Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."

--Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850; image from


Enjoy This Killer App for the Holidays! - John Brown, Huffington Post: "The name of this killer-of-all killer App?

Face-to-face conversation! No, no need to buy it online -- you already have it in you if you use it! Note: While this product can be used by every human being on the face of the earth, it can be especially useful for diplomats, including those involved in public diplomacy." For Twitter reactions to this article, see. Image from


a) New Year's Greetings from Leonid Brezhnev С Новым годом от Л И Брежнева. Via MJ on facebook

b) Education For Death -- Disney World War II anti-Nazi animated film


The U.S. Presidential Campaign as Public Diplomacy - Philip Seib, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, as well as races for other offices, may well inspire people elsewhere in the world more than

Americans themselves. Although it is unfortunate that Americans take their political system for granted, it remains a showcase that can enhance America’s standing throughout the world. The U.S. State Department, which has shown itself willing to work hard on such matters, should take full advantage of the public diplomacy opportunities available during this election year." Gingrich and wife Callista image from

The Art of Foreign Policy: Our favorite FP illustrations from 2011 - Foreign Policy: "We come with croissants: State Department veteran Peter van Buren made a splash this year with his exposé of some of the wasteful and often absurd projects that Uncle Sam had lavished money on in Iraq.

One of the most egregious was a nearly $10,000 program to teach Iraqi women the fine art of making French pastries. This watershed moment in the history of public diplomacy was brought memorably to life by illustrator Ward Sutton." Via

The United Kingdom expressed deep concern over recent security raids on the offices of some NGOs in Egypt - Amer Sultan, The United Kingdom has called on Egyptian authorities to support the activities of civil society organisations after a recent spate of raids by security forces on the offices of some NGOs. 'We are very concerned by reports from Cairo of raids on the offices of a number of Egyptian and foreign NGOs,' Jeremy Browne, the UK foreign minister, said in a statement Friday. He added that these NGOs, 'have been supporting the transition to democracy in Egypt'. Browne, whose responsibilities include human rights and public diplomacy, praised Egyptian civil society organisations. 'Civil society (in Egypt) has a vitally important role to play in that transition and should be encouraged and supported rather than impeded,' he said."

Let Poland be Poland - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Former VOA Associate Director for Central Programming Ted Lipien has a nice piece in his blog

on Let Poland be Poland, and he quotes my work on the program." Image from

China’s diplomacy in 2011 and the international financial crisis - "Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi recently accepted an inclusive interview with People’s Daily on the international situation and China’s diplomacy in 2011. The full text of the interview reads as follows: ... Journalist: What are the new measures adopted in public and cultural diplomacy this year? FM Yang: Under the new situation, public and cultural diplomacy is an important direction for China’s diplomacy. We thoroughly implemented the spirit of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee, actively engaged in public and cultural diplomacy, and vigorously boosted cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries. Taking advantage of the 90th anniversary of the founding of CPC, the 100th anniversary of 1911 Revolution, the release of the White Paper on China’s Peaceful Development and other major activities, we explained to the world China’s determination and sincerity in pursuing peaceful development and showed the bright prospects for China’s development. We created the micro blog account Waijiao Xiaolingtong (which literally means foreign affairs information), 'Foreign Service Station' Radio, Lanting Forum, and other public diplomacy brands. We increased the frequency of regular press conference from twice a week to five times a week. We made full use of various media to introduce our domestic and foreign policies and development concepts to the audience at home and abroad. At the same time, we gave full play to the role of our embassies and consulates in external communication. Our senior diplomats abroad made speeches and accepted interviews up to 2700 times this year and they played a positive role in enhancing trust. We successfully carried out the 'Year of China', the 'Cultural Day', 'Experience China' and other large-scale cultural exchange activities and enhanced the international influence of Chinese culture." Image from

New Year Message, vice president of the Red Cross: Facing the challenge to be difficulties - "executive vice president of the Chinese Red Cross Zhao ... in this New Year’s reincarnation, I, on behalf of Red Cross Society of China (microblogging), to the care, love and support the cause of the Red Cross leadership, all walks of life, Red Cross workers will be members and volunteers to express my heartfelt thanks and sincere greetings. because we tied each other. Therefore, we cherish each other. 2011 years, the Chinese Red Cross is an unforgettable year. We experienced a sudden 'network events' credibility crisis caused by the face of doubts and criticism, we often feel that there are millions of ways to express, sometimes silence was nothing to say. We only have united, the difficulties with the successful completion of various tasks, the Chinese Red Cross to continue to strengthen the government in the humanitarian field as right-hand man, an important channel for the role of public diplomacy, to be bathed in fire Nirvana, the Red Cross in China the future development of the cause lay a more solid foundation."

Experiments with the new Kissinger - Shub Atpug, "In what has now come to known as ‘cricket diplomacy’, it was fathomed by experts and sports-lovers, that a game could also be played within the veins of the people across borders in an effort to bring a thaw in the otherwise complex rigmarole of political vendetta, which each side accuses of. Over the years, it has become a generally held opinion that cricket can be used to speak peace. It could be a catalyst that’s embarked on a medium meant towards an end, which itself, however, is ever so hazy. India and Pakistan - probably one of those very few bipolar scars on the face of the earth are now attuned, or resigned to the possibilities of what cricket can do for them, that political or public diplomacy couldn’t."


Urging Obama to Stop Rush to Iran War - Ray McGovern and Elizabeth Murray, A torrent of war propaganda against

Iran is flooding the American political scene as U.S. neocons and Israeli hardliners see an opening for another war in the Middle East, a momentum that ex-CIA analysts Ray McGovern and Elizabeth Murray urge President Obama to stop. McGovern image from

Military action isn’t the only solution to Iran - William H. Luers and Thomas R. Pickering, Washington Post: History teaches that engagement and diplomacy pay dividends that military threats do not. Deployment of military force can bring the immediate illusion of “success” but always results in unforeseen consequences and collateral damage that complicate further the achievement of America’s main objectives. Deploying diplomats with a strategy while maintaining some pressure on Iran will lower Tehran’s urgency to build a bomb and reduce the danger of conflict. The slow, elusive diplomatic process to achieve U.S. objectives does not provide the sound-bite satisfaction of military threats or action. Multiple, creative efforts to engage Iran’s leaders and provide a dignified exit from the corner in which the world community has placed them could achieve more durable solutions at a far lower cost. It is a lesson that those urging military action against Iran have failed to learn.

