Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15

"Camp Honor"

--a clandestine jail in Baghdad's Green Zone where prisoners routinely face torture to extract confessions, Iraqi officials say. Image from


"JB, Someone has gone through this post and reported the various items as abusive so that they cannot be shared on FaceBook."


A Brave New World, All-a-Twitter - Liz Harper, "Last week, the Obama administration organized the White House’s first ever Twitter Town Hall. More than 60,000 questions were tweeted well before the start of the town hall—making it a massive outreach on jobs and the economy. While logistically awkward, the amount of participants in the town hall underscores the unrivaled reach of both Twitter as a medium and the imperative to know and use this tool. Clearly, this administration recognizes the transformative power of social media. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela gets it too. ... In the modern era, intergovernmental diplomacy is not enough. Public diplomacy is shifting to more direct, personal and two-way interaction,

noted Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale at a recent conference in Washington DC. Engaging people and telling the global community about the American story—through an impartial medium—advances U.S. interests and, in turn, enhances our national security. If we are not the ones telling our story, someone else will fill in that narrative for us. ... For now, it is unknown to what extent, if any, social media is helping us meet our public diplomacy goals. One thing is for sure: the United States will lose ground—and our message—by not participating. As we go forward, a key issue to keep in mind for this brave new world: Is the U.S. communicating, dictating, or listening voyeuristically? Are we developing partnerships or a fan club? Let’s hope the next assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs will expand on the good work started under Assistant Secretary Valenzuela and continues to develop our online presence into meaningful and dynamic engagement." Image (presumably of Harper) from article

We Have Great News, but We Can’t Let You Hear It – Smith-Mundt and the 2.0 World - Ursula Oaks, "Within the borders of the United States, American citizens have no legal access, via traditional broadcast and print media, to programming developed by their own government for non-U.S. audiences. This is because of the Smith-Mundt Act, otherwise known as th e U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, or Public Law 80-402. Earlier this week, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy convened a public meeting to discuss the implications of the legislation in the global information age. The topic isn’t a new one for the commission, but there appears to be new momentum behind the idea that something needs to be done about Smith-Mundt. In today’s world, the blurring of physical borders by the Internet and social media make a ban on the domestic consumption of certain news and information produced by the American government untenable, if not laughable.

Worse, as panelists and audience members at the meeting pointed out, it is hampering U.S. public diplomacy and America’s relationships with the world in troubling ways. ... When Smith-Mundt became law, U.S. policymakers were highly motivated to ensure that the emergence of propaganda machines like those seen in Nazi Germany and behind the Iron Curtain would not be seen here. The ban was aimed at avoiding the propagandizing of foreign news produced by the U.S. government – and there was also concern that U.S.-supported foreign news outlets would be unfair competitors for domestic media. For these reasons, today’s debate includes significant discussion of what kind of structure is needed to guide and maintain the integrity of U.S. public diplomacy (which extends far beyond foreign broadcasting, of course) in the 2.0 world. Dozens of reports have thrown out ideas, but none have had much staying power yet. Legislation to 'modernize' the Smith-Mundt Act has been introduced by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R – Tex.), but it is not clear whether Congress has the political will or enough interest in this issue to take it on once and for all. And of course, the debate continues about which agencies should be resourced to do public diplomacy, and who should lead it. The Department of Defense has moved decisively into this area of work and today dominates in the area of 'strategic communications' – a critical role, said panelists at Tuesday’s meeting, given the military’s on-the-ground need to communicate quickly and effectively with foreign audiences in the countries where Americans soldiers are deployed. Still, some in Washington are calling for a retooling of the balance of activity and resources, with a tilt back toward the State Department." Image from

