Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13

"if god really blesses america i strongly believe there is no god"

--Reader Ferry Bookelmang, commenting on the Michael Moore Facebook page citing the Salon article, "The man the State Dept. wants silenced" [diplomat Peter Van Buren; for a review of Van Buren's  book, see]; image from


Winds of Change: How to Deal with an Intransigent Iran - Adam Ondo, "Politicians in the United States are at this very moment deliberating the best course of action to take against Iran. The options on the table are: use diplomacy, work with the Iranian public, preventively strike Iran, impose more sanctions, authorize covert actions, or support opposition groups in Iran. Since Iran will always have the ability to resume its nuclear program, the option the United States chooses needs to ensure that Iran no longer feels that it needs to be a nuclear power.

In order for Iran to turn an about-face and cease its nuclear projects, the United States must ensure that Iran feels secure. How the United States is going to do that is the question politicians must figure out. ... Diplomacy will most likely not work, because trust between Washington and Tehran is almost nonexistent. ... Public diplomacy poses the same problem that normal diplomacy does, in that engaging in public diplomacy would tie the United States hands, preventing it from using sanctions, preventive strikes, or covert operations. Addressing the Iranian public directly would also make Tehran feel even less in control, providing an even greater incentive for it to seek nuclear weapons. ... If the United States is comfortable with the possibility of a full scale war, then a preemptive strike or covert operation may be the correct measure to use to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability in the short term. However, after reviewing the possibilities and their supporting evidence, covert operations, sanctions, and opposition support seem to be the best options if used in conjunction with each other, as the end goal should be to bring about regime change more favorable to U.S. interests." Image from

A Lasting Shadow over Libya - ‘Short War, Long Shadow’ is a comprehensive RUSI report, released on the anniversary of Unified Protector - the Western military operation against Quadhafi’s regime – that details a final assessment of the seven-month campaign in conjunction with its previous Whitehall report findings on the interim campaign - "Short War, Long Shadow: The Political and Military Legacies of the 2011 Libya Campaign occurred, it happened in a 'singularly unique moment where the international states, as it were, had aligned in a set of propitious circumstances'. The report further suggests that Libya

will provide little in the way of a widely applicable model for future operations, which should be kept in mind as the unfolding crisis in Syria rolls on, and leaves some troubling implications for the future of Responsibility to Protect. ... The operation raises serious questions, more specifically, on how the strategic decisions were handled and how the effects of Libya on 'NATO, on Britain’s allies, and its diplomacy, will play out as policy makers confront far more serious challenges to British security'. ... Overall, the finding that Libya is its own specific case within a set of specific circumstances remains a strong theory to conclude on. It would be foolish and unwise if not detrimental to assume that what worked for Libya would work elsewhere – and this is a notion that needs to be accepted by high officials but also by the people within the Arab world urging their own revolutions/rebellions. ... Language is persuasive and misleading. It is through such reports and research that we can expand our knowledge so as to help 'distinguish lies from facts, and propaganda from sound analysis' in order to discover the truth and raise awareness in our world so that policy is driven behind open and public diplomacy." Image from article, with caption: A Sinel Tank in Libya, Misrata, in 2011

Field of Dreams Meets Visa Waiver Reform - Jessica Zuckerman, "‘If you build it, they will come’—at least that’s what author Edward Alden argues in a recent Foreign Affairs article calling for the long-overdue expansion of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Between 2005 and 2010, 98 million visitors entered the United States from the 36 member nations of the VWP, which allows for individuals from member nation countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa. Yet despite interest from numerous U.S. friends and allies around the world, since 2008 the program’s expansion has largely been put on hold. Putting the program on the bench makes little sense. ‘By limiting the program,’ Alden argues, ‘the United States is missing out on considerable economic, political, and security benefits.’ And he is exactly right. Since the program’s inception in 1986, the VWP has reduced the workload on U.S. consulate offices while encouraging travel to and tourism in the U.S. In this way the program

helps to reduce backlogs in the continuously convoluted and bureaucratic U.S. visa system while also serving to strengthen U.S. public diplomacy efforts, promoting a positive image of the U.S. abroad. But that’s not all. Efforts to judiciously add more countries to the family of the VWP nations also make sense from an economic and security perspective.” Image from

