Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15

"Good Propaganda Machine"

--Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, naming his activist network; image from


1984 Propaganda


State Dept’s Exchange Visitor Program: “Watching Them Like a Hawk?” - Domani Spero, DiploPundit:  "According to the AP, citing State Department spokesman Mark Toner, the department received 43 allegations of sexual abuse since the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. ... In 2009 in the wake of another foreign exchange blowup in the press, State’s Inspector General Office did a limited review at the request of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and the Acting Assistant Secretary of ECA to 'deter­mine the level of the Department’s oversight of secondary school exchange pro­grams.' The OIG says that the purpose of that review was to assess monitoring procedures within ECA and their effectiveness as oversight tools. Its Recommendation 4 at that time says: [']The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs should es­tablish a standard requirement based on objective criteria to conduct national criminal history checks of host families to ensure uniformity and adequacy of information provided by third-party background check companies. (Action: ECA)['] Apparently, the pilot use of FBI fingerprint checks had been ditched due Congress’ inability to provide appropriate funding and to budget shortfalls. The 2009 OIG report was not the first one conducted on this subject. ... Can you imagine if American kids on foreign exchange were abused overseas? As much as I’d like to point at Congress for not providing appropriate resources here, the State Department also does not have a track record of oversight that goes back at least a decade. The latest OIG report on this subject is dated 2009. The 43 allegations of sexual abuse occurred since the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. So whatever reforms were made to strengthen the program from October 2009 onwards did not do a whole lot. ... Update: Clarification from State’s spokesperson when asked about the AP story during today’s DPB: MS. NULAND:

[']Yeah. This was an AP story that was incorrect today. And as you know, we have called your reporter and asked for a correction. It asserted that there was an opportunity to give FBI background checks to American host families before foreign students came and stayed in their homes. In fact, we would need legislation in order to make use of the FBI’s database for this purpose. We had a small pilot program* that the Congress had authorized that allowed us to do this for a short period of time. That program has now lapsed, and we would need new legislation in order to make use of it. But that doesn’t change the fact that we do do criminal background checks on every single American host family on anybody over 18 who’s living in a household where a foreign student is going to be placed, and we obviously follow up with home visits, et cetera. *The pilot program was under the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. ['] Okay, this clarification makes it even more confusing. If 'we do do criminal background checks on every single American host family on anybody over 18 who’s living in a household where a foreign student is going to be placed, and we obviously follow up with home visits,' that obviously is good. But, but …. how did we end up with 43 sexual allegation cases in one school year?" Image from

Our inconsistent Foreign Policy in sub-Saharan Africa - John Price, Former U.S. Ambassador: "The United States needs a more consistent Foreign Policy in sub-Saharan Africa. We need to understand that our form of democracy may not take hold everywhere, so we must listen to what these countries want to achieve and work with them, rather than exclude them from our aid programs for not complying with our standards. At the same time, it is necessary to consider having a focused public diplomacy message reaching out to the people more directly, including those who live in the villages."

American Ambassadors Convene in Washington - David Huebner, American Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa: "I’m back in Washington this week to attend a global Chiefs of Mission conference called by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The key agenda items are advancing our comprehensive economic statecraft initiatives, expanding the scope and pace of diplomatic innovation under our 21st Century Statecraft program, and sharing best practices on a wide array of challenges faced in our Missions around

the world. ... With colleagues from the Philippines and Indonesia, I’ll be talking about how to develop and implement innovative approaches to public diplomacy." Image from article, with caption: Stock photo of the Benjamin Franklin Room, with my personal American hero Ben Franklin looking on from the far wall. (There were, of course, no flowers at lunch.)

