Monday, October 7, 2013

October 6


--Woody Allen's working title for his film Annie Hall; it is a term coined by the French psychologist Théodule-Armand Ribot to describe "the inability to experience pleasure from actions usually found enjoyable"; cited in The Times Literary Supplement (October 4, 2013), p. 17; Ribot image from


Opinion: Amid Shutdown, U.S. Government Should Learn From Apple: U.S. leaders should take more care to protect national image and brand - Tara D. Sonenshine, National Geographic: "A government shutdown is not the ideal way to convey U.S. values and interests overseas. Closing the federal government—especially our national parks, America's signature attractions—undercuts the basic narrative that America is an open society, a tolerant nation, and a good partner in the world. ... Apple ranked high this year because its products are well liked, its services are considered good, and people have come to value the company as practically a cultural icon of America—particularly with young people.

Those characteristics are good for a company and good for a country. But it is hard to deliver high-quality services and a good experience if you are not open for business—whether it is the National Zoo or the Grand Canyon. Both convey American values. ... Public diplomacy should never be equated with corporate PR. One is a public good; the other is a bottom-line sell. But that doesn't mean we can't learn from both about the importance of being understood in a crowded global market. Apple, as a company and a symbol, is, well, as American as apple pie. I'd vote for re-hanging a sign soon: 'America: Open for Business.' Tara D. Sonenshine is former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is currently a Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs." Image from article, with caption: A National Parks Service employee closes the Lincoln Memorial as a result of the government shutdown.

Obama channeling McGovern - Robert Kaufman, "A dangerous theme looms large in President Obama's recent speeches on Syria and Iran: His administration no longer has the will or sees the need to sustain American global leadership and the preponderance of American military power. ... The president champions the efficacy of wielding so-called soft power – culture and public diplomacy – rather than hard power – military strength – to uphold the national interest. Correspondingly, the president has evinced greater concern for unconventional threats such as global warming than for traditional security threats emanating from great power rivalry. The Obama administration's 2010 National Security Statement barely mentions Russia and China as potential threats or democratic India and Japan as counterweights, according higher priority to terrorism narrowly defined, environmentalism and humanitarian concerns. The president also esteems the United Nations as the arbiter of international legitimacy about when and how the United States uses force. Witness President Obama 'leading from behind' to oust Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, bypassing Congress, relying, instead, on the authority of the United Nations and the Arab League. Witness the president investing the United Nations with primary responsibility for divesting Syria of its chemical arsenal. President Obama likewise goes well beyond any American statesman since McGovern and Carter in stressing conciliation and accommodation with adversaries. ... If he gets his way, the United States will abandon the indispensable role it has played since World War II: deterring and defeating existential threats to freedom, ensuring the world does not descend into some form of Hobbesian chaos."

MP: New US Approach toward Iran Needs to Be Verified - "An Iranian lawmaker said President Rouhani's trip to New York opened up a new chapter in international relations, and while welcoming Iran's change in tone towards the US, he called on the White House to take serious action to redress its past track record with Iran.

The US needs to show it is serious to make a new start in its relations with Tehran; it also needs to make up for part of its past crimes against the Iranian nation and give up its hostility towards the country, Alireza Zakani said in his Tuesday address at the parliament. ... Zakani further said presence of President Rouhani at the UN 'opened up a new chapter in international relations', adding the stances expressed by the president in his address to the UN general Assembly and his meetings with leaders from other countries were the successful continuation of the public diplomacy that has been pursued by Iranian officials for many years.Uncaptioned image from article

Israel and Washington Target Iran - Stephen Lendman, "They're [U.S. and Israel] rogue states. ... Israel's worried about its public image. It's for good reason. Out-of-control hegemons are despised. Tel Aviv established propaganda brigades. Hundreds of students were hired. They're paid to lie. Their job is flooding social media sites with duplicitous pro-Israeli disinformation. They're doing it covertly. They're doing it without identifying themselves as government agents. In mid-August, AP headlined 'Israel to pay students to defend it online,' saying: Netanyahu's 'office said in a statement that students on Israeli university campuses would receive full or partial scholarships to combat anti-Semitism and calls to boycott Israel online. It said students' messages would parallel statements by government officials. This is a groundbreaking project aimed at strengthening Israeli national diplomacy and adapting it to changes in information consumption.'

