Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29

"I'm a 'None.'"

--What pollsters call Americans who respond on national surveys to the question "What is your religious affiliation?"; image from


Hillary Clinton And John Kerry: Style And Substance – Analysis - Eurasia Review: "Ms. Condoleezza Rice, who was Secretary of State during the second term of Mr. George Bush, and Mrs. Clinton were different from the traditional cold war style of Secretaries of State that one had seen before them. They realized that they had to operate in a world that had changed and that continued to change after the end of the Cold War and that the old style of policy-making, execution and projection that served the US well during the days of the Cold War, would no longer serve it well. They diluted the elitist tradition that dominated the functioning and thinking of the US State Department before them. Public diplomacy and greater policy maker-people interaction became their defining characteristics. They discarded the traditional aloofness of US foreign policy makers and encouraged their staff in the State Department to do so too. Mrs. Clinton was the most out-going and transparent Secretary of State that the US has had who never hesitated to speak her mind out whether to China or Pakistan or other countries.

She could be blunt without being unpleasant in her interactions with her counterparts from other countries. One had a glimpse of her quintessential style of public diplomacy during her town hall interactions with selected members of the civil society in Kolkata earlier this year moderated by Barkha Dutt of NDTV. Mr. Kerry is as knowledgeable as Ms. Rice and Mrs. Clinton and his expertise in moulding policies is considerable. But in a commentary on Mr. Kerry after he was nominated by Mr. Obama, the BBC described him as 'deliberate and strategic' in thinking, but secretive in style. A commentary by the 'Christian Science Monitor' drew attention to Mr. Kerry’s past reputation of elitist aloofness. Many commentators feel that public or people-to-people diplomacy of the kind in which Mrs. Clinton excelled as we saw in Kolkata does not come naturally to Mr. Kerry. It is said that Mrs. Clinton was an excellent team manager in running the State Department. One has misgivings whether Mr. Kerry would be an equally good and warm team manager. ... While the style of Mr. Kerry could be different from that of Mrs. Clinton, in substance one is unlikely to see any changes in foreign policy except in nuances in relation to China and Pakistan." Image (Kerry, U.S. UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Clinton) from

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters: Something is fundamentally wrong with the media in this country [video] - The Right Scoop: "This is a great segment with Lt. Col. Ralph Peters responding to the fact that those in the State Dept. who were supposedly canned after the Bengahzi report came out were actually reassigned to different offices or something. Peters says that the reason they weren’t canned is that the Obama administration is afraid of these people actually telling the truth, so instead of agitating them they pet them softly in another office. And to that point, Peters says, the lack of media interest in this entire Benghazi scandal where 4 people needlessly died and the Obama administration lied points to the fact that there is a fundamental problem with the media in this country. He says the media are more concerned with a stray kitten than Benghazi. ... [reader comment:] Ralph Peters just can't adjust to reality. In a USAToday op-ed, he thinks the Sunnis are now our buddies - 'Paradoxically, our former enemies, Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgents,..' - despite the fact that 93% of them think it's ok to attack coalition forces. He then calls the Anbar Awakening the 'greatest American public diplomacy triumph since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001' but neglects to point out how our public diplomacy played any role. Continuing with his cheerleading, Peters writes this counter-factual, 'We're not the enemy anymore,' when 57% of Iraqis think it's OK to attack coalition forces. I guess USAToday doesn't do much fact-checking. Posted by Steve J."

Young Up-and-coming Journalists of Uruguay Tour US Media Houses - Open Equal Free: "On winning the 'Youth Correspondents of Uruguay' initiative, organized by the U.S. Embassy of Uruguay, Helen Bernatzky, along with three other Uruguayan female correspondents, visited The Washington Post, Voice of America, and the Foreign Press Center as part of a reward trip.
The competition was organized to promote journalism as a career in Uruguay. In the first round, participants wrote an essay connecting the provinces they came from with the United States of America. 18 out of 400 teenagers were selected for the second round that was comprised a four-part intensive seminar series.

Over the course of the year, the selected students interacted with professional journalists, TV station personnel, politicians, U.S. envoys, and photojournalists. While they learned the tricks of the trade, each participant was given a netbook, a video camera, a bag, and a jacket with the program’s logo. Finally, the four winners, Helena Barnetzky, Manuela GarcĂ­a, Georgina Kluver, and Cynthia Rocha, were celebrated at the ambassador’s residence and were awarded with a trip to several media houses in USA. They also got the opportunity to meet the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara Sonenshine, without whom this enriching initiative could not have been possible." Image from article