Reaching hearts and minds used to be VOA’s mission - BBGWatcher, Another Voice, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "[W]hat VOA needs to do

is: 1) Preserve and grow the 100-million strong shortwave audiences by offering both short-form and long-form radio news and features, plus music, arts and science programs — not based on TV new’s dumbed-down, ever shallower formulas, but on NPR’s (and the old VOA’s) intelligent, absorbing, engaging, and often deeply rewarding programming — where stories were as long as they needed to be. Or as short. 2) Focus equally on the Internet. Make VOA web sites the platform for magazine and newspaper-style stories, video interviews and features of any length, and five- and ten-minute documentaries, both radio and video. and: 3) Discontinue the expensive and wasteful emphasis on making each and every story a narrated TV package of three minutes or less. ... Reaching hearts and minds with important ideas and valuable culture — not just disposable spot news — used to be VOA’s mission. But the shallow, content-light, formula-driven TV packages that VOA increasingly specializes in must barely register across different cultures, much less reach hearts and minds." Image from

BBG Super Executives out of touch with reality - Judy, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "BBG’s employees have many years of experience and expertise. They know their audiences and they know what’s important. It’s the Super Executives who are completely out of touch with reality. Oh, they have their own 'realities' of course: bonuses, fund-raising for a politician, setting up high paying jobs they can step into in a year or two. It’s good to be best friends with deep-pocket contractors and, of course, the President."

VOA staffers discuss Red Cross inspection tactics for Director Ensor’s newsroom visit - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Our sources tell us that Voice of America director David Ensor is expected to meet with VOA English newsroom staff Thursday. Some people are hoping to communicate with him despite lurking managing editors. One source described their plans as similar to prisoners trying to communicate with a Red Cross inspection team with prison guards nearby. One manager reportedly told the newsroom laborers to show themselves at their brightest and most-beavering-away (he didn’t use that word) during Ensor’s visit."

Stop the Voice of America’s Tibetan Language Radio from going silent for the Tibetan people -

Six Monks vs. One Warship - Mark McDonald, International Herald Tribune: "Asia has seen varying displays of hard power and soft power in recent days, as the region struggles to come to grips with some frozen and seemingly intractable conflicts. Hard power, as a concept, is pretty simple — 'the use of coercive force to drive change,' according to the former U.S. homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff. ... Political scientists ... see the threat (or even the display) of military force as hard power. Live-fire military maneuvers, for example, or border garrisons being placed on alert. Or the shakedown cruises of China’s first aircraft carrier ... . China has long had carrier lust ... . State-run media in China quoted a top navy official as saying the carrier has been undergoing sea trials since last August. ... The presence of the carrier on maneuvers in blue water seems to be a clear, hard-power message to those countries in the region that lay claim to various islands in the South China Sea, notably the Spratly and the Paracel island groups. ... All the claimant countries except Brunei have established military garrisons on various disputed islands, and China and Vietnam regularly charge each other with the violent harassment of their fishing vessels. But in a novel use of soft power, Vietnam said earlier this week that six Buddhist monks will soon take up residence on one of the Spratlys.

The monks, who reportedly will stay for the next year, belong to the government-sanctioned wing of the Buddhist church. It makes for a textbook case of hard power versus soft: Do six monks trump one warship? Soft power, as a concept, is a 'much more fluid matter,' as Mr. Chertoff said, and a bit harder to define. Sometimes known as public diplomacy, it can involve cultural or student exchanges, economic incentives, foreign aid and the like. 'By having interpersonal relationships we broaden understanding,' Mr. Chertoff said. The originator of the term, the Harvard professor Joseph Nye, outlines the idea here, in a video talk. ... The Chinese know a little something about soft power, too. Responding to diplomatic feelers from the Nixon administration in 1971, Mao Zedong’s government invited the touring U.S. table tennis team to come to China for a series of matches. At the time, such an exchange was nearly unthinkable — until it wasn’t. When the Americans accepted the invitation, 'ping-pong diplomacy' was born. ... Another remarkable display of soft power took place Wednesday in Paris, as 90 musicians from the Unhasu Orchestra of North Korea joined the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert, Sophie Cohen reports at the ArtsBeat blog. It remains to be seen whether such an intermingling might help calm the fractious relationship between the two Koreas." Image from

British Foreign Policy and the Arab Spring - Robin, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "March 15, 2012 The Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee is holding an investigation into British Foreign Policy and the Arab Spring and they’ve just published a transcript of their evidence session with Lord Malloch-Brown, formerly of the UN and the FCO and now working for a political risk consultancy. He’s got plenty to say about ‘electronic solidarity’ and the uprisings, the inapplicability of the Marshall Plan analogy and the state of language teaching in the UK education system."

