Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 20-21

"According to the 'World Penis Average Size Studies Database,' the average length of an erect American penis is 5.1 inches, which makes the United States rank fiftieth out of seventy-three countries for whom the average length of erect penises has been determined by measurements, as opposed to self reporting. Ecuador ranks first, with an average erect penis length of 6.9 inches."

--"The U.S. ranks 50th in erection length," Ranking America: a site of information about the U.S.; image from entry (article is blocked, but a site evidently based on its data at); cited blog mentioned in New York Times


Propaganda clip of “Ela Beitolmoghadas” war game in Tehran -


Putin’s New ‘Fortress Russia’ - Ariel Cohen, "The Obama administration 'reset' needs a serious reassessment, and so does the overall relationship with Russia. America should pursue its national interests in relations with Moscow, instead of chasing a feel-good mirage. Washington should work to advance individual rights, democracy and free media through public diplomacy and pinpointed support of worthy causes.

Washington should cooperate with those along the Russian periphery and in Europe who are concerned about the growth of Russia’s sphere of influence. Finally, the United States and its allies should engage international organizations, expert communities, mass and social media to counter the crackdown in Russia." Image from

Public Diplomacy Important to US Foreign Policy - Mina Fabulous, "Recognizing that public diplomacy as an integral to US foreign policy, the United States of America today also emphasized why public diplomacy is the best lodestar for US future success. In her remarks at Syracuse University Washington, DC [sic], Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs says in ancient times, sailors used a lodestar to navigate their way through unknown seas. ... She says countries need a modern lodestar in guiding principles to help understand where they are going. ... According to Ms. Sonenshine, Secretary Clinton grappled with how to make public diplomacy integral to US foreign policy. ... Ms. Clinton knew that it had to start with making US diplomacy part of a three-legged stool one that included diplomacy, development, and defense, Ms. Sonenshine stated. ... Mina Fabulous

follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain [E]nglish." Image from

Collaboration and Public Diplomacy - "Tara Sonenshine recently spoke on October 17th, 2012 at American University about collaboration and public diplomacy. She is the US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and was the first speaker for the new Public and Cultural Diplomacy Forum at American University. This week she spoke about the importance of public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and collaboration. She defined cultural diplomacy as 'using cultural relationships to build trust overseas' and touched on some key issues affecting US public diplomacy today. Her talk started by pointing out the similarities between public diplomacy and Hollywood. Both Hollywood and public diplomacy are dependent on collaboration, teamwork, talking with each other while relying on partnerships to produce a viable product. With regards to national security she quoted Hillary Clinton that the world, 'village', must be intricate, interconnected and international."

Immersion in Public Diplomacy - tsionhw, "This week was filled with many Public Diplomacy milestones for me. As an individual who knew very little about the topic prior to taking this course, this entire semester has been very much a learning experience. However, this week took it to a whole new level because it was one of the few times when I was truly immersed with the area of study and more importantly was able to gain a deeper appreciation of it.

From the USIP Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine talk on to Suzanne Philion’s to class, I would definitely say that this week exemplified the best in Public Diplomacy. it was also an eye opening experience towards understanding the multiple layers of PD that help define, and shape it in the eyes of the participants and observers with keen intersts in its further development. ... Through their words and acts, both women truly emphasized the practical applicability of PD and its long term implications for diplomacy, and as for me, I can finally say I understand PD and more importantly attest to it being a remarkable field." Image from

Clinton Talks Energy Goals - Sarah Kaplan, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the importance of energy and its status as a 21st-century foreign policy priority in Gaston Hall Thursday afternoon. Dean of the School of Foreign Service Carol Lancaster introduced Clinton, calling her a 'Hoya by marriage' and lauding her years of work in government. 'Secretary Clinton has come to embody the Georgetown spirit of public service,' Lancaster said.

Clinton began her talk by outlining the impact of energy concerns on international affairs, saying that the issue is at the core of geopolitics, economic growth and global development. ... Matthew McManus (GRD ’90), deputy director of public diplomacy and policy analysis in the Bureau of Energy Resources, shared how Georgetown should get involved in the conversation about sustainability. 'It is important for us to engage the next generation and to really have a debate about the best path forward for energy security, our planet and the environment,' he said." Image from article

Act of Congress and Beauty of Twitter Brevity - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "'It was probably the most amazing experience we’ve ever had' @Act_of_Congress back from @USAmusicabroad tour in Thailand, Philippines, Palau and East Timor: Birmingham News [.]” On Act of Congress State-Department funded overseas tours, see.