Turn on the Global High Beams for American Jobs - Trooper Sanders, Huffington Post: "With 60 years on the throne, the United States could learn a thing or two from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. As part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Her Majesty will dispatch virtually every member of her family beyond the seas to promote the crown and U.K., PLC. While America does not have a royal family to promote its brand, people and products around the world, it does have an untapped resource with its own brand of royal magic: former presidents and first ladies. ... Former presidents and first ladies have a potent mixture of Oval Office gravitas and pop culture celebrity that can help open doors, shift goods and seal deals for USA, Inc. They can be especially helpful in markets where high-level emissaries are helpful in cultivating relationships and conveying respect on behalf of the United States. Foreign trade missions headlining one of them could give a competitive edge to companies without celebrity CEOs, including small- and medium-sized businesses as well as women and minority-owned businesses that may face perception challenges abroad. The interest they attract on the speaking circuit and in the popular press can help highlight goods made in the USA and promote domestic travel and tourism destinations that employ millions of American workers. ... During an era when jobs and prosperity rests on a country's ability to win every customer, serve every market and secure every dollar of investment capital available, the United States can ill-afford to leave one of its greatest public diplomacy assets on history's shelf."

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye: 'Telling a Story Helped Us Figure Out Who We Were' - James L Bullock on Facebook re this item: "A wonderful story - about a woman from Texas who often participated in US cultural exchanges."

Nye image from

Great Moments in Social Media: Self-Congratulatory Propaganda - Peter van Buren, We Meant Well: "We are all aware of the power of social media– to bend autocratic governments to the will of the people, to inform, to entertain, to allow the Department of State to speak directly to individuals instead of governments. Powerful, 21st century stuff. Indeed, social media is so important to the Department of State that over 150 people work on just that, Tweeting and Facebooking 24/7 like high school freshman on their third Red Bull. The State Department even has a full-time person with the humble title ‘Innovator,’ Alec Ross, to embiggen this amazing set of tools which Hillary Clinton has dubbed ‘Smart Power’ and ‘eDiplomacy.’ The Australian government actually sent someone all the way over here to study the Department of State’s social media. That guy wroteUS policymakers have put great stock in the transformative power of Internet freedom. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, these tools will be used ‘to advance democracy and human rights, to fight climate change and epidemics, to build global support for President Obama’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons, [and] to encourage sustainable economic development that lifts the people at the bottom up.’ So with that all in mind, let’s have a peek at what the Department of State felt compelled to pass into the Twitter stream on April 10:

Wow. I wept. That is innovative, 21st century stuff, all on the tax payers dime. Jeez, at least when you 'friend' Pepto Bismal on Facebook you get a coupon or something."

The Future of Journalism, Public Diplomacy and Innovation: Five Rules to Follow - Davin Hutchins, "What does the future of international broadcasting look like in the age of mobile? Should journalists focus on providing objective information even though information is no longer scarce in the age of the Internet? Should public diplomats focus on explaining a foreign policy or rather sparking discussion and promoting free speech even if it’s critical of that policy? These are questions we ask ourselves daily – no hourly – at Middle East Voices. Middle East Voices is a newly launched 'social journalism' project hatched out of VOA English. ... We’ve come up with five rules on innovation that journalists and public diplomats should follow to remain relevant to their audiences: 1.) Don’t tell, listen and then amplify - According to our data, Middle East Voices’ target audience barely responds or comments to articles about diplomatic meetings, official statements by heads of state. If the Arab Spring revealed anything, it is that future generations don’t like being told what to do by older generations. This audience wants to participate, engage and change the system. What does seem to work, according to our analytics, are posts which asks questions, and sparks a conversation. We allow comments to be published immediately and let the community flag bad ones. All of this is in the name of listening and amplification to show we are partners in the marketplace of free ideas. 2.) Be interesting while being objective – Objectivity is the cornerstone of any journalism endeavor. But objectivity can take many forms and again our analytics show that dry, declarative prose does not resonate in the age of Twitter and Facebook. At Middle East Voices, we have experimented with crowdsourcing Twitter and YouTube data on anniversary protests in Bahrain, moderated live audio debates on Syria, published essays that were responses to user-submitted op-eds on Egypt’s politics. And we are learning that objectivity also comes from creating online constructs for a plurality of voices to flourish and to simply be good moderators. We constantly get kudos from our community for being good referees as well as journalists. Writing objectively in an engaging fashion with colorful prose also goes a long way. 3.) The conversation is the article – Journalists tend to obsess about having the perfectly balanced article at the end of the day – without question a necessary and noble pursuit. But more and more, journalists need to be more transparent in their process because the audience demands it. The long tail of tweets leading up to the article can be as impactful as the final product. 4.) Make sure your whole team is addicted to analytics – Because of the nature of broadcasting, there is a tendency to determine audience size over long periods of time with crude methods. With a website and real-time Google Analytics, you know what people are responding to down to the second. We made a decision to give real-time analytics out to the entire team so they can see how their posts resonate with the audience.