Go West Young Woman: Grad School at DU - "The great thing about working in and with the career office is that I’ve had my eyes open to all the things that a DU grad can do with their degree. Nonprofits, federal and state government jobs, and even the private sector are looking for people like us. And especially since our undergraduate work study guys are awesome and constantly posting job and internship opportunities on the KorbelCareers site, you have a constantly updated database of places that are hiring. So, when someone is all, can’t you just work in an embassy somewhere with that degree, you can be, oh no

girlfriend, I can save babies in Africa by sending them clean medical supplies or work with immigrants helping them adjust to living in America or start a nonprofit to do what I’m passionate about or be a research analyst for the CIA or State Department or private company looking to go global. And while I’m not 100% sure about what life after graduation holds for me, I know I have options. Next quarter I’m taking International Development in Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Reading the Arab Spring, and Practical Public Diplomacy. That’s what I love about DU." Image from, with caption DU [University of Denver] cheerleading team.


Matt Damon’s anti-fracking propaganda film financed by oil-rich United Arab Emirates - Lachlan Markay, A new film starring Matt Damon presents American oil and natural gas producers as money-grubbing villains purportedly poisoning rural American towns. It is therefore of particular note that it is financed in part by the royal family of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. The creators of Promised Land have gone to absurd lengths to vilify oil and gas companies, as Scribe’s Michael Sandoval noted Wednesday. Since recent events have demonstrated the relative environmental soundness of hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations – Promised Land’s script has been altered to make doom-saying environmentalists the tools of oil companies attempting to discredit legitimate “fracking” concerns. While left-leaning Hollywood often targets supposed environmental evildoers, Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits.

A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which runs PR for Participant Media, the company that developed the film fund backing Promised Land, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE. The UAE, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has a stake in the future of the American fossil fuel industry. Hydraulic fracturing has increased the United States’ domestic supply of crude oil and natural gas in areas such as the Bakken shale formation and has the potential to increase domestic production much more in the foreseeable future. That means more oil on the market, and hence lower prices for a globally traded commodity. Fracking is boosting the country’s natural gas supply as well. While the market for American natural gas is primarily domestic, the Energy Department recently approved Cheniere Energy’s plan to export about 2.2 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas per day from Louisiana. The Department is considering LNG export applications from seven other companies. Image from entry

State Dept. pulls ambassador from Central African Republic - By Kristina Wong, Washington Times: The U.S. has suspended embassy operations in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, due to concerns about the security of its personnel amid a rebel uprising, the State Department announced Friday. Ambassador Lawrence D. Wohlers and his diplomatic staff left Bangui on Friday with several private U.S. citizens, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, adding that diplomatic relations with the have not been suspended.

Image from article, with caption: In this frame grab taken from APTN footage from Dec. 27, 2012, Central African Republic President Francois Bozize addresses crowds in Bangui. The president urgently called on France and other foreign powers to help his government fend off rebels who are quickly seizing territory and approaching the capital of Bangui.

A package deal on Iran and Syria - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post: Syria’s impending implosion is coming to a head just as President Obama runs out of time on his promise to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands. His last best hope may now lie in linking the two crises in bargaining with Russia and Iran, Assad’s two most important foreign backers.

Defectors Say Syrian State Journalists 'Kill with Words' - Naharnet: Lama al-Khadra summed up her work for Radio Damascus with a grim phrase: "Our mission was to kill with words." Along with two other journalists for the state-run radio station, Khadra met with journalists in Paris on Friday after the three fled to France to join with opponents of President Bashar Assad's regime.

Now hoping to set up a pro-opposition station to counter regime propaganda, the three described a climate of fear and paranoia within state media that have remained loyal to Assad amid an uprising that has left more than 45,000 dead. Uncaptioned image from article

Piling on Syria - Stephen Lendman, Western-recruited Islamofascist killers are US favorites. They committed mass murder and horrific atrocities since last year. Washington, other Western countries, and regional rogues arm, fund, train, direct, and encourage them. On December 21, Russia Today interviewed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Moscow isn't "in the business of regime change," he said. He categorically rejects notions about Russia granting Assad asylum. He condemned Western double standards. So-called friends are terrorists, he said. They're ravaging Syria.

Dwindling Adoptions - Charles M. Blow, New York Times: When Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, signed a law on Friday banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans, it brought the issue of international adoptions by United States citizens back into the spotlight. As it turns out, the number of international adoptions by Americans has been falling for years. American adoptions from Russia in particular fell from a high of nearly 6,000 children in 2004 to fewer than 1,000 in 2011.

Putin signs law banning US adoptions - Posted by AFP, President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law a ban on the adoption of Russian children by American families that activists slammed for making orphans pawns in a diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington. The law — retaliation for a US law punishing Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of the whistle-blowing attorney Sergei Magnitsky — will take effect on January 1, the Kremlin said in a statement. The United States reacted with disappointment. Russia’s foreign ministry decried in a statement what it called a US “propaganda campaign” against the adoption ban, saying that 19 deaths of Russian children adopted by Americans since 1996 is “only a tip of an iceberg."