At the same time, Netanyahu said: 'We are (operating) on four fronts: The military front, the home front, the diplomatic front and the public diplomacy front. We must fight for the truth, for the facts, and your help is worth more than gold (in) refuting the industry of lies.' Israel deplores truth. It's a machine for manufacturing lies. Netanyahu prioritizes doing so. His annual UN addresses alone reflect it. They repeat one lie after another. Netanyahu systematically avoids truth. He supports wrong over right. ... Governments are judged by their actions. Tweets and Facebook postings can't erase crimes.  Israel's Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry is closing. Haaretz said its outgoing deputy director general Daniel Seaman heads Israel's new propaganda initiative. Its article headlined 'Is an abusive racist the best Israeli PR can produce?' ... Public Diplomacy Ministry personnel are being shifted to Netanyahu's national public diplomacy unit. Seaman heads its interactive media initiative. He handles online propaganda campaigns. He's establishing 'covert (student) units in Israel's seven universities. According to Haaretz: 'Messages (he) posted on his Facebook page raise serious doubts as to the degree to which good judgment is exercised by someone who is slated to be the chief official in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Israel’s public diplomacy efforts on the various social networks on the Internet.' ... Washington tolerates no independent governments. It wants pro-Western puppet ones replacing them. It targeted Iran for decades. It continues doing so now. War plans were readied years ago. Obama could order them implemented any time. Don't bet against him not doing it." Uncaptioned image from entry

Netanyahu Finds Opposing Iran Charm Hard in Distracted U.S. - Calev Ben-David, "Benjamin Netanyahu came to the U.S. to challenge what he called a 'charm offensive' by Iran. The Israeli prime minister hasn’t found it easy getting his counterattack to resonate in a country preoccupied by domestic concerns and wary of foreign involvement. Netanyahu used his speech at the United Nations on Oct. 1 to urge the world not to take Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani at face value. ... Rouhani’s overtures led to a Sept. 27 phone call with President Barack Obama, the highest-level U.S.-Iranian encounter since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Netanyahu’s message to the world body -- that Rouhani is a 'wolf in sheep’s clothing' who can’t be trusted -- jarred with the renewed optimism. 'Americans don’t like a dismissive approach, since the stakes with Iran are so large for everyone,' and they think that the 'prospect of a diplomatic opening should be explored,' said David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ... Netanyahu’s private discussions with Obama at the White House on Sept. 30 will turn out to be more consequential than his public diplomacy blitz, according to Makovsky."

Most Difficult Question for the West in its Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran - Mahdi Mohammadi, "Since [the Iranian President] Hassan Rouhani has returned to Tehran [from a trip to New York to take part in the 68th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly] difficulties of diplomacy have been gradually popping up. As long as the Iranian president was in New York, both Iran and the United States were making tangible efforts in a bid to show that a positive atmosphere exists between the two sides. One of the main goals of Rouhani’s trip to the United States was to foster public diplomacy in order to improve Iran's image in the world and make it more difficult for the Israelis to pose new threats against Tehran, one may claim that Rouhani has been to a large extent successful in achieving this goal.

This is why [the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has become so upset and has been trying by all available means to convince the international community that there is nothing new with regard to Iran's behavior to raise hope. The public diplomacy, however, is not the whole story. There were two other aspects to Rouhani’s trip to the United States. A more or less complete assessment of Rouhani’s trip to the United States can be only carried out when this trip is considered in parallel with the public diplomacy which was pursued by the Iranian delegation. The second aspect of the trip was related to the official diplomacy. Undoubtedly, a turning point here was a meeting by [the Iranian Foreign Minister] Mohammad Javad Zarif with his counterparts from the member states of the P5+1 group of world powers. Of course, a more important event was a private conversation between Zarif and the US Secretary of State John Kerry which took about half an hour. There was also a third aspect to Rouhani’s US visit, which is known as covert diplomacy or Track II diplomacy." Image from article

Iranian Threat: Paying a ‘hasbara’ price in pursuit of strategic goal - herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post: "On Tuesday, just before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took the UN podium and declared Israel would act alone against Iran if need be . ... Even as Netanyahu was clearly getting his message across to the Iranians, on a strictly hasbara level of making Israel’s case to as wide an audience as possible, the speech was a failure.