And by watching the little pings light up, story conceptualization and writing are auto-refined because writers are paying hyper-attention to data. Plus it has introduced a healthy atmosphere of competition on who best reaches our Arab audience. 5.) Think mobile and work your way out – Research conducted by the BBG on our behalf in the past year suggests more than 90% of people in the Middle East own a mobile device. Adoption rates of smartphones are skyrocketing in the Arabian Gulf as status symbols. Social media use is spiking. So when you design digital products for countries where mobile is going to pop faster than PCs did, you design for the small screen and work your way out. The team at ODDI have sold us on taking on 'responsive design' for our site redesign, where the website automatically knows if you’re coming from PC, iPad or Google tablet and resizes accordingly. This trend also underscores that content is will remain king and engaging content will triumph over layout." Image from

BBG Budget: Voice of America Slashed, Fewer Broadcasters, More Bureaucrats - Helle Dale, "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) recently released its 2013 budget request, which slashes Voice of America (VOA) funding by more than $17 million while increasing funding for major bureaucratic offices inside the International Broadcasting Bureau. A reprioritization is clearly necessary. (article continued below chart)

... [T]he BBG budget request reveals a continuing problem with strategic priorities. In China, the U.S. target audience is over 1.33 billon [sic] people. For this huge number of people, we spent around $34.6 million in broadcasting efforts in 2010. This works out to less than $0.03 per person per year. In Tajikistan, we spent $1.57 million to reach 7.5 million people, or $0.21 per person. We should not be spending more than eight times as much per capita on public diplomacy broadcasting in Tajikistan than in China. China’s public diplomacy efforts are rapidly growing, yet in 2010 we spent 18 times as much per capita in Iran, 29 times as much per capita in outreach to Arab speakers, and 39 times as much per capita in Afghanistan. ... Instead of increasing funding to bureaucratic offices and cutting back on VOA, the opposite should be done. Cutting back on bureaucracy and increasing funding to successful broadcasts will allow the U.S.’s message to reach more people at lower cost, which is always a win-win."

Under Secretary of State Tara Sonenshine Visits the BBG - "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara D. Sonenshine was welcomed April 10 to Broadcasting Board of Governors headquarters, where she toured facilities and met with staff.

It was her first visit to the BBG since being sworn in on April 5. By law, the Secretary of State serves as an ex-officio member of the BBG. Representing the secretary on the board traditionally has been a duty of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs." Image from entry

Voice of America [former? JB] Blogger Uses CAIR Deceits on Romney Middle East Advisers - John Hajjar, familysecuritymatters: "In her post which appeared in Middle East Voices this week, Cecily Hilleary (pictured above) regurgitated the same Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) talking points about Professor Walid Phares that Brooke Anderson of Beirut’s Daily Star did back in January. Both women parroted CAIR spin saying that 'many American Muslims have expressed concern about Romney’s choice of Walid Phares as an adviser,' but neither offered a single shred of evidence to support their claim. ... It is unfortunate that Ms. Hilleary, who worked for Dubai TV and VOA where Dr. Phares frequently appears, didn't report accurately. Her criticism of Long and O'Sullivan, the two other Middle East advisors of Governor Romney, is certainly not credible. I do not know how Congress which funds VOA will look at this biased reporting. The situation is serious as Hilleary wrote for the taxpayer-funded organization. According to MEV’s website the organization is 'a new social journalism project powered by the (US Congress-funded) BBG and Voice of America. Designed as a collaborative journalism and engagement platform, it seeks to combine investigative journalism, crowdsourcing, participatory writing and social media technology to redefine how stories in and about the Middle East should be told.' All of this bias against Phares, Long and O'Sullivan raises the specter of penetration of the US bureaucracy by pro-Islamists. Congress should investigate the real story behind Hilleary’s article along with other propaganda pieces which are funded by taxpayers."