The Afghan Dilemma: ‘Different guns, different uniforms, but it’s the same war’ - Vladic Ravich and Olga Belogolova, The Globe and Mail: It is early in the afternoon, but Igor Yerin has to turn on the lights – he doesn’t get many visitors to the tiny Soviet Afghanistan War Museum he manages on the outskirts of Moscow. This weekend, however, veterans will gather here to commemorate the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the last week of December, 1979. On display are bullet-riddled helmets, crutches and even soldiers’ guitars, along with photographs of mine-sniffing German shepherds and leaflets showing the rebel mujahedeen being given money by American agents. This is obviously wartime propaganda, but based on fact: Russians often remind American visitors that the U.S. financed and armed Osama bin Laden and his fellow rebels during their war of resistance. A striking difference between the wars was the Soviet Union’s consistent efforts to display Soviet and Afghan unity.

The peak of this propaganda was in the final years of the war, just before Soviet forces had to withdraw from the quagmire. A celebrated Afghan combat pilot named Abdul Ahad Momand was chosen for cosmonaut training and launched into space for nine days in 1988. Stamps, books, posters and pins were produced to show the union of these neighboring nations, even as they were locked in a war of attrition. By the time the war was lost, the cosmonaut was a member of the Soviet-installed cabinet and had to flee to Germany. According to Mr. Yerin, the stigma of co-operation would endanger all Afghans. Image from, with caption: International Joint Space Flight with Afghanistan members

BBC World News (the 24/7 TV channel) gets US distribution boost with Time Warner deal - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China takes new steps to "make the internet clean again" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The year of Twitter - Imane Kurdi, Twitter is highly democratic; everyone has the chance to reach the whole world through the power of 140 characters. It is free and devoid of political affiliation, a perfect platform for anyone with a message to disseminate. Gone are the days when you needed to write a press release, send it to news agencies, which would then pass it on to newspapers and broadcasters, who would then decide whether or not to use it to produce news content. Now you can contact the public directly at the press of a button. A great platform for disseminating information is also a great platform for propaganda as the Israelis showed us in November when they live-tweeted their attacks on Gaza. Seeing the Israelis post pictures and videos of them bombing and killing their “targets” was sickening. Of course this kind of footage has long been available online and terrorists of all kinds love posting gruesome pictures of their actions, but seeing those images on Twitter was different because it brought it into the mainstream.

Photos: Xi Jinping propaganda makes him look normal, handsome - Beth Main, Recently Xinhua has taken to posting photos of senior officials, including Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, to emphasise their human sides.

It's a pity that Xinhua also published a set of photo-shopped images of Li Keqiang (awkward face), but they're doing a much better job a propagandising Xi Jinping's past (and his dashing good looks). More pictures of Xi Jinping 'before he was famous'. Uncaptioned image from entry, but presumably of Xi Jinping

Wave of nationalism sweeps through Northeast Asia - Barbara Demick, Both Koreas soon will be governed by the progeny of Cold War strongmen. China is in the hands of the son of one of Mao Zedong’s revolutionary comrades. The new prime minister of Japan is a long-standing hawk and the grandson of one of Japan’s war cabinet leaders. The future is looking uninspiringly like the past in Northeast Asia. And although few (other than doomsday theorists) are predicting another war, the alignment of new leaders seems likely to cause some bumps in the year ahead. Perhaps the least overtly militant of the new crop of leaders is Park, who was elected on Wednesday in South Korea, a country where the left tends to be more nationalistic.

But the 60-year-old Park carries her own historical baggage as the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the fiercely anti-Communist leader who seized power in 1961 and ruled until his assassination in 1979. Although Park has also pledged to improve relations with Pyongyang, which deteriorated during the last five years, it might not be so simple. If past patterns hold true, North Korea will welcome the new administration in Seoul with a provocation, such as a nuclear test or a skirmish at sea. During the South Korean presidential campaign, Pyongyang’s propaganda machine lashed out at Park, its official news service sniping that “a dictator’s bloodline cannot change away from its viciousness.” Late Thursday the North Korean news service reported the news of Park’s electoral victory in a one-sentence dispatch saying that the ruling party candidate “was elected with a slim margin.” The report did not mention her name. Uncaptioned image from article

Kingdom of Kitsch: The oversize public monuments and buildings in the capital of North Korea confirm the subservience of the citizen to the state and display the ghastly aesthetic imperatives of totalitarian art - Eric Gibson, Wall Street Journal: Browse the travel section of any bookstore and along with old reliables such as Michelin you'll find a plethora of other titles and brands covering just about every destination and taste. Surely the strangest addition to this genre is the two-volume "Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang," edited by Philipp Meuser, a German architect and architectural historian.

