Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25

"The American way of laughing does me good."

--Friedrich Nietzche; his image from; below image from


North Koreans Get Fresh Fish for Free


America’s Drone Wars in Africa: A Constellation of Secret Airstrips and Drone Bases - Michel Chossudovsky, "In recent years, the US Air Force in liaison with the CIA, has established drone bases in Ethiopia and Djibouti. These init[ia]tives are c[o]ordinated with Africa Command

(AFRICOM): ... 'Last month, the Ethio­pian Foreign Ministry denied the presence of U.S. drones in the country. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Ethio­pian embassy in Washington repeated that assertion. 'That’s the government’s position,' said Tesfaye Yilma, the head of public diplomacy for the embassy. 'We don’t entertain foreign military bases in Ethi­o­pia. ... source. '” Image from

"Radio Remains the BBG Champ." For now - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Keep in mind ... that as recently as twenty years ago, almost all of the audience for US international broadcasting was via radio. The long term trend is towards television and away from radio -- and especially away from shortwave radio. Within a few years, television will probably overtake radio as the number one source of audience USIB. ... The internet portion of the USIB audience will also increase, but as the number of internet users increases, so does the number of internet content sources, making it difficult to attain audience share. The internet numbers for USIB will probably be achieved via searches for, and links to, news."

BBG member Victor Ashe says it's "serious mistake" to close the Greenville shortwave facility - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Commentator offers Radio/TV Martí as candidate for "biggest government boondoggle" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting:

"These thoughts about US international broadcasting to Cuba: 1) Cuba needs some source of independent, outside news. 2) It is impossible to get an adequate estimate of audience size in Cuba, but two percent is fairly typical in international broadcasting. The quality (i.e., opinion leading ability) of the audience might make up for the lack of quantity. 3) 'Martí' would be a predictable name for an anti-Castro clandestine station, but it was a poor choice of name for a station that has any intent to establish its credibility. 4) The move to combine the efforts of Radio/TV Martí and VOA Spanish should continue. 5) It's unclear whether CNN's audience in Cuba is watching its satellite channel, or seeing CNN reports on Cuban television. If CNN en Español is successful in attracting audiences in Cuba, then USIB should not compete with it. 6) US international broadcasting to Cuba should combine radio, internet (keeping in mind that internet access in Cuba, even via mobile phones, is still very limited), and not more than an hour a day of programs on a television channel that is viewed in Cuba via satellite. A 24-hour television channel was a bridge too far. If elements of the Cuban American community want a 24-hour channel, they are certainly free to fund it themselves. They should also be welcome to take the name Martí off the back of USIB." Image from

Have the VOA Persian News Network "Parazit" partners gone the way of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Alhurra (with McNeil/Lehrer Productions) and Al Jazeera produce Arab Spring documentaries - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

CULTURAL DIPLOMACY (other cultural-diplomacy items appeared in PDPBR, December 18-December 24 )

'Nepali le maya maryo' - Singha Bahadur Basnyat: "As a young liaison officer at the Peace Corps directorate in Kathmandu, I was assigned to the second group of 39 volunteers in 1963. The last reunion was in 2008 when we met for the 45th anniversary in Washington state which ended with the volunteers singing Nepali folk songs from 50 years ago. It was this experience that led me to the idea that the 50th anniversary should be marked by a musical get together. I travelled to the United States in September for the 50th Peace Corps Reunion, accompanied by guitarists Anil Shahi and Gaurav Basnyat. Since the last reunion, 10 volunteers had passed away. Yet, it was a nostalgic get together in which the most surprising was that volunteers remembered the lyrics and melodies of golden oldies like 'Ke Bho Ke Bo Hijo Aja', 'Balaju ko Baise Dhara', 'Nakkali lai Bhagai Lagyo Jhilke le'.