US Threatens War with Iran - Having been sufficiently provoked and attacked economically, Iran is lashing out at the true aggressors - the U.S. and its allies.

However, the American media has unleashed a barrage of propaganda, making it appear that Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz is totally unwarranted. Image from

Twitter and the #Taliban - Moves by the U.S. Congress to censor Twitter and other social media used by the Taliban are understandable. The dissemination of the poisonous message espoused by the group is unwelcome, and, indeed, Taliban propaganda can harm efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

Even so, social media has proven time and again to be a friend of democracy movements. Unless matters of national security are being disclosed, the U.S. should resist the temptation to censor the Twitterverse. Image from article

This Revolution Isn’t Being Televised - Jon B. Alterman, New York Times: Many in Israel and America, and even some in Egypt, fear that the elections will produce an Islamist-led government that will tear up the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, turn hostile to the United States, openly support Hamas and transform Egypt into a theocracy that oppresses women, Christians and secular Muslims. They see little prospect for more liberal voices to prevail, and view military dictatorship as a preferable outcome. American interests, however, call for a different outcome, one that finds a balance — however uneasy — between the military authorities and Egypt’s new politicians. We do not want any one side to vanquish or silence the other. And with lopsided early election results, it is especially important that the outcome not drive away Egypt’s educated liberal elite, whose economic connections and know-how will be vital for attracting investment and creating jobs.

Japanese band students get a rosy introduction to the United States: Members of Japan's Green Band Assn. get an up-close look at American culture while visiting Southern California to march in the Rose Parade - Nicole Santa Cruz, Since 2008, marching bands from Japan have come to the United States to shine at the Rose Parade as part of the Green Band Assn., a nonprofit established in 1998.

The group's aim is to foster confidence among Japanese youths — especially boys, who rarely play instruments. But the group's other mission is to raise money for victims of natural disasters around the world. Host families are enjoying showing the current batch of students American holiday traditions, including, in some cases, a belated Christmas. Image from article, with caption: Tuba player Momoka Hirai, center, dances while playing with the members of the Green Band Assn. as they practice in Anaheim for Monday's Tournament of Roses Parade

Reuters latest propaganda mantra - We define a propaganda mantra as a false, fabricated, or misleading construct appearing repeatedly in a Reuters story so as to drum the notion into the mind of the reader until he or she simply surrenders his or her critical faculty and accepts the propaganda as truth. Correspondents in Reuters Jerusalem Bureau regularly dream up new entrants in this category and then employ them consistently in and across all stories published by the bureau. Examples of the many Reuters propaganda mantras can be seen in our right sidebar with counts as to how many times these phrases have appeared in Reuters stories over the last couple of years.

Kazakhstan’s social networking restrictions spur censorship debate - Ruby Russell and T. Umaraliev, The Washington Times: Kazakhstan’s crackdown on independent media and social networking sites this month has sparked a debate about censorship in this Central Asian nation. The Kazakh government shut down Internet access and mobile phone coverage early this month in the western region of Mangistau after ongoing protests there by oil workers on strike turned violent and police killed 15 people. Journalists were denied access to the region, and media coverage of events there have been restricted.

Japanese Propaganda Cartoons [includes videos]- Andrew Joseph, Japan - It's a Wonderful Rife!: Grab some of the flavor of WWII by watching some of Japan's propaganda cartoons! Japanese males were characterized as being courageous and composed, kind and tolerant.

China, meanwhile, is represented by women who are alluring, but obstinate and capricious. Western culture is disparaged through stereotypical portrayals, with Japanese or other Asian males with a Western education -- typically shown indulging in American cigarettes and jazz music -- portrayed as cowardly, deceitful, pleasure-seeking and venal. Image from article, with caption: Momotaro's Sea Eagle's 1943 Japanese Promotional Poster

comments - What is the difference between propaganda and counter-propaganda? Propaganda is a lie that flatters. Counter-propaganda is the truth that hurts.


"The average American spends at least eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen, Nicholas Carr notes in his eye-opening book 'The Shallows,' in part because the number of hours American adults spent online doubled between 2005 and 2009 (and the number of hours spent in

front of a TV screen, often simultaneously, is also steadily increasing)."

--Pico Iyer, "The Joy of Quiet," New York Times; image from

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30

"art, when it is art, is not propaganda."

--Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, author of Reinventing Political Culture: The Power of Culture versus the Culture of Power; image from


Muslims changing hearts and minds in America through comedy


US Withdraws Staff From Afghan Government Media and Information Centre - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "The US has withdrawn staff from the Afghan Government Media and Information Centre (GMIC)

apparently because they don’t like what it’s

communicating – it’s being used by the Afghan government to criticise the US." Top image from; below image from

The Next al-Qaeda? Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Future of Terrorism in South Asia - Neil Padukone, "Following the al-Qaeda example, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] is a central hub in the vast network of militant groups that abound in Pakistan. ... [T]he United States has long overlooked LeT, its local like-minded affiliates, and the Pakistani state agencies that have long supported it. Correcting this tunnel vision cannot involve the same sledgehammer approach the US used against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11. This would not be possible in Pakistan, given Lashkar-e-Taiba’s broader sociopolitical entrenchment there, or even desirable, given the likelihood that under such pressure the group would splinter into multiple, less manageable factions. Instead, given that the aggregation of its global links is the root of the threat posed by Lashkar, a sound medium-term operational strategy would be disaggregation. As the counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen

writes, 'disaggregation focuses on denying the ability of regional and global actors to link and exploit local actors . . . and interdicting flows of information, personnel, finance and technology between and within theatres,' much as the Sunni Awakening did in Iraq. To these ends, the US should extend its quiet, apolitical vigilance of the last five years, which have seen an integration of local criminal justice work, foreign intelligence, military action, public diplomacy, and civil society into the agile network that helped weaken al-Qaeda’s organization and message." Image from

Ambassador to New Zealand promotes exports during Ontario speech - Andrew Edwards, San Bernardino Sun: "Besides promoting trade relations, [U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand David] Huebner said he spends much of his time engaged in public diplomacy intended to provide a favorable view of America in New Zealand's schools. The U.S. Embassy in Wellington also encourages New Zealanders to attend college in the United States, he said."

