Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15

"What’s wrong with the rhythm method anyway? That’s how I got here."

-- Catholic (collapsed?) New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd


Iran Propaganda debunked in less than 6 minutes


Mr. Xi goes to L.A.: A Lin-Lin diplomatic overture? - Damien Ma, "If you're following all things China, the two memes trending for the last week or so have been the pre-trip musings on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's American tour and the Jeremy Lin show. What connects the two? Well, basketball. After spending barely two days in Washington, Xi will travel to L.A. to hobnob with local politicians and businesspeople. In his down time, he is supposed to take in a Lakers game. Incidentally, Lin and his Knicks defeated the Lakers last week, when the Harvard grad and overnight NBA sensation put up a career-high 38 points that dazzled even Kobe Bryant. ... For his part, Xi's appearance

at a Lakers game is a feat of public diplomacy that will draw comparisons to Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping's memorable first visit to the U.S. On that trip, Deng donned a cowboy hat at a Texas rodeo and tried out a simulator in NASA's Houston headquarters. Whether Xi is deliberately attempting to mimic Deng's charm offensive is anyone's guess. But such an effort will not go unnoticed by the American public, which tends to favor leaders with a touch of the 'common man.' This may be just what Xi has in mind: to project an image of affability and ease." Image from article

Lin/Xi Jin Ping: When Public Diplomacy Really Works - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "It's far too brilliant for any propagandist, of any nationality, to have thought it up: The presumed future leader of the People's Republic of China, Vice President Xi Jinping, visits the United States at a time when relations between the two countries are tense; meanwhile, Chinese-American, Harvard-educated Jeremy Lin, not long ago a bench warmer for the NY Knicks, becomes an instantaneous professional basketball star.

What great publicity for 'Communist' China! Chinese kid makes it in the USA -- and not only in the USA, but in the Big Apple itself!'" Lin image from

Xi Jinping Iowa visit echoes past trips by future stars - Kate Dailey, BBC News Magazine: "Xi Jinping - expected to be the next president of China - is returning to the Iowa he visited as a young man. He is far from the only foreign leader to have spent time in the US before they were powerful. ... Mr Xi had travelled to Iowa for as part of a Chinese delegation looking to learn more about American agriculture. ... Those positive memories, created 30 years ago, could yet pay dividends to the US. 'If he came away from those earlier days with a

good impression, that will certainly affect how he views policy as vice-president,' says Philip Seib, director of the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy. The value of hosting international visitors as part of an academic, cultural or political exchange is vast for the host country, he says. 'It's an enormous benefit. It strips away some of the mythologies that poison people's opinions about a country if they're negative. They give a chance for the visitors to meet citizens, meet average people, so the country becomes not a news-media-produced abstraction, but real people. That generally works out quite well.' ... The state department cites dozens of leaders who have travelled to the US on diplomatic exchanges, including Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who came on a 1988 exchange when he was 33. The current president of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, also took a trip to the US as a young man. In the early 1970s, the 21-year old travelled to the country as part of the state department's International Visitor Leadership scheme." Image from article, with caption: The young Chinese who visited an Iowa household in 1985 is expected to lead the word's most populous nation by the end of 2013.

Noodles and a movie - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "An interesting bit of cultural and culinary diplomacy by Taiwan, as it hosts Noodles and a Movie at the Freer on Wed Feb 15th at 6pm. the TECO office is showing the Taiwanese film Eat Drink Man Woman and serving up Taiwanese cuisine. Smart and creative cultural diplomacy, Taiwan!"

Stand-up Diplomacy: Humor as Public Diplomacy - Paul Rockower, PD News–CPD Blog, US Center on Public Diplomacy: "Public diplomacy is predicated on the communication of culture, values and ideas; humor represents a more oblique manner of communicating ideas, and therefore can be a powerful medium to conduct public diplomacy. The beauty of using humor as a means to transmit

ideas is that the jovial nature of comedy can indirectly communicate weightier subjects in a lighthearted manner that can diffuse weighty realities. ... With Parazit, considered the 'Daily Show of Iran,' the Voice of America has found considerable audiences in Iran that tune in to the satirical programming casting fun at the Iranian regime and its idiosyncrasies — including many who wouldn’t usually tune in to VOA. I would also highlight the popularity of the VOA program OMG Meiyu, the teenybop language class production designed to teach American slang to China, as a point to burnish the case for a less serious side of public diplomacy. ... Finally, one of the more original public diplomacy ventures enacted by the U.S. State Department, has been to send an Indian-American comedy troupe to India for some comedic public diplomacy." Image from