End ‘Conflict Tourism’. Armenians, Azeris are People Too: Georgy Vanyan to International Agencies - "What today in the process of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is called 'people’s democracy' is an activity that instills the idea of an insurmountable conflict, said head of the Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives Georgy Vanyan, in an interview with 'And the more the conflict is perceived as irreconcilable takes root in people’s minds, the deeper the conflict goes. The deeper the conflict, the greater the racism and theory of our genetic ncompatibility. In the current situation, there’s no place, no area of application for public diplomacy in its true sense.

There is potential, of course — it’s in human nature itself. But diplomacy needs contact and mutual interest. We have neither one nor the other. ... The verdict on this issue is doubted in neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan because the Azeris are not people according to the Armenian patriotic tribunal and Armenians are not people according to the Azeri patriotic tribunal. And we see the logical extension of this in the bold and unexpected assertions of modern public diplomacy that ‘there are people among them too.’ And this is presented as the result of tourism of many years and a big budget, with the tantamount pathos of Olympic achievement and highly spiritual attainment: ‘Among them there are people too’." Uncaptioned Image from article

Long Goodbye - Jon Taplin's Home Page: "About Jonathan Taplin ... Mr. Taplin is a member of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Fellow at the Center for Public Diplomacy and sits on the International Advisory Board of the Singapore Media Authority."


In Reactions to Two Incidents, a U.S.-Afghan Disconnect - Rod Nordland, New York Times: The mullah was astounded and a little angered to be asked why the accidental burning of Korans last month could provoke violence nationwide, while an intentional mass murder that included nine children last Sunday did not. “How can you compare the dishonoring of the Holy Koran with the martyrdom of innocent civilians?” said an incredulous Mullah Khaliq Dad, a member of the council of religious leaders who investigated the Koran burnings.

“The whole goal of our life is religion.” That many Americans are just as surprised that what appears to be the massacre of 16 people at the hands of an American soldier has not led to mass protests or revenge killings speaks volumes about a fundamental disconnect with their Afghan partners, one that has undermined a longstanding objective to win the hearts and minds of the population. After more than 10 years, many deaths and billions of dollars invested, Americans still fail to grasp the Afghans’ basic values. Faith is paramount and a death can be compensated with blood money. Image from

Afghanistan massacre casts pall over village operations - Carmen Gentile, USA Today: It's a precarious and at times stressful balancing act for the Special Forces, who must be both warriors and mentors while living among a population in which the Taliban and its sympathizers lurk, says Marine Col. Willard Buhl, an active-duty officer. he special operations troops also go out on patrols and raids, sometimes at night, to kill or capture Taliban operatives. Special Forces operations are largely off-limits to journalists, and their activities go unreported except for the occasional release of a statement by the military.

U.S. starts to lose its academic reputation: Funding has Asian universities rising - Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times: U.S. and U.K. universities still sit at the head of the class in world higher education, but emerging schools in Asia and elsewhere threaten to shift the global balance of academic power, a major study shows. In its annual World Reputation Rankings, the London-based Times Higher Education magazine gives American institutions seven of the top 10 spots, with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology coming in first and second, respectively.

Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, are also in the top five with Britain's Cambridge and Oxford universities taking the third and sixth slots. But the survey - compiled from written responses by more than 17,000 published academics who were asked to rank institutions on their reputations only - shows that Japan, China, Singapore and other nations are making big gains and appear poised to compete with their Western peers for educational prestige. image from article, with caption: The gates of Harvard lead to a school with a $13 billion endowment and a ranking as the university with the best reputation in the world.