Strange because Pyongnang is unlikely to be on anyone's "see before you die" list and because, even if it were, it's not an easy place to see. The capital of the Hermit Kingdom receives only a few hundred visitors a year, the bulk of them officially sanctioned and accompanied every step of the way by government minders. The book is not so much a Baedeker—there are no transportation tips, no business hours, no walking tours or other standard guidebook information—as an attempt to parse a city that Mr. Meuser describes as "an architectural cabinet of curiosities. . . . arguably the world's best preserved open-air museum of socialist architecture." One day the regime will fall and democracy will come to North Korea. We can only hope that, when it does, the successor government will preserve the monumental, public, propagandistic Pyongyang in all its perverse glory. It would be a real tourist destination, the world's only totalitarian-kitsch theme park—a kind of lopsided Disneyworld—and an object lesson in what happens when art is hijacked by the state, and the individual is ground beneath the wheels of a repressive ideology. Image from article, with caption: The Grand Monument on Mansu Hill features a 60-foot statue of Kim Il-sung; a sculpture celebrating the founding of the Communist Party

Love Lists? We've Got 'Em, For Better and Worse - Anita Huslin and Mark Memmott, "2012's Top 5 Craziest World News Stories," from CBS News. And, of course, The Onion fooling China's Communist Party newspaper into thinking that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is the world's sexiest may is on that list.

Image from article, with caption:  The mysterious, most-interesting, super-sexy North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (And if you believe all that, you may be reading too many reports from Chinese media.)

It’s a Wonderful Life: Commie Propaganda? - Donald R. McClarey, Hard to believe, but there was an FBI report in 1947 that deemed It’s a Wonderful Life as Communist propaganda. [From a memorandum] "To: The Director D.M. Ladd COMMUNIST INFILTRATION OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY (RUNNING  MEMORANDUM) There is submitted herewith the running memorandum concerning Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry which has been brought up to date as of May 26, 1947….

With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists. ..." Ironically, Frank Capra, the director of the film, was a life long conservative Republican, as was the star of the picture, Jimmy Stewart. Image from

Borgias got a bad press, book claims: A new book that draws on documents in the Vatican Secret Archive tries to debunk some of the darkest stories about the much-maligned Borgias - Nick Squires, In The Borgias: The Black Legend, Mario Dal Bello, an Italian historian and journalist, argues that the notorious Renaissance clan were the unfair victims of disinformation and propaganda fuelled by the rivalry of other power hungry families. Lucretia Borgia has also been the victim of five centuries of misinformation, said Mr Dal Bello.

She is portrayed as a scheming vamp who indulged in incest and intrigue at court. In reality she was "an exemplary wife" who later devoted herself to helping the poor in the city of Ferrara. "When Lucretia died at the age of 39 in 1519, as a result of the birth of her eighth child, the whole of Ferrara mourned," said Mr Dal Bello. "Even her third husband, who had married her for political reasons, was destroyed. Her last words were 'I'm forever a servant of God'." Much of the black propaganda about her was spread by her first husband, Giovanni Sforza, who was left embittered after Alexander VI engineered the dissolution of his marriage to Lucretia. The Borgias may have used poison to dispose of their enemies, but so did every powerful family at the time, Mr. Dal Bello writes in his book. Nor was it unusual for popes of the time to have wives and mistresses, as Pope Alexander did – he fathered eight children by at least three women. Image from article, with caption: Jeremy Irons stars as Rodrigo Borgia in The Borgias.

Conversation: A Word Signifying Nothing - Robert J. Mack, American Thinker: Next time you hear a politician or a news analyst use the word "conversation," be very afraid. That word has become the weapon of choice used by the propaganda specialists in politics and media to bamboozle the American people. You will know that in that "conversation" no one won the debate with a vigorous defense of the facts, no minds were changed, and nothing of significance happened.


"In America the articulate use of language is often regarded with suspicion."

--British actor Daniel Day-Lewis; cited in Richard Pells, Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies and the Globalization of American Culture (2011), p. 372


Image from, with caption: Personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy shows Cori Sorensen, a fourth-grade teacher from Highland Elementary School, how to hold a .357 magnum revolver during concealed weapons training for 200 teachers on Dec. 27 in West Valley City, Utah 

Image from, with note: I feel there is basically 2 types of drug user. One type uses drugs such as ganja, mushrooms, ecstasy, LSD or amphetamines for recreational purposes, just like someone might like going skydiving at the weekends, that type might take ecstasy at weekends. This type of drug use is not without risks (but then nor is skydiving) but is fundamentally different from the other sort of use. The other type uses drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine. This type often use needles and are addicted. This type of drug use is out of control and has taken over a person’s life.

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