The shape of African American geopolitics: The Cold War era brought landmark gains in civil rights at the price of stunting black critique of foreign policy - Vaughn Rasberry, "Historians disagree about the precise role that the Cold War played on the Civil Rights movement, but it's clear that the confluence of these moments - which produced landmark gains in some areas (voting, education, public accommodations), and strictures

in others (criticism of economic inequality, anticommunism, or colonialist adventurism) - shifted the terrain of black geopolitics. Ever aware of competing communist attempts to attract the Third World, government officials coupled public diplomacy with efforts to silence or discredit black intellectuals who criticised American and western foreign policy." Image from article, with caption: Harrington's 1942 cartoon in The People's Voice captures both the era's morbid ambiance and the uncompromising tenor of black demands.

“An inch closer feels like a good mile” – Foreign Relations moves on Tara’s nomination - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: "Today’s [February 14] business meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee includes Tara Sonenshine, nominee for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (and Public Affairs). While perfunctory and the time spent on Tara and her cohort will be measured in single-digit minutes (all the real work is done before the business meeting), it is a major move toward confirmation. ... Next up: confirmation by the Senate."

State and USAID - FY 2013 Budget - Press Release: US State Department - •Afghanistan: $4.6 billion ($3.2 billion OCO and $1.4 billion core)... •$2.1 billion supports the expansion of the diplomatic and interagency presence [in Afghanistan], the extraordinary costs of security in a conflict zone, and public diplomacy programs to

build long-lasting bridges with civil society. ... •$6.5 billion to support civilians in embassies, missions, and consulates around the world (not including the Frontline States), as well as at our headquarters in Washington. The request includes the following priorities: ◦$507.4 million for public diplomacy to engage foreign audiences and win support for U.S. foreign policy goals, programs that include engaging with civil society in transition countries such as Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt (including the Frontline States, the total Public Diplomacy Request is $541.7 million)." Image from

Whisper of America? - Alan Heil, MountainRunner: "Under the Obama administration’s proposed FY 13 budget, the potential damage to the nation’s flagship publicly funded overseas network, the Voice of America, would be unprecedented if Congress approves it. Contrast the reductions: VOA faces net cuts totaling $17 million, compared with a reduction of $731,000 for its sister network, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Voice of America, now in its 70th year, faces a far larger reduction, proportionally, than either the U.S. international broadcasting administrative support bureaucracy or collectively, the four other networks in the system. ... In effect, many VOA assets are being

reprogrammed to enhance consolidation of U.S. international broadcasting and the rapid pursuit of new media formats. The only encouraging aspect of the budget is the notion that VOA Central News, although greatly reduced in size, will become the site of a global news network incorporating the best reporting of all five publicly-funded overseas broadcasting entities. ... [T]he Voice’s future as the second decade of the 21st century dawns turns out to be dim indeed, unless Congress halts the carnage. The BBG has it right in one respect: an impartial, determined CEO with real authority is necessary to consolidate, reduce bureaucratic overload and preserve VOA and its journalistic soul." Image from

Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting (Part Two): What to do About the BBG? - Alex Belida, MountainRunner: "If, as suggested by Congress and proposed in my last posting, the mission of U.S. International Broadcasting (USIB) is to be good journalism in support of freedom of the press and the free flow of information, then those who oversee America’s non-military broadcasting entities need to be selected accordingly. Unfortunately, to date, few Governors have had serious backgrounds in journalism and foreign affairs and too many have had partisan or ideological agendas. This needs to change if USIB is to prosper in the future and attract greater audiences. ... In addition to having two of the eight Board seats reserved for non-partisan USIB retirees, I would propose two seats for retired U.S. public diplomacy specialists, two for appointees representing journalism education and the final two seats for representatives of U.S. news media. I would remove the Secretary of State from the Board and allow the eight other members to elect their own Chairman." Image from

BBG Innovation Commission meets: something about rebranding America via engagement, not broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "The BBG's goal is to increase audience to 216 million people weekly by 2016. And now this should be achieved without the assistance of broadcasting? I would hate to be the college intern assigned to do all that engaging. Why would USIB want to 'add renewed luster to its global brands'? Is it so that those brands are better equipped to compete with one another? I think the best way to add luster to the USIB brands is to combine them into one brand.