At a reception hosted by Nepal's ambassador to the US, Shankar Sharma, 100 former volunteers gathered at the embassy in the presence of Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun who joined the group to sing Dharma Raj Thapa's 1960s hit: 'Nepali Lai Maya Maryo Bari Lai'. One volunteer even sang a solo of 'Tada Bata Bola Ko Timilai Nai Ho Maile'. As a Nepali diplomat who pushed 'cultural diplomacy' during my assignments in the US and UK I felt I was just continuing on with my work, making musical connections with a Nepal of 50 years ago. What was surprising to me was how the volunteers still remembered the songs, and how the music and lyrics seemed to link them to rural Nepal so many years later. ... The happiest news for many of us at the reunion was that the Peace Corps is returning to Nepal in 2012. The Peace Corps helped with education and development in rural Nepal 50 years ago, but it is also worth remembering that it continues to serve as a cultural bridge between Nepal and the United States." Image from article, with caption: Finance Minsiter Barsha Man Pun with Ambassador Shankar Sharma at the embassy in Washington recently at the Peace Corps get together.

The Latest Joint CBS-Castro Production - Humberto Fontova, "Last week’s 60 Minutes​ featured another in its long line of joint CBS-Castro productions. This time Anderson Cooper​ and his production crew partnered with the Stalinist regime’s Centro de Investigaciones Marinas for a propaganda piece on the marvels of Cuban coral reef conservation. The co-host of the CBS show and conduit for this fruitful Communist infomercial was Dr. David Guggenheim, senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C. who chairs its Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program.

Dr. Guggenheim toasts himself as a 'Cubaphile' and toasts Castro’s fiefdom (which he has visited over 40 times in recent years) as a 'magical place.' Needless to remind (or perhaps not given that the Cold War​ supposedly ended over 20 years ago), such a gold-plated visa is not handed-out haphazardly by Stalinist regimes. And such a welcome mat and red carpet are not rolled out randomly. To wit: 'Cultural exchanges with foreign countries are our most effective propaganda,' reads a declassified KGB document from May, 20, 1981. 'We cannot for a second abandon propaganda,' wrote Fidel Castro​ in a letter to revolutionary colleague Melba Hernandez in 1954. 'Propaganda is vital — propaganda is the heart of our struggle.' 'Foreign reporters, preferably American, were much more valuable to us than any military victory. Much more valuable than rural recruits for our guerrilla force, were American media recruits to export our propaganda' wrote Che Guevara​ in his diaries. It’s a long shot of speculation here, but just maybe the sentiments mentioned above had something to do with Cooper and Guggenheim’s instant Cuban visas and VIP pampering?" Image from article

The Trojan Horse Of Cultural Diplomacy – Salim Fredericks, "Cultural diplomacy, or the more pejorative alternative – cultural imperialism, has become important player in global events. Cultural diplomacy may be seen as a tenet of international relations. It is one of the ‘soft’ aspects of state interactions. This is dissimilar to the ‘hard’ items of statutes, treaties, blocks, pacts, multilateral bodies and the military. ... There are two main bodies charged with the responsibility of exporting the Great British values to the world, without the appearance of direct linkage to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. These are the British Council and the World Service of the BBC. These are the two instruments of soft power. ... British Council and the BBC world service are respected throughout the world for their balance, impartiality and independence. However they function in tandem as a Trojan horse. Their strategies and objective are indivisible from the political strategies and objectives of the government. Through subterfuge they spread power and influence throughout the world under explicit instruction from the UK government."