Experienced public diplomacy practitioners will tell you that the key to getting Israel’s message across – especially when dealing with a North American audience – is to keep it hopeful, upbeat and optimistic. Don’t say there will never be peace, even if you believe it, because the North American audience always wants to hold out hope for a peaceful resolution. Be conciliatory, not aggressive; be empathetic, not sarcastic; and by all means keep God and Jewish historical tragedies out of the mix. God-talk gets many Americans nervous, and people are tired of hearing about Jewish suffering. The prime minister, who knows the rules of hasbara very well, broke them all in his speech. ... Netanyahu got Iran’s attention ... this time ... though ... to do so he paid a public diplomacy price in coming across as overly aggressive. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to pay a price in hasbara for a greater strategic goal." Image from article, with caption: Binyamin Netanyau is pictured on a television monitor while addressing the 68th session of the UNGA

Netanyahu has carpet bombed Western diplomacy: While the prime minister was taking America by storm with interviews on Iran, there were some Israeli surprises at the J Street Conference in Washington and signs of a potentially explosive alliance being forged back home - Yossi Verter, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes home today after leaving behind scorched earth in the American media arena. In the past two days, he executed a public diplomacy campaign best likened to carpet bombing.

His dozens of interviews, briefings and meetings with public-opinion molders were all in the service of one goal: to tear the mask off the smiling face of Iranian President Hassan Rohani and to broadcast to the American people − and through them to its elected leaders − the message that this man is far more dangerous than he looks." Image from article

‘There Was No Diplomatic Façade’: Israeli analysts weigh in on Bibi’s UN speech as he breaks up the rapprochement party - Joshua Mitnick, "Though Israel has no choice but to play 'bad cop' to President Barack Obama’s more flexible posture on the terms for a nuclear deal, some experts in the days leading up to the speech said Netanyahu’s public diplomacy should evolve to reflect the changed Iranian leadership from the days of Ahmadinejad."

Why I’m staying - Anderson D. Harkov, Jerusalem Post: "The only way more Jewish Americans will realize they belong in Israel is through exposure (Birthright), Zionist education in Jewish day schools, which

Israel should encourage and support, and hasbara, (public diplomacy)." Image from article, with caption: Olim arrive in Israel with Nefesh B'Nefesh, August 13, 2013.