'Rebranding America,' aside from being wholly inconsistent with the journalistic function of USIB, would encroach on the work of the public diplomacy offices at State. I see a mighty bureaucratic turf battle forming." Image from

The Future of International Broadcasting - David Jackson, MountainRunner: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors ... has proposed some significant cuts in the overall budget, which is hardly surprising given the nation’s economic problems. But they’ve also proposed sweeping changes in the way they want the broadcasters to operate in the future. Three aspects of the BBG’s proposal particularly caught my attention: The first was the lack of recognition of VOA’s historical mission of informing international audiences about the U.S. and U.S. policies, or, put another way, telling them about who Americans are, and what we believe in. ... Second: The proposed reform of the VOA newsroom. ... Third: The proposed cuts to the broadcasting services disproportionately fall on VOA despite the fact that the Board’s reforms will rely more than ever on VOA to generate original content, and despite the fact that most of VOA’s broadcasts have historically reached bigger audiences than its sister services where those broadcasts overlap. ... Bringing about major changes in international broadcasting isn’t easy, as I know from personal experience. But America’s international broadcasters have no other choice if they want to adapt to the growing competition abroad and the ways people consume information these days. To this end, the Board deserves praise for its willingness to tackle some big issues. But they cannot be fully successful unless they also are faithful to the original mission that the American people and their representatives in Congress have supported and expected for 70 years."

Manas Expanding Efforts To Engage Kyrgyzstan Military, People - "Over the past year, the U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan has expanded its programs of outreach to the local community and to Kyrgyzstan's military and government, strengthening the base's role as a public diplomacy tool of the U.S. government."

Image from article, with caption: From top: Nearly all US troops going to and from Afghanistan transit through the airbase in Manas, Kyrgyzstan

Over the Horizon: Amphibious Ops a Dual-Use Tool for U.S. Policy Kit - "Internet and data capabilities may seem secondary to major amphibious operations. However, most amphibious operations in the future will be rich in political context, whether they involve forced entry or not, and the ability to manage data and the political environment represents an absolutely critical capability for modern amphibious warfare. Consequently, information technology played a major role in this exercise. ... In an amphibious relief operation ... Internet

connectivity provides a unique capability for aggregating expertise -- on the geography, history or demographics of a particular area, for example -- and for delivering such expertise to the operational actors who can use it. Widespread Internet access aboard ships in such situations could also prove a useful generator of public diplomacy content, especially in contexts where the Navy -- or civilian political authorities -- desires to make its contribution clear and transparent. Obviously message discipline would suffer, but the ability of 'providers' of relief on ship to connect directly with 'consumers' of relief on shore could dramatically improve the effectiveness of relief operations." Image from

The Pentagon's Lie Machine - Justin Raimondo, "[A]n article [.pdf] by Col. Richard B. Leap in a compendium of essays by Public Affairs (PA) officers ... points to the real identity of ... unnamed 'adversaries': 'Many PA practitioners believe their only role is to inform the domestic and international publics with accurate, truthful information and provide access to government and military officials and operations to confirm what is reported. All should agree that PA must always present truthful, credible information, however, if Public Diplomacy and open PSYOP only target foreign audiences, then who besides PA can counter the enemy’s or the media’s shaping of US domestic opinion?' It is strictly illegal for the US military to aim its propaganda arm at the American public, but in this age of a truly globalized media the line between foreign and domestic is easily blurred. Technology has rendered that prohibition irrelevant and entirely nonfunctional. The Smith-Mundt Act is apparently just as much a dead letter as our Constitution. Col. Leap

bemoans the dramatic drop in US support for the Iraq war, noting that Pew polled support at 61 percent in 2003 'compared with only 13 percent' three years later. His solution: 'Public Affairs organizations must devise new means and methods to better ‘frame’ issues for domestic and international audiences on policy successes while countering enemy disinformation in order to reverse these trends. Further, the US Government must clarify the roles, responsibilities, authorities and relationships between Public Affairs, Public Diplomacy and Information Operations to not only influence foreign target audiences, but to safeguard US national will. A failure to do so may result in strategic defeats in the future.' In Col. Leap’s opinion, the goal of the Public Affairs officer in the service of the US military is not to defend the country – it’s to safeguard the National Will. The will to do what? Why, whatever the Pentagon and the political leadership desires. These are the movers and shapers of the National Will: the rest of us, including the media, are mere instruments in their capable hands." Image from

Turkey and NATO: 60 Years On - Menekse Tokyay, "As Turkey marks its 60th anniversary as a member of NATO on February 18th, the importance of the Alliance is as clear

as ever, given international and regional security challenges. ... With this in mind, NATO's Public Diplomacy Division is planning to organise a series of activities in 2012, both to celebrate the anniversary and to increase support for NATO in Turkish public opinion." Uncaptioned image from article

Pakistan's true-face programme - Madhur, "Pakistan has to find the budget to 'indulge' in PD. Can a country that survives on aid, cannot feed its own population or fight its own wars afford to put money into PD?"