I’m Coming For You, Public Diplomacy!!! - Must. Be. AWESOME!!!: "Readers of this blog should not be surprised by my intense disappointment in the modern public diplomacy (or PD) community. Today’s premeditated murder was spurred on by my attendance and yet another PD gathering in Washington, DC: a meeting of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD). On the shores of our august capitol, PD enthusiasts, practitioners, and executives met to talk about the same retarded problems they have been since before the U.S. Information Agency‘s (aka the USIA) absorption by the State Department during the Clinton Administration. Panelists lamented continued lack of resources for PD initiatives, the imbalance between the State and Defense Departments in strategic communication capability, and a dilapidated piece of shitheel legislation called the Smith-Mundt Act whose Cold War roots strangle in the crib any offspring of modern government communication and engagement initiatives. ... Is PD even a necessary discipline in the 21st century? This existential question should be considered by this Commission and more. Panelists admitted that as communication becomes more social and content ownership franchises more to the individual… does a government agency have any equitable place in this modern communication continuum? How much of said agency’s budget could be repurposed into something more effective, especially in This, Our Decade of Economic Anal Probity? ... If PD is to survive, it needs to stop chasing off all its talent. Instead of rewarding the tired old Foreign Service Officers in their Cold War era suits with prime postings and political appointments, recruit badass social communicators and rockstars. Were I the President, I’d beg Jack Dorsey to fix my State Department. I’d heap tons of cash upon Katie Stanton and Jared Cohen to keep challenging the system instead of being chased off by white-faced, skeleton-eyed Statey lifers. It’s time for PD to evolve and kill its parents."

Take that, Smith-Mundt: At State Department, Russian foreign minister notes that "Voice of America" is broadcasting in English in Washington - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "It's actually Voice of Russia that is broadcasting in English in Washington, a point that one might think VOR would want to clarify."

The Facebookification Of Public Diplomacy In Pakistan – The Skeptical Bureaucrat: "The WaPo has a story today about the eclipse of the old human-contact institution of U.S. Information Service Libraries in Pakistan by the new socially-networked world of public diplomacy.

It's odd, but I can't decide whether the author regrets the passing of the Libraries, or is being snarky about them. Anyway, at least she is clear that they were closed for security reasons." Uncaptioned image from article

Text, subtext, and terrorism - "[I]t is relevant that Public Diplomacy is on the GAO list of High Risks and Challenges. This means, in my dictionary, its a tough and important job with a very uneven track record of success. In the Department of State’s Congressional Budget Justification for Public Diplomacy we read: The FY 2012 request includes a $6.2 million dollar investment for the creation of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication (CSCC) which is tasked with leading a U. S. Government wide rapid guidance and communication effort to counter violent extremism. As stated in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), the CSCC will coordinate, orient, and inform whole-of-government communications activities targeted against violent extremism to audiences abroad. The QDDR also acknowledges that the Center will work closely with the Secretary‘s Coordinator for Counterterrorism or its proposed successor Bureau of Counterterrorism, as well as the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice‘s National Security Division, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies responsible for information programs related to counterterrorism. Clearly the CSCC is only one small part of how we might put forward a 'positive vision of engagement'. But I will note the last time I heard, one predator drone cost $4.5 million. The new reaper drones cost about $13 million each. Perhaps even in these tough times the CSCC might be worth an investment equivalent to two predators or even one reaper?"

Overseas English teachers plan to expose cultures - Gail Cole, Corvallis Gazette-Times: "Twenty-one English teachers from 19 different countries are planning to meet Wednesday evening at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library to give the community an opportunity to learn about different cultures through simple conversation. The educators are in town for a two-week training program for a U.S. State Department-sponsored program that teaches basic English skills to young people, mostly in predominately Muslim countries. Founded shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the English Access Microscholarship Program - also known as Access - teaches young people about American culture and different political systems along with English language skills.

The U.S. State Department estimates that 55,000 students ages 14 through 18 from 70 different countries have attended classes through the program since Access' creation in 2003." Image from article, with caption: Community members and Access educators mingle at an INTO-OSU Culture Face to Face event in summer 2010.

Международный баскетбольный обмен с Россией [International Basketball Exchange with Russia sponsored by the State Department] - "Государственный департамент США объявляет о международном баскетбольном обмене с Россией под эгидой американо-российской Двусторонней президентской комиссии. Бюро Государственного департамента США по вопросам образования и культуры, в сотрудничестве с посольством США в Москве и Федерацией баскетбола США, объявило сегодня, что 20 юных американских спортсменов и четыре тренера направились в Москву и Санкт-Петербург в рамках двухнедельного обмена, начавшегося 7 июля.

Это уже пятый обмен под эгидой американо-российской Двусторонней президентской комиссии. Находясь в России, американские школьники смогут узнать о русской культуре и принять участие в баскетбольных тренировках с местными спортсменами. Прием гостей из США организуют Министерство спорта, туризма и молодежной политики РФ и Федерация баскетбола России." Image from article, with caption: Баскетболистка из России показывает технику ведения мяча в ходе спортивного обмена в 2010 году.