The Daily Beast gets it wrong – U.S. taxpayers’ money can now be used to provide news to Americans but controversy lingers – BBGWatcher.  BBG Watch : "The Daily Beast article, 'The Story Behind That Incredibly Riveting Video of the D.C. Car Chase,' got it wrong. In describing how 'the guy who captured the dramatic scene wasn’t just some dude—he’s a cameraman for a network called Alhurra, funded by U.S. taxpayers and broadcast in the Middle East,' the reporter wrote: 'Unlike Al Jazeera, which just launched an American channel, Alhurra is totally unavailable in the United States—and not just because there isn’t the demand. Because it’s totally funded by the government, Alhurra is considered propaganda, which means it’s forbidden to broadcast domestically under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. This same prohibition applies to all other networks funded by Broadcasting Board of Governors.' This information is wrong. The Smith-Mundt Act was modified in 2012 (The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012) and since earlier this year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, including Alhurra, the Voice of America and others can legally distribute its news in the United States if asked by U.S. media or anybody else. The question The Daily Beast reporter should have asked was whether Alhurra was asked for the video or volunteered to give it to commercial U.S. media. Providing the video to domestic U.S. media without being asked for it could be a violation of even the current law, especially if it was done on orders of higher-level U.S. government officials. But, in our view, Alhurra journalists could hardly be blamed for wanting to share with their media colleagues such hot news video. Even a good reason for sharing the video, however, does not completely eliminate the controversy or any potential public relations damage to these broadcasters who have a very important media freedom mission overseas. Government bureaucrats, mostly officials of the BBG’s [on BBG, see] International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), who had pushed enthusiastically for the modification of the Smith-Mundt Act, did not think about long-term damaging effect of the changes they had proposed to their own mission of serving news to overseas audiences that lack access to free media. They also did not thank how their proposed change in the law might affect both support and funding for their federal agency from American taxpayers. It must be pointed out that Alhurra, VOA and other BBG-employeed journalists have no desire to engage in domestic or even internationally-targeted propaganda. They are superb professionals. It is their bosses — some of the worst managers in the federal government, according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) — who have exposed Alhurra, VOA and other BBG-employed journalists to these unfounded accusations. These officials have undermined U.S. domestic support for the BBG’s international media freedom mission, as seen by The Daily Beast article and many other U.S. media reports. The modification of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which the IBB bureaucrats mindlessly pushed for in Congress without taking any precautions against negative U.S. domestic media publicity and domestic political backlash, is now being questioned and criticized. The fear is that it will continue to be a topic of domestic political controversy in the future. The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 protected the BBG and its journalists from most of these U.S. domestic political controversies in the past."

Alhurra coverage of the D.C. car chase: Kim Andrew Elliott replies to queries - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "[Elliott]: 'This was the only video of the event as it was unfolding, so other stations used it. It had no propaganda/public diplomacy value, other than publicity for Alhurra by making sure the Alhurra bug was on the screen. ... No such video was available from any source other than Alhurra. The MSM will use the best video they can get. Someone might have been there filming a commercial, and that would have been used if necessary. ... [T]his is not a defining case of the domestic dissemination of USIB. It was a one-off lucky video opportunity for Alhurra. If this had taken place before the domestic dissemination prohibition was lifted, it would have been an interesting conundrum. Some MSM would have used parts of the video without asking permission, citing 'fair use.'

Others would have sought permission from Alhurra. Then Alhurra would have a dilemma: say no because of Smith-Mundt, or say yes because this is great publicity for Alhurra, Smith-Mundt be damned. Or Alhurra might have finessed it by saying 'we can't give you specific permission, but note that Alhurra content is in the public domain.' The bigger question is whether serious news coverage will eventually have to be government-subsidized or at least funded by a nonprofit. That raises the possibility of the government or nonprofit trying the guide the news, either by emphasis within each news item, or by selection of news items to be broadcast. Commercial news media have many advertisers, and that tends to dilute the influence that any one advertiser might have." Image from

Bosnian Immigrant Does Bomb Threat @ Jacksonville Airport; Joint Terrorism Task Force Investigating - Debbie Schlussel, "Off Topic: Anyone notice Alhurra Television was the one providing the footage of the DC driver/shooter. I found that odd so I looked up on Wikipedia – guess what, funded by Congress (US) and not allowed to broadcast here. [F]rom Wikipedia: Alhurra began broadcasting on February 14, 2004 to 22 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Like all forms of U.S. public diplomacy, the station is forbidden from broadcasting within the United States under the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act. CJ: Wikipedia is not a reliable source for anything. Please do NOT cite or promote it on my site. Also, Al-Hurra is the failed TV network Bush set up to try to propagandize the Muslim world in favor of America and combat Al-Jazeera’s BS. But no one watches it and it’s always been a joke. Also, Bush appointed and paid far-leftists to run the thing, and it’s often featured the same America-hating extremist Muslims as Al-Jazeera and worse. DS CJ on October 4, 2013 at 8:36 am"