Broadcasting Board of Governors offers buyouts, early outs - Kellie Lunney, Government Executive: The Broadcasting Board of Governors is offering buyouts and early retirement packages to employees across the agency, according to an internal email obtained by Government Executive. Those eligible for buyouts include employees at Voice of America, the International Broadcasting Bureau and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. BBG is offering 287 buyouts, and employees in various grades and job series throughout the agency qualify. Employees interested in a buyout must apply by Nov. 9 and leave the government by Dec. 31. BBG is offering the early retirement option to those who are eligible through Sept. 30, 2013. 'Buyouts are being offered to minimize the effects of potential budget reductions and to enable the agency to acquire new skills required by the agency’s mission,' said Lynne Weil, director of communications and external affairs at BBG, in a separate email responding to questions.

Several government agencies and departments have offered voluntary separation packages to thousands of federal employees during the last year to save money and avoid layoffs in an era of tight budgets. ... BBG is an independent federal agency in charge of government-supported, civilian international broadcasting; it has an annual budget of about $750 million and roughly 1,650 employees. The agency ranked 32 out of 35 in the Partnership for Public Service’s 2011 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey. The Federal Labor Relations Authority in late September rejected an appeal from BBG regarding an arbitrator’s 2011 ruling that the agency had improperly fired 16 employees in the Office of Cuba Broadcasting." Via LJB. Image from article

RFA and VOA accused of favoritism in "friendly meet" with Cambodian officials (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

NASA PD - Paul Rockower, Levantine: " [W]hat if NASA had a better PD sense- a bit of Barnum to match its science smarts. If I ran NASA, I would send shuttles across the highways of the America to let the American people see what it is really about. Give them a tangible taste of the flight to space. I can guarantee that if NASA sent the space shuttle inching down Route 66, they would never see their budget cut again as the throngs great it along its way."

SA elite will not be making the sacrifices: Unless it wants to live in the Buenos Aires of circa 2000, South Africa's middle class must shake off its apathy, writes Richard Calland - "At a time of crisis, behind-the-scenes action is not enough. More attention has to be paid to the public diplomacy necessary to reassure a range of key stakeholders: international investors, media, analysts and foreign governments.

Even after nearly two decades in office, the ANC persistently underestimates the importance of managing external relations and trying to influence assertively the global market sentiment that it rails against." Image from

Public Diplomacy in Armenia-A1+TV [video] - "After my interview with A1+TV which can be found here: I interviewed the journalist who interviewed me in order to share with you some of the media freedom issues here in Armenia. Don’t worry–there is a translation!"

Herzliya Conference 2013 - Nurit Greenger, Doc's Talk: "Along the ongoing efforts of Jews who understand the vital importance to defend Israel, The Herzliya Conference was born. The Herzliya Conference ( is the largest, and growing, national security and public diplomacy conference in the world that takes place each year in Israel. Established in 2000, the primary objective of the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Inter-Disciplinary Center, (IDC), Herzliya is to contribute to Israel’s national policy and to constantly upgrade its strategic decision-making process. The Herzliya Conference and the work of the IPS at the IDC pride the discussion of important public policy and national security issues facing Israel and the United States.


As Afghan Forces Kill, Trust Is Also a Casualty - Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times: Insider killings of Western troops and civilians by Afghan forces, which have taken 51 coalition lives this year, have broken trust

between the two military forces and laid bare the anger and fear each harbors toward the other. Image from article, with caption: A truck burning near an Afghan Army outpost, the scene of an Afghan-American clash.

Taliban deny their bombs cause most Afghan deaths: The Taliban dismissed on Sunday a UN report that roadside bombs are causing most civilian casualties in Afghanistan as "Western propaganda" - Associated Press: Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that the insurgents only use the weapons to target foreign troops and the Afghan security forces. "By spreading such propaganda they are trying to prevent us from planting bombs which cause the deaths of invaders in our country," he said in an emailed statement.

Not losing in Afghanistan - John A. Nagl, Washington Post: The United States and its many allies are not losing in Afghanistan. John A. Nagl is a retired Army officer, who served in both wars in Iraq, and a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the author of “Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife.” The spate of “green on blue” killings of U.S. soldiers by members of the Afghan security forces — some Taliban infiltrators, but mostly disgruntled or frustrated Afghans after a decade of foreign occupation — is a serious threat to our partnership strategy. After a temporary stand-down, to allow reactions to cartoons and videos caricaturing the prophet Muhammad to pass, joint patrols have resumed. We are proceeding with our plan to hand over primary responsibility for security to the Afghans by the end of 2014. This will allow the United States to accomplish our national security objectives in the region.