State Department Revs up Mobile Website Diplomacy - Judi Hasson, "The State Department's public diplomacy mission is constantly evolving, seeking to reach foreign audiences in new and more creative ways. And for a variety of reasons, that has increasingly meant going mobile. Recognizing the potential of the mobile Web to reach vast audiences that are not otherwise connected to the Internet, the department's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) launched that is finding a growing following with entirely new constituencies after a little more than a year. ... Since its launch last year, has gotten as many as 150,000 page views per month, with very little advertising or promotion. The site delivers mobile optimized versions of the latest U.S. government content, including articles, photographs, video and podcast, into the palms of user hands around the world. It provides news stories generated by U.S. government sources, including IIP,, site and others. Analytics show users coming from every corner of the globe, though there are a large numbers of visitors whose networks are listed as 'unknown.'"

Research in American Archives - global public diplomacy: Cold War Diplomacy and beyond: Research in the American archives has proven to be a fruitfull endevour. "I am going through tons of material and am starting to understand why historians up until this date have ignored Africa in US foreign relations. One has to really dig deep to find the most interesting material, but it is worth the effort. This panel is part of an exhibit the Pitsburgh Courrier [sic]

organized to convince USIA to distribute the international edition of their newspaper through the network of USIS-posts in Africa." Inverted image from article

Planned shift of VOA Mandarin from radio to online is mentioned in report about fewer Chinese websites - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Summer Doldrums - Cathy Barbash, "As mid-summer approaches, US-China cultural exchange continues its lopsided dance. No American performers participate in festivals in Xinjiang and Guangdong.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, a consortium of U.S. conservatories attempts to woo Chinese students with their own show-and-tell festival. ... This summer’s notable American performances may not be direct public diplomacy exchanges, but represent a savvy marketing effort for American-style music education. A consortium of American music conservatories will showcase themselves in the '2011 First U.S. Music Schools Piano and Violin Music Festival,' co-hosted by Oberlin Conservatory and the Beijing Concert Hall at the Beijing Concert Hall from August 18-22. Other schools participating include Eastman, Manhattan School, Ithaca, Peabody, and Boston University." Image from

Through a (narrow) looking glass - "Every time the Indians forward a proposal or make demands relating to security, its neighbours get suspicious about its intent. Often, the suspicion manifests itself into strong security dilemma forcing them even to reach out to 'extra-regional powers' like China or the US to balance Indian overtures. There cannot be a purely unilateral security approach without the regional ownership of its partners. And no security doctrine is going to succeed on its own. It needs to be integrated in a larger development and economic vision for the region. New Delhi will have to revamp its public diplomacy in the region-projecting its values and vision for the region, not its fears and insecurities-and coordinating the works of its different agencies-giving it a degree of coherence."

Security Inteligent Services: China and its new place in the world, posted at "China’s military capability is growing, though still well short of the military capabilities of the U.S. One also knows that, save concerted efforts in global public diplomacy, China still poorly projects soft power in the West and even amongst its Asian neighbours."

Tal Brody: Changing basketball shoes for 'hasbara': Former Maccabi Tel Aviv superstar is now Israel’s first Goodwill Ambassador, which he says is a 'natural position' for him - Melanie Lidman, Jerusalem Post: "Basketball is the same in America and Israel, and connecting over a shared passion makes the rest of the explanation, about borders and peace negotiations and terrorism, more understandable.

'Sport overcomes political borders,' said Brody. The flotilla of May 2010, and the public relations disaster that followed, was the turning point when the government finally sat up and took notice of the importance of advocating for Israel, Brody believes. '[They realized] we’re winning wars, but losing the battle on hasbara (public diplomacy), he said." Uncaptioned image from article

Scott defies ban on bid comments‎ - Daniel Flitton, The Age: "ABC chief Mark Scott has risked scuttling the public broadcaster's bid for Australia's $223 million overseas television service, complaining about government funding for Australia Network despite rules that ban public comments by the bidders. Mr Scott

made a pitch to a Canberra audience last month, stating that the ABC was best able to deliver international broadcasting over its commercial rivals. ... Mr Scott said the ABC had an advantage because international broadcasting and news was part of its charter. 'I think it is very difficult for commercial media operations to be able to deliver the kind of content that you might want in terms of public diplomacy or even in terms of credible, independent quality news,' he said." Scott image from article, with caption: ABC chief Mark Scott has publicly complained about government funding for the Australia network.