Foreign propaganda broadcasts to Cuba, Europe ‘essential’ during shutdown - Brendan Bordelon, "The government may have shut down, but the show must go on… if it’s a show the U.S. beams to foreign audiences, that is. Foreign Policy reports that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which transmits federally-funded propaganda to more than 100 countries, announced Tuesday that most of its broadcasts would continue despite a government shutdown. 'U.S. international media activities under the BBG that are deemed ‘foreign relations essential to national security,’ such as news programming and distribution, are excepted from the shutdown and will continue,' a statement on the board’s website explained. The BBG spends around $750 million each year to produce and transmit Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other pro-American news and entertainment shows designed for foreign consumption. Among the board’s less well-known programs are TV and Radio Marti, outlets designed to penetrate Cuba’s media market with anti-Castro messaging. The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported that these programs have almost no audience on the communist island, despite the $28 million spent on them last year. A senior congressional staffer interviewed by Foreign Policy marvelled at the decision to keep the BBG open, particularly since many of the broadcasts are so ineffective. ... BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil was quick to defend her agency’s 'essential' status. 'The fact that the Office of Management and Budget signed off on this indicates how high a priority its broadcasting activities are,' she told Foreign Policy, claiming that a legal determination had declared the broadcasts 'foreign relations essential to national security.'”

International Students: Separate but Profitable: A boom in foreign undergrads is shoring up the finances of America’s flagship universities, but at a price - Paul Stephens, "In states like Washington and California, there are growing complaints that the influx of foreign students is crowding local students out of their own state schools. Meanwhile, at least some Chinese students are complaining that American universities exploit them by charging extra fees. It’s difficult to argue against the valuable opportunities for cultural exchange and public diplomacy that international education provides.

But at the current scale, Chinese students have become so concentrated on some campuses that in many ways it’s as if they were attending separate schools within schools. ... If public universities are going to continue to enroll the increasing numbers of students from around the world who are willing to pay top dollar for an American degree, they would do well to remember what is bringing those students here in the first place: widely respected, quality institutions. By improving and regulating the international recruiting and admissions process, expanding enrollment rather than displacing in-state residents, and taking on smaller numbers of international students from a more diverse pool of countries, universities would help to ensure that U.S. higher education remains the envy of the world." Image from article, with caption: Up, up, and away: Undergraduates from China account for a large part of the rapid increase in international student visas in recent years.

China’s Confucius Institutes: Cultural Diplomacy Or Trojan Horse? - Michael Ardaiolo, "More Confucius Institutes in foreign countries, both independent and partnered with universities, benefit the host countries as well.

Administrators and teachers will gain first-hand experience of working and living in the host country. They, in turn, will relay positive experiences back to their personal networks in China. Confucius Institutes, if allowed to be independent in administration and content, can be two-way symmetrical communication, the ultimate goal of public diplomacy." Uncaptioned image from entry

With Snide Remarks Toward U.S., Asia Summit Steams Ahead With Free Trade Deal: World leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia preach benefits of free trade while doubting American willingness to see deal through - Charlie Campbell, "As the United States remains mired in political gridlock at home, a similar show was on view between the 21 global powers gathered at the second day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Bali, Indonesia. The group of nations was assembled more than two decades ago to promote trade and economic growth in the region, and there was plenty of wheeling and dealing to be seen as heads of state and business leaders jostled over how best to knock down barriers and disparities to foment prosperity. ... While the bulk of high-level negotiations took place behind firmly closed doors, delegates were treated to a bit of public diplomacy when Chilean President Sebastián Piñera twice invited Chatib [Indonesia's finance minister Chatib Basri] to enter Indonesia into a bilateral free trade agreement before a crowd of hundreds while the pair were on the plenary stage. And twice Chatib squirmed a tepid response, eventually shoving off Piñera in explaining his country was as 'at an early stage' of investigating such bargains."

