Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 30-31

"More people have 'top secret' clearances than live in the District of Columbia."

--New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof; image from; see also "Ex-NSA man Edward Snowden gets web job in Russia," BBC News; below Snowden Russian visa image from


Eighth Annual Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Conference - Remarks, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, "I want to extend my warm welcome to all of you, especially those of you who traveled here from our Embassies and from AFRICOM. With us today, we have ambassadors, generals, aid mission directors, law enforcement specialists, and public diplomacy officers. I believe it is so important that we increase opportunities for this kind of strategic dialogue between those of us in Washington and those of you who came from the field. ... Earlier this year, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman

convened a working group of relevant Department of State and USAID offices to review our strategy toward the Sahel-Maghreb region. ... [Among them:] [W]e we must look for ways to push good governance, the rule of law, human rights, and inclusive economic growth across the region. ... We need to step up our efforts in the Sahel-Maghreb region to strengthen democratic institutions and processes, encourage outreach to marginalized groups and help establish the foundations for job creation to absorb the energy coming from the region’s youth. President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative can play a critical role in this process. Over the next five years we will bring thousands of the region’s most promising young leaders to the United States and work to support their leadership and creativity." Image from

Washington turns on itself - Andrew Hammond, "[A]mong the 22 countries surveyed by Pew Global in both 2009 (the first year of Obama's presidency) and 2013, approval of US international policies has dropped by around 20 percentage points or more in six states, including China, Indonesia, Argentina and Egypt. In many other countries (including Canada, Russia, Britain, Poland, France, Turkey, Jordan and Japan), the fall-off is over 10 percentage points over the same period. The public diplomacy challenge facing the US is particularly grave, right now, in the Middle East where support for the campaign on terrorism is key. However, only an alarming 11% of the population in Pakistan, 14% in Jordan, 16% in Egypt and the Palestinian territories, and 21% in Turkey, currently have favourable views towards the US, according to Pew Global. It is important that the Obama team begins to turn this climate of opinion around. This is because, in common with the Cold War, the challenges posed by the campaign against terrorism simply cannot be overcome by military might alone. Washington must redouble its efforts to win the battle for international 'hearts and minds'. This will help create an enabling (rather than disabling) environment facilitating both covert and overt cooperation and information sharing with US officials."

Outside View: The wrong war again - Harlan Ullman, "[I]t is ... inconceivable that the United States hasn't put in place an effective public diplomacy campaign that supports moderate and peaceful Islam and attacks, discredits and delegitimizes radicalism and extremism. During World War II and the Cold War, propaganda was a powerful and effective weapon that was put to good use by the allies. This needs to be repeated across the full spectrum of black, gray and white propaganda and public diplomacy. But the most important first step is ridding ourselves of this promiscuous use of the term 'war on terror' and concentrate on dealing with the pathology of the political revolutions that rely, not on microbes, viruses and germs to spread disease, but on terror, violence and ideological rationale for achieving specific aims. If we are incapable of this understanding, the road ahead will neither be safe nor navigable."

Syria: What Chance to Stop the Slaughter? - Kenneth Roth, New York Review of Books: "Western governments have failed to use public diplomacy to expose Russia’s support of Assad’s slaughter. There have been too few public condemnations of Moscow by Western leaders—nothing like the repeated denunciations and rebukes that Russia deserves and that might make a difference. Part of the problem is that Washington now depends on Moscow to help carry out the chemical weapons deal.

The Obama administration evidently does not want to revive the difficult issue of enforcing the 'red line' by disturbing its working relationship with Moscow. ... Russia may be indispensable for reining in Assad, but the rest of the world is essential for convincing Russia to do so." Image from article, with caption: A pro-Assad poster in Damascus, Syria, September 29, 2013. The text reads: "Because we are Syrians, we love you. The conspiracy failed."

Computer Hacking, "The New Public Diplomacy Tool - As the practice of public diplomacy increasingly moves online, more malevolent practices are doing the same. I'm thinking in particular of the so-called Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a mysterious group that has attracted worldwide attention by hacking into the websites of such high-profile targets as The New York Times, BBC, Twitter, Reuters, and the U.S. Marine Corps, to name just a few. The computer attacks are ostensibly in defense of the Syrian government, with the goal of influencing public opinion in support of its national interests, which is one of the definitions of public diplomacy. Yet respectable diplomats wouldn’t engage in such activities. So who would? And, even more important, whose national interests are they promoting? If you were to ask computer experts where the best hackers are around the world, nobody will mention Syria. Two countries they will mention, however, are Russia and Iran, which both happen to be deeply invested in the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime."

‘Shop-And-Get-Frisked’ When You Spend $350 At Barneys - "I’m Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it’s time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what’s in the news and what’s on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael with us from Cleveland. With us from Pittsburgh, Lenny McAllister. He’s host of 'The McAllister Minute' on American Urban Radio network. In Chicago, Arsalan Iftikhar. He’s senior editor of the Islamic Monthly and founder of ... IFTIKHAR: Well, you know, when I first heard the reports that the NSA was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel my first thought was, could we have picked a more boring world leader to spy on? You know, I think that spying on a bushel of asparagus, which I enduringly refer to as asparagi, would probably yield more results. But what’s interesting to me is the fact that, you know, here are many world leaders that we consider allies. I mean, you know, in our public diplomacy with these countries, how can we refer to countries as allies when we’re secretly taping and spying on their elected leaders? And, you know, it reminds me of the famous quote attributed to Mae West, you know, with friends like these, who needs enemies? IZRAEL: You know, Merkel is – she’s kind of spooky, man – physicist and with that spooky thing she does with her hands, the triangle of power. I don’t know. Maybe we need to keep an eye on her. Mario, you weigh in on this, man. ... MCALLISTER: ... [W]hen President Obama came into office in the election of November 2008, the promise that came with him was that he would restore the global esteem of the United States of America. This is the type of sloppy story that you would expect in the second term of George W. Bush IZRAEL: Uh-oh. MCALLISTER: …Not the second term of Barack Obama. And therefore, it looks horrible globally, which is why you’re seeing the optics from a new standpoint that you’re seeing. And unfortunately, this is another disappointing story on the Obama administration."

Arctic Fulbright Workshop in Abisko - Brzezinski Blog: Ambassador and Mrs. Brzezinski shares their thoughts, experiences and adventures in Sweden: "On October 31, 2013, in Sweden [.] I am just now leaving the Arctic Fulbright Workshop, which was held 200 kilometers above the Arctic Circle at the Abisko Scientific Research Station in northern Sweden. The US Embassy organized this workshop with the Fulbright Commission, the Department of State, the Government of Sweden, the WWF and the Stockholm Environment Institute. The conference convened Fulbright Scholars from universities in Canada, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and the United States. Some of our Canadian participants traveled for more than 24 hours to get here.