Make Chai, Not War - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "In one of the more original PD ventures, the State Dept is sending an Indian-American comedy troupe to India for some comedic public diplomacy.

The Make Chai, Not War tour is set to kick off in January and will visit a number of Indian cities." Image from

Sino-Indian relations 2011: A Mixed Bag of Highs and Lows - Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses: "As part of its charm offensive, China ... celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose visit to China in 1914 had a very good impact on Sino-Indian relations.

Yet another goodwill gesture by China was the honour bestowed upon the 93-year-old renowned Indian Yoga exponent BKS Iyenger, who enjoys an iconic status for introducing spiritual discipline in China, by releasing four commemorative stamps in June. As part of its public diplomacy exercise, China invited 500 Indian youth, who met Premier Wen Jiabao in the Great Hall of People on September 23. The youth delegation was led by India’s Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ajay Maken. Premier Wen not only mingled with the visiting Indian youth, but also charmed them when he put on a Rajasthani turban and reached out to Mr. Maken to convey his personal regards to the Indian Prime Minister. This gesture assumed significance coming as it did in the backdrop of the spat over ONGC Videsh’s foray into the South China Sea." Image from

Providing protection at all times - Qin Zhongwei, China Daily: "Consular protection became a key word in the nation's diplomatic affairs in 2011, largely promoting public understanding about this not-so-familiar term, according to Zhou Qing'an, a professor of public diplomacy at Tsinghua University in Beijing. 'The work of consular protection is like a treadmill that began going very fast this year,' he said. China's consular protection, however, faces uncertainties and challenges, which require government efforts and public awareness to resolve, according to diplomats and scholars."

Economic Affairs - Iran daily Brief: "Exports seminar scheduled for February – The first designated exports seminar in Iran is scheduled to take place in February. The seminar will attempt to outline Iran’s foreign trade for next year. Next week, the foreign trade information and public diplomacy coordination council will convene to explore ways to formulate a public diplomacy strategy and issue uniform information about foreign trade. The meeting will be attended by executives and PR managers on foreign trade in both the private and public sectors."

Culture Posts: Developing Cultural In-Awareness in Public Diplomacy - R.S. Zaharna, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "In public diplomacy, culture’s web of influence spans across policy, practice, and research, and encompasses both sponsor and intended public. The problem is that much of culture’s influence lays 'out-of-awareness'

for both the sponsor and the intended public in public diplomacy. As further irony, the sponsor and the public may have some awareness of the other’s cultural features, but are often unable to see culture’s influence on themselves. These hidden aspects tend to be the source of cultural misunderstandings and tensions. One of the keys to effective public diplomacy is developing an 'in-awareness' cultural approach to public diplomacy." Image from


Slip-Sliding to War with Iran - Robert Parry, With the typical backdrop of alarmist propaganda in place, the stage is now set for a new war, this time with Iran. The slightest miscalculation (or provocation) by the United States, Israel or Iran could touch off a violent scenario that will have devastating consequences.

As the U.S. news media and politicians mostly reprise their performances on the Iraq invasion in regard to Iran, the principal obstacles to a new war appear to be President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Both are said to privately oppose a war with Iran, which was not true of how President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld felt about Iraq. Image from

Propaganda Re-Runs from Iraq Used on Iran - Brian Walker, NationofChange

Pakistan sails through unbridled propaganda - Bassam Javed, There is no let up in demonising Pakistan and its security establishment in the Western countries and India. As the presidential race picks up in the United States the prospective candidates especially the Republicans have started on harping anti-Pakistan themes

to garner support. Despite Hillary Clinton’s promises during her last visit to Pakistan to work towards checking anti-Pakistan propaganda in the US media, the campaign to malign Pakistan’s Army and the intelligence continues unabated. Image from

No more military custody for al-Qaeda fighters - Philip Mudd, Washington Post: The United States does not want to suggest that al-Qaeda is a battlefield adversary; it is not. Yet we have said its members are worthy of treatment as military adversaries, requiring military custody. They are below this and slipping further every day from self-inflicted missteps. We should take advantage of their mistakes and use those errors against this fading threat. Don’t give them what they want. Give them what they hate.

America's Play for Pacific Prosperity: The U.S. has quietly set up a bipartisan Asia policy that may be as influential as the Marshall Plan and NATO - Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal: At its core, the policy encourages Asian powers to get rich by participating in the most open trading system in the history of the world.

In exchange for commitments to abide by that system's rules, countries such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia and China would have the opportunity to industrialize and to help shape the future of the global economy. Image of Mead (right) from

From American Idol to Mormon Missionary: A pop star trades the stage for 10-hour Bible-teaching sessions in a distant land - Allison Pond, Wall Street Journal: There are more than 52,000 Mormon missionaries serving in 340 missions, or geographic areas, world-wide. Eighty percent of them are young men who begin serving at age 19. The remainder are mostly young women age 21 and older, along with a small number of retired couples. It is estimated that roughly a third of eligible young Mormon men elect to serve missions. Prominent Mormons who have served missions include Mitt Romney (France) and Jon Huntsman (Taiwan), Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings (Spain), and actors Aaron Eckhart (Switzerland) and Jon Heder (Japan).

Iran's Spanish-language HispanTV launches with movie "Saint Mary" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Syrian regime propaganda - The Angry Arab News Service: A source on politics, war, the Middle East, Arabic poetry, and Art: "The ultra-Syrian nationalism filling Syrian regime TV is just nauseating. It only reminds me of ultra-Lebanese nationalism. You would not know that the ruling doctrine of the lousy Syrian regime is Arab nat[io]nalism."