Gift of ‘Ishq’ in the offing - Qudssia Akhlaque, "Behind the veil of hectic diplomatic engagements and negotiations, many officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) are quietly engaged in creative endeavours to project and promote the less talked about positive aspects of Pakistan. MOFA has stepped in to proactively pursue public diplomacy initiatives to highlight the positive aspects of Pakistan, the diversity of its land and people and the richness of its heritage, art and culture. Currently in the works is a project on mystic poetry and music, to be packaged in the form of a gift box containing audio CDs accompanied with a booklet on Sufism and mystic poetry titled ‘Ishq: our Sufi tradition’ with English translation. In these trying divisive times Ishq will echo the crux and spirit of Sufism - love, compassion, kindness and tolerance. The embedded message is: Pakistan is overwhelmingly a peace-loving nation notwithstanding the distortions created by outside interferences and attempts to destabilise the country. ... The current project is part of wide-ranging initiatives taken by MOFA under the recently launched public diplomacy division. Mindful of the fact that Pakistan is confronted with a generally biased and hostile international media that tend to reinforce negative stereotypes about the country, MOFA established a public diplomacy division last year. Its key objective is to effectively promote a positive image of the country at various levels. Currently, the division is headed by Additional Secretary Mr Aslam Khan. The initiative taken by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani last year, has had active backing of senior officials at MOFA, who credit the foreign secretary for taking keen interest and providing necessary official patronage required for organised and well-coordinated efforts towards public diplomacy. According to MOFA, the objective of a Public Diplomacy Division is to create opportunity for people to people contacts and thus create better understanding of Pakistan and its people. ... Pakistani documentaries, movies, plays and Sufi music have been introduced and promoted by diplomats in numerous world capitals. As part of public diplomacy, MOFA also encourages Pakistani artists to perform at its missions abroad and facilitates them in obtaining visas for those destinations. In the broader sense most of Pakistan’s active missions abroad are engaged in public diplomacy building Pakistan’s image and raising its profile on multiple scores."

Somaliland: Ethiopian Embassy Inundated by Large Numbers of Visa Applications - Yusuf M Hasan, "For the first time the Ethiopian embassy in Hargeisa is providing visas to citizens of neigbouring countries like Puntland and Somalia. According to the Head of public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs at the Ethiopian embassy in Hargeisa Mr Mulugeta Anagaw

this development is as a result of the Closure of the Ethiopian Consulate in Puntland as well as an influx of south Somalia citizens overland bound to Addis Ababa where they board flights to for various destinations worldwide." Image from entry, with caption: Attache Mulugeta Anagaw

Opening the Curtain: Tsibili to Bilbao. Moscow to Manila. How the Atlanta Hawks' historic -- and hilarious -- 1988 trip to the Soviet Union kicked down a wall, opened the door to the rest of the world and helped shape the future of the NBA - Kevin Scheitrum, NBA Global.

Via PR; Uncaptioned image from entry

Venezuela expels three US diplomats over “sabotage” - "[Among them:] Kelly Keiderling entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1988. Her first assignments were in Lusaka, Zambia, where she worked as junior officer trainee and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as Assistant Public Affairs Officer. She was then assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to work as Cultural Affairs Officer. After Russian language training, she served in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as Public Affairs Officer and again as Public Affairs Officer in Gaborone, Botswana. Her first Washington assignment at the U.S. State Department was as Senior Panama Desk Officer in the Office of Central American Affairs. While in Washington, she also served as Acting Deputy Director of Central American Affairs for a year and as Public Diplomacy Desk Officer for the Caribbean for another year. She next worked in Havana, Cuba, as Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Interests Section. After a year of graduate studies at the National War College in Washington, DC, she was assigned to Chisinau, Moldova, as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy. Most recently, she worked as Chief of Staff of the Iraq Office of the State Department for a year and spent another year as Strategic Language Issues Coordinator in the Human Resources Bureau. She has been assigned to Caracas, Venezuela, since July 2011 as deputy chief of mission, and is temporarily the Chargé d’Affaires."