Public Diplomacy (Israel) by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe (Editor), Susan F. Henssonow (Editor) - "Public diplomacy in Israel (also hasbara) (Hebrew) refers to public relations efforts to disseminate information about Israel. The term is used by the Israeli government and its supporters to describe efforts to explain government policies and promote Israel

in the face of what they consider negative press about Israel around the world. Others view hasbara as a euphemism for propaganda. While hasbara literally means 'explanation', its exact import in its current usage is debated. Gideon Meir has said that there is no 'real, precise' translation of the word hasbara to English or any other language, and has characterized it as public diplomacy, an action undertaken by all governments around the world with the growing importance of what Harvard professor Joseph Nye termed soft power. Gary Rosenblatt describes it as 'advocacy'." Image from

21st Century Diplomacy - Ernst Sucharipa, posted at "The diplomat today is above all a communicator and mediator of positions of his/her own country vis-à-vis all sections of the politically informed public in the host country. The main business is no longer discreet and confidential dealings with the foreign ministry of the host country but public diplomacy aimed at explaining and canvassing support for positions among government circles, parliament, the political parties, the business community, the social partners, the media and representatives of academic and cultural life. For this the diplomat must build up and cultivate a dense and stable network of contacts in all areas of society with a view to becoming actively involved in shaping public opinion in the host country. More than elsewhere this holds true for the relationship between individual countries of the European Union, but certainly also in places like Washington, where the art of public diplomacy has developed out of the more traditional networking and lobbying business and where today public diplomacy literally reaches the sky."

Media Coverage - "Countries use all types of mainstream media for public diplomacy efforts such as Radio, Television, Internet Websites and Publications. However, with the rapid increase of social media platforms, such as, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, there is no denying the growing influence of social media.

I think that social media alone is fitting as the new medium for public diplomacy." Image from

Chinese Foreign Policy and American Security Interests in Asia - "David J. Firestein, Vice-President of the Strategic Trust Building Initiative and Track 2 Diplomacy at the East West Institute, will speak at the World Affairs Forum on February 15 at UCONN/Stamford. The program will begin at 5:45 P.M., with networking and refreshments, followed by the presentation at 6:15 P.M. ... He served as a U.S. diplomat for eight years and is an expert on China, Russia, public diplomacy and U.S. politics. Previously, he was deputy executive director and senior advisor at the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and worked at the State Department’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation."

Head of press at the Delegation of the EU to speak at UNC journalism school Tuesday - "Silvia Kofler, spokesperson and head of press and public diplomacy at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, will be available for a question and answer session at UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The event, which is exclusive to the journalism school’s students and faculty, will be held at 2 p.m. on Feb. 7 in the Freedom Forum Conference Center."


In China, an Instant Star and an Emerging Symbol - Keith Bradsher, New York Times: Professional basketball player Jeremy Lin’s stunning success with the Knicks over the last week and a half has captured the

imagination of the Chinese, from Communist Party bosses to the often-persecuted Christian minority. He has been particularly popular here in northern Zhejiang province, from which his maternal grandmother fled to Taiwan in the last days of China’s civil war in the late 1940s. The N.B.A. has estimated 300 million people in China play basketball. The retirement last year of Yao Ming, a basketball star from mainland China, deprived the N.B.A. of its main Asian draw. But Lin’s emergence has at least temporarily strengthened the league as a centerpiece of Chinese online chatter. Image from

Chinese blocked visit by U.S. religious freedom envoy, advocates say - William Wan and Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post: Chinese officials denied a visa to a top State Department envoy and refused to meet with her to discuss issues of religious freedom days before this week’s high-profile visit to Washington by China’s vice president, according to rights advocates and others.

Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, was scheduled to travel to China on Feb. 8, according to several rights advocates who were invited to brief her ahead of the visit. But as the date drew near, Chinese leaders refused to grant her meetings with government officials. Image from article: President Obama and Mainland China Vice President Xi Jinping

China launches propaganda drive against "extremism" in far west - China launched a propaganda campaign against illegal religious activities and 'religious extremism' in the restive far western region of Xinjiang on Wednesday, state media said. Regional authorities began holding public lectures to 'rally mass support for the government's religious policies and to discourage illegal religious activities,' the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Enablers - Editorial, New York Times: China, Russia and India see themselves as global leaders. So why have they been enabling two dangerous regimes, Syria and Iran, to continue on

destructive paths? China and India are also hampering the effort to ratchet up sanctions on Iran even as penalties imposed by the Security Council, the United States and the European Union appear to be affecting Iran’s economy and politics. Image from

The U.S.-Israeli trust gap on Iran - Editorial, Washington Post: Rather than publicly arguing with Israel, Pesident Obama and Defense Secretary Panetta should be more clearly spelling out U.S. willingness to take military action if Iran is discovered taking steps toward bomb-making, such as enriching its uranium beyond present levels or expelling U.N. inspectors. Saying “all options are on the table” is not enough; the Obama administration should be explicit about Iranian actions that will violate its red lines — and what the consequences will be.

U.S. concerned about spike in Iran-Israel ‘shadow war’ - Guy Taylor, The Washington Times: The “shadow war” between Israel and Iran is escalating, Middle East analysts say, as a wave of terrorist incidents in far-flung corners of world unsettles U.S. officials.

Monday’s bombing of an Israeli diplomat’s car in New Delhi, a foiled attack the same day on Israeli officials in Tiblisi, Georgia, and an explosion involving a suspected Iranian bomb maker in Bangkok on Tuesday are just the latest examples. Image from article, with caption: A bomb specialist examines debris Tuesday in Bangkok where two explosions rocked a neighborhood. An Iranian man injured by a grenade he was carrying also was linked to a blast that ripped part of a roof off a house.

Indian Investigators do not Suspect Iran in Israel Embassy Blast - India has suffered from both Hindu and Muslim terrorist groups. So the attack on an automobile outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi could easily have been carried out by an Indian group. Israel’s government, a master of spin and propaganda, immediately blamed the bombing on Iran and Hizbullah. But there is no evidence for this cynical allegation, which makes no sense. India is Iran’s economic lifeline, and Tehran would not likely risk such an operation at this time

Iran Is Ready to Talk - Dennis B. Ross, New York Times: With Iran reeling from sanctions, the proper environment now exists for diplomacy to work. The next few months will determine whether it succeeds.

Syria intervention? Americans may not be cheering - Scott Clement, Washington Post:
While harping on the need for Assad to stop the violence, President Obama is throwing cold water

on prospects of a Libya-like military intervention. Obama’s reluctance to use force jibes with the philosophy of most Americans, who see spreading democracy as a good thing in general, but are much more ambivalent toward using the military to topple dictators. Image from

Oh, that Propaganda... - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: Propaganda means "Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view." Being sensitive to and cognizant of these biases and perspectives is an absolute must, especially in such complex and difficult situations.

Social Media "tactical Intelligence Collection": Spying and Propaganda using Facebook, Twitter - Julie Lévesque: A new study by the Mediterranean Council for Intelligence Studies’ (MCIS) 2012 Intelligence Studies Yearbook points to the use of social media as “the new cutting edge in open-source tactical intelligence collection”.'s Joseph Fitsanakis, who co-authored the study, reports: We explain that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a host of other social networking platforms are increasingly viewed by intelligence agencies as invaluable channels of information acquisition. We base our findings on three recent case studies, which we believe highlight the intelligence function of social networking. (Joseph Fitsanakis, Research: Spies increasingly using Facebook, Twitter to gather data,, February 13, 2012) What the study fails to mention, however, is the use of social media by intelligence agencies for other purposes. The study leads us to believe that social media is solely an intelligence