Vietnam jails 2 rights activists for anti-government 'propaganda' - AFP, A woman writer was sentenced to five years in prison in Vietnam for spreading anti-government propaganda, state media said on Friday, with an activist pastor also jailed for two years.

Ho Thi Bich Khuong, 44, received three years house arrest on top of her five year term, and Nguyen Trung Ton, 40, was given a similar extra penalty of two years, the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan reported.  Vietnam flag image from

In Prague, a tale of communism past: A new exhibit in Prague highlights the way museums were used as a communist propaganda tool, molding the way citizens interpreted moments in their shared history - Jacy Meyer, By the 1950s the Communist Party had begun to establish its own museums, such as the Museum of V.I. Lenin, which introduced visitors to communist ideals via the life of the Soviet leader. Traditional museum exhibits underwent an ideological transformation – all attempts at discussion or historical interpretation made way for communist education. For example, in the 1970s, exhibitions showcased the 1968 Prague Spring uprising in a negative light. For the then-Czechoslovakians who visited these museums from 1948 to 1989, the communist-colored exhibits provided a type of false security by showing images of a functioning and united society, while confirming the stereotypes of their nation. “Red Museums” exhibit organizers hope to revive a discussion of how history has been presented in Czech museums as well as the role of museums moving forward into the 21st century.

Glory Of The Motherland Soviet WW2 Propaganda Poster Review -

Image from entry

This is a good time to be a political propagandist - just a marine: "After all, you can say about anything, even lie; and more often than not, apparently lazy reporters today will reverberate all this 'as news'. If the 24/7 news cycle, or something else, has led 'reporting' to this state, then this is not healthy for any society of people wanting to be informed. Now I also suspect political propaganda has always worked, most recently under the Nazi regime in Germany. But the techniques are

alive and well in most advertising today, and even the USA Friday night news dumps. Now one can vote with their pocket books, which I have done over time. My subscriptions to Time and Newsweek, and all print newspapers, are long gone. Even my addiction to TV channel FoxNews is being abandoned by me do to the voiced ignorance of their newsreaders (cookie cutter blondes and pretty boys) and apparently their producers, mostly in New York City, too." Image from


"What television was used as propaganda during the First World? By admin - Last updated: Friday, December 30, 2011 - Save AND Share - One Comment by elmada Question by shewhomustnotbenammed : What was television used as propaganda during the First World ? I’m doing an essay, and I could not figure out if there was actual television in world war one.

I mean, I know they used it during WWII as propaganda, but what about the first? Please to the asap. Best answer: Answer by Knowitall There was no TV until after WWII."
--Image from


"On September 17, 2002, President Bush introduced initiatives to improve the teaching of history and civics in American classrooms. 'Our Founders believed the study of history and citizenship should be at the core of every American’s education,' he declared in his remarks that day. 'Yet today, our children have large and disturbing gaps in their knowledge of history.'  In order to make this case, Bush relied on standardized tests.

'Recent studies tell us that nearly one in five high school seniors think that Germany was an ally of the United States in World War II,' he explained. 'Twenty-eight percent of eighth graders do not know the reason why the Civil War was fought. One-third of fourth graders do not know what it means to 'pledge allegiance to the flag.' He then explained the significance of this failure, 'Ignorance of American history and civics weakens our sense of citizenship. To be an American is not just a matter of blood or birth; we are bound by ideals, and our children must know those ideals.'"

--From: A Crisis Over Consensus: Standardized Testing in American History and Student Learning, Radical Pedagogy (2003; Captain America image from

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29

"They said, Make it work short. Use verbs. Keep irony out unless you know what irony is. Say what must be said, only. ... There is voluntary and involuntary reading. The involuntary -- the reports and news dispatches -- must indeed be verbal (of verbs.) As for the rest, if it were not made of dependencies and did not reside in ambiguity; and if it did not secrete negation to gather and align evasive phrases thought without name; and if it did not enter mind states which only in complicity with the sweat of language cold be pinned like butterflies on a felt field; then why would be be called 'voluntary''"?

--Diplomat and American University (Washington, D.C.) penseur-professor Dr. Daniel Whitman, in his book "Crank: In Favor of the Outnumbered" (Xlibris, 2006), p. 9; image from


Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace, cited in Eric USA blog, in which Lirut states: "Here is one you tube video, it is mainly factual probably for public diplomacy, but that was all I found on YouTube."


USCIRF Letter to Secretary Clinton on North Korea - "The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sent the following letter on December 27, 2011: "The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State U.S. Department of State Washington, DC 20520 Dear Madam Secretary: Pursuant to its advisory responsibilities under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom respectfully urges you to ensure that U.S. diplomacy regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) advances an agenda that gives a prominent place to the protection of human rights, including the freedom of religion and belief, as well as the provision of humanitarian assistance and the protection of North Korean refugees. ... [T]he Commission has urged that public diplomacy resources should target technologies that can be accessed by the North Korean people. Though North Korea remains one of the most closed societies in the world, at this time, we believe it is urgent to articulate publicly the message that the United States and the international community will work on behalf of the North Korean people’s desire for security, peace, and freedom. ... Sincerely, Leonard Leo Chair ... USCIRF

is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives. USCIRF’s principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress." Image from article

US PD Advisory Commission is no more - Steven R. Corman, "In an apparent budget cutting move, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy was cut from the recently passed budget, and has ceased to exist. The move eliminates an organization over 60 years old. The Commission was established under the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 as the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information.

It was merged with an educational exchange commission in 1977 to produce the current name and configuration. According to its website, the Commission had only one permanent staffer (its Executive Director) and a budget of just $135,000. I can attest that the activities of the Commission were valuable. In a recent post I recounted some events from one of their meetings. That meeting also led to a connection between our group and a group in Afghanistan working on narrative issues there. It doesn’t take too many such connections to justify a budget that basically amounts to a rounding error in the Federal balance sheet. The now-former Executive Director of the Commission is Matt Armstrong, whose mountainrunner blog went into hibernation while he had the gig. Matt is restarting the blog and I welcome him back to the PD/SC blogoshopere, though I wish it were under different circumstances."