France confirms opening permanent office in Pyongyang - "A French foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed at a news conference Tuesday that France is opening a permanent office in Pyongyang and suggested that the timing of the opening had been delayed because of the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel and an artillery attack on a South Korean island last year. The French newspaper Le Monde reported Monday that the office for cultural exchange will be set up in September. The ministry official fell short of clarifying when it will be opened, while the head of the office is yet to be decided. France is the only major European Union member without diplomatic ties with North Korea."

VOL. VII NO. 14, July 01-July 14, 2011 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media:

"A Tweet of Faith The US Department of State is turning to Twitter in hopes of increasing accessibility and communication between government officials and the American people, while Europe struggles to catch on.

Palestinian Statehood Hitting a Wall? As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, Palestinians appeal to the UN for a two-state solution. Meanwhile, the US government remains divided on a course of action, with the administration supportive of Palestinians and Congress adamantly opposed.

Gaza Flotilla Anchored to Greek Authorities A flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip is interrupted by Greek authorities, angering Palestinian activists from Europe to the Middle East. Meanwhile, adding to the discontent, the UN releases a report supporting Israel’s raid of a flotilla in 2010.

WikiLeaks Claims Arab Spring As the Arab Spring prevails in the Middle East, the role played by the media in the wave of protests comes to the forefront. Notably, Julian Assange, the founder of the controversial website WikiLeaks, in part, assumes accountability for the spread of the insurgency.

Democratic Reforms Losing Momentum The Arab Spring revolts have ricocheted in the Middle East but are halted in the Gulf as other states continue the struggle toward democracy. Meanwhile, the US and Europe show restraint in the region.

Egyptians Growing Impatient with Military On July 8, protests rocked the streets of Egyptian cities as citizens expressed their discontent with the military's lack of attention to the country's most important political issues. Although various groups expressed dissenting opinions, they united for the Friday of Persistence, calling on the military to take action and deliver justice to citizens.

Special Tribunal Divides Lebanon The Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued an indictment for four men suspected to be involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.

Gaddafi Poised to Fight Back As Muammar Gaddafi threatens disastrous consequences if NATO troops do not pull out of Libya, the US maintains its pressure on the Libyan leader to step down." Image from

International Corporate & Diplomatic Protocol - "EUROPROTOCOL-THE EUROPEAN SCHOOL OF PROTOCOL® ... Type of Event Training ... Protocol is an art of creating the right environment so that business & diplomacy can be conducted. ... Who Should Attend: civil servants and diplomats, international organizations staff, NGO staff, representatives of local authorities and municipalities, protocol and PR, public diplomacy consultants, special events professionals, corporate executives & managers, and those who wish to improve their understanding of international rules of protocol in business & diplomacy."

A Visit at the Canadian Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City - Elsa Ghosn, "One of the visits organized for the campus was a visit at the Canadian Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. This visit took place in two parts. In the first place, the general consulate, M. Aubri Mukhopadhyay, presented us with the goals and objectives of the consulate. He was assisted by Nadin Nanji, a senior trade commissioner, and by M. Tan Loc Dang, public diplomacy officer.

This was then followed by an open discussion with a few Canadian expatriates, working in different fields. The visit allowed us to get an overview of the challenges and opportunities that working in Vietnam provides." Uncaptioned image from article

Nationalism and Cultural Diplomacy - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "Apart from working through the history of British ‘public diplomacy’ I’ve been reading some interesting articles about the cultural diplomacy of European countries up to the Second World War. ... The US and the UK certainly have national identities and display nationalistic behaviour but Anglo-Saxon versions of ‘the nation’ don’t make the same language-culture-nation connection. This line of thinking explains why ‘culture’ hasn’t had the same prominence in this history of British and American external projection as it has had in France, Germany or Italy."

Global Chaos goes to Georgia - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "Although I had spent years abroad and have traveled half-way across the world from Armenia, I had never visited its closest neighbor. It's one of the only two borders I could cross from Armenia (the other being Iran, which is a different story...), but I had never had the opportunity of making that trip.