Mia Farrow: Woody Allen's son Ronan 'possibly' Frank Sinatra's: Mia Farrow claims in interview with Vanity Fair that her 25-year-old son Ronan may be Frank Sinatra's rather than Woody Allen's - Jon Swaine, "With his bright blue eyes and roguish good looks, Ronan Farrow never much resembled his father, Woody Allen, the hangdog film director and humorist. Now his mother, Mia Farrow, has explained that there may be a very good reason: the 25-year-old human rights activist

could in fact be the son of Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. ... Any confirmation that he is not related to Allen is likely to be welcomed by Mr Farrow. The Yale University graduate and former youth adviser to Hillary Clinton at the State Department has repeatedly criticised his supposed father in recent years." via MC; Image from article, with caption: Mia Farrow with Ronan

New Arrivals – Fall 2013 - Diplomat: "Gita Kalmet Ambassador of Estonia [:] Ms. Kalmet studied drama at the Tallinn State Conservatoire and then spent the first five years of her career as an actress. In 1993, she attended the Estonian School of Diplomacy and began her foreign service career that same year, as a desk officer in the political department.

Her first posting was to France in 1999 after which she returned to Tallinn as a desk officer for NATO. In 2003, she became director of the EU current affairs division and three years later, she was appointed ambassador to the Netherlands, where she spent five years. In 2011, she became director-general of the public diplomacy department and was appointed to Canada two years later." Uncaptioned image from entry


Diary - Patrick Cockburn, London Review of Books: The four wars fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria over the past 12 years have all involved overt or covert foreign intervention in deeply divided countries. In each case the involvement of the West exacerbated existing differences and pushed hostile parties towards civil war. In each country, all or part of the opposition have been hard-core jihadi fighters. Whatever the real issues at stake, the interventions have been presented as primarily humanitarian, in support of popular forces against dictators and police states. Despite apparent military successes, in none of these cases have the local opposition and their backers succeeded in consolidating power and establishing stable states. More than most armed struggles, the conflicts have been propaganda wars in which newspaper, television and radio journalists played a central role. In all wars there is a difference between reported news and what really happened, but during these four campaigns the outside world has been left with misconceptions even about the identity of the victors and the defeated.

Israel’s anti-Iran Propaganda in UN General Assembly Failed, Says Zarif - Iranian foreign minister said the recent United Nations General Assembly produced good results for the Islamic Republic, adding that the Zionist regime of Israel faced a total failure in tarnishing the image of Iran on international arenas.

UK, US accused of spreading anti-Gambia propaganda - Gambia has accused Britain and the United States of leading a "shameless campaign of lying"

against the West African country. Gambian President Yahya Jammeh image from entry

SENKAKUS—tense waters / Quantity vs logic in ‘propaganda war’ - Yomiuri Shimbun, On Sept. 11, 2012, the government purchased three of the Senkaku Islands, which are Japan’s sovereign territory, from the then owner and nationalized them. China, which claims territorial rights over the islands

in Okinawa Prefecture, reacted fiercely. Since then, China has repeatedly engaged in dangerous, provocative behavior against Japan. The Yomiuri Shimbun has traced the confrontation between the two countries over the remote East China Sea islands. It is important for China to launch a “propaganda war” to spread its argument to the world. Its approach is to “use all possible means.” Image from entry

10 Black Scholars Who Debunked Eurocentric Propaganda - A Moore,


More than half of American adults read books for pleasure in 2012 - The good news: According to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts, more than half of American adults read books for pleasure in 2012. The bad news is that the percentage of adults reading works of literature -- in the NEA's definition, novels, short stories, poetry or plays -- has declined since 2008, returning to 2002 lows. Fifty-seven percent of American adults read one or more books not required for work or school in 2012 -- that's 128 million readers.

Some other interesting findings: More women (64%) read than men (45%). The biggest readers are older adults; 65- to 74-year-olds have the highest rate of reading of any age group, with 61% reading at least one book in 2012. Hispanic Americans read at lower rates than any other ethnic group (36%) but the percentage of Hispanic Americans reading for pleasure has gone up since 2008 (when it was 33%). The worst news is for poets: People reading poetry for pleasure has plunged in the last decade, dropping by 45%. Among adults who read books for pleasure, less than 7% now say they read poetry. Image from entry, with caption: Angeleno Mishelle Parry reads at Echo Park Lake in June.


--Via SM on Facebook; from L'Express

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