The Annals of Chicken Diplomacy - Joshua Foust, "The government of Uzbekistan -- no stranger to the bizarre and upsetting -- recently made a truly head-scratching decision.

A new voluntary service, according to a report in RFE/RL, now allows teachers and even some doctors to receive part of their salary in Serbian chickens.  Of course, like most 'voluntary' programs in Uzbekistan, it is nothing of the sort -- and RFE/RL quotes plenty of people saying they were given the live animals against their will. The Uzbek government has distributed tens of thousands of chickens: 10 chicks per public sector employee. These civil servants are then expected to fulfill a February decree by cabinet ministers to increase the domestic production of milk, eggs, dairy, poultry, and vegetables." Image from article, with caption: A new voluntary program in Uzbekistan will pay teachers and doctors in chickens. Via PVB on Facebook

e-Dossier No. 32 - Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty - This is a collection of declassified U.S. Government (USG) documents pertaining to Radio Free Europe (RFE) and Radio Liberty (RL) – Radios which were overseen and funded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until 1971, funded there after by open Congressional appropriation, and merged in 1976 as RFE/RL, Inc. The documents were used as primary sources for the book, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press, 2011). ... The collection

is divided into four sections: The First Years: 1948-1955[;]Challenge of Unrest in Eastern Europe: 1956-1957[;] Détente Years: 1958-1966 [;] Transition to Open Funding: 1967-1971 [;] A brief description of each document, with reference to its citation or reference in the book when applicable, is provided. Image from article; via JM on Facebook

After 80% budget cut, Radio Canada International will have no radio, no news - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from article

China reverts to Stone Age! Overseas websites temporarily inaccessible on Thursday - "At just after 11:00am yesterday, the Chinese internet hiccuped, with all overseas websites temporarily rendered inaccessible within the country for an hour-and-a-half. For those savvy enough to weave through the blackouts, rumors were abound and entertaining: the Chinese government was testing interfaces, or a switch to an intranet (à la Iran?) had been made. Or perhaps it was undersea cable problems due to the Indonesian earthquake, or a rerouting of overseas internet traffic in anticipation of DPRK’s missilesatellite launch. ... Of course, the cascading Public Diplomacy problems the Chinese government is facing will lead to much more sensationalized theories. Regardless, we suggest the government works to ensure that internet outages are dealt with swiftly, because the inability to access crucial destinations like Taobao and the Apple App Store would inevitably lead to massive social unrest."

China to boost overseas Chinese-language education - "The Chinese government will expand overseas Chinese-language education to better cater for rising interest in China and its language worldwide, according to a speech by an official on Monday. The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council (OCAO) will cooperate with foreign education authorities to position Chinese-language education as a mainstream education

choice abroad, said Li Haifeng, the OCAO director, at a meeting attended by overseas Chinese social organizations from across the world. The OCAO will train more teachers for overseas Chinese-language education, striving to integrate it with local cultures and develop more online and multi-media teaching materials to meet the diversified demands of overseas youngsters, said Li." Via ACP III on Facebook; image from

Slain USC students' path a familiar one to school's Chinese: Ming Qu and Ying Wu were like many international students at USC: seeking a better future, studying hard, and living west of campus — away from parties but in a more dangerous neighborhood - Rosanna Xia and Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times: "Last year, Ming Qu and Ying Wu set off on a well-trod path for success-seeking Chinese. They left their native country, enrolled at a prestigious American university and plowed toward degrees that could ensure them respect — and a better future — when they returned home. The USC graduate students, focused intently on their electrical engineering program, hunkered down in a neighborhood just west of campus.

