a million Persians, Genghis Khan went on into his first campaigns into Europe, through the Caspian Sea region in the Crimean peninsula and Ukraine, as well as through the kingdoms of Novgorod and Kiev (apparently pronounced ‘keev’) in Russia, all the way up to the Black Sea.

The Golden Horde spawned the Khanates (or kingships) that extended Asian control over the vast grasslands to the south and west of the Russian mainland, where the embattled Southern Ukrainians had founded their stronghold kingships with the help of the Vikings, this natural borderland with Northwest Asia and the European Continent since the invention of the wheel and the domestication of the horse. The Eurasian Steppe paved the way for the marauding hordes (and also the Silk Road), perhaps some payback for Western expansion under the Alexander the Great in 290 BC, yet it was also the route for all Indo-European languages spoken in the West today, following the path originally cut by the Byzantine Greeks based in Constantinople (now Istanbul); Genghis Khan’s sons would double the size of his Kingdom, all the way into mainland Russia and as far north in Europe as Hungary and Poland, where at the Battle of the Kalka River, the Mongols established themselves as a European superpower and then sought the total capitulation of all the Rus people in 1237, laying waste to everything, after which Alexander Nevsky cut his famous deal with the armies of Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis, sparing Novgorod and also setting Russian history in place after the Norsemen arrived.

Batu Khan or ‘Tsar Batu’ is the true founder of the Golden Horde, part of the larger Mongol Empire in the south, he was the son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis, ruling the Rus, Bulgarians and Caucasians for 250 years after destroying the armies of Poland and Hungary. ‘Batu’ means firm in Mongolian and he would go on to become the most respected of the Khan princes, the agha (or elder brother) of all the Tatars. Even though Nevsky beat the Teutonic Knights and Saxons of Germany after that, Russia still had to pay money tributes to the Tartars based in Sarai, in Southern Russia, where the linchpin of the ‘Tatar Yoke’ over Russia had been set for generations. At the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362 in Kiev, the current Southwestern border land of Russia with Europe and Asia brought the city of Kiev and a large part of present-day Ukraine under the control of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, later to become the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. With access to the Black Sea, Pagan ‘Algirdas’ and his son ‘Skirga’ ruled until 1377, until the great King Władysław II Jagiełło, Poland and Lithuania was always a borderland to the East and also a powerful rival at the time of the Grand Duchy of Moscow who would battle the Polish kings for centuries, as well as fighting the Swedish for control of the northern region in 1392 and then again in 1411 and 1445 before Novgorod was finally absorbed into greater Muscovy, however conflict has continued between Russia and Scandinavia to this day.

In 1464, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks and the Grand Princes of Moscow would then rise further in prominence, the furthest outpost of Christendom, with Ivan III the first Russian king to actually conquer the Tatars, finally casting off the centuries-long yoke while also founding the first true Tsardom of Russia with the help of the Danish in 1495, the word Tsar, by the way, is from ‘Caesar’ where the ‘Scythians’ of early Russia (as described by Roman historian Tacitus) adopted Roman culture and traditions after the Fall of Rome, then King Ivan the Terrible expanded the Russian realm as a total dictator. Peter the Great would later take Saint Petersburg from the Scandinavian kings and then use his new capitol city to open Russia to the world for the first time and Ivan the Great and Peter the Great were the most respected, feared and revered leaders in Russian history — until the birth of Joseph Stalin in 1878 in Gori, Georgia in the Caucuses region in far Western Russia.

Before the United States followed Britain’s lead in welcoming our new friends, the Soviets or the ‘enemy of our enemies’ to our side, Japan and Italy were the only Axis powers available to Hitler after he betrayed his neighbors to the East and although they say “good fences make good neighbors,” Stalin wanted more than just buffer zones to press their ’spheres of influence’ on his millions of unsuspecting victims, Hitler and Stalin secretly agreed upon these boundaries of conquest and many of them remain until today. As Hitler wanted more ‘living space’ he invaded the Soviet Union while deliveries of Russian oil and materiel were speeding on the rails toward Germany, with Hitler spinning the tables on Stalin after he invaded Russia in 1942. What military geniuses (note the sarcasm).

In Sweden and Norway especially, treason won the war for the Nazis, next to America’s own Benedict Arnold stands Vidkun Quisling, the very definition of a spineless, traitorous asshole in the latest edition of Webster’s Dictionary and he’s but an etymological footnote in history, because you see it’s written by the victors who also write the encyclopedias and dictionaries. Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Holland (also known as the Netherlands)  all have Nordic DNA in their bloodlines, just as the French are Franks and the Irish Celts and Italians are Romans, the Nords (or North Men, or Normans) owe their cultural heritage to the Vikings and the seafaring Scandinavian warriors who were known to proudly display the ‘blood eagle’ of all the vanquished European tribal kings, these Vikings and Visigoths of Medieval Europe were a fearsome sight to behold.