Looking East: Anime warms Russian, Japanese ties - Takamasa Sakurai, The Daily Yomiuri: "My career in anime cultural diplomacy started in 2007 when I was asked by the Foreign Ministry to give a lecture to diplomats prior to their overseas postings. The lecture covered the anime industry and its goals. One of the diplomats in attendance asked me to give the same lecture in Europe, and I traveled to Italy and the Czech Republic. 'Do you like Japanese anime?' I asked my audiences, only to get a reply of, 'We all grew up with Japanese anime.' They seemed to be saying, 'No need to ask that question.' That was the launch of my anime cultural diplomacy. In the four years since, the private sector's attitude on anime and manga as cultural diplomacy has drastically changed. When I first began anime diplomacy, I had the active support of many diplomats, but as a whole, my strategy was seen as unorthodox. The promotion of pop culture and traditional culture is not paradoxical. In many cases, Japanese anime

or manga can work to draw the attention of young people overseas toward Japanese society and traditional culture. I have had to explain this idea over and over in my columns, lectures and meetings. As a result, the growing interest among young people overseas toward Japanese pop culture highlighted the importance of anime, manga and fashion in cultural diplomacy. This phenomena [sic] is symbolized in J-Fest, which I've organized with the Japanese Embassy in Moscow since 2009. I've never seen such a huge embassy-led cultural event like J-Fest draw the attention of so many young people overseas." Image from

Presidential candidates to take questions from cultural community - "Taipei ... The local cultural community on Wednesday unveiled some of the major issues such as the budget and cultural diplomacy that it plans to raise in a question-and-answer session with the three presidential candidates Thursday. The questions will touch on 12 topics, including cultural and economic development, the cultural and creative industry and improvement of native language teaching, said the preparatory office for the Foundation of the Inaugural Year for Culture. ... Other topics to be raised will include the lack of professional venues for culture and the arts, the promotion of arts and cultural education, and public television service. The candidates will take questions from several artists and other people from the community, including directors, a poet, independent curators and university faculty members, in three separate one-hour sessions at Shih Hsin University in Taipei. ... The event, the first of its kind in Taiwan, will give the candidates the opportunity to elaborate on their cultural policies and communicate with the cultural community directly. The office was launched in late November after 'Dreamers,' a musical that was part of the Republic of China's centenary celebrations, sparked a huge controversy over its NT$200 million (US$6,599,400) budget, which the cultural community said was exorbitant. More than 1,000 arts and cultural workers signed a letter later to support the foundation, saying the current cultural policies are empty and identifying nine areas in which they want to see improvement."

President Ivanov: ICJ judgment confirms credibility of Macedonia's foreign policy - "In the field of diplomacy, the President accredited, with a decree, 18 new Ambassadors of the Republic of Macedonia in countries around the world. 'For our diplomats, I urged, to be given greater freedom of action by reducing the bureaucracy of the diplomatic service, which would go along with the increase of responsibilities of diplomats on the basis of which they will be evaluated, according to the results achieved', Ivanov said.

In terms of cultural diplomacy, he stressed Macedonia could be proud of its cultural and historical heritage, with plenty of things to offer the world. 'Concerning the sport, I will not waste many words. We have all seen what a sport success means. Not only it celebrated our country but, more importantly, the success united Macedonia', said Ivanov." Uncaptioned image from article

Ministry of Multicultural Affairs To Financially Support Greek Antipodes Festival
- Stella Tsolakidou, "The Antipodes Festival was first organized in March 1987 after an initiative taken by the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria. The first foundation meeting was held on March 25, 1986, in which the first 'Committee' was elected to prepare and organize the Antipodes Festival under the auspices of the community.

In October, 1984, within the framework of the meetings of all Greek-Australian Communities with representatives of the then Andrea Papandreou government, the possibility of creating a new cultural body proving the strong cultural diplomacy followed by the Greek government was discussed. The delegation of the Greek-Australian Community came in touch with composer Christos Leontis, who responded positively in joining the first Antipodes Festival three years later. According to the former Secretary General of the Greek Diaspora, the major cultural activities of the Greek-Australians are like prototype models for all the Greek communities around the world." Image from article

Letter from Gaza: Getting there - Marc Thayer, special to St. Louis Beacon: "Background from Thayer: Since the summer of 2007 I've been working off and on with the Association of American Voices (AV) as violin teacher and strings coach/conductor.