This Spring Breeze Did Not Arise in the West - Emad Mekay, Interpress News Service: "Friday noon prayers where hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people customarily gather every week, have been the most shared feature of the Arab Spring uprisings. The weekly congregations were in fact the main hub for bringing protesters out to the streets – not because of their spiritual value but because of their ability to gather people with no or little extra effort. Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and the internet in general may have helped with some of the initial rallying calls in the 85 million people nation of Egypt for the Jan. 25 protest. But it was Friday Jan. 28 that saw the birth of the real revolution in Egypt and the subsequent domino effect in other countries. Another tool I

saw used to keep the fervour going was the simple word of mouth over landline telephones from mostly panicky family members reporting to their loved ones how unfit Mubarak's brutal ways had become. You add to that mix the role played by the 24-hour pan-Arab TV news, especially from the Mubarak-bashing Aljazeera, BBC Arabic, Al-arabiya and even the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra, in spreading the word and you'll get a realistic sense of what a limited role social media outlets had on the ground." Via. See also John Brown, "Important article on the new social media and the Arab Spring," Notes and Essays. Mekay image  from

These comparisons of Al Jazeera, VOA, and BBC need some fact checking - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Newsmax, 23 Dec 2011, Arnaud De Borchgrave: 'Al-Jazeera's global television network has long surpassed the Voice of America in the number of bureaus and correspondents it has deployed all over the world. Its English-language programs and newscasts have even overtaken the world's one-time leader BBC, shrunk by government cutbacks. ... Al-Jazeera's coverage of domestic Qatari affairs is limited but it never misses an opportunity to tweak the beak of fellow Arab leaders who crackdown on dissent.' [Elliott comment:] -- Better to measure the 'number of bureaus and correspondents' of all of the BBG entities, not just VOA. Al Jazeera probably still has the advantage. And by what measure has Al Jazeera English 'overtaken' the BBC? I'm sure that BBC World News still has a larger audience, and that CNN International (at no cost to US taxpayers) has the largest audience of the 'big three' global English news channels."

VOA Chinese, marking 70th anniversary, predates VOA - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

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Report: VOA content on FM in Bahrain will adhere to both BBG standards and local "sensitivities" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

"Palestinians don’t want to turn the wheels back" - Ekaterina Kudashkina, The Voice of Russia: Interview with Gershon Baskin, co-CEO of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information: "So, what needs to be done basically? What are the major conditions of resolution, of untying this knot?: I think that 2012 is probably going to be a year when Israel will go to elections, although it is not scheduled until 2013. 2012 will be a critical

year for the Palestinians in their political developments. Will they have new elections? Will there be unification between Fatah and Hamas? I don’t know. It seems that without an effective American president player on the ground, it will be very difficult to get the Israelis and Palestinians to a negotiating table, unless somehow they can figure out a way to do a secret backchannel. Public diplomacy won’t work without an American role, and the American President is now busy with his own election campaign which won’t be determined till November 2012. So, it looks like to a great extent 2012 will be lost year on the Israeli – Palestinian front." Image from article

Post-Imperium, 20 Years On: Yelena Osipova, "Russia Today ... [i]n an attempt at what it calls 'providing the Russian view to the world' or essentially 'public diplomacy', the network has been airing programming dedicated to the anniversary ['the end of the Sviet Union'] since early 2011. It has a special 'online exclusive' section on the subject, featuring various articles, commentary and background information. Perhaps most notably, it released a whole series of documentaries - '20 Years Post-Soviet' - on all former member states, which obviously intended to provide a more or less comprehensive analysis of the

events and developments in individual countries since 1991, from the Russian perspective. Cheesy, sometimes too oversimplified, and at times bordering propaganda, I would say this was a lame attempt. One just has to see the differences in the choice of subjects and themes covered in the episodes on Georgia, Latvia and, say, Armenia, and the difference in the way issues were framed... Of course, this is the official Russian view of these events; and yet, I doubt these series do much good to perceptions of Russia abroad, much less to improving these." Image from article

Twitter users vexed at Israel - "The list of Twitter’s hot trends is pretty much the same most of the time: Justin Bieber at the top of the tweet list, followed by some global event and Monday morning complaints. This Monday, however, a new topic emerged on cell phone screens of Twitter users – 'Israel hates'. A search for the israelhates# hashtag (a keyword or topic on the social network) yields thousands of results being updated by the minute. ... Israeli left-wing activists are also jumping on the bandwagon but prefer to address recent legislation in the Knesset.

'Israel hates Jews like me as well,' wrote one. Roaming through the social network on Monday raised speculations that someone declared a day of complaints against Israel and forgot to inform the Israeli government. Users fighting for Israel’s public diplomacy are not twiddling their thumbs. 'I love Israel. come visit us and you too will fall in love with it like I have,' wrote one such user. Others are trying to direct the spotlight at other topics . ... Noted Israeli comedian Guri Alfi playfully begged users, 'Don’t blame Israel for all the troubles in the world. Don’t forget Canada.'" Image from

The sad, sad world of Israel’s big-time liars - Stuart Littlewood, "Meet another of Israel’s undesirables, Yuli Edelstein. He is the regime’s Propaganda Minister (or to be more precise, Minister for Dis-information and Diaspora) and he runs the biggest lie machine in the world. His task is to make the Israel ‘brand’ smell sweeter. The reason it stinks, of course, is the regime’s putrid morals and murderous conduct, which the lie machine works overtime to try to justify and excuse. It will always fail. You cannot build a decent brand image on lies, obnoxious behaviour and a massive attitude problem. Edelstein hit the headlines over Christmas when he told everybody that the Arabs are 'a deplorable nation'. He was speaking at a public diplomacy event (incredible as it may seem!) at Yor Yehuda, which I’m told means 'light of Juda'."