Putin's paranoia could have consequences for U.S. - Trudy Rubin, Vladimir Putin, newly elected to a third presidential term (after an interval as prime minister), has made clear he believes Washington has him in its crosshairs. “Nobody can impose their policy on us,” he proclaimed to a cheering crowd at his victory rally near the Kremlin. “Our people could recognize the provocation from those who want to destroy the country. The Orange scenario will never work here.” Putin was referring to the 2004 Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, where street protests overturned a pro-Russian, antidemocratic president. The Russian leader thinks the United States directed the Orange Revolution. He also thinks that Russians protesting rigged elections are paid by the United States. If Putin were merely using anti-Americanism to win votes, one still might imagine some U.S.-Russian cooperation on issues where security interests overlap. Those would include stabilizing Afghanistan, or maybe even curbing Iran’s nuclear program by nonmilitary means in order to avoid more Middle East bloodshed. But if anti-Americanism has become Putin’s guiding principle – a very personal and deeply held conviction – then it’s hard to imagine such cooperation.

Leading Russian dissident: We want human rights sanctions against Putin’s people - Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy: he United States shouldn't lift trade sanctions against Russia without replacing them with targeted actions against Russia's worst human rights violators, a top Russia opposition leader told The Cable today.

The Obama administration has been touting the fact that Russia's opposition leaders want America to repeal the 1974 Jackson-Vanik law that prevents the United States from granting Russian Permanent Normal Trade Status (PNTR) and taking full advantage of Russia's new membership in the WTO. But according to former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, co-chairman of the People's Freedom Party, also known as the "Solidarity" movement, the United States shouldn't do that without replacing those sanctions with the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011 -- legislation meant to promote human rights in Russia that is named for the anti-corruption lawyer who died in a Russian prison, after allegedly being tortured, two years ago. Image from article

The Right Way to Sanction Russia: With the repeal of Jackson-Vanik, it's more important than ever to hold the Russian oligarchy accountable - Gary Kasparov and Boris Nemtsov, Wall Street Journal: As Mr. Kissinger did 39 years ago, Amb. McFaul is trying to make the case that human rights should not get in the way of realpolitik and the business of doing business. He reminds us that the State Department already has its own secret list of banned Russian officials, and so nothing more need be done. But the entire object of such laws is to publicly shame and punish the rank and file of Mr. Putin's mob so they know the big boss can no longer protect them. The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act is an example of such legislation. Replacing Jackson-Vanik with it would promote better relations between the people of the U.S. and Russia while refusing to provide aid and comfort to a tyrant and his regime at this critical moment in history. This, too, would be a policy of principle.

Viral Video, Vicious Warlord - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: "I’d like to thank the makers of the “Kony 2012” video for goading me to write about Joseph Kony.

With about 100 million views, it is now one of the most viral videos of all time. My starting point is a “bravo” for film-makers for galvanizing young Americans to look up from their iPhones and seek to make a difference for villagers in central Africa who continue to be murdered, raped and mutilated by Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. Just in the last two months, the Lord’s Resistance Army has mounted 20 raids in Congo alone. But nobody fights more wickedly than humanitarians, so there have been a series of attacks on the video. Let me try to address some of the criticisms. Let Africans resolve their own problems. It’s neocolonialist for Americans to think that they can solve Congolese problems, when they can’t even solve their own. This is just one more example of “white man’s burden” imperialism. When a warlord continues to kill and torture across a swath of Congo and Central African Republic, that’s not a white man’s burden. It’s a human burden. To me, it feels repugnant to suggest that compassion should stop at a national boundary or color line. A common humanity binds us all, whatever the color of our skin — or passport. The issue is complicated, in ways that don’t come through in a misleading video. For example, the video doesn’t make clear that Kony is no longer a threat in Uganda. The video doesn’t contain errors, but it does simplify things greatly to hold attention. ... American kids worrying about Kony accomplish nothing. The video promotes feel-good gestures — wear a bracelet! — that enrich a do-nothing aid organization but have no benefit in the jungles of central Africa. It’s true that indignation among Americans won’t by itself stop Kony. Yet I’ve learned over the years that public attention can create an environment in which solutions are more likely. Image from