At the time I was vice president for Education and Community Partnerships with the St. Louis Symphony and enjoyed occasional journeys to the Middle East and South Asia. AV is a Cultural Diplomacy Non-Governmental Organization that supports the performing arts and schools in countries emerging from conflict or isolation." Thayer image from article


Hometown U.S.A: Baltimore: War vets invade an urban village -- Operation Oliver aims to fix up one of the city's seediest neighborhoods. Some volunteers are reminded of conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan - Luke Broadwater, Operation Oliver, which began in July, is a one-year commitment to the Baltimore neighborhood, veterans say. It involves cleaning up alleys, rehabilitating homes, organizing volunteers and notifying police about illegal dumping sites and drug dealing. Some veterans, such as Earl Johnson, a former Army Ranger who served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, have moved into the neighborhood. Others, such as Jeremy Johnson and Blake, live elsewhere but visit Oliver frequently.

Nearly 1,000 volunteers, including more than 100 veterans, have joined the effort. Universities and colleges have been quick to send help too. Even exchange students from France found their way there. Image from article, with caption: Earl Johnson, who served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, is a board member for Operation Oliver, a campaign to clean up Baltimore's run-down Oliver neighborhood.

State Department 'Panders' to Islamists on Free Speech - The Obama administration is drawing fire for yielding what critics see as a huge propaganda victory to Islamist regimes seeking to curb American speech deemed "offensive" to Muslims. The State Department hosted a three-day, closed-door meeting last week with representatives of the Saudi Arabia-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC) on measures to fight religious "intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization." In her closing remarks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

portrayed the conference as a sign that Washington and the OIC are working together to protect religious freedom around the world. But according to the Hudson institute's Nina Shea (who attended portions of the conference as an observer), the event was actually a step backward for religious liberty. The meeting seemed to be an exercise in "moral equivalency and pandering to Sunni tyrants in the Middle East," she said. "The general theme seemed to be that the U.S. has problems just like Saudi Arabia with religious tolerance," she added. "There was a total absence of perspective on all counts." One legal official (State Department confidentiality rules barred observers from identifying him or his country) gave a "one-sided depiction of American bigotry against religious minorities, including Muslims" in his opening keynote address, Shea said, telling representatives of some of the world's most repressive regimes that America can learn from them about protecting religious tolerance. But the official never bothered to explain that, when compared with other countries, America has an extraordinary record of "upholding individual freedoms of speech and religion," Shea said. The OIC (previously called the Organization of the Islamic Conference) has pushed for a universal blasphemy law for more than a decade. Since the November 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands and the 2006 riots protesting cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammad, the group has pressured Western European nations to implement speech codes punishing criticism of Islam. Image from article

Congress calls on Twitter to block Taliban: American congressmen are calling on Twitter to block Taliban propagandists from the micro-blogging site - Senators want to stop feeds which boast of insurgent attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan and the casualties they inflict. Aides for Joe Lieberman, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the move was part of a wider attempt to eliminate violent Islamist extremist propaganda from the internet and social media. The Taliban movement has embraced the social network as part of its propaganda effort and regularly tweets about attacks or posts links to its statements.

The information has ranged from highly accurate, up-to-the-minute accounts of unfolding spectacular attacks, to often completely fabricated or wildly exaggerated reports of American and British casualties. Twitter is reported to be rejecting the move after pointing out that unlike al-Qaeda, the Taliban movement is not registered by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organisation. Image from article, with caption: Aides for Joe Lieberman, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the move was part of a wider attempt to eliminate violent Islamist extremist propaganda from the internet and social media.

US sets $10 million bounty for Al Qaeda financier Yasin al-Suri, who is based in Iran - Lillian Rizzo, The United States has offered a $10 million bounty for the capture of alleged Al Qaeda financier Yasin al-Suri, CNN reported. Al-Suri was born in Syria

and is a senior Al Qaeda operative based in Iran. He is responsible for moving hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as terrorists recruits from Iran to Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to the government, CNN reported. Image from article, with caption: Afghan villagers watch a U.S. propaganda film on a portable DVD player that attempts to explain why the U.S. military is in Afghanistan.