That is awesome commitment to this important challenge! ... I am so thrilled that Tom Healy, the Chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, was able to be present. Tom was appointed to the Board by President Obama in 2011 and very ably oversees the Fulbright Program worldwide, the U.S. Government’s flagship program of educational exchange and public diplomacy. The Fulbright program is renewed by engaging in the challenges of our time, like the future of the Arctic. The Arctic and climate change will be among the greatest global challenges that we share in the future. The expertise that took part in this Workshop is a catalyst for developing a global approach, which is what we will need to responsibly address the challenges of the Arctic." Image from entry, with caption: Ambassador Brzezinski kicking-off the Arctic #Fulbright Workshop in #Abisko, #Sweden

U.S. Embassy In Australia Promotes Anti Drone Movie - Josh Rogin, "Do you want to see Dirty Wars, the movie exposing and criticizing U.S. drone policy and secret military operations around the world? If so, the American Embassy in Australia has got you covered with some free tickets. ... The film is a documentary based on the book of the same name by journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, which documents in detail secret operations conducted by Navy SEALs, Delta Force, former Blackwater and other private security contractors, the CIA’s Special Activities Division and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

The book also details the targeting of an American citizen for death by the U.S. government. ... Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, ... said there was no political motivation behind the move. 'U.S. Mission Australia’s public diplomacy outreach programs include supporting and promoting both U.S. independent and Hollywood films in Australia. For several years, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Australia have issued small grants to the major film festivals in Australia, with the goal of engaging Australian audiences through the diversity of U.S. film culture, and American values such as public debate and freedom of speech,' she said. “Dirty Wars is one of 16 U.S. films that will be screened at the Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF) this year. For its support, the Embassy was allocated tickets to give away to the public (via social media platforms) for seven of the American films screened at the Festival.'”

"Your government murdered far more people than Stalin" - Wired State: "You know, if I could do just one thing to fix US 21st century public diplomacy a[n]d counterintelligence, whatever it takes, it would be to fix this: make it so that the world's Internet idiots get some pushback at the very highest and deepest levels on this notion that 'the US has killed the most people in the world'. The US has never killed "the most people in the world" -- not in the past, not now. That dishonour belongs to the Soviet Union."

Presidential Nominations and Withdrawals Sent to the Senate - "Alfredo J. Balsera, of Florida, to be a Member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for a term expiring July 1, 2014, vice Elizabeth F. Bagley, term expired."

The U.S. Has Lost the Moral High Ground on the Internet - Joshua Keating, Slate:  "I’m currently in China with several other U.S. journalists on a reporting fellowship sponsored by the East-West Center and the Better Hong Kong Foundation. ... It’s only the first day, but I find it somewhat telling that I’ve already heard the name Edward Snowden several times. At a meeting this morning with officials from the recently established China Public Diplomacy Association, I brought up China’s Web censorship and asked whether blocking social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook hampers the country’s ability to project a more positive image abroad. The organization’s deputy secretary general, Zhao Shiren, replied that while the Internet should eventually be more open to Chinese citizens, it should also be managed, as 'all countries have some management of the Internet,” a fact he said should be particularly evident after the Snowden affair. He went on to describe the vision of Internet freedom

as pushed by the United States as one in which 'Internet access should be free but eyes are watching behind you.' I don’t  find the equivalency drawn between the NSA’s monitoring and China’s Great Firewall to be convincing—the programs have very different intentions and vastly different consequences for users—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an effective argument in international settings. It becomes a lot harder for the U.S. government or American organizations to make the case for a free and open Internet when it looks an awful lot from the outside like we simply want an Internet that’s easier to spy on. And China isn’t the only government beginning to talk this way. It may very well be that the U.S. is simply no longer the best-positioned to make these arguments."  Image from article, with caption: Edward Snowden on a banner is seen during a protest against government surveillance on Oct. 26, 2013, in front of the U.S. Capitol.

From Dog’s Breakfast to Effective Communication: Can the BBG Transform Itself? - [Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation], posted at "After years of dysfunction, U.S. international broadcasting might be headed for better times as new members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) settled into their responsibilities at the monthly board meeting last Wednesday. The competition in global communication has intensified as has the challenges facing the U.S. from Islamist movements. Thankfully, the new board has a depth of expertise and understanding of communication, public diplomacy, and the Muslim world. The verdict will be out on its effectiveness, though, as the ability of the BBG to make a dog’s breakfast of broadcasting strategy has been legendary. The congressional foreign relations committees will be following developments closely, being in the drafting phase of BBG reform legislation. The most recent addition to the board is Kenneth Weinstein, president and CEO of the Hudson Institute, who was sworn in on Wednesday. He joins two other new members: Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and Matt Armstrong, the former director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy."

Voice of America’s audience in 2013 is nearly the same as in 1989 - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: Image from entry

VOA fails to report on death of Poland’s first post-communist prime minister, ignores White House statement - BBGWatcher, Image from entry

Letter from illegally RIFed OCB [Office of Cuba Broadcasting] employee reveals personal hardships - BBG Watcher,

China's grand strategy for media - Anne Nelson, "As China rolls out its grand strategy to advance its global political and economic position, there are signs that it is making media a critical part of the package. In this integrated approach, media infrastructure is married to investment in the developing world, and news and entertainment content is distributed through channels designed to further public diplomacy. International news may be a linchpin in this effort, and it is one in which China’s Western competitors work at a disadvantage.

The twenty-first century free market has been tough on international news production. Foreign reporting–especially television–requires money, and China is among few countries that are expanding their investment in the field. The small group of countries that maintain a strong investment in international broadcasting include Qatar, whose al-Jazeera network has become a familiar player on the international broadcasting scene and is currently rolling out a massive new U.S. operation with former ABC newswoman Kate O’Brian at the helm. Another example is Russia, whose RT (the network formerly known as Russia Today) was founded in 2005 to improve the country’s image abroad. It is financed by the Russian government and currently broadcasts in Arabic, English, Russian, and Spanish. Iran’s Press TV, launched in 2007, presents a highly politicized English-language 24-hour news service. (Sample headline: 'Zionists seek clash of civilizations.'... TeleSur, based in Caracas, is available in Spanish and Portuguese. It is owned by a consortium of Latin American governments, the largest shareholder of which is Venezuela. It has served as a mouthpiece for the policies of Hugo Chavez, and its future will depend on the direction of post-Chavez Venezuela. Many Americans are familiar with U.S. international broadcasting, which are managed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the best-known of which are the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe (RFE). Some European nations have their own international information services, notably France 24 and Deutsche Welle. The BBC’s World Service, long considered the gold standard of international broadcasting, has undergone massive cutbacks in recent years. (The BBC encompasses both the national broadcaster, which has an independent board of governors and a budget based on license fees for radio and television sets, and the BBC World Service, which is underwritten and directed by the British Foreign Office.) Within this crowded field, [China's] CCTV is unique in its extensive resources and its ties to the Chinese government: the most dynamic economic power in the world today, and one with an ever-growing appetite for global influence." Uncaptioned image from article

Cashing in on pastoral life - Li Ying, Global Times: "[T]he first World Agritourism Development Forum (WADF) from October 24 to 28 ... , sponsored by The China Association for Public Diplomacy, and organized by Hunan Qianlong Lake Investment Group and Beijing Shiji Xiandao Culture Development Center, was held

at a time when China has seen a rise of leisure agriculture and rural tourism, and the local governments are making efforts to explore productive urban-rural integration models to boost the local economy." Image from entry, with caption: Foreign visitors sample rural produce at the first World Agritourism Development Forum.

Participates [sic] of political participation through microblog [scroll down link for item] - "The following charts shows the ranking of government miroblog’s social influence Ranking of government miroblog’s followers (top 5) ... 5 Informed diplomacy 3288163 Public Diplomacy Office of the MFA."

Hasbara has a dictionary - "Since the beginning, the Zionist colonial project had a huge challenge on its hands — to convince the world that its goals were pure, its new state was legitimate, and its impact on the indigenous population of Palestinians was benevolently benign. They gave this public diplomacy effort a name — hasbara. ... I finally understand why Israel has been so successful in diverting the world’s attention from the realities of its occupation of Palestine. Israelis have a diplomacy dictionary.  The Israel Project’s 2009 — GLOBAL LANGUAGE DICTIONARY."