The meaning of ‘Kony 2012’ - Editorial Board, Washington Post: The 29-minute video’s very simplicity has provoked abundant complaints: among them, that it exaggerates the threat posed by a warlord who was driven out of Uganda six years ago and now has only a few hundred followers; that it promotes a “white man’s burden” view of African problems; and that its focus on capturing Mr. Kony this year is misplaced. It’s true that Mr. Kony is no longer the menace he was a decade ago, and that life in northern Uganda — the focus of the film — has mostly returned to normal. Yet according to the United Nations, the Kony forces, called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), are still causing harm. If social media can speed up bringing criminals like Mr. Kony to justice, then more power to it.

Kony screening provokes anger in Uganda: Ugandans, who suffered at hands of Lord's Resistance Army, react in anger at Kony video causing internet waves [video] - Joseph Kony is a household name, thanks to a 30-minute YouTube video raising awareness about his brutal rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Tens of millions have seen the video after US charity, Invisible Children, released the clip online last week. On Tuesday, a charity organisation showed the film to the people who suffered at the hands of the LRA - Ugandans in the north of the country. Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb reports from the town of Lira after the screening.

KONY 2012: State Propaganda for a New Generation - Vigilant Citizen, KONY 2012 is less of a documentary than it is a highly efficient infomercial that is tailor-made for the Facebook generation, using state-of-the-art marketing techniques to make its point. Young people like “underground movements” and want to feel like they are changing the world. KONY 2012 taps into these needs to bring about something that is not “hip” or “underground” at all: A military operation in Uganda. Not only that, it urges the participants of the movement to order stuff, to wear bracelets that are associated with an online profile and to record their actions in social media. This makes KONY 2012 the first artificially created movement that is fully track-able, monitor-able and quantifiable by those who engendered it. In other words, what appears to be a movement “from the people” is actually a new way for the elite to advance its agenda. To support the cause and to make it popular, a bunch of elite-sponsored artists and politicians have been enlisted, including Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Oprah, George Clooney, Bono, etc.

While some of them might be genuinely concerned about problems in Africa, most of them are pawns of the elite that are used to promote its agenda. Warmongering George W. Bush in here? The dude that lied to the whole country in order to attack Iraq for its oil and stuff? Hmm. Weird. Image from article

Propaganda film shown in local schools: Aljazeera finds ally in San Diego university professor's story - Craig Masters, Aljazeera, a leading Arab news source, has now reported on the Invisible Children film allegedly about a notorious African war lord, Joseph Kony. The film has been shown in local schools as if it were a current events documentary. But nothing in the film should be taken as factual except, perhaps, some of the review of the historical record about Kony, who was run out of Uganda years ago, according to Uganda government officials.

Adam Branch, senior research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Uganda, and assistant professor of political science at San Diego State University, USA, writes this: "As someone who has worked in northern Uganda and researched the war there for more than a decade, much of it with a local human rights organisation based in Gulu, the Invisible Children organisation and their videos have often left me infuriated - I remember the sleepless nights after I watched their 'Rough Cut' film for the first time with a group of students, after which I tried to explain to the audience what was wrong with the film while on stage with one of the filmmakers." Image from article, with caption: Joseph Kony no longer in Uganda

Kony 2012: Westerners Are Not And Will Never Be The 'Saviors' Of Africa - Ben Affleck, Huffington Post: "I applaud Invisible Children for raising the awareness of Kony (and the issue of child soldiers) to such an extraordinary level. The next step after awareness is action. There are many steps that we can take to end this nightmare. Among the most important is funding remarkable local organizations. Westerners are not and will never be the 'saviors' of Africa. That idea has been tried and found wanting. It is ineffectual at best and deadly at worst. The organization I founded, Eastern Congo Initiative, funds Congolese-led organizations that rescue child soldiers from the bush and provides them with education, medical assistance, job training, and counseling. We support the work being done by highly capable and determined Congolese, to make their communities a better place."