Washington peddles lies, demands Cuba release convicted US agent - Louis Martin, The Militant: A campaign of lies and distortions has accompanied Washington’s arrogant demands that the Cuban government release Alan Gross, a U.S. government agent. Recent articles and opinions in the U.S. capitalist press have brought more attention to the case and the imperialists’ demands, prompting the Cuban Interests Section in Washington to issue a statement Dec. 2 answering the false propaganda and stating the Cuban government’s position. Cuban authorities must “immediately release Mr. Gross,” demanded White House spokesman Jay Carney, the same day. The Barack Obama administration’s position has been that there can be no discussion on improving relations between Washington and Havana until Gross is released. Gross, a so-called contractor, was sentenced in March to 15 years in prison in Cuba for distributing sophisticated satellite communications equipment to select individuals and groups on the island as part of a State Department program to undermine the Cuban Revolution and its government. Gross worked for Development Alternatives Inc. under the State Department USAID program, whose stated purpose is “furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets.” DAI was USAID’s main contractor, having received more than $2.7 billion between 2000 and December 2009, just before Gross’s arrest. It paid Gross more than $500,000 for his work over five short trips to Cuba in 2009. A key aspect of Washington’s propaganda is that Gross was in Cuba simply to help the Jewish community there connect to the Internet. The growing discussion on the case and the Cuban government’s statement take place in the context of speculation and opinions on the idea of Washington and Havana swapping Gross for the Cuban Five held in U.S. prisons.

NBC Relays Palestinian ‘Propaganda’ from Bethlehem During Christmas - On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, during a report recounting the gathering of Christian pilgrims in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations, correspondent Martin Fletcher relayed Palestinian complaints about Israel, and gave attention to the display of an anti-Israel publicity stunt

set to coincide with the occasion taking advantage of a Christmas tree theme. Fletcher ended up acknowledging the propagandistic nature of the Palestinian message as he concluded the report: Christmas in Bethlehem - for some a platform for propaganda, for most a day of joy and hope. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, Bethlehem. Image from

Why Victimize Santa on Christmas Eve with Anti-Israel Propaganda? - The Christian world at this hour is in the midst of celebrating Christmas Eve. Children across the globe are waiting anxiously listening for the patter of little feet from nine tiny reindeer and a hearty ho, ho, ho announcing Santa's arrival as he slides down the chimney with a pack of gifts to be left under the Christmas tree. So, it is a bit puzzling that alleged Palestinian activists in Bethlehem and the Presbyterian Peacemakers are portraying Saint Nick as a victim of the alleged Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Are they the grinches that stole Christmas?

Is Israel once again the annual Christmas bash?
- Yosef Hartuv, The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA is an organization created by the PC(USA)'s 2004 General Assembly to educate Presbyterians about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Under the cover of this mission, the IPMN traffics in anti-Zionist and in some instances, anti-Semitic, propaganda which it broadcasts not only to members of the PC(USA), but to the general public.

This propaganda can be regularly seen on IPMN's Facebook page. One example of this type of propaganda can be seen in the cartoon posted above. The cartoon, posted on IPMN's Facebook page on Christmas Eve, shows two Israeli soldiers harassing Santa Claus. One soldier rummages through Santa's bag of gifts, another searches Santa for weapons. Santa himself has his hands up against a concrete section of the security barrier. A church steeple can be seen off in the distance. Image from article

Pillsbury Propaganda - Greg Medernach, unconditioned response: A satirical blog about media, marketing, advertising, politics, pop culture, etc. All references to actual companies, products, people, etc. is for the purpose of parody. All writing is copyright by Greg Medernach, and is mostly intended as absurdist humor: "Pillsbury is running an ad this holiday season for their crescent rolls, making sure we've all got enough crescents. But crescents on Christmas? For Chanukah? Is Pillsbury trying to indoctrinate us into Islam with their hot, flaky propaganda pastries? Are they trying to roll us all with rolls? I see what's going on here! Why don't they have crucifix and dreidel rolls if they're so innocent? (This is just a joke, I hope you all realize...)"