Yeshiva University map removes the Green Line - Philip Weiss, "Several days ago Yeshiva University held the 8th Annual Medical Ethics Society Conference called 'Prescribing for a Nation' and the flyer for the conference had a large map of Israel with no Green Line, no West Bank and Gaza, no Palestinian Authority, no Palestinians at all. Greater Israel– par excellence. ... pabelmont says: October 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm Dickerson: Well, yes, the constant barrage of Israeli government (or right-wing, comes to the same thing these days) propaganda, called HASBARA, 'explanation', and 'Public Diplomacy' (hmm, inside Israel some of the hasbaristim are honest gentlemen sent to lie at home for the good [sic] of their country (apologies to Henry Wotton) is itself a form of TALK ANTI-THERAPY.

Question: who gets there first — the MDs or the government? JustJessetr says: October 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm And the map looks exactly like a placard I saw during a march that said: 'Palestine: One Nation from the River to the Sea.'" Image from, with heading: 1920 - Original territory assigned to the Jewish National Home

Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown – 15 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus [scroll down for item] - Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia: "Russian Nationalist Calls for Moscow to Counter Foreign Criticism of Anti-Gay Law. Aleksey Pankin, a nationalist historian, says that the Russian government has failed to respond adequately to Western criticism of the law imposing penalties for 'homosexual propaganda' directed toward young people. He calls the Western campaign [']a form of information homo-colonialism' and says that if Russia launches a major public diplomacy effort, it will find that it has many sympathetic supporters of the law in Western countries ("

Sudanese-Japanese Friendly Wrestling Match on 25th October 2013 - "At the presence of Japanese Ambassador, Ryoichi Horie and his staff of the Embassy, a friendly wrestling match between a Japanese Diplomat, Mr. Yasuhiro Murotatsu, Head of Culture and Information section, known as Barefoot Diplomat Muro, and a Sudanese wrestler, Mr. Saleh Omar Bol Tia Kafi Known as Al-Mudiriya, took place on 25th October, in Haj-Yousf in the outskirt of Khartoum. 'Al-Mudiriya' defeated 'Muro' again. ... Mr. Muro said about the reasons behind his challenges as follows: I believe that sports could boost good relationship between Sudan and Japan on the grassroots level. In this context, Japanese-Sudanese friendly wrestling matches can be considered as one of the successful examples of public diplomacy that create and foster great impression among Sudanese people toward Japan and the Japanese people. This is one of our missions as a diplomat. Sudanese audience welcomed me very warmly whenever I entered into the Sudanese wrestling ring.

I hope my participation showed my great respect for them and I am thankful of the enthusiastic welcome I received from Sudanese people. Tokyo, Japan, will host the Olympic and Paralympics games in 2020. I, personally, hope my challenges to the Sudanese wrestling could encourage Sudanese wrestlers to challenge to the modern wrestling internationally. I have experienced and witnessed that Sudanese wrestlers are strong and I believe they have enough potential to compete with wrestlers in the world. Furthermore, I wanted to attract attention from the public to the precious Sudanese traditional wrestling and its culture. Sudanese wrestling is originated from the Nuba Mountains in the South Kordofan. It has been practiced, preserved and respected for thousands years and is regarded as one of the oldest styles of the wrestling in the world. Due to this cultural value and Sudanese people’s support and enthusiasm, now even international media as well have started covering the event. I think Sudanese wrestling is worth earning reputation and being supported for further development as one of the precious Sudanese cultures. My role here is to make my challenges a chance for that purpose." Uncaptioned image from entry

Cyrus Cylinder, First Human Rights Declaration, Honored - Video by Rex Lindeman, ATVN: "It's known as one of the first declarations of human rights - and it's on display at the Getty Center until December. On Wednesday, USC Annenberg and the Center of Public Diplomacy paid tribute to the iconic Cyrus Cylinder. Bearing Akkadian cuneiform script, the clay cylinder was discovered in Babylonian ruins. USC experts like Prof. Nicholas J. Cull say the cylinder stands as a testament to multiculturalism and tolerance."

Sandwell leader steps into HS2 row - "Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper has stepped into the rumbling row over high-speed rail – with a ticking-off for his Birmingham counterpart, Sir Albert Bore. And he has questioned the benefits to the Black Country of the proposed HS2 link between London and the North. ... Sir Albert has warned that such a negative message on HS2 will mean a 'protracted public conflict' between the party leadership and Labour-led core cities like Birmingham. But Councillor Cooper today hit out at Sir Albert and said: 'Aggressive public diplomacy by big city leaders is neither helpful nor productive. The public has a right to question the advantages and disadvantages of such a large investment of taxpayers' money.'"

Public Diplomacy Speaker Series with NY Times Journalists Stephan Kinzer and David Sanger -

Social Media Within the Military and Defence Sector - "SMi present the 3rd Annual Conference... Date: 20-21 November 2013 Location: The Marriott Hotel, Regents Park, London UK ... Expert speakers include: ... Steven Mehringer, Head of Communication Services, Public Diplomacy Division, NATO Headquarters."

October 29, 2013 [scroll down link for item]- CREES: Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies postings: "Job: Assist. Prof. History, HSE Moscow/St. Petersburg 18.12.13 Deadline: December 18, 2013 The Higher School of Economics invites applications for full-time, tenure-track positions of Assistant Professor, or higher, in the Faculties of History at both its Moscow and St. Petersburg campuses. We welcome candidates in all sub-fields and notably in economic history and 18-20th century world history, post-colonial theory and historiography, history of international relations, diplomacy and public diplomacy, social and technological history, global, comparative, and transnational history."


The Spies Who Loved to Damage Our Reputation - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times:
Since 9/11, our security policy has been on autopilot: If we can spy on Merkel, let’s do it! If we can use a drone to kill a suspected terrorist, go for it!

If we can keep people indefinitely in Guantánamo, why not? Our hubris has undercut America’s greatest foreign policy advantage: our soft power. Image from

U.S. spying scandal straining ties with Europe: Experts say the cascade of disclosures on NSA surveillance has affected U.S.-Europe intelligence and diplomatic relations - U.S. officials say privately that they believe they can manage the issue without serious damage to relations. But, in a shift, they have been signaling this week that they intend to set new, if narrow, limits on spying on national leaders.

Top Ten Reasons the US should Stay out of Iraq and put Conditions on Arms Sales - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: 1. The US caused the civil war and guerrilla war in the first place, and can’t fix it now. If both kinds of war could get started when the country was under US occupation, with as many as 160,000 troops in country, why would things be different? Under US rule, sometimes 3,000 Iraqi civilians were dying a month. why does anyone think a small force of US troops could make a difference at the moment?

Endless War, Endless Suffering - Editorial, New York Times: An analysis by Oxfam America, the international aid agency, says that relative to their wealth, France, Qatar, Russia and the United Arab Emirates have donated far less than they can afford. The United States, at more than $1 billion, is the largest contributor, but it can still do better, Oxfam said. Because of the difficulty of obtaining comparable numbers, China was not part of this analysis. The best way to help the Syrians is to end the war. The next best thing is to mitigate the suffering by contributing generously and by pressuring both sides in the conflict to allow aid workers to deliver essential supplies.

Pitfalls of a ‘realist’ Middle East strategy - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The new Middle East strategy is Susan Rice’s first big initiative as national security adviser. Conceptually, it marks her as a “realist” who wants to help the president make clear decisions in a world in which the limits of U.S. power are obvious. Conceptually, it makes sense.