South Korea - Next-Generation Leaders of the ROK and the Arab World Come Together - "1. A meeting of next-generation leaders of the Republic of Korea and the Arab world, co-hosted by the Foreign Ministry and the Korea-Arab Society (KAS), was successfully held on December 27, with some 150 people in attendance, including KAS Secretary-General Choi Seung-hoh, Ambassador for Public Diplomacy Ma Young-sam, Director-General for African and Middle Eastern Affairs Song Woong-yeob, Iraqi Ambassador Al-Mosawi and other

Arab diplomats stationed in the ROK, and representatives of Arab students in Korea as well as ROK students. 2. In the meeting, organized to build a human network and promote exchanges between next-generation leaders of the two regions, Ambassador Ma Young-sam explained public diplomacy to the college students from home and the Arab world, drawing keen interest from the participants." Image from article, with caption: The 4th Korea-Arab Friendship Caravan is an event hosted by KAS

Corruption and its discontents - Maya Babla, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "If India is perceived as corrupt on international indices as well as amongst its own people, then her credibility is damaged, and her ability to conduct public diplomacy, diminished, if not demolished. And without that ability, India’s capacity to assert herself as a major global power is compromised. ... Corruption is a problem that has not gone unacknowledged by government leadership. ... [I]t seems India has positioned itself to actually export tools of anti-corruption. ... What’s also promising about these programs in terms of public diplomacy is that the Department of Information Technology is doing tremendous international knowledge-sharing."

KFOS and MOFA join resources for public diplomacy and capacity increase - "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo and Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS), a part of the global Soros foundation network, have signed a Memorandum of Collaboration on implementing a joint project in the area of public diplomacy and increasing capacities. This multi-year KFOS

project will now be also supported in the year 2012 and brings in many internationally and Kosovo renowned individuals, activities and institutions dealing with civil, cultural and public diplomacy." Image from

Iran Onscreen: Truth through the Prism - Dan Geist, "[C]omprehension suffers when every film, as the University of São Paulo's Ferdinando Martins put it, is 'seen as a portrait of Iran' and its fictional aspects disregarded. Speaking on a panel devoted to the topic of cinema's relationship to public policy and public diplomacy, he echoed -- or rather, by the real-world chronology of the conference, presaged -- [the] observation about dystopic aesthetics, finding that those Iranian films which gain distribution outside the Middle East tend 'to paint the devil worse than he is.' In the view of Javad Asgharirad of the Free University of Berlin, those movies as a corpus create an impression that Iranians suffer from a low standard of living, little freedom, and great social stratification (as well as, by way of partial counterbalance, enjoying strong family ties)."

Britain's Global Mission is Control Natural Resources - "Diplomacy in democracies is often 'public democracies' and selling war to bemused citizens and voters by promoting 'our values' as being better than those other Powers such as China vying for control over minerals and oil."

Operation: Eat Our Food - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I was interviewed today about gastrodiplomacy by DePers, a major Dutch newspaper. Specifically, about Indonesian gastrodiplomacy

to Holland. That is a fascinating case of the colony returning to influence the former colonial master. To be sure, Indonesia has had a major effect on Dutch cuisine (see under: peanut sauce for frittes). I am wondering if my op-ed in the Jakarta Globe had a little effect on the Indonesian decision to embark on gastrodiplomacy. ... Operation: Eat Our Food by Camile Driessen ... 'Thailand has started,' says 'gastronomist' Paul Rockower the phenomenon studied and regularly publishes on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. The Thai government introduced in 2002, the Global Programme to the number of Thai restaurants abroad to raise considerably. The aim was to make Thai food more popular, attracting more tourists and subtle relationships with other countries to strengthen. 'The Thai campaign has so far been most successful, the kitchen has gone from exotic to mainstream and has given a boost tourism,' observes Rockower." Image from

PhD success for Mª Luisa Azpiroz Manero - "Congratulations to NCPU visiting student Mª Luisa Azpíroz Manero, who received her PhD just before Christmas for a thesis entitled, 'American Public Diplomacy in the 'War on Terror': Analysis and Evaluation of its Influence on the Spanish Press'. Mª Luisa was based at Facultad de Comunicación, University of Navarra, Spain. Her supervisor was Professor María Teresa La Porte Fernández-Alfaro. She spent time at the New Political Communication Unit, Royal Holloway, in 2008 and presented an early iteration of her thesis. Her abstract is below. She can be contacted on Well done Mª Luisa. Mª Luisa Azpíroz Manero: American Public Diplomacy in the 'War on Terror': Analysis and Evaluation of its Influence on the Spanish Press Public diplomacy is an international political communication activity that experienced renewed importance in the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The 'War on Terror' promoted by the Bush Administration was accompanied by the implementation of public diplomacy strategies designed to reinforce the fight against terrorism and to diminish the levels of anti-Americanism, especially in the Muslim world, through the exercise of soft power. The object of this thesis is, in the first place, to study public diplomacy as an international political communication activity.

In the second place, to carry out empirical research that, resorting to framing theory as a methodological tool, analyzes and evaluates the influence of Bush’s declarations and speeches, as a part of American mediatic diplomacy, in the Spanish press, in two case studies on the 'War on Terror' (the first case study spans the period from 9/11 to November 2001, and the second, the months prior to the Iraq War). To do so, the content of this thesis is set out in six chapters. The first chapter presents a theoretical framework of public diplomacy, the second chapter explains the methodology that is used in the empirical study and the third chapter offers a context for the case studies where that methodology is applied. Chapters four, five and six constitute the empirical part of the work: in the first two the results of the analysis of mediatic diplomacy in two specific periods of the 'War on Terror' are exposed, and, in the last, an evaluation of its influence based on the results of the analysis and on the consideration of other relevant factors is performed." Image from

A Traveler in the Foreign Service: The list, the call, the flag - assignments in the Foreign Service - Dave Seminara, "The most common question I get from people who have a passing interest in joining the Foreign Service is: how hard is to get posted to Rome, Paris, Prague, Sydney and other popular vacation destinations. The best way to get a feel for your chances is to have a look at the complete list of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. ... There are five career tracks in the Foreign Service, called 'cones'-

consular, economic, management, political and public diplomacy."  Image from


Egypt’s Forces Raid Offices of U.S. and Other Civil Groups - David D. Kirkpatrick J. David Goodman, New York Times: Egyptian security forces stormed the offices of 17 nonprofit groups around the country on Thursday, including at least three democracy-promotion groups financed by the United States, as part of what Egypt’s military-led government has said is an investigation into “foreign hands” in the recent outbreak of protests. The raids come of the heels of an investigation by the Egyptian government into foreign financing for nonprofit organizations operating in the country. The military has suggested that such funding has played a role in fomenting protests with goal of bringing down the Egyptian government. The American Embassy did not immediately respond to email messages seeking comment. The Republican and Democratic institutes had been barred from operating in Egypt by the former president Hosni Mubarak but began operating more openly after his ouster in the February revolution.