It was quieter, a better atmosphere for studying, residents said. But it was also widely considered less safe. That's where, in Wednesday's wee hours, Qu and Wu's immigrant tale ended tragically: with the students shot to death, a gunman on the lam and the university's Chinese community in mourning. Chinese students comprise about one-third of USC's 7,200 international students, a number that has risen in recent years as the college wooed scholars from abroad. So many Chinese residents have flocked to U.S. colleges in recent years that the deaths of Qu and Wu made headlines in Beijing." Image from article, with caption:  As a memorial to two slain USC students grows at the foot of the campus' Tommy Trojan statue Thursday, Brother London, an ex-gang member, leaves a card that says "We Care."

PD and pop art - Laura McGinnis, manIC: "[A]person could easily take to the interwebs in search of a k-pop or j-pop band, watch the video, and log off without any dramatic influence on his attitudes toward Korean or

Japanese policy or culture. If you're looking for evidence of the limits of public diplomacy or cultural branding, I don't think you'd need to look much further." Image from article, with caption: You're thinking about Japanese policy, aren't you?

Public Diplomacy Teaching 2.0 - R.S. Zaharna, "When my AU colleague Prof. Robert Kelley invited me to pop in and see what his undergraduate class in public diplomacy was up to I had no idea what I was getting myself into. For those trained in the 'old school' — that is, pen, paper and notebook — let me give you the #hashtag — #SIS419AFG — so you can review the feed of what happened in class. I was the only one offline so I have to go back and review it myself. ... For the uninitiated, this is the world of the digital natives. Having lived their lives in a post-computer, post-internet age, they [the students] do not separate 'technology' and communication. The technology is seamlessly integrated into their daily communication habits. What they learn and practice in class is how to use those tools more professionally and strategically. For this class, they are required to tweet five times per week. In class, they live tweet. Welcome to public diplomacy teaching 2.0."

The Internet age and the impact it has on public diplomacy - newblogger2012, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 1: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University


Cannibalize the Future - Paul Krugman, New York Times: America used to be a country that thought big about the future. Major public projects, from the Erie Canal to the interstate highway system, used to be a well-understood component of our national greatness. Nowadays, however, the only big projects politicians are willing to undertake — with expense no object — seem to be wars.

U.S. works to define post-2014 role in Afghanistan - Jim Michaels, USA Today: The Obama administration hopes a new agreement spelling out the American role in Afghanistan after most combat troops leave in 2014 will dampen fears that the United States is turning its back on the country, officials say.

The absence of an agreement about the U.S. role after 2014 is "causing anxiety in the region," Marc Grossman, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said during a panel at the U.S. Institute of Peace. "People don't know what's going to happen." The agreement will create a "framework" for a long-term security and economic commitment. "We're not walking away as we did in the '90s," said Gavin Sundwall, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul. Image from article, with caption: U.S. servicemembers board a plane to Afghanistan near Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, on March 27.

Iran Talks Déjà Vu: Obama gives Tehran reasons to doubt his seriousness - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Economic sanctions are always a game of whack-a-mole, and we doubt they will persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. But the Administration's unwillingness to ratchet up sanctions as far as they can go at the very moment that they're supposed to provide the U.S. with diplomatic leverage says something about the Administration's seriousness—or lack thereof. The Iranians are smart enough to figure that out.

How to Tell if the Iran Talks Are Working - Mark Hibbs, Ariel Levite and George Perkovich, New York Times: Tough and protracted negotiations undoubtedly lie ahead. It won’t be easy to assess the progress of the coming talks. But  benchmarks can be suggested: Oil prices; Access for verifiers; The bargaining issues; U.S.-Iran dialogue; Frequency and duration of meetings; A summer deadline.

World to Washington: Don’t Back the Spy Chief in Egypt - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: Let the Egyptians choose their own leaders. That’s what the agitation in Tahrir Square was all about. Even the secularists don’t want Americans to save them from Sharia.

A Tormenting in Moscow: Why is Russia harassing President Obama’s new ambassador? - Leon Aron, Foreign Policy: Russians are known for their warm welcomes, rolling out the red carpet for honored guests and ensconcing them in bear hugs, complete with three hearty kisses on the cheeks.