And despite the realization that I can trace some of my own heritage to Tbilisi, I had never gotten an excuse to actually learn more about this amazing place. All this, coupled with related academic interest, curiosity, and perhaps even regret finally took me there. Here are some of the impressions of an Armenian, a global nomad, an international relations student, and a public diplomacy enthusiast. I know, there's always 'a first time' and first impressions might be misleading, but since public diplomacy rarely allows for long-term and consistent efforts, the experience of a three-day tourist might be quite opinion-changing." Image from article, with caption: The Armenian-speaking Azeri lady who sold us expensive peaches on the other side of the border. They were good, however...

Jiggity jig... - Laura McGinnis, manIC: "I had a lovely time in the Czech Republic,

as I always do, and from a totally nerdy standpoint, I enjoyed getting some foreign perspectives on international politics from my friends. ... This time I returned with a degree in public diplomacy and a new perspective on U.S. policy and diplomacy, but I still found myself torn between my desire to defend my nation and my personal dissatisfaction with specific actions and policies." Image from article, with caption: This used to be my metro stop.


Immigration policy: U.S. should abolish its 'diversity visa' program: We should handpick our immigrants with a view to our national interests and the individual attributes that they bring to the table - Peter H. Schuck, Abolish the program and use those 50,000 visas (or more) to promote carefully defined national interests, particularly in more high-skilled immigrants who, many studies show, produce jobs, innovation and new businesses. After all, these visas are permanent, not temporary, as with the H1-B visas.

US Propaganda Disguised as Journalism‎ - Alexei Pushkov, The Moscow Times: Russian journalism, despite what people say and write about it in the United States, is much more distrustful of statements made by authorities. Largely because of the Soviet legacy, Russians are more skeptical than Americans of the government’s version of events.

On the whole, Russians better understand that there are two sides to every scandal. In this sense, Russian journalists seem to be more open-minded than U.S. journalists. Image from

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the New (French) Woman in Film and Reality - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: It seems that the French women who play football at World Cup level are feeling no animosity toward the U.S. either. This year the Americans beat the French 3-1. The play was fast and furious, but the intense competition didn’t interfere with a very high level of sports(wo)manship. Here’s how NYT reporter Alessandra Stanley described it: And both sides were gracious not just after the match but in the middle of it: at one point a French player bent down and helped up an American who had fallen; at another it was the American who extended her hand to the enemy. If the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of rape has strained Franco-American relations, there was no sign of it on the playing field.

Israeli propaganda festival finds few fans in Milan - Stephanie Westbrook, The Electronic Intifada: For ten days in June, Milan was the site of a promotional event aimed at presenting “the other side of Israel,” in the words of the Israeli Ambassador to Italy Gideon Meir. Known as “Unexpected Israel,” the event was sponsored by both the Italian and Israeli governments, along with local city and provincial authorities. When details of the event were first announced in December 2010, it was projected to cost 2.5 million euros ($3.6 million US) and to include a 900-square-meter plexiglass pavilion featuring Israeli technological and cultural wonders in Piazza Duomo, Milan’s main square. In the end, Piazza Duomo hosted nothing more than a small multimedia installation: 15 amplified pedestals spouting classics of Israeli hasbara (propaganda) to the few visitors who dared enter the fenced-off, heavily guarded area.

The ten-day event, while securing the support of Berlusconi’s government and those Italian firms willing to do business with an apartheid state, did little to win the hearts and minds of the people of Milan. Once again — in contrast to the cowardice of governments and institutions — it was a grassroots movement that mobilized to hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights and international law. Image from article, with caption: Palestine solidarity activists in Milan protest an Israeli propaganda festival.