Slip-Sliding to War with Iran - Robert Parry, This prospective war with Iran -- like the one in Iraq -- is likely to come down to intelligence assessments on Iran's intentions and capabilities. And, as with Iraq's alleged WMD, the many loud voices claiming that Iran is on pace to build a nuclear bomb are drowning out the relatively few skeptics who think the evidence is thin to invisible. Whether Obama can head off a violent conflict with Iran remains to be seen. As the presidential election grows nearer -- and the likely GOP's nominee hammers at Obama as soft on Iran -- a preemptive Israeli attack or a miscalculation by Iran could make war unavoidable.

Rumsfeld-Era Propaganda Program Whitewashed by Pentagon - Cyril Mychalejko, A controversial public relations program run by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's Pentagon was cleared of any wrong-doing by the agency's inspector general in a report published last month. The program used dozens of retired military officers working as analysts on television and radio networks as “surrogates” armed by the Pentagon with “the facts” in order to educate the public about the Department of Defense's operations and agenda. At the same time, the report quoted participating analysts who believed that bullet points provided by Rumsfeld's staff

advanced a “political agenda,” that the program's intent “...was to move everyone's mouth on TV as a sock puppet” and that the program was “...a white-level psyop [psychological operations] program to the American people.” It also found a “preponderance of evidence” that one analyst was dismissed from the program for being critical of the former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, while another analysts said a CNN official told him he was being dropped at the request of the White House. Nevertheless, the inspector general exonerated the Pentagon, stating that it complied with Department of Defense (DoD) policies and regulations, including not using propaganda on the US public, while also claiming that retired military analysts, many of whom were affiliated with defense contractors, gained nothing financially or personally for the businesses they were affiliated with. This case of the U.S. government propagandizing its own people, and the media’s failure to serve as an independent watchdog, further undermines America’s democratic ideals. The world can't afford to wait any longer for rigorous investigations, debates and reforms surrounding these matters. Image from article

All the President's Detainees: What do you know, a consensus emerges on antiterror policy [subscription] - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The 2012 Pentagon budget authorization includes antiterrorism provisions that confirm and politically endorse the real-world practices of two Administrations.

Petraeus almost quit over Obama drawdown in Afghanistan - David Jackson, A new book says Gen. David Petraeus almost resigned over President Obama's decision to quickly withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The Associated Press, which obtained an early copy of the insider biography of Petraeus, reported that he decided that resigning would be a "selfish, grandstanding move with huge political ramifications"and that now was "time to salute and carry on."

Petraeus, now CIA director, is the subject of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, due from Penguin Press in January. Image from

Iraq surge’s advocates fear gains will be lost: Fragile democracy at risk, they warn - Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times: The advisers comprise some of the best national security minds in Washington - strategists such as retired ArmyGen. John Keane, Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. They banded together in 2006 to devise a reinforcement strategy and sell it to the White House, as the U.S. appeared to be losing the Iraq campaign to sectarian violence and al Qaeda bombings. They had a willing warrior in Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, and they met with White House officials, including Mr. Bush, to sell the plan.

Britain's Future Lies With America, Not Europe: Welcoming Britain back into the North Atlantic economic community would be a win-win for all involved - Iain Murray and James C. Bennett, Wall Street Journal: British, American and Canadian policy makers (along with their Nafta partners in Mexico) should be taking the long view and preparing for a future in which the unsustainable euro zone inevitably collapses. Welcoming Britain back into the North Atlantic economic community would be a win-win for all involved.

Zuckerberg visits Vietnam, despite Facebook ban - Vietnam may block its citizens from using Facebook, but that didn't stop website founder Mark Zuckerberg from vacationing in the communist country. Zuckerberg spent Christmas Day at an ecolodge in the northern mountain town of Sapa and rode a buffalo, said Le Phuc Thien, deputy manager at Topas Ecolodge. Vietnam's aggressive Internet censors block access to Facebook and other websites, but young Vietnamese easily bypass the restrictions.
Image from article, with caption: Facebook's founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg touring a village on a buffalo walked by a farmer at the popular mountainous tourist site of Sapa, in northern province of Lao Cai.

Snow-Wash: North Korea Doctored Photos Of Kim's Funeral - Kainaz Amaria, The funeral procession of Kim Jong Il brought back memories of an era when images of Communist propaganda were ubiquitous. The visual backbone of the images or illustrations were usually order and symmetry, enacted on a grand scale. Wednesday's event was no exception. An overall view of the snowy procession had it all: the framed image of Kim Jong Il in the foreground, the masses of mourners lined neatly on the sidelines, the motorcade in perfect sync and the order that is associated with a totalitarian regime; a regime with access to Photoshop. This image, released by Kyodo News and originally transmitted via The Associated Press, shows a cluster of men on the left-hand side of the frame.