By cautioning that the United States can’t solve every problem, Obama is rejecting the region’s “contradictory standard,” as Rhodes put it. “People want us to resolve all conflicts, and they also oppose our intervention. It’s our fault, no matter what happens.” But foreign policy is about the execution of ideas as much as their formulation. And here, Rice’s touch has been less sure, especially in messaging with allies. Image from

Israel Gets a Mixed Message on American Jews - Shmuel Rosner, New York Times: The director general of the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, Dvir Kahane, said that dealing with American Jewry is an issue as “strategic” as Israel’s dealings Iran, asserting that the changing character of America’s Jews poses as grave a challenge for Israel as Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

Siberian education officials: Halloween is "propaganda of the cult of death" - Agence France-Presse, Officials in a Siberian region on Wednesday banned Halloween parties from school classrooms, warning that they foster extremism and encourage children to dabble in a “cult of death.” The education ministry of the Omsk region in Siberia

sent out a letter telling schools that “holidays that are propaganda for extremist moods will not be celebrated,” its website said Wednesday. Halloween, a pagan holiday celebrated widely worldwide on October 31, has become increasingly popular with young Russians who hold fancy-dress parties and go to themed club nights. The Omsk education authority said it reacted after a warning from the regional Parents’ Assembly, a conservative lobby group. Image from entry

China: Photoshop Propaganda Explained - Offbeat China explains why the Anhui government produced this photoshop image in which four giant officials were surrounding a tiny elderly woman:

due to limited space at the lady's home, it’s impossible to put everybody in the frame so they “had to put together two separate pictures.”


Via MT on Facebook


The illusion of choice... - Via DM on Facebook

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29

"If someone attacks us, it isn't a foreign war, is it?"

--Franklin D. Roosevelt; FDRimage from


NSA Propaganda Video Among Highest Downvote Percentages in Youtube History [includes video] - The very epitome of propaganda, a video put out by the Department of Defense Youtube channel featuring calls by the NSA Director to limit journalism and expand spying has now achieved one of the highest known percentage of downvotes in Youtube history (4500 downvotes, 70 upvotes).

RT - David Datuna - Gallery SHCHUKIN "Eye to eye" (American artist juxtaposes Vladimir Putin and Nicholas II in a Moscow gallery)


Merkel’s American Minders - Karl-Theodor Zu Guttenberg, "There is much talk today about the risks of a new era of American isolationism and a lack of US leadership in the world. It is important to remember that isolationism can be triggered not only by a potential retreat from global affairs, but also by the rather imprudent use of America’s hard and soft power on the world stage. To escape the NSA mess, various options will be discussed. The new Franco-German push for an intelligence-sharing agreement with the US is probably difficult to put into practice, especially considering that spy services operating around the world are not always fully controllable.

As a first step, Obama must rediscover the great communications skills that propelled him to the White House in the first place. From a public-diplomacy perspective, his handling of the surveillance scandal has been a complete failure. To contain the damage and begin to rebuild much-needed trust, Obama must issue a credible apology to Merkel, other Western allies, and their citizens. In the American political context, issuing an apology, especially to foreign governments, is often viewed as a sign of weakness. In the case of the NSA scandal, an unequivocal apology by Obama is the only viable solution to leave the past behind and move forward. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity for such a gesture to be viewed in Europe as a much-awaited olive branch – and a sign of real American strength and conviction – is closing fast." Image from

Droning About Drones: What Else is in the Toolkit - "There are good reasons for the U.S. to be using drones against the Pakistani terrorists, but drone activity is simultaneously undermining the Pakistani government. Long-term, fostering a stable not too awful Pakistani government ought to be a U.S. priority . ... [T]he great fear of terrorist leaderships is losing control over their units. Al-Qaeda documents have endless disputes about money – operatives spending too much and leaders not providing enough – as well as tactics. Sowing dissension within a group might be a useful alternative to simply killing group members. Spreading stories about corruption and other forms of impropriety could do more to reduce operational efficiency. ... This strategy – to a limited extent has been used against FARC in Colombia and others.  But it may not be appropriate in the Pakistani hinterland. Literacy is low, and running a public diplomacy campaign would be by word or mouth, which requires extensive on the ground knowledge. But that doesn’t make it impossible and it is at least worth trying."

A First Read on Post-Revolutionary Egyptian Media - Joseph Braude, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "A new book by Naomi Sakr, Transformations in Egyptian Journalism (I.B. Tauris, 2013), should be required reading for American public diplomacy specialists who want to engage Egyptians through the media.

Bilingual Sakr, a media policy professor at the University of Westminster and director of its CAMRI Arab Media Centre, draws on new research and decades’ experience tracking Arab media trends to offer a readout on how Egyptian journalists and their employers have been struggling and coping yet also innovating since the 2011 revolution. For those who believe that part of America’s public diplomacy strategy in Egypt should involve supporting indigenous media that share American values, Sakr’s book provides guidance on whom to engage and what types of support they need most." Image from entry

Ambitions, Not Threats, Are the Key to European Defense - Jan Techau, Carnegie Europe: "There is no generally shared, strategically meaningful threat perception among the NATO or EU member states. There is a general unwillingness to invest, and there is no appetite for substantially more cooperation or pooling and sharing of defense capabilities. When an approach has not delivered results for twenty years, maybe it is time to try something else. During a recent workshop at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, it became clear that any public diplomacy strategy designed to increase public and political support for a more active defense policy would have to be tailor-made for individual countries. The focus would have to be on individual nations’ interests instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to threats. This approach seems to make eminent sense, but it should go one step further. Rather than focusing on interests, which are often perceived as selfish and too materialistic, policymakers should focus on national ambitions.

Yes, that’s right, ambitions. Every country, even the ones most reluctant to engage militarily in the world, has a national ambition. They might not call it that, or they might even deny it outright; but in reality, every country wants to stand for something. ... If the goal of European defense is to maintain a minimum level of cohesiveness in a splintered security market, its strategy should appeal to each country’s individual calling. ... No doubt such an approach will make defense-related public diplomacy a lot harder. And no doubt, to some, the idea of a 'national ambition' is too divisive to even contemplate. But it is clear that decisionmakers need to try something new. In a Europe that faces a collective defense crisis, the tedious exercise of examining each country’s soul is still much better than making them collectively irrelevant." Image from

'Prime time' to invest in Europe - Bao Chang, China Daily: "During the 'Go To Europe' Investment Forum recently held by the China Public Diplomacy Association in Shanghai, the European Union delegation urged China to explore the potential of Europe as a unified market and sign a comprehensive investment pact with the bloc."

I hate Halloween, Koreans overreacting to Japanese defense moves, Korean wins X Factor Hojustan, and more - Robert Koehler, Yonhap talked with a crap load of US experts about Japan’s push to claim a right to collective self-defence. "I might translate it later, but to make a long story short, US wonks think Korea is overreacting—there’s no way in hell Japan would send troops to Korea without Seoul’s consent. Personally, I think smart public diplomacy on Japan’s part would make this a whole lot easier, but regardless, if the shit were to ever go down on the Korean Peninsula, I think the last thing Seoul will be worrying about is whether the JSDF is supporting to US forces in Japan."

Adelson-Backed Group Surveys Israeli-Americans on Level of Loyalty to Israel, Then Censors Survey - Richard Silverstein, "An L.A. based pro-Israel group, the Israeli-American Council (IAC), with the financial support of Sheldon Adelson, has compiled a survey measuring the level of loyalty of Israeli-Americans to Israel and America. The survey was disseminated to tens of thousands of Israelis living in the U.S., with the collaboration of the Israeli embassy and consulates, which used their e-mail lists to distribute it.  The IAC appears to have pretensions of becoming an Israeli-American version of Aipac.