China Is Wary of U.S. Candidates’ Tough Talk - Jane Perlez, New York Times: Richer and more assertive since the last American presidential campaign, China is looking at the harsh anti-Chinese sentiment being expressed by both candidates with a mixture of aloofness and unease. The Chinese say they are accustomed to China-bashing during the American election season, but there is growing concern among government officials, business executives and academics here that this time the attitude toward China among the American public and politicians is so hot it may not cool after Election Day. Just 39 percent of those polled in China during the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project earlier this year described the relationship with the United States as cooperative. In 2010, two-thirds of those polled called the relationship cooperative. Only 8 percent saw the relationship as hostile in the 2010; this year 26 percent viewed it that way. The survey was conducted between

March 18 and April 15 this year among 3,177 respondents, a sample designed to reflect the views of about 64 percent of the adult Chinese population, the Pew Research Center said. Image from article, with caption: In downtown Beijing, items depicting President Obama are sold alongside items depicting Mao.

Too little too late in Libya: Obama repeated Bush's mistake, and the power vacuum has been filled by jihadists - Max Boot, In Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. did little to fill a power vacuum after toppling the existing regimes. Those examples should have taught the U.S. a lesson that has been relearned in Libya (and is now being confirmed in Syria): Any power vacuum in the Middle East inevitably gets filled by jihadists, who have access to weapons and a proclivity to use them, while the "silent majority" of moderate Muslims, who are concerned primarily about a better life for themselves and their families, are too cowed to resist. Nation-building (or, more accurately, "state building") is an enormously difficult and time-consuming task, but it is also inescapable if we are to avoid more fiascoes like the deadly assault on our Benghazi consulate.

Just Say No: Syrian Rebel Leader Calls for “Marshall Plan” - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: "The US loves spending money overseas on reconstructing things. We spent $44 billion on Iraq and are over $70 billion in Afghanistan.

I’m sure whomever [sic] is in the White House when the bank vault is opened to Syria will be tickled pink to reconstruct them too. Using your money, ‘natch." Image from entry

The Debatable World - David E. Sanger, New York Times [subscription]: For Mitt Romney, America must again be the unchallenged power in the world. For President Obama, America must live in the moment, pre-eminent but not the sole power.

The Opiate of Exceptionalism - Scott Shane, New York Times: In the political major leagues, it is impermissible to dwell on chronic, painful problems, or on statistics that challenge the notion that the United States leads the world. This national characteristic, often labeled American exceptionalism, may inspire some people and politicians to perform heroically, rising to the level of our self-image. But during a presidential campaign, it can be deeply dysfunctional, ensuring that many major issues are barely discussed.

Problems that cannot be candidly described and vigorously debated are unlikely to be addressed seriously. In a country where citizens think of themselves as practical problem-solvers and realists, this aversion to bad news is a surprising feature of the democratic process. Image from

Twitter Gives Saudi Arabia a Revolution of Its Own - Robert F. Worth, New York Times: Saudi Arabia did not have an Arab Spring. But it has had a revolution of sorts. Open criticism of this country’s royal family, once unheard-of, has become commonplace in recent months. Prominent judges and lawyers issue fierce public broadsides about large-scale government corruption and social neglect. Women deride the clerics who limit their freedoms. Even the king has come under attack. All this dissent is taking place on the same forum: Twitter. The new voices are not confined to calls for Western-style liberal reform. The largest Twitter followings belong to clerics. Muhammad al-Arifi, a conservative cleric, has more than 2.7 million followers, dwarfing the most prominent champions of women’s rights, for instance, and members of the royal family. Interior Ministry officials prowl the Twittersphere, always under false names, chastising government critics and issuing brittle avowals of loyalty to king and country.

Humus for Peace – Paul Rockower, Levantine: Gastrodiplomacy to bring Israelis and Palestinian Jerusalemites together through food. Toda and shukran Abba!

Don’t Tell Dad, I’m Going to Cuba - Anna Hebra Flaster, New York Times: As the older people on both sides of the Florida Straits die, so, too, will the bitter passions that helped fuel more than 60 years of stalemate between Cuba and the United States.