Iran Insists No Nuclear Activity At Parchin Military Site - Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman has dismissed allegations of nuclear activity at Tehran’s Parchin military site as “propaganda” against the country. Ramin Mehmanparast commented on some recent Western media reports that accuse Tehran of efforts to sanitize evidence of alleged nuclear activities in Parchin. Below image from

Iran's Ninth Majlis Elections: A Show with Pre-Determined Results - A. Savyon and Y. Mansharof, The regime's ostracizing of Ahmadinejad and his supporters is reflected, for example, in statements made by the president's former religious parton, Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi, at a February 29 conference in Qom. He said that Ahmadinejad's election in 2009 had been fair, but that afterwards, the president had worked against the regime: "We [found ourselves] in a situation where the president, elected by the people, was actually working against Islam, the Imam [Khomeini] and the interests of the state, and was even party to killing hundreds of innocent martyrs. We cannot say that he came to power through [election] fraud, because there was no such fraud. But the public did not know him, and later events caused us to realize our mistake. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past, and must not fall for the deceit and propaganda of the deviant stream. You must vote for those who realize the plight of the religion, the people's pain and the plight of the revolution, and will therefore serve the people honestly."

Genocide possible in Iran - Christopher Tuckwood, Ottawa Citizen: The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention, has been monitoring the persecution of Iranian Bahá'ís for several years and published our first risk assessment on the issue in 2009. The constant stream of propaganda linking a targeted minority to the foreign "enemy du jour" (currently the U.S. and Israel but formerly Britain and Russia in past decades) is reminiscent of many historical cases of genocide.

This will likely prompt a cornered regime to turn against its perceived internal enemies when it is unable to credibly retaliate against its actual external foes. The fate of 300,000 Iranian members of a little-known religious community may not count for much in the calculus of governments pondering questions of nuclear containment and national security, but we must change that. Image from

RT vs. Al Jazeera: The Propaganda War Over the Syrian Revolt - Rick Rockwell, For those who aren’t regular viewers of RT (formerly known as Russia Today), the Kremlin-financed information network, or to those who have not visited RT’s YouTube site you are missing some pretty heavy shelling in the propaganda war over Syria.

During the past few days, RT has been banging its drum about the inherent bias in coverage of Syria and most of the criticism has been aimed directly at Al Jazeera. Image from article

Georgia's TV stations face propaganda claims - Matthew Collin, sundaytimes: When newscasters on Georgia's three main TV channels read out almost identical reports on a controversial death in custody case this month, critics alleged the government was dictating their scripts. The incident renewed speculation that the authorities influence reporting on sensitive topics by the state broadcaster and the top two private nationwide stations which are the main sources of news in the small ex-Soviet republic. Georgia was lauded by its Western backers for its democratic progress after the 2003 “Rose Revolution” which swept reformist President Mikheil Saakashvili to power, but analysts say media remains a problematic issue. “It is definitely worse than before the Rose Revolution as far as television is concerned because there is much more government control,” said Shorena Shaverdashvili, editor of Georgian news magazine Liberali. “What we need is not more propaganda or anti-propaganda but genuinely objective news,” Shaverdashvili said. But with Georgia awaiting crucial parliamentary elections later this year and a presidential vote in 2013, the media will remain a political battleground and allegations that TV stations broadcast propaganda are unlikely to go away.

"Mowing The Lawn": On Israel’s Latest Massacre In Gaza And The Lies Behind It - Ali Abunimah, By Sunday evening in Gaza, a weekend of relentless Israeli bombing has left 18 people dead and dozens wounded. Israeli propaganda insists that the attacks are about preventing “terrorism” and stopping “rockets.” But in fact, Israel provoked this violence and according to some Israeli commentators its goals are to escalate pressure for war with Iran and to drag Hamas away from diplomacy and back into violence.

French beat Russians for title of world’s rudest people - Alina Lobzina, Russians have been named world’s second rudest nation in a poll carried out by an international travel search website, while the French people took first place in the bad manners competition. The poll was published on the British version of the website, but no comment has been provided by the company as to whether the result could have been affected by the nationality of those surveyed.