gathering tool, when in fact, a number of reports have shown that it is used for propaganda including the creation of fake identities in support of covert operations. Those practices are discussed in Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda, Social Media: Air Force ordered software to manage army of Fake Virtual People and Pentagon Seeks to Manipulate Social Media for Propaganda Purposes, published on Global Research in 2011. The MCIS study is partly based on the “Arab Spring” framework which allegedly “prompted the US government to begin developing guidelines for culling intelligence from social media networks”. (Ibid.) Again, this leaves out the fact that the U.S. Government provides “activist training” to foreign nationals to destabilize their country of origin. This tactic is detailed in Tony Cartalucci’s latest article, Egypt: US-funded Agitators on Trial: US "Democracy Promotion" = Foreign-funded Sedition. “Cyber dissidence” is sponsored among others by CIA-linked Freedom House. The First of The Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Events, Co-Sponsored by Freedom House was titled “The Conference on Cyber Dissidents: Global Successes and Challenges”. The Conference on Cyber Dissidents highlighted the work, methods, courage and achievements of its eight dissident guest speakers, from seven nations. Five of these nations are places where freedom has been extinguished (all rated “not free” by Freedom House): China, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Russia. Two others are places where freedom is in peril (both rated “partly free” by Freedom House) because of an authoritarian government accumulating more power, as in Venezuela, or because of the threat of internal terrorist groups, as in Colombia. (The Conference on Cyber Dissidents: Global Successes and Challenges, The George W. Bush Presidential Center) Countries where “freedom has been extinguished” and which are U.S. allies, such as Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, are not listed above. The only U.S. ally listed is Colombia and its freedom is said to be threatened by terrorist groups, rather than by its governement. It is worth noting that the Colombian government has been accused of spying on its journalists and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) says freedom of expression 'barely exists' in Colombia. The goal of “activist training” by U.S. NGOs is to destabilize America’s political enemies in the name of freedom. “Cyber dissidence” is in turn used by intelligence agencies for covert operations. Image from

Europe v. World - Edwin M. Truman, New York Times: The United States should drop its tacit opposition to a proposal by Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the I.M.F. and a former French finance minister, to raise $500 billion to support Europe and actively encourage those countries with the political and financial capacity to participate in the I.M.F. component of a European financial safety net.

The Imperial Way: American Decline in Perspective, Part 2 - Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch: While the principles of imperial domination have undergone little change, the capacity to implement them has markedly declined as power has become more broadly distributed in a diversifying world. Consequences are many. It is, however, very important to bear in mind that -- unfortunately -- none lifts the two dark clouds that hover over all consideration of global order: nuclear war and environmental catastrophe, both literally threatening the decent survival of the species.

Kim Jong-Il birthday celebration: A list of propaganda for the Supreme Leader - Elizabeth Flock, Kim Jong-Il doesn’t let death get in the way of a 70th birthday celebration to remember. The country is rolling out presents of propaganda for the people ahead of the Dear Leader’s birthday Feb. 16, dubbed the “Day of the Shining Star.” Some of the offerings include the below,

an 18-foot statue of Kim Jong-Il galloping next to his father was revealed this week. Another towering bronze statue is currently in the works, and slogans of Kim’s will be carved into the sides of mountains.  Image from article

From Overseas Visitors, a Growing Demand to Study the Holocaust - Ethan Bronner, New York Times, posted at JERUSALEM. The students were spared nothing. There were sessions on Nazi disputes over how to murder the Jews; propaganda art in the Third Reich; encounters with survivors; a history of anti-Semitism; the dilemmas faced by leaders of the Jewish ghetto councils. It was just what one might expect from a 10-day seminar at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial and museum. The surprise was the students: 35 teachers and professors from Taiwan, none of them specialists in the area, most of whom had never before met a Jew. More surprising still were the lessons some were taking away. "Before I came, I felt worse about the Holocaust," said Jen Hsiu-mei, a psychologist and an early childhood educator. "This week, I learned that inside the death camps people helped each other. It gives new meaning to human values. This is not something I expected to learn here -- hope."

Museum might be ordered to return Nazi-seized art - The German Historical Museum may be legally compelled to return 4,259 posters to Peter Sachs, the son of the German Jewish art collector Hans Sachs, whose collection was unlawfully seized by the Nazis on orders from Joseph Goebbels, the head of Hitler's propaganda ministry. Matthias Druba, the attorney for Peter Sachs, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that he sees "a positive tendency" in the legal process and from an expected March decision from the Federal Administrative Court in Karlsruhe.


--Callista Gingrich, wife of Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich meets with Republican supporters at a Smashburger restaurant, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull); from Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog


"a drunken brawl"

--Woodrow Wilson, regarding World War I

"How powerful it is, a vagina—virginal or otherwise—in Sindh, in Punjab, in Balouchistan, in the Northern tribal areas, in Afghanistan, in parts of India!"

--Patricia Lee Sharpe, "Biology 101: A Valentine for Girls and Women in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Whirled View

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