Tibetans in US denounce China 'propaganda' - AFP: Tibetans rallied Wednesday outside of China's embassy in Washington to demand greater freedoms, denouncing Beijing for its commemorations of the territory's "peaceful liberation." Shouting "Free Tibet" and "China is a liar," more than 20 Tibetans

and supporters criticized Beijing for celebrating the 60th anniversary of the territory's incorporation but banning observance of the Dalai Lama's birthday. "We wanted to show the world that the Chinese propaganda is not fooling anyone," said Tenzin Dorjee, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, the advocacy group that organized the protest. Image from article, with caption: Tsultrim Sangmo (with microphone) leads protesters in 'Free Tibet' chants in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington

Infographic: The map of international diplomacy (according to Twitter) - Joao Medeiros,

Image from article

Korean demilitarized zone is major tourist attraction‎ - With the Cold War largely in the past, it is in no small way reassuring that one of the most volatile legacies of that conflict is a major tourist attraction. As a North Korean soldier watches through a pair of binoculars across the divide that separates north from south, foreign tourists raise cameras, not guns, and snap photographs by the dozen.

The visitors are careful, of course, not to make any moves that could be misconstrued by the vigilant sentries across the way. Each has promised in writing not to "point, make gestures or expressions which could be used by the North Korean side as propaganda." Image, with caption: Demilitarized Zone, Korea

Marquette Center Mistakes Fascist Propaganda for Art
- The City of Marquette Arts and Cultural Center is featuring an “art” exhibit, in which one of its pieces portray four republican governors under a Nazi eagle holding the GOP symbol,

instead of a swastika. It must take a special kind of yahoo to misinterpret propaganda for art. And to top it off, the citizens of Marquette are financing this crap through the city’s general fund. Image from article

The "Art Of Captain America" With Ryan Meinerding - Josie Campbell, On July 22, moviegoers across America will be transported back in time to World War II with "Captain America: The First Avenger," the latest movie out from Marvel Studios. As with "Thor" and "Iron Man," Marvel will be releasing "Captain America: The Art of Captain America - The First Avenger" two days before the film's release, a hardcover book chock-full of original designs and concept art for the movie. You may remember Meinerding as the man who redesigned Tony Stark's armor for "Invincible Iron Man." Or you may remember his cinematic visual design work, from Tony Stark's Mark 1 armor in "Iron Man" to Sideswipe and Arcee on "Transformers 2." As one of Marvel Studio's Visual Development Supervisors, Meinerding has had his hand in nearly every Marvel movie released in recent years, guiding the look and feel of the studio's comic book adaptations from preliminary sketches to the big screen's final product. Meinerding: "The more direct connections between the style of art and the final product usually come from designing a specific part of the movie, like a character or a sequence. The way that Adi Granov and Phil Saunders painted the Iron Man armor really defined a tone of high precision surfaces for that suit, and the way I try to paint Cap is definitely a bit rougher. I'd like to think it looks like acrylic or gouache paintings, and I hope that provides an aesthetic that's appropriate for a WWII Captain America.

A lot of the advertising and propaganda art from that period was done in those mediums, and I did purposely try to achieve that look." Image from article, with caption: Meinerding's final Cap costume was influenced by "Ultimates" artist Bryan Hitch

Hitler tried to teach dogs to speak German? New book claims that Adolf Hitler created a school to teach dogs to talk, spell and fight alongside humans - John Platt, Earth matters: Nazi propaganda famously painted dictator Adolf Hitler as a dog lover, but a new book has dug up some juicy bits that have the media salivating. According to the book "Amazing Dogs" by Dr. Jan Bondeson, a senior lecturer at Cardiff University School of Medicine in Wales, Hitler thought dogs could be trained to guard concentration camps or serve on the battlefield next to German soldiers. He founded a facility called Tier-Sprechschule ("Animal Talking School") near the city of Hanover, recruited some of the country's smartest dogs

and had them trained to speak. Did it work? According to articles Bondeson dug up in Nazi magazines from that era, yes. One dog reportedly could spell words by tapping out letters with his paw, and even asked a noblewoman, "Can you wag your tail?" Another dog learned to answer the question "Who is Adolf Hitler" with the words "Mein Fuhrer." Hitler himself owned two dogs, German shepherds named Blondi and Bella (neither of which could speak). He loved them so much that he tested his cyanide capsules on Blondi, killing her, to make sure they worked before he took his own life in his bunker at the end of World War II. Bondeson's book is full of other, less sinister stories, including tales of a border collie in the 1750s who could perform mathematical calculations, and Don the Speaking Dog whose worldwide tour took him to cities like New York, where he could bark out phrases like "Hungry! Give me cakes!" Image from article


--Rob Beschizza, "Fleshing out the garden," Boing Boing

1 comment:

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