The Brits, however, also ended up at the top of the shameful chart with 10.4 percent voting them the most rude. The French headed the list with 19.2 percent, and 16.6 percent cast their votes for Russians. Via MT on Facebook. Image [presumably of a Russian] from article

Lied brings a slice of Russia to Nebraska with upcoming performance by Red Star Red Army Chorus - Shelby Fleig, Saturday night, Red Star will make its first trip to the Lied Center for Performing Arts since the tour 20 years ago. Performing traditional Russian music and dance numbers, 70 performers make up a chorus, dance troupe and orchestra originally created in 1978 as Soviet political propaganda to garner nationalism among troops.

Red Star has transcended its original purpose of political propaganda and is now highly regarded entertainment in many countries. The Red Star website states, “From a means of army art propaganda, it has turned to unique creative collectivity, the art of which is so original, that has gone through all shaking the country and world political and economic collisions of the last years, and continues to please and to admire the spectators of all ages, nationalities and creeds.” Image from article

Local exhibits feature Native American figures with American propaganda - Westlee Parsons, Oklahoma Daily: In a vintage and handmade goods shop on Main Street — nestled with handmade baby clothes, posters and vintage trinkets — there is a display of paintings and colored pencil sketches of contemporary American Indian art. Local artist Tom Farris now displays his newest art exhibit, “Sign of the Times,” on the back wall of the Norman shop, STASH. The pieces take American propaganda icons and transform them into American Indian pop art, Farris said.

Notable American icons, such as Rosy the Riveter, are transformed into fusions of Native American and pop cultures. The World War II woman is painted as an American Indian woman, and the “We can do it” slogan is translated into Native American characters. Some of the artwork adapts Oklahoma icons, such as Woody Guthrie and Will Rogers, with pop-art colors and technique. Another unique piece of the exhibit is a colored-pencil sketch on a piece of paper that is more than 100 years old. Farris said he used colored pencils on this piece instead of paint because they used colored pencils during the time the paper was written. The drawing mimics the “Uncle Sam Wants You” propaganda that started in the early 1900s and became most famous during the World Wars. Farris’ take is a picture of an American Indian man in Uncle Sam’s suit that reads, “I want you to fight against the U.S. Army.” Image from article, with caption: A collection of contemporary Native Ameriican art by Tom Farris made its way into the Stash on Monday.


"One-third of Americans have no retirement savings at all. About half have less than $25,000 to their name when they stop work."

--Ted C. Fishman, "Column: Challenge for our (ripe old) age," USA Today


Цекало и Puttin` отожгли на Воробьевых горах . Via NI on Facebook


Пронырливый, как коростель.
Pronyrlivyj as Crake. (Translated by Bing)


"Britannica's reputation for accuracy will probably ensure that the online version of its reference materials will continue to be cribbed by students around the globe. But the Internet is steadily undermining the brand's franchise in at least three ways. First, the Web is an echo chamber that enables people to read and hear only the information that fits their point of view. The search tools that make it simple to find information online aren't built to elevate 'definitive' sources such as Britannica, or even to separate fact from fiction; instead, they tend to rank sources based on their popularity. The more something is repeated or cited online, the more it is promoted on Google.

The definitive word on a subject may be simply the most widely held view, not the actual facts. Meanwhile, sites such as Wikipedia enable the public to bring its collective knowledge to the task of writing reference material, independent of the experts employed by Britannica. That 'wisdom of the crowd' approach has proved to be surprisingly accurate and effective. More important, the Internet puts a trove of original documents and other primary sources of information at people's fingertips. Instead of relying on middlemen to do research for us, we now can go directly to the sources that Britannica writers and Wikipedia contributors used. In a sense, the entire point of education is to develop the ability to think critically — to sift through the data and draw the right conclusions. That's a lesson that kids don't learn by rewriting Britannica entries into term papers." Image from

--Editorial, Los Angeles Times


--Via JG on Facebook


--Via CR on Facebook

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