Apparently, several Israeli diplomats finally examined the poll they were promoting and determined there were several intrusive, even embarrassing questions. Word spread to the media, where the story was covered by Haaretz. Though at first the foreign ministry (currently run by settler MK and deputy minister, Zeev Elkin, after the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman just before the last elections) defended the project and said the government had nothing officially to do with it, the prime minister has suspended further circulation of it. ... There is something terribly defensive about this poll. It seeks to measure negatives: how much loyalty has Israel retained among those who have left? How much can it rely on them to fight the good fight? Instead of discussing values, hopes and dreams, the respondents come across as commodities or promotional material to be used in the effort to sell Brand Israel." Image from entry

Public diplomacy [scroll down link for item] - Philip Brieff, Letter to the editor, Jerusalem Post: "Sir, – Martin Sherman’s 'Dereliction of duty' (Into the Fray, October 25) was a good description of the sad state of some current international Israeli public relations. Defenders of Israel often attempt to counter lies about Israel with the truth. This is not a winning strategy, because the audience does not know whom to believe. A winning strategy would be to point out the Islamic war against non-Muslims, which goes on all the time. Major media outlets ignore this war. To win neutral minds Israelis must attack their detractors. It is not enough to argue that they are lying."

Cultural Diplomacy Hard Power – Paul Rockower, Levantine: “I'm out in LA prior to my domestic tour with Keola Beamer and co, and staying in Hermosa Beach with my cousins. Unluckily, I was awakened this morning to the sound of teenage angst reverberating through the floorboards as one of my 15 year-old cousins was blasting her music before heading out to school, and the bass was palpable a floor below.

That offers me the perfect segue to point out the use of  Brittany Spears as deterrent against Somali pirates. Who says cultural diplomacy can't have a hard power side?” Spears image from

Culinary Diplomacy: Breaking Bread to Win Hearts and Minds - Sam Chapple-Sokol, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 8 (2013) 161-183. Via LO-S on Facebook

Branding the Cyrus Cylinder - Jay Wang, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Branding is never a be-all-end-all (not even in the corporate world). It is, however, crucial to making a cultural organization’s communication and interaction more compelling and engaging."

Concert, opera to commemorate Kristallnacht: Cantors and choirs will perform Sunday at Strathmore Hall - Suzanne Pollak, "A discussion with arranger Sheridan Seyfried and moderated by Tara Sonenshine, former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, will precede the concert. Following that, there will be a short service to commemorate Kristallnacht."

Twitter wants a woman with international clout for its board of directors - Alex Dalenberg, "Word is that Twitter will get its first woman board member sometime after next week’s IPO. ... The New York Times has its own lengthy list of potential candidates, but two with international clout are Charlotte Beers, a former Ogilvy and Mather chief executive who served as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Judith McHale, a former chief executive of Discovery Communications who served in Beers’s Under Secretary role in the Obama Administration."


Obama and the NSA: Information is Power - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: Obama, the president of the United States, Commander-in-Chief and self-proclaimed leader

of the free world, says he did not know about his own government’s spying on multiple allied world leaders until quite recently. This means that Obama learned of this amazing thing same as we did, basically via Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing. Image from entry

Obama May Ban Spying on Heads of Allied States - Mark Landler and David E. Sanger, New York Times: President Obama is poised to order the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the leaders of American allies, administration and congressional officials said Monday, responding to a deepening diplomatic crisis over reports that the agency had for years targeted the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.The White House has faced growing outrage in Germany and among other European allies over its surveillance policies. Senior officials from Ms. Merkel’s office and the heads of Germany’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies plan to travel to Washington in the coming days to register their anger. They are expected to ask for a no-spying agreement similar to what the United States has with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which are known as the Five Eyes. Image from

The White House on Spying - Editorial, New York Times: The White House response on Monday to the expanding disclosures of American spying on foreign leaders, their governments and millions of their citizens was a pathetic mix of unsatisfying assurances about reviews under way, platitudes about the need for security in an insecure age, and the odd defense that the president didn’t know that American spies had tapped the German chancellor’s cellphone for 10 years.

Germany Hasn't Earned Its Spying Outrage: It's far easier for Chancellor Merkel to feel put upon by America than to accept the responsibilities of global leadership - John Vinocur, Wall Street Journal: Funny how the chancellor of the world's third-largest arms-dealing country, in her reluctance to talk of any use of force anywhere, is looking like Mr. Obama's doppelgänger. Yet Merkel says America needs friends—although surely not ones thinking Washington will want to spy less effectively.

What did President Obama know and when did he know it? - Dana Milbank, Washington Post: How could Obama not know his spies were bugging the German chancellor?

The out-of-control NSA - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The NSA collects information as massively and indiscriminately as possible on the theory that if you assemble a database of all the world’s communications, the few you seek — those involving terrorists — will be in there somewhere.

This is not just a massive invasion of privacy that the people of France, Spain and other countries understandably resent. It’s also a mistake. Image from

Mr. Kerry’s empty words on Syria - Editorial, Washington Post: In truth, the United States is probably the only nation that could rescue Syria’s civilians. It could do so by offering Mr. Assad the same choice on humanitarian access that it gave him on giving up chemical weapons: Do it or face a campaign of airstrikes.

Syria’s brutality continues at will - Michael Gerson, After years of inaction regarding Syria, America now stares some unpleasant strategic realities in the face: Six months from now, will any responsible opposition be left to support? Will America have any acceptable partners in the fight against al-Qaeda in Syria?

Hijacked link sends Barack Obama's Twitter followers to Syrian propaganda - Adi Robertson, Yesterday, President Barack Obama posted an article on his Twitter account: "Science fair nightmare: This #climate change denier is the world's most embarrassing dad," he wrote.

But the attached link didn't go to his campaign site. Instead, it directed readers alternately to an apparent malware site and a propaganda video called "Syria Facing Terrorism." It appeared that the Syrian Electronic Army had claimed another victim, all the way at the top of the US government. Update: The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for the hack, and the White House has corrected the link. Its tweet shows, and Quartz has confirmed, that the Gmail account of a campaign staffer with Organizers for Action was hacked, likely giving the SEA either login information or password reset privileges to the link shortener. Post has been updated with details. Image from entry

Media analyst: Americans not interested in pro-Muslim propaganda network - Chad Groening, Time Warner Cable and Al Jazeera America have announced they've reached a deal for the cable company to start carrying the controversial Qatar-based network that has been a mouthpiece for Islamic terrorist propaganda. Over the next six months, the channel will be added to digital basic cable packages in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas – making Al Jazeera America available to a total of almost 55 million homes. Since going live in August, the network has struggled in the ratings. Since going live in August, the network has struggled in the ratings. Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, says it’s obvious that foreign-owned news outlets like Al Jazeera don't do well in front of American audiences.

How to negotiate with Iran: A deal struck for its own sake on Tehran's nuclear program would be worse than no deal at all - Dennis Ross, Eric Edelman and Michael Makovsky, The most pressing national security threat facing the United States remains preventing a nuclear-capable Iran. U.S. actions: Intensify sanctions and incentivize other countries to do the same, issue more forceful and credible statements that all options are on the table, initiate new military deployments and make clear the support for Israeli military action if conducted.

Fury in the Kingdom - Roger Cohen, New York Times: It is over Iran that the Saudis are most exercised — and it is not the Iranian nuclear program that has them so upset. Rather, it is the idea that the pre-revolutionary relationship between Iran and the United States could somehow be revived, extending Iranian influence in the region and relegating Saudi Arabia to being, as it once was, the lesser party of America’s “twin pillar” policy in the region.