Inside Syria's Death Zone: Assad's Regime Hunts People in Homs -- The regime in Damascus is using snipers to hunt down its own people. Rebels on the ground in besieged Homs, the site of some of the most extreme brutality, say the international community is hesitating to help Syrians out of fear that it will trigger a civil war. But the threat is merely propaganda from ruler Bashar Assad, they claim - Homs is a complicated city, a microcosm of the country. More than half of its 1.5 million inhabitants are Sunnis, a little more than 10 percent, respectively, are Christians and Alawites, and the rest of the population is distributed among smaller minorities. The protests against the regime have inevitably developed their own dynamic.

President Assad, the highest-ranking generals and the heads of the intelligence agencies are Alawites, as are most of the men in the death squads and the Shabiha militias. Their victims are almost exclusively Sunnis. Soldiers and members of the intelligence agencies who have defected say that the regime has also deployed forces dressed in civilian clothes to attack Alawites in the name of the Sunnis and Sunnis in the name of the Alawites. Peaceful protesters are being painted as Islamist fanatics who have come to rape Christian women. Image from article

Rafsanjani's daughter to stand trial - The daughter of former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will be tried on charges of making propaganda against the ruling system. Her lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that the charges against Faezeh Hashemi

were related to interviews she gave to news websites. Hashemi appeared at opposition protests after the disputed June 2009 presidential elections and was briefly detained in February. Faezeh Hashemi image from article

NK-NJ BBQ Diplomacy - Paul Rockower, Levantine: The NYTimes has an interview with the unofficial North Korean rep in New Jersey on the death of Kim Jong-Il, a fellow who owns a bbq joint often frequented by North Korean diplomats. Gastrodiplomacy at its finest.

Kim Jong Il: After Leader's Death, Mythmaking Begins For Next Ruler - Janis Esch, Just before North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died, the skies glowed red above sacred Mount Paektu and the impenetrable sheet of ice at the heart of the mystical volcano cracked with a deafening roar. At least, that's the official account of the supernatural circumstances preceding Kim's death last Saturday, as relayed by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The news agency is one of the chief propaganda organs tasked with building up the quasi-religious mystique around the Kim family, which has ruled North Korea since its founding in 1948.

The tools for making the myth have been developed over two generations, dating back to Kim's father, late President Kim Il Sung. But with Kim Jong Il's sudden death and the ascension of his young son Kim Jong Un, North Korea's image artisans will have to do it all at warp speed. Image from article

North Korean Propagandists Say Kim Jong-il's Son Planned South Korea Attacks - Amrutha Gayathri, The myth-builders of North Korea, those who ensure the divine aura of the dictatorial Kim dynasty never fades, have a new task: To raise Kim Jong-Un - the third son of former ruler Kim Jong-il and his heir apparent - to the status of a quasi-god, so as to make the unelected leader's governance unchallenged.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, the propaganda machine that worked so well for Kim Il-Sung, the founder of the North Korea (officially, and ironically, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and his son Kim Jong-il, doesn't look like it is going to fail anytime soon. "North Korea's internal propaganda has been busy crediting him (Jong-Un) for the Cheonan attack, the Yeonpyeong Island attack and big 2010 fireworks shows," Richard Horgan, a Los Angeles activist, journalist and blogger, who launched an online campaign in April 2009 against the North Korean regime, told IBTimes. Image from article

Kim's world - Leo Hickman, North Korea's future Great Leader was born, but no one seems exactly sure where or when. According to the propaganda his family cultivated, he was born in his father's log cabin on the side of North Korea's Mount Paektu in 1942.