Perhaps the new U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul didn't quite expect the same gracious reception given the frosty relationship between Washington and Moscow these days, but his first few months on the job have been unusual, if not downright hostile, a lot more Cold War than Russian Reset. Upon arriving in Moscow, the ambassador greeted his guests with an effervescent -- even hokey -- YouTube video introducing himself, a longtime student of and friend to Russia. In response, he was met with an Arctic propaganda blast reminiscent of the early 1980s, and harassment likely without precedent for U.S. ambassadors -- either in the Soviet Union or in post-Soviet Russia. It is always sad and maddening to hear about insults to human dignity by paid propagandists and thugs of authoritarian regimes. Yet the hounding of McFaul is particularly bizarre. But perhaps not so odd, after all. In the through-the-looking-glass world of Putin's "sovereign democracy" (which as my Russian friends like to point out is to "democracy" as "electric chair" is to "chair"), it is precisely McFaul's involvement in the US reset toward Russia and his unshakable faith in Russia's democratic future that have made him a target of choice. Image from article. Via PC and HS on Facebook

Editorial: Marine's Facebook rants earn discharge - Active-duty servicemembers are allowed to put political bumper stickers on private vehicles and send letters to the editor, as long as they state that their views are their own, and they don't advocate voting for or against a candidate.The rules were written before the explosion of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and they're overdue for an update. But any reasonable definition of "publish" includes publicly posting an opinion where some 29,000 followers can read it. The military can't, and shouldn't, prohibit servicemembers from spouting off in the relative privacy of the barracks. Such grousing dates to the Revolutionary War. But that's different from publicly posting insubordinate comments for all the world to see — a principle that the vast majority of servicemembers understand.

Whistle-Blower Claiming Visa Fraud Keeps His Job, but Not His Work - Julia Preston, New York Times: It has been 17 months since Jack B. Palmer first made a quiet complaint through internal channels at Infosys, the giant Indian outsourcing company he works for, saying he suspected some managers were committing visa fraud. Since then, Mr. Palmer says, he has been harassed by superiors and co-workers, sidelined with no work assignment, shut out of the company’s computers, denied bonuses and hounded by death threats. In Senate testimony and court documents, Mr. Palmer charged that Infosys brought Indian workers on short-term visitor visas, known as B-1, instead of longer-term temporary visas, known as H-1B, which are more costly and time-consuming to obtain. Infosys and other Indian technology outsourcing companies are consistently among the top users of H-1B visas, but in recent years intensified scrutiny by the State Department has made those visas more difficult to get.

Visa Protectionism: Raising fees on worker visas only depresses job creation for all - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Protectionists always argue they're protecting domestic jobs. In reality, they're killing jobs for everyone. Consider: India said this week it will file a complaint at the World Trade Organization against a 2010 U.S. law that, in a thinly veiled form of protectionism, hiked visa fees for foreign skilled workers in the U.S. The Indians have a strong case. Keeping talented Indians out of the U.S. will only slow down all hiring in America, and encourage companies—not just Infosys—to consolidate back-office operations outside the U.S.

North Korean missile launch torpedoes Obama’s engagement strategy - Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy: North Korea's apparently unsuccessful launch of an Unha-3 rocket with a "satellite" attached marks not only the 100th birthday of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, but also the end of the Obama administration's year-long effort to open up a new path for negotiations with the Hermit Kingdom. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned earlier Thursday that the promised launch by North Korea would scuttle 

the deal the Obama administration negotiated with Pyongyang and announced on Leap Day Feb. 29, which would have provided North Korea with 240,000 tons of U.S. food assistance over the next year. She lamented that the North Koreans had thrown away the progress made. Image from article

A Wrong Turn in Pyongyang Finally Reveals The Real North Korea - Linda Constant, Balance of Culture: So it finally happened: a North Korean press bus in Pyongyang, filled with journalists invited to document the week's celebration of Kim il-Sung's centennial, made a wrong turn and gave people a sight they usually never see in the country--the real North Korea. Dusty, pot-holed streets, forlorn passersby, and decrepit concrete buildings were a stark contrast to the manufactured images of prosperity that North Korean tours regularly spin to their audience.