A Lopsided U.S. Visa-Waiver - Yousef Munayyer, New York Times: The State Department has been able to offer little assistance to U.S. citizens of Arab or Muslim origin who are denied entry to Israel, despite what our passports say about allowing Americans to “pass without delay or hindrance.”

Instead, the U.S. government has regularly yielded to Israeli demands when it comes to the discriminatory treatment of Americans.Under no circumstances should the United States extend visa-waiver privileges to Israel, or any other state, unless it is willing to guarantee and demand equal treatment of its citizens and their protection from discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or national origin. Image from

A question of competence - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: An erratic presidency has made the world a bit less safe.

Perpetual War: How Does the Global War on Terror Ever End? - Jeremy Scahill, TomDispatch: as Obama embarked on his second term in office, the United States was once again at odds with the rest of the world on one of the central components of its foreign policy. The drone strike in Yemen the day Obama was sworn in served as a potent symbol of a reality that had been clearly established during his first four years in office: U.S. unilateralism and exceptionalism were not only bipartisan principles in Washington, but a permanent American institution. As large-scale military deployments wound down, the United States had simultaneously escalated its use of drones, cruise missiles, and Special Ops raids in an unprecedented number of countries. The war on terror had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The question all Americans must ask themselves lingers painfully: How does a war like this ever end?

The Red Menace: Anti-Communist Propaganda of the Cold War - Every age has its bogeyman. If you grew up in 1950s and 60s America you would have been bombarded with anti-communist propaganda. In hindsight it is perhaps easy to raise a wry eyebrow. Yet at the time the threat was taken very seriously indeed. Here, hysteria intact, are a few of the stranger messages delivered to the American people. Among the images:


22 Pictures of Miley Cyrus' Open Mouth - Image from entry


Teen followed Danvers teacher into bathroom, killed her with box cutter - Pamela Brown, Don Brown and Greg Botelho, CNN - How was Danvers High math teacher Colleen Ritzer killed? With a box cutter the suspect, 14-year-old Philip Chism, had brought into school, a source close to the investigation says. What happened to her body afterward? It was stashed in a recycling bin, rolled outside, then dumped about 20 feet into woods behind the northeastern Massachusetts high school's athletic fields, adds another source. It was left there -- not buried, not even covered. And where did the alleged killer go afterward? After changing his clothes, he went to a Wendy's fast food restaurant and a movie, sources say, before police in a neighboring town saw him walking on a busy road under the pitch-dark sky early Wednesday.


Hitler finds out about Obamacare Exchange Problems -


Catholic Officials: “Bishop Of Bling” To See His $40 Million Mansion Turned Into A Soup Kitchen - When Jesus spoke out against greed, German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst must not have thought he was referring to him. It was recently uncovered that the Bishop living in the diocese of Limburg, home to about 650,000 Catholics in Germany, had been doing some eyebrow raising renovations to his quarters.

The Catholic church discovered after some investigation that it was footing the bill for such lavish additions to the place as a $20,000 bathtub, built-in closets costing nearly $500,000, a $35,000 conference table, $1.1 million in landscaped gardens, a massive fitness room, and a personal chapel. All of it totaling an astonishing $40 million. When it came to light just how much the Bishop had been spending, he earned the moniker “Bishop of Bling,” and the less lighthearted distinction of “Suspended until further notice.” With the Bishop gone, the question then turned to what to do with the massive estate. An idea by some Catholic officials is both brilliant and fitting: They want to turn it into a refugee center or soup kitchen. Uncaptioned image from entry


--From; via MT on Facebook

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28

"[N]ewly confirmed ambassadors now make You Tube videos -- our [U.S.] Ambassador to Spain used his to introduce his three dogs to the Spanish people."

--Ambassador Larry Pope; image from


Global war against bad ideas - James Traub, "[T]he [Obama] administration ... [announced] in September that the United States and other nations would establish a $200 million, 10-year effort to counter violent extremism. For reasons of marketing, the new entity is blandly called the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience and has been scrubbed clean of any explicit reference to Islam. But the goal is clearly to fund local programmes designed to counter Islamist extremism. The initial programmes will be based in six Muslim-majority countries and, in a show of nonpartisanship, Colombia. The White House, which understands very well that any such effort will be doomed from the start if it carries a US stamp, has spent several years trying to find an appropriate platform for the anti-extremism campaign. The sponsoring body is something called the Global Counterterrorism Forum, a harmless and high-minded body of which the United States and Turkey are co-chairs. ... What will the fund fund? According to a US official involved with its development, the 'low-hanging fruit' could include funding local organisations that can produce and distribute textbooks that promote tolerance, things

like providing job-training for youth at risk of radicalisation — programmes which could, if not designed properly, all too easily blend into the vast pool of existing development projects. ... Obama has paid far more attention to trying to improve America’s image in the Arab world through fine proclamations of 'mutual respect' than he has to actually draining the wellsprings of extremism. ... Of course, a president uses the tools he has. Obama is very good at 'public diplomacy,' so at least in his first few years in office he devoted a great deal of attention to it. He can influence the war of ideas inside Islam only from a great distance, and with great delicacy. And the tectonic plates of intellectual formulation grind at a generational pace. A president cannot claim victory in the war of ideas, as he can for killing bad guys. Nevertheless, US leaders spent generations fighting Communism as an idea and not just as a military threat. Communism eventually sank under the weight of its accumulated failures. Islamic extremism, always oppositional, may be even harder to dislodge. Still, the only way to beat an idea is with another idea." Image from

News / Central Asian Diplomats Tuesday - " Analysts believe irrespective of The Washington Post revelations of the past tacit understanding on drone operations, the deadly optics of the tactic are likely to defy goodwill public diplomacy vibes on both sides until the clandestine operations ..."

The REAL Reason for Saudi Arabia’s Shift Away from U.S. - "[Comment by:] Manofsteel11: 3. The US used its military presence and weapons exports to ensure the Saudi royal family that they will remain in power.

However, the Saudi elite is observing with concern a shift in US policies per the withdrawal from Iraq, US public diplomacy during the revolution in Egypt, the lack of US intervention in Syria, Bahrain and its stance vis-a-vis the Ayatollahs in Iran. No US bases or weapons shipments will make the Saudis blindly believe that the US will ensure the future of the Kingdom if Iran is allowed to intervene in the region and acquire nuclear capabilities. Security and economic interests are inherently intertwined." Image from

US Embassy Ukraine Gets High Marks and Yay! State/OIG Now Discloses Names of Inspectors – By Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "Now about the OIG report on US Embassy Ukraine: ... AMERICAN SPACES NETWORK – THE LARGEST IN THE WORLD IS COMING! The Space represents a key public diplomacy platform in U.S. efforts to reach the more than 90 percent of Ukrainians who live outside the capital city. When PAS establishes its 30th American Space later this year in Zaporizhzhya, it will have the largest American Space network in the world.

In FY 2012, PAS committed more than $286,000 to its Space operations. Its FY 2013 funding increased to nearly $500,000. ... MORE NAILS AND HAMMERS! There is a funded $3.4 million OBO project to convert the decommissioned old consular building into an American Center." Image from entry, with caption Kyiv New Embassy compound

Juifs et musulmans: si loin, si proches - Arun, "This is a 3½+ hour, four-part documentary on the history of Jewish-Muslim relations—from the 7th century to the present—by French filmmaker Karim Miské. ... The documentary is quite good and with an impressive number of francophone and anglophone academic and other specialists interviewed. I noted in the credits that the film received the support of the cultural services of the US embassy in Paris.