A swallow was supposedly seen in the sky, signalling the early arrival of spring. A new star shone in the sky and a double rainbow was sighted nearby. The Soviets, more prosaically, said their records showed he was born in the Siberian village of Vyatskoye in 1941. Image from article, with caption: People read copies of an extra edition newspaper reporting the death of Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong II's cinematic legacy returns to the spotlight - Irmgard Rieger, Jong II's keen interest in cinema is being revisited following his death, as a Vienna cinema offered a special screening of a monster film

that the dictator produced, and a British producer plans to tell the adventurous story of how it was made. On Thursday, the Gartenbau cinema showed the horror film Pulgasari, a 1985 North Korean propaganda production modelled on Godzilla, made by the man who ended up ruling his country with an iron fist. "The whole story of how it was made sounds like a movie script," said Norman Shetler, manager of the Gartenbau. Image from

Putin's propaganda in the Russian Orthodox Church - Mariya116, "As of yesterday, I am boycotting the popular Russian Orthodox portal 'Sudba' even though I had been posting there actively for a while. After the recent Parliament elections, some threads began appearing where people were expressing their dissatisfaction with the regime and their personal accounts of specific names, locations, specific instances of the fraud. A couple of days later, all such threads were removed, and a message from the portal's administration appeared, saying something along the lines of: Please do not post any threads relating to the recent elections, SO THAT THE PORTAL DOES NOT GET SUSPENDED. Okay. Site members expressed their bewilderment, but did not dwell on it as requested. A few days before yesterday, the portal posted another appeal: FATHER SO AND SO, THE CONFESSOR OF HOLY PATRIARCH KIRILL, APPEALED TO THE FAITHFUL NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE REVOLT, THE PURPOSE OF WHICH IS TO START A REVOLUTION IN RUSSIA."

"All-American Muslim" TV Show Plummets in Ratings Dive: Advertisers and Viewers Flee - Pamela Geller, The TLC series, All-American Muslim, suffered a severe ratings drop despite the faux outrage expressed by Islamic supremacists and their uber-leftist idiots like the woefully uninformed Russell Simmons over the withdrawal of advertisers (including home-improvement chain Lowes). You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think. You can lead an infidel to dawah, but you can't make him watch. Despite the media firestorm and the attendant publicity over the nontroversy concerning Lowe's decision not to continue advertising (along with scores of other advertisers), Americans had no interest in being schooled in the fictitious propaganda of "islamophobia."

Propaganda Then and Now - Kenneth Dowst, Never mind Fox News and the like. Even the most prestigious "mainstream" media--such as the New York Times--bathe the reader in a sea of propaganda.

The propaganda furthers the interests of the elite, promotes perpetual war, and denies voice to the opposition. Journalist/filmmaker John Pilger and commentator Margaret Kimberley explain how it works. Image from

Don’t Scowl, Beethoven, You’re Loved [Review of Beethoven in America by Michael Broyles Illustrated. 418 pages. Indiana University Press. $29.95] - Allan Kozinn, New York Times: Beethoven probably would have been surprised at the place his name and image have found at the heart of American culture, including popular culture. Yes, it’s true that millions of Americans get through their days, weeks and months without hearing a note of Beethoven or giving him a thought. But as Michael Broyles points out in his fascinating but uneven “Beethoven in America,” just about everyone knows Beethoven’s name, if not necessarily his music, and for millions — particularly those with little interest in the symphonic world — he is synonymous with the classics. Though Dr. Broyles does not say so, World War II essentially shattered the notion of classical music as inherently moral. It’s hard to watch film of an orchestra playing Beethoven for an audience of uniformed Nazis and continue to believe that the music has some special moral power. True, the Allies made use of Beethoven too: the opening motto of his Fifth Symphony — da-da-da-dum — is a Morse code V, for victory, and that became the Allied battle cry. Still, the Beethoven as an Ethical Force industry collapsed after the war. Beethoven as a historical symbol, though, continued to fascinate Americans. Firmly established at the heart of the classical repertory he found his way into popular culture, a process that began long before the war but exploded after 1945. Much of “Beethoven in America” is a copiously annotated catalog of his ubiquity in popular culture.