Old Norse is so similar to today’s Icelandic language that it’s easily readable by most Icelandic speakers. The father of Iceland (in more ways than one), poet and historian Snorri Sturluson, wrote the greatest history of the ancient Scandinavian peoples, however the history of Russia is almost as long, stretching back thousands of years to the same Nordic Vikings that took over all of Europe; after William the Conqueror, a Norman, (also author of the  Domesday Book) it was these Scandinavians also doing the ‘blood eagle’ on the other side of the Continent in Russia, where the ‘Reckless Brothers’ were given the first title of kings of Russia, the Ruriks, the first kings of Russia until Tsar Nicholas II, famously executed by the Soviets along with the entire Romanov family.

The ancestral  lines that began with the Vikings introduced the Kievan Rus connection to the Russian monarchy and people, where during the ’time of troubles’ or the interregnum period following Ivan the Terrible, the formation of ‘modern’ Russia really began with the Christianization of the north lands over the local Pagans, these northernmost crusades into the hinterlands where Paganism ran deep in the dark ages. The enlightenment offered to the bewildered, infighting Russian Feudal lords and serfs gave a glimmer of hope to the common people after centuries of barbarous raiding; serfdom, brought from the West to Russia by the Anglo-Saxons, used to build Russia as certainly as America was built with slave labor, used to greatest effect by Peter and Catherine the Great of the Romanov family, a cadet royal line of the Rurik dynasty, the first of it’s member was Michael Romanov, or ‘Michael of Russia,’ hand-picked by the House of Muscovy during the the chaos of the interregnum where the so-called ‘False Dmitry’ Tsars I, II and III — all pretenders to the Russian throne — were revealed as fakes before order had been restored.

It was once Polish land that was the ‘sphere of influence’ for Stalin at the treaty between Russia, the U.S. and Britain settled at Yalta (in the Ukraine, on the Crimean Peninsula) as WWII was coming to an end yet it would be another fifty years of Soviet domination, until 1991 when the breakup of the Soviet Union set the game-pieces again, for today’s version of World at War. In annexing the Crimean, Ukrainian and recently Donbass regions of Europe, Vladimir Putin is but another in a long line of Russian leaders taking what hasn’t been offered, by deceit and guile, with ready troops in the air, on the ground and sea, Russia is as implacable now as throughout history and they’ll always be that way, ever since the Golden Hordes swept into town after the Vikings were invited.

Today, Scandinavians enjoy the highest standard of living in the world, led by the happiest country in the world, the proud and the few Finnish who, by retaining their language, customs and culture of liberal democracy going back to time before recorded history, it turns out that Vikings and Medieval kingship began long before HBO’s Game of Thrones, where the turbulent days of early Europe, with the Wends (Slavic peoples) and the Suebi (Germanic peoples) and the Iceni (Britannic peoples), all battling with themselves and the Vikings; from these mists of time emerges the feared Viking Eric Bloodaxe, who first established Nordic hegemony above the Humber River in England (North of the Humber, or Northumberland) where we find the heart in York in the Northeast of Britain, as New York was founded by similar Nordic and Scandinavian Danish settlers many years later, they share a common cultural heritage (and our very DNA) with the Anglo-Saxons (an admixture of Celtic Britons, Jutes, Angles and Saxons) that go back to the Fall of the Roman Empire and the birth of Britannia itself, where the first Danish King of England Canute was later killed trying to take Ireland, the great King Swain to follow him as King of the Angles and Saxons of Britain.

The early ‘Marcher Lords’ of Europe, with the Old English word marche (mark) denoting a border, as in Denmark, both words trace from the Old Norse language for a frontier area or a borderland of mountain or river; the Morava River in Moravia, the border between Europe and Eurasia is the same name and meaning as the kingdom of Mercia in Britain, the stronghold of the Anglo-Saxons, to the South and West (Sussex and Wessex) of the established Danelaw region of England, then including all of Northumberland and most of Scotland, their Viking name, Merch-ia or the people between the Angles and Saxons in Medieval Britain, this kingdom that lasted over three hundred years, was a longer polity than the United States of America. On the Continent the Jutes from Jutland, (or Holland) were the first kings and queens of Europe after the Romans left, England’s first, local king was named ‘Offa,’ however he left no issue other than his minted coins and after he died, England would wait another hundred years until Alfred the Great, named by the Venerable Bede as the patron of St. Alfie, the Anglo-Saxon bishop killed by the Vikings, Alfred would become the first and greatest King of England. Later the Franks, who were busy invading all of France where in 1066, William the Conqueror left to invade all of England, called the ‘Hammer of the English,’ William was a new type of Western warrior-king that combined Viking ‘bezerker-style’ killing and violence matched with the Christian Church’s stamp of approval as the official ‘Marcher Lords,’ or future kings of England.