3 Responses on October 23, 2013 at 20:37 | Replylouisclerc A bit on the sides of your main point: "There is a fascinating story to be told on the US embassy as 'mécène' in various cultural and social operations. I read an article some times ago on their support for projects in ghetto suburbs. That’s an interesting part of public diplomacy in the broadest sense. on October 25, 2013 at 15:57 | ReplyArun Yes, I know about the US embassy’s outreach in the banlieues and with French Muslims. There was even an article about it in one of the French papers a couple of years ago sniffing that the US was interfering in internal French affairs, or something to that effect. on October 28, 2013 at 07:54louisclerc We surely read the same article. That kind of interference of course should be the French gvt’s work, but failing that it is no wonder banlieue-dwellers take the help wherever it comes from." Image from entry

Kazakhstan Delegation - "This is an exciting week for many residents of Juneau County as several families are serving as hosts to delegates from Kazakhstan through Open World’s Leadership Development Program in partnership with World Services of Lacrosse WI. The local arrangements and details are being handled through the University of Wisconsin Extension office in Juneau County. The delegation arrived in Mauston on October 18, 2013 just in time to watch some high school football which was a first for all of the delegates.

The Kazakhstan delegation will be staying in the area until October 26, 2013. The objectives of the Open World Program are to 1) study local and regional government best practices in the United States to help improve local services and governmental practices in Kazakhstan 2) To study principles of good civil reform in governance and transparency of operations 3) To interact with citizens and study their role in the decision making process 4) To view how local units of government function effectively 5) To review service delivery at different levels of government and 6) To meet and interact with American families, culture and citizens. ... Since its founding by Congress in 1999, the Open World Program has enabled more than 14,000 current and future Eurasian leaders to experience American democracy, civil society and community life; work with their American counterparts; stay in American homes; and gain new ideas and inspiration for implementing change back home. Some 6,000 American host families and their communities in all 50 states have partnered with the U.S. Congress and Open World to make this ambitious public diplomacy effort possible." Image from entry

Demilitarizing American Diplomacy: speech by Amb Larry Pope at Margaret Chase Smith Center, Univ of Maine -- 10/18/13 - posted at: "To console itself for its irrelevance, the State Department has taken to social media. The problem is that Twitter and FB and Youtube and Instagram and all the rest are individual expressions, while diplomacy requires speech on behalf of the state. According to a recent inspection report, State Department offices and bureaus have established 'more than 150' social media accounts, each one in the name of a component of the State Department. Nobody is responsible for ensuring that what is said on these Facebook pages and Twitter accounts is consistent with American policy. The State Department maintains two competing Persian language FB pages, and newly confirmed ambassadors now make You Tube videos -- our Ambassador to Spain used his to introduce his

three dogs to the Spanish people. ... The FS [Foreign Service] is a meritocracy, run on the up or out principle like the military services, and entry is still by competitive examination. It is very small indeed by the standards of Washington bureacracies. There are about 8,000 FS officers, known as 'generalists' to avoid the fatal taint of elitism. This compares to 14,000 FBI special agents, and 30,000 career members of the Forest Service -- not to mention CIA 22,000 case officers, according to the 2012 budget submission for the intelligence community leaked by Edward Snowden. Not all of this people are diplomats. Many of them are quite young -- not that there is anything wrong with that -- the product of hiring which has increased the total by some 30% over the last decade. A lot of their experience is on the visa line or on heavily guarded compounds in Kabul, Baghdad, and elsewhere. The total includes 1500 so-called management officers, State Department-speak for administrators of various kinds,plus 1400 so-called 'public diplomacy' officers, the remnant of what used to be the separate USIA. The number of senior diplomats is in the hundreds, and a lot of them are not qualified by temperament or experience to run embassies or occupy policy jobs at the State Department.Almost two thirds of our ambassadors are still career people. Political appointees go to places like Australia, and Spain, and France, and they are supposed to have strong career deputies, but unfortunately that is not always the case. ... The absence of the State Department and the Foreign Service has been filled by what I will call euphemistically a 'military-intelligence complex'. To take one unclassified example from recent Congressional testimony

by the Commander of Special Operations, Admiral MacRaven, there are a total of 26 military propaganda teams around the world, known as MISTs, for Military Information Support Teams, to 'support the Department of State by augmenting and broadening their public diplomacy efforts'. That is just the tip of a very large iceberg involving the operations of DOD’s regional commands, the latest of which has been created in Africa. ... Politicians are fond of quoting John Winthrop, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, about a shining city on a hill. They forget that Winthrop’s reference was to the gospel of St. Matthew: 'a city on a hill cannot be hidden'. Today our city on a hill sometimes looks to the rest of the world more like 19th century Prussia than the modest Republic of our founders. That needs to change, and the reform of our diplomatic institutions should be part of that change." Above image from; below image from, with entry: Laurence Pope (second from right) at the burial service for Major Pope (his father), Arlington National Cemetery, September 15, 2009

Daily Press Briefing – DC October 24, 2013 - MS. HARF [Marie Harf, State Department Deputy Spokesperson at the Daily Press Briefing in Washington]: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a few things at the top, and then I’m happy to open it up for your questions. ... QUESTION: All right. So then ... are you in a position, or is the Administration in a position, to make the same assurance to other leaders, or only Chancellor Merkel? In other words, can you assure the Prime Minister of Great Britain or the President – Prime Minister of Italy or the President of Brazil that the United States is not and will not be monitoring their conversations? ... MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, in general, our sort of main message on this is as follows: That the President said this recently, but we’re reviewing the way that we gather intelligence. That review is ongoing. ... QUESTION: Sorry. In the meantime, ...if you look at the headlines right now around the world – in Der Spiegel, in Le Monde, in Globo – they do tend to be quite negative about this. Does the State Department have a plan or is a plan in place to sort of spread the message within these individual countries of just what you’re saying . ... MS. HARF: Well – QUESTION: I mean, are you addressing the grievances that are coming out – MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — in the global press? MS. HARF: Absolutely. I mean, I think having senior officials come out and speak about it is one way to do it, to do that. Certainly answering all of your questions about it to the extent that I can is one way to do it, but also engaging with local press on the ground. That’s why we have folks who do public diplomacy, who do press, who indeed represent the U.S. in all these places around the world. So certainly, that’s part of their mandate, and we think it’s important not just to talk about it from Washington, but also to talk about it on the ground as well." Barf image from

Under an October Haitian Moon - Next year in Jerusalem! (Or Brasilia, or Canberra, or Moscow ... you get the picture.) - "So there you have it, a day in the life of the consulate in Haiti. Officers in other sections (political, economic, management or public diplomacy) or with different agencies (CDC, USAID, USDA, the US Coast Guard, etc.) do vastly different work around the city, out in the country and often work directly with business and government leaders as opposed to the general public like [sic] we do." See also.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Tells Foreign Affairs Committee He Would Welcome Voice of America in Sindhi - "At a meeting between the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) raised the prospect of a Voice of America broadcast into Pakistan in the Sindhi language. In response to

Sherman’s question, Prime Minister Sharif said, 'I would welcome it.' The Prime Minister went on to list efforts of his own government to communicate in the Sindhi language. Sherman, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is the chair of the Congressional Sindh Caucus. 'The response from the Sindhi community in Pakistan to U.S. public diplomacy in their language has been overwhelmingly positive,' said Sherman. 'The Prime Minister of Pakistan welcomes this outreach.' In a Foreign Affairs Committee markup on July 21, 2011, Sherman offered an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The amendment required that, of the funds made available to Voice of America, $1.5 million be used only for Sindhi language programming. The Committee considered and unanimously approved Sherman’s amendment. However, that bill never became law." Image from entry

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, ISIS, and, Iran - CTuttle, "'U.S. negotiator in nuclear talks assures Iranians she’ll be fair' [:]  America’s chief negotiator with Iran promised in a broadcast intended for Iranians that she will be a 'fair, balanced' participant in talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, despite her comment this month that 'deception is part of the DNA' among Iranians. Facing criticism from hard-line news media and some lawmakers in Iran, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said Friday in an interview with Voice of America’s Persian Service that her comments reflected American distrust of the Iranian government that has built up since the breach in relations after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But she insisted that she and others in the administration respect Iranians and believe the talks offer a path for both sides to improve mutual understanding. ... [comment by:] eCAHNomics October 27th, 2013 at 5:07 am 17 Thanks Don for listing Sherman’s record. It was something I had a notion to look up but I was too busy practicing on my skateboard. Sounds like Sherman’s as good at public diplomacy as Hughes. But in a different way."