The Glow of the EU's Nobel Peace Prize Shines Also on America - Sarwar Kashmeri, Huffington Post: It is worth recalling that of the four men most responsible for launching the European Union -- Schuman, Monnet, Acheson and Truman -- two were American. Via LJB

Eutelsat takes 19 Iranian channels off satellite after ruling by French media regulator - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from entry

BBC Worldwide's expanded partnership with YouTube "will distribute the best British content around the world" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Madonna's tone-deaf tattoo - Meghan Daum, Baltimore Sun: There goes Madonna, classing up the joint again. To show her support of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot and critically wounded by the Taliban because of her advocacy for girls' education, the Material Girl (a.k.a. Madge, Esther, the Queen of Pop, the Hottest Bod in the AARP) took the opportunity during a recent concert at L.A.'s Staples Center to pull her pants down and reveal a (fake) tattoo of the girl's name inked across the small of her back.

Take that, Taliban! Mess with girls' education and you're messing with a 54-year-old pop star in a leather corset. With her relentless self-promotion, envelope pushing and obsession with her body, Madonna is, in a very real sense, an extremist. And, sadly, that means she taps right into extremist ideas about "Western freedom" and what happens when women gain power, not to mention an education. In other words, by "supporting" Malala, Madonna might be putting the teenager even more into harm's way. Image from

Israel: Gaza Propaganda Boat Estelle Tried To Divert Media From Iran, Syria - Joel Leyden, Israel News Agency: Another Islamic Jihad, Syria and Iran backed propaganda boat was boarded today by the Israel Defense Forces. The Estelle, a European ship sailing to the Gaza Strip to try to break Israel’s security blockade which was created to prevent the distribution of Hamas terror weapons was escorted to the Israeli city of Ashdod. The Hamas bound boat was not carrying any humanitarian aid and their goal was to divert media attention away from the 30,000 civilians murdered in Syria and Iran's attempt to build a nuclear weapon.

Iranian Vice President Criticized Western Propaganda against Iran - Ahmad Rezaie, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi criticized Western countries for their propaganda against Iran.

He also stated that the negative publicity by United States and its allies have caused the separation between nations which is an inhumanity operation. “Powerful countries (especially Israel) have launched false politic propaganda against smaller countries. By using mass media they can boycott other countries and show negative face from them.” said Mohammad Reza Rahimi Ghorve’ei, Iran’s First Vice President. Image from article

The Enduring Power Of Haile Selassie’s Propaganda - Ever since September 1, 1961, when Hamid Idris Awate fired the first bullet from Mt. Adal heralding Eritrea’s revolution against the Ethiopian occupation, Emperor Haile Sellassie and his Eritrean allies have branded him as bandit (wenbedie) with a ragtag of Islamist and Arabist followers. The Ethiopian regime tried in vain to defame Awate’s name by depicting him as an Islamist because it was wary that the revolution that a Muslim ex-soldier “nomad” had ignited would be followed by Christians. Haile Selassie’s rule came to an end in 1974, in no small part due to the revolution that this Eritrean “bandit” started. Haile Selassie’s successor, Mengistu Hailemariam, was ideologically different from the Emperor in every way except one—he continued Haile Selassie’s propaganda of labeling Hamid Idris Awate as a bandit and the Revolution he started as Islamist and Arabist.

Soviet propaganda posters show importance of religious freedom - Carl Bunderson, Catholic News Agency: Some 40 Soviet propaganda posters against Christianity will soon be displayed at Denver’s Catholic cathedral as part of an exhibit dedicated to religious liberty. “These posters remind us that societies

can turn very deadly when you have a kind of radical secularism which manifests in an anti-Christian attitude … you see it in all its ugliness through the lens of these posters,” Father Doug Grandon told CNA Oct. 17. The posters displayed at the cathedral are part of the collection of Fr. Grandon, parochial vicar at St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, Colo. Image from article, with caption:  A woman throws icons away in a propaganda poster which states, "The Bright Light of Science Has Proven That There Is No God."

How to Spot Propaganda - Diane Ravitch's blog


"But there is nothing in the novel that couldn’t happen tomorrow right outside your window. Who hasn’t heard the pathetic cry of the outraged Anglo: 'SPEAK ENGLISH, YOU PATHETIC IDIOT! YOU’RE IN AMERICA NOW!' or its mocking response:  'You een Mee-ah-mee now!'”

--Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, reviewing Tom Wolfe's new book about Miami, Back to Blood


--Via JJ on Facebook, with Caption: "When we are no longer children we are already dead." ~ Constantin Brâncuşi

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