This image

released by the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), taken within seconds of the one above, was digitally altered, removing the cluster of men on the left and enhancing the perfect line of mourners. Images from article

Q&A Noam Chomsky: Dictatorships, US relations & state propaganda - A darling of the left, Noam Chomsky is well-known for his articulate criticisms of US foreign policy. The American intellectual takes special interest in how the US coddles authoritarian regimes under threat, in particular when political and economic interests are involved. Chomsky is a longtime professor in the department of linguistics and philosophy at the

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is also famous for developing theories involving the “manufacture of consent” and the dissemination of propaganda through mass media. Recently, he offered to share his personal views on post-Mubarak Egypt with Egypt Independent. Egypt Independent: With regards to public opinion, what are your views on the persistent use of counter revolutionary propaganda through the state media, particularly with regards to distorting news reportage of collisions between the military and protestors, in post-Jan 25 Egypt? Chomsky: Authoritarian regimes of course try to restrict and control thought and its expression. Some, like Nazi Germany, seem to have been quite successful in doing so, Bolshevik Russia somewhat less so, but that was over a much longer period without ongoing military conflict as a mobilizing force. Chomsky image from article

Syria's official propaganda absolutely useless - Sergei Balmasov, Pravda.Ru: Syria, like Libya, is losing the information war. It became evident from the very beginning of the "Arab spring in Syrian way." The official response of the Syrian authorities and the media at times is even more harmful for the regime than the mere silence.

The representatives of the Syrian authorities are beginning to recognize the inability to effectively counter the enemy in the information war. [T]hey need to work more actively with journalists in their territory and to relieve them of excessive care of special services, which sometimes exceed all limits. Second, they have to more actively use magazines and social networks like Facebook. Image from article

Breaking News. Syria: Arab League Head of Mission Refutes Western Media Propaganda - Michel Chossudovsky, The head of the Arab League monitoring group in Syria, Sudan's General Mustafa Dabi, has made "contradictory statements" on the human rights situation in Syria, which no doubt will eventually be erased from the record as not in keeping with the official propaganda line.

Russian police offer $3,000 propaganda prize - The Russian Interior Ministry is establishing a 100,000 ruble ($3,100) prize for the “most talented propaganda of police work,” the ministry said on Wednesday.

It will award prizes for achievement in science, technology, literature and the arts and the promotion of law enforcement agency activities. There are seven prize categories, including sculpture and applied arts, painting, music, cinema, and information technology. The ministry prize committee will be comprised of at least 23 persons. Image from article, with caption: Russian police offer $3,000 propaganda prize

About propaganda in Belarus: Viktor Martynovych: I have not heard anything bad about Ukraine for a long time -  Mykola Siruk, The Day: "A recent unauthorized demonstrations by the FEMEN activists near the KGB building in Belarus was a cause of appearance of publications that claimed some sort of negative attitude towards Ukraine is present in Belarus society. Let us remind that the first messages in mass media said that the employees of the State Security Committee detained three women on December 19. As the FEMEN activists stated later in their blog, the girls were tackled at the Minska railway station by the Belarus police and KGB workers, “they put blindfolds on the girls, drove them around in the bus for the whole night, took them out into the forest, poured oil over them, forced them to take their clothes off, threatened to set them on fire, threatened with a knife, which later was used to cut the girls’ hair.” On the other hand, the head of the State Security Committee stated that that the information about the detention of FEMEN activists by the Belarus KGB workers is a gross provocation.

It is hard to say who is right in conditions like these. But it should be noted that TV show host and politics reviewer at Kommersant, Pavlo Sheremet, concludes in his article at Ukrainska Pravda that “Ukraine has turned into a laughing-stock in Belarus mass media long time ago. Deriding the citizens of Ukraine is a tradition now. Disdain of Ukrainian ways is being cultivated by the state propaganda in Russia and Belarus.” The Day addressed Viktor Martynovych, BelGazeta’s editor in chief with a request to comment on this situation, and the publication of his Belarus colleague." Image, presumably of Martynovych, from article

We lost the propaganda war - The title refers to the Cold War, on which I have been meditating recently, what with the death of Vaclav Havel and the release of the new, completely inadequate version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. While militarily and politically the West won, in the more insiduous field of propaganda, it lost. We can see that in the neurotic anti-Americanism that makes people support some of the most oppressive regimes and ideologies in the world, in the continuing support for the once and future President, now Prime Minister Putin because he appears to be anti-Western, and, above all, in the refusal to face up to the truth about Communism.

A Call for Peace: Say NO to America's Military Adventure: With the pace of war against Iran now thundering in all its fury, it is time to mobilize once again to demand peace - Michael Carmichael, Mind Control, Mental Programming, Brainwashing and Perception Management have reached or exceeded Orwellian levels, and we are now moving confidently toward Huxleyian levels of totalitarian enslavement as vividly portrayed in Brave New World – a far more advanced dystopia than George Orwell’s Oceania, where torture was still applied to recalcitrant subjects. Brave New World programmed masses via propaganda, brainwashing and sensuality. Here are direct quotations from Aldous Huxley about the evolution of totalitarianism: It is possible to make people contented with their servitude. I think this can be done. I think it has been done in the past, and it can be done even more effectively now because you can distract them with bread and circuses and you can provide them with endless amounts of distractions and propaganda. . . The nightmare of 1984 is destined to modulate into the nightmare of Brave New World – the change will be brought about as a result of a self-need for increased efficiency . . . Totalitarian regimes of the future will not be based upon terror, because they will have other means – brainwashing and propaganda – which will be much more efficient and much more economical than terrorism and torture.

A Fool's Paradise Revisited News, Social Media, Television and the "Anti-Mirror"- William Bowles, Propaganda, whether the news, drama or advertising, articulated by the 'middle-class' intelligentsia -- all the products of a university system designed and built to serve the needs of capital -- has succeeded in creating a mass culture and a way of viewing the world that purports to be ours. But it's an invented world, complete with an imagined working class, content to passively consume.

Unprecedented, Possibly: Maybe a man in Philadelphia did invent the brassiere in 1863, but the massed minds of Wikipedia don't offer much support [review of Robertson's Book of Firstsby Patrick Robertson (Bloomsbury, 569 pages, $35)] - Alexander Waugh, Wall Street Journal: If some seekers of truth find themselves dismayed by the factual squabbling between the author and his online

competition, American patriots may draw some comfort from the way in which he has tailored his text to the American interest. Relatively new countries, however vast, are unlikely to be credited with as many "firsts" as ancient civilizations like China or little ol' Europe. Image from article


--From Princess Sparkle Pny's Photoblog


Image from a strategic military rocket motor factory near Moscow; from