Beijing Consensus - "Below is [an excerpt] version of the Beijing Consensus, which was issued at the Beijing-Tokyo Forum. The ninth Beijing-Tokyo Forum took place in Beijing on Oct 26 and 27. About 80 people of vision and insight from China and Japan frankly exchanged views on politics, economy, security, media, and the deteriorating attitude of the Chinese and Japanese people toward each other. Sino-Japanese relations are facing difficulties. We participated in the two-day forum with a special feeling, aiming at overcoming the difficulties through the 'power of dialogue' and public diplomacy. It has been a consistent goal for us since the Beijing-Tokyo Forum was launched nine years ago. Against this background, we have high hopes for people-to-people discussions, which we believe will play a major role in supporting efforts to build intergovernmental ties and create a favorable atmosphere to break the diplomatic deadlock. This point of view was written in the 'Tokyo Consensus' of last year's forum in Tokyo; at this year's forum, we have been dedicated to fulfilling the mission of such communications." Image from

China seeks development partnership with neighbours: Chinese Prez - "China will consolidate friendly relations and seek development partnership and security cooperation with its neighbours, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said. ... In a major policy speech, Xi said dealings with neighbouring countries 'should have a three-dimensional, multi-element perspective, beyond time and space'. Xi was addressing a conference on 'Diplomatic work on neighbouring countries' in Beijing on Oct 24 and 25 which all members of the standing committee of the party's central committee's political bureau attended. ... Xi also called for public diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges between China and neighbours for the long term development of relationships. People-to-people exchange should involve tourism, technology, education and sub-national cooperation, among others, to make many different kinds of friends. 'We should clearly present our policies to the outside world, tell China's story in an acceptable way, speak out so that we are heard, and interpret the Chinese dream from the perspective of the aspiration of all people in all countries for a better life and regional prosperity, and let the sense of common destiny take root with our neighbors.'"

China’s public diplomacy shifts focus: From building hardware to improving software - China Policy Institute Blog: "China spends more money and effort on developing public diplomacy strategies and instruments than any other country in the world. The Chinese government has embraced the ideas of soft power and public diplomacy to an extent not often seen in China with regard to political concepts from abroad. It believes that public diplomacy, or wielding soft power, may help make China’s economic and political rise palatable to the world; contribute to the international recognition of Chinese values and policies; increase the government’s legitimacy; and that it is indispensable in the fight for China’s right to speak and to co-exist with the liberal international world order with its own political model."

Cultural Diplomacy: Taiwan -  "While public diplomacy has been heavily emphasized since the Republic of China’s (ROC’s) foundation in 1911, the power of cultural diplomacy has received more recognition recently under the leadership of President Ma Ying-jeou. The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Foreign Policy Report released on March 18 this year calls for promoting democracy, freedom and equitable prosperity as a mode of enriching Taiwan’s 'viable diplomacy' by way of soft power and cultural diplomacy. ... By linking its’ [sic] existence to norms-based values of democracy, Taiwan has maintained the United States and other democratic allies’ support, with arms sales being a prime example, that it could not have been sustained otherwise given diplomatic pressures from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
 Other common attributes of a country’s cultural diplomacy commonly include tourism, educational exchanges, and popular culture. These measures demonstrate good prospects for Taiwan moving forward on the international stage with regards to diplomatic, economic and cultural spaces even as political space remains constricted."

Don’t mention aid: what’s unsaid in Australia’s economic diplomacy - Benjamin Day, "Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop

has just returned from a seven-day trip to Asia during which, in five public appearances spanning three countries, she didn’t mention Australia’s aid program once. ... [Comment by:] Benjamin Day October 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm # ... [D]evelopment assistance is not being connected to the bigger picture of Australia’s foreign policy. Another example is the lack of attention paid to the role of development assistance in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. And just to pick one small issue, surely the attention paid to affixing Australian logos to aid-funded infrastructure implies development assistance is relevant to public diplomacy?" Uncaptioned image from entry

45. Soft Power in International Relations - "6. Today, cultural diplomacy in the exercise of public diplomacy is to act as 'facilitator' with respect to Soft Power through enhancing the capabilities of persuasive speech and using it with the appropriate technological resources. It provides a 'living' resource to enhance the interaction between the embassy and the general public and is very influential in promoting the country at international events and in encouraging public policy funding for research centres, education, art, etc."

Let them call me crazy - "'Actually, most of the Palestinians are angry with and hate their Arab 'brothers' more than they are angry with or hate the Jews. I have never heard about a Palestinian woman dying of cancer and one of the neighboring Arab countries, Lebanon for example, helping her. But I’ve heard of plenty of cases where hospitals in Israel have offered help,' said

Mudar Zahran, 39, a lecturer and publicist — and a Palestinian blogger — in an interview with Israel Hayom. Zahran participated in an international seminar on new media and public diplomacy given by the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry this week." Image from entry

Pusa Hack and Exotique Have Hosted Glamorous Ten Years Anniversary Party - "In an ample and unique event and benefiting by the presence of diplomatic community, of parliamentary and governmental representatives, EXOTIQUE and his brand creator Pusa Hack celebrated ten years of activity on Romanian market. ... From Philippines to Middle east and from Central Asia to China, Mrs. Pusa Hack

has brought the marvels of Asia to Romania and made us travel in EXOTIQUE places far and wide and has acted as a true ambassador of Romania in Asia and of Asia to Romania, as a true representative of Romanian public diplomacy, concluded Professor dr. Anton Caragea, declaring that the anniversary ceremony are opened." Image from entry, with caption: Parliamentarians: Ionel Agrigoroaei and Florinel Dumitrescu are offering high appreciation for Mrs. Pusa Hack dedicated work in EXOTIQUE.

David Faris on Digital Dissent and Revolution - "CGCS interviewed David Faris, author of the recently published book Dissent and Revolution in a Digital Age: Social Media, Blogging and Activism in Egypt, to discuss digital activism and use of social media in Egypt. Faris is a lecturer and researcher in the department of Political Science and Public Administration Roosevelt University and director of the interdisciplinary International Studies program. ...  [Q:] 5)What projects are you currently working on?

Where do you see the future direction of this research heading?  [A:] Right now I’m launching a significant comparative study of digital public diplomacy that seeks to examine state practices and outcomes in the realm of strategic political communication – both those of major Western states like the U.S., U.K. and France, but also regional states across the Middle East. My goal is to explain the impact of what I call the 'Age of Sharing' on a realm of human interaction that has long depended on secrecy, and to understand different state conceptions of ‘public diplomacy’ by different actors over time. At the same time, I maintain an interest in the evolving digital activist community in Egypt, and I hope to return soon to do some theorizing about the reaction of that community to the summer 2013 coup, and the evolution of political factionalism online more