Strangely enough, the government minders didn't instruct the journalists to look away or turn their cameras off. Perhaps they were too distracted by the significant error to think of censoring their guests; some have questioned if the regime is adopting a more lenient stance on journalists and information-gathering within their borders, a somewhat unlikely circumstance even with the new young leader Kim Jong-un. Image from entry

Amnesty International Propaganda Targets Russia and Syria - Tony Cartalucci, The Amnesty International “infographic” titled, “Shocking Facts About Who’s Arming Human Rights Abusers,” portraying Russia’s arming of Syria as “fueling the most bloodshed” is not “shocking” at all when one realizes the disingenuous human rights advocacy organization is run by US State Department officials and is funded by convicted criminal George Soros‘ Open Society Institute (annual report page 8) as well as the UK Department for International Development (page 8), the European Commission, and other corporate-funded foundations. The “infographic,” in this context, clearly becomes a case of shameless, politically motivated propaganda using the Amnesty International “brand” to give it the legitimacy its increasingly distrusted sponsors lack.

Image from article

Anti-Azerbaijani propaganda of foreign forces 'not fair' – MP - Ali Ahmadov: I should note with regret that some persons try to put a political image and politicize Eurovision, and use it against Azerbaijan. But there is another factor of more concern for men and the people. And that is some political parties and their representatives support actions of outside forces conducting anti-Azerbaijani propaganda.

Ali Ahmadov image from article

Georgia calls Russian travel warning a made up danger - Georgia passed a law in the wake of the 2008 war with Russia which prohibits people from visiting the breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the borders with Russia, except with express permission from Tbilisi. Lately two Russians have been arrested for violating the law, both of them for having crossed into Abkhazia the wrong way. “Georgian special services continue to systematically track and punish the Russians entering the country. This is done, as we see, in secret, without undue publicity. But the media widely reports propaganda shows like Saakashvili’s visit to the checkpoint “Kazbegi”, where he reportedly welcomed Russian citizens crossing the border, saying, ‘Come more often’”, the Russian foreign ministry and advised its citizens not to visit Georgia. The Georgian foreign ministry says the Russian statement makes it clear that Russia is not only against the Georgian government, but also normal relations and friendship between Russian and Georgian people.

Who Gets to Be French? - Karl E. Meyer, New York Times: From the days of the Jacobins to today’s Fifth Republic, lawmakers have differed strenuously as to whether nationality should be determined by birth, parentage, length of residency or assimilation. How does one become a citizen of the exclusionists’ France? By knowing its cultural references and intricate folkways, as described in 1969 by the writer Sanche de Gramont: “The Frenchman is not someone who possesses a navy blue passport and speaks the language of Descartes, but someone who knows who broke the Soissons vase, what happened to Buridan’s donkey, why Parmentier gave his name to a hash, and why Charles Martel saved Christendom.” (Ironically, in 1977, Mr. de Gramont changed his name to Ted Morgan and became a United States citizen.) The effects of this exclusionary mindset are palpable. France today has Europe’s largest Islamic minority, making up nearly 10 percent of its population. Yet Muslims remain a people apart, as documented in 2011 by a research team recruited by the Open Society Institute. “In France,” one researcher summarized, “you can be of any descent, but if you are a French citizen you cannot be an Arab.” Composite identities like Arab-French are, he added, “ideologically impossible.” Hence the contrast one experiences in Marseille, France’s second largest city. Its 840,000 inhabitants include an estimated 240,000 Muslims (more than any other European city). Yet it is famously welcoming. Here, as we were told by Jean Roatta, a politician representing the port’s upscale central district, “you’re Marseillais before you are French." Via JB on Facebook


"Young men crush on Hillary via social media."

Suzi Parker, "Hillary Clinton is finally hip, thanks to a meme," Washington Post

Image from article, with caption: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, Oct.18, 2011. This is one of the photos on the meme.


Nude Maid Service: Melissa Borrett, Texas Woman, Cleans Naked Or In Lingerie, But Fantasy Business Stirs Trouble (VIDEO)




--Dossier: L'enfance From: Mon grenier est une forteresse imprenable's photo. Via CR on Facebook

--Archdezart. VIA CR on Facebook

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