These earliest kings of Europe had great names, or appellations that were largely given to them by their subjects, based on their attributes and behaviors, with early Viking kings such as Ivar the Boneless (impotent), Gorm the Old (blind too!), Harald Bluetooth, Harald Fairhair and Harald Greycloak setting the names for European kings to follow, such as Rurik the Reckless; Aethelred the Unready; Charles the Fat and Ivan the Terrible — all named by and for the people they ruled. The great Scandinavian historians Snorri Sturluson and the Danish Saxo Grammaticus, these Homeric-style poets or ‘skalds’ of early Scandinavia wrote many of the Old Norse sagas of the Viking kings and queens, but they also wrote and spoke of the people and places where the common folk would gather to talk in the age-old tradition of free assembly to gossip, decide local matters and call their kings by their true names and actions. These early assemblies were called ‘Tings’ or literally, ‘Things’ or assembly places, structures usually built on the top of Bronze-age burial mounds left by the most ancient peoples of Europe. In Iceland today, there exists the Althing; in Greenland the Landsting or ‘Land Thing;’ in Holland, the Folketing or the ‘People’s Thing;’ in Norway, the Storting, or the ‘Great Thing,’ all born from the same Scandinavian tradition given to the ‘Germanic, Britannic, Frank and Scythian’ peoples of Europe, as Tacitus called these ancient folks, setting in stone the very foundations of their cultures. The body that would become the Finnish Senate wouldn’t be established until 1809, when Tsar Alexander I of Russia summoned the Diet of Porvoo to draw up regulations for a Government Council In 1816 following the Russian-Finnish War, where Alexander named the Senate to demonstrate that it was ‘equal’ to its Russian equivalent in Moscow.

In America, we have the United States Congress, founded on this soil on March 4, 1789, a direct descendant of the early Things of Medieval Europe, the representative democracy which it represents is as old as recorded time, however in the ongoing political debate of today on Capitol Hill surrounding the reign of Donald the Fake and his treasonous behavior in service to Vladimir the Impaler of Russia, the folks elected to the United States Senate now will take up the trial of the People vs. Donald John Trump, using the instrument given to them by the ancient ‘lawspeakers’ of yesteryear; Snorri Sturlson was also a lawspeaker (or Lagman) himself, really the first judges, charged with memorizing the laws in order to dispense with them at the Thing (during a time of runestones), with no written language to speak of and although Snorri was later put to death, one of his sagas recalls the first time in history (along with Saxo’s sagas of the kings of Holland and Sweden) that the People, at the Thing, apportioned power between these all-powerful kings and then reapportioned it because it was the People who had the power to call a thing what it was. The skalds wrote about these two kings at war in Sweden, where local lawspeakers tried to reconcile them in 1018, King Ragnvald Ulfsson arrived at the Thing at Gamla in Uppsala to convince the Swedish king to accept peace and to marry Ingegerd Olofsdotter, daughter (or dotter) of the King of Norway, to seal the deal. The Swedish king threatened to banish Ragnvald from the kingdom but Ragnvald was well represented by Þorgnýr the Lawspeaker, the wisest and most respected man in Sweden and in the sagas Snorri told us what happened next:

Then Thorgny (Þorgnýr) stood up; and when he arose all the bondes or ‘Yeomen’ stood up who had before been sitting, and rushed together from all parts to listen to what Lagman Thorgny would say. At first there was a great din of people and weapons; but when the noise was settled into silent listening, Thorgny made his speech. “The disposition of Swedish kings is different now from what it has been formerly. My grandfather Thorgny could well remember the Upsala king and used to say of him that when he was in his best years he went out every summer on expeditions to different countries, and conquered for himself and the eastern countries all around; and at the present day the earth-bulwarks, ramparts, and other great works which he made are to be seen. And, more over, he was not so proud that he would not listen to people who had anything to say to him. My father, again, was a long time with King, and was well acquainted with his ways and manners. In Bjorn’s lifetime his kingdom stood in great power, and no kind of want was felt, and he was happy and sociable with his friends. I also remember King Erik the Victorious and was with him on many a war-expedition. He enlarged the Swedish dominion, and defended it manfully.”

Then the whole public approved, with clash of arms and shouts, approved the lagman’s speech.

The argument convinced the Swedish king to accept peace with Norway and he also gave his daughter’s hand in marriage to the Norwegian King. Later, however, the king broke his promise but the power of the people had been set in stone beneath the throne, represented to this day by the Stones of Mora in Sweden and the Stone of the Scone in England, these ancient reminders that the power of the kings and queens over their subjects rests beneath the throne, or the foundation of community polity, the very will of the people. Here in the United States, at the greatest Thing that has ever existed, we are now prepared to debate the impeachment of our elected leader, revealing for all the world how these things are decided in America.

John Underhill
November 30, 2019



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