Harry Kessler’s Fin de Siècle Diaries [Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918 Edited and translated by Laird M. Easton Illustrated. 924 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $45] - Louis Begley, New York Times: Young Count Harry received an international education, first in Paris, then at an English boarding school, a renowned gymnasium in Hamburg and universities in Bonn and Leipzig, where he studied law. Upon graduation, he joined an elegant uhlan regiment of the Imperial Guard, but with his father’s fortune filling his sails, he soon embarked on a career of social butterfly, aesthete, collector, cultural impresario and diplomat. Called back

to his regiment at the outbreak of World War I, he initially served in Belgium, where he saw German atrocities firsthand, then in the Carpathian campaign, where he received the Iron Cross, and then again on the Western Front. Released from duty in mid-1916, perhaps because of a nervous breakdown, he was dispatched to Bern and charged with cultural propaganda. He was to promote Germany’s cultural tradition and attainments to the Swiss public and thus erase the image of his country as a brutal aggressor. In March 1918 we find Kessler saying, apropos those who fear German world domination, that “if they saw the asses who sit in Berlin and guide the world empire . . . they would be less anxious.” Kessler image from article

Stranger in a Strange Land [Review of American Nietzsche by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen Chicago, 452 pages, $30] - Thomas Meaney, Wall Street Journal: As a teenager, Friedrich Nietzsche was fascinated by America. More than any other European thinker, he is alive in our cultural bloodstream. But in a country that, from the start, elevated the values of efficiency and equality over the virtues of aristocratic excellence, Nietzsche's message was bound to mutate. We have blunted his challenge to "create yourself" into a commercial catchphrase; we prefer to "like" our fellow citizens rather than to love or hate them; we don't hesitate to declare any child who dabbles in crayons an "artist." As a culture, we have given Nietzsche a happy ending. There is something to be said for the happy ending America has given Nietzsche. A country that can translate the striving of the Nietzschean superman into a guide for democracy's self-creating everyman may have discovered a rare kind of philosophical agility. The shift may not be quite fair to Nietzsche, but then he was always thrilled by America's powerful misreading of the European past.

Prowess and propaganda - Ragnhild Hveger, who has died aged 90, was a Dane who became one of the most accomplished swimmers the world has seen, setting 44 world records; but her Olympic ambitions were thwarted by her close association with the Nazis.

The three most significant of her records, all at Olympic distances, lasted for an aggregate of 46 years. Such was her prowess that she was seized upon by the Germans during their occupation of Denmark, and used for propaganda purposes. This rankled with many of her countrymen after the war had ended, as did the fact Hveger had been happy to swim competitively in Germany. As academic Hans Bonde wrote in Football With the Foe: Danish Sport Under the Swastika (2008): "The Nazis loved to use female sports stars to create heroic Aryan images, and women swimmers were incomparably the most popular sportspeople of the time." Image from, with caption: Ragnhild Hveger (second from left) on the podium after finishing second in the 400 metres women's freestyle at the Berlin Olympics in 1936


Best campaign goodie -- Ron Paul Family Cookbook - Wayne Slater,

Image from article


--From Princess Sparkle Pony's Photoblog


"I’ve got to admit, Christmas is strange in Los Angeles. People in Hollywood marvel when they see the nativity scene because rarely do people in this town ever see a baby being taken care of by both parents at the same time."

–Talk show host Jay Leno


More young people see opportunities in farming - USA Today, While fresh demographic information on U.S. farmers won't be available until after a new agricultural census is done next year, there are signs more people in their 20s and 30s are going into farming: Enrollment in university agriculture programs has increased, as has interest in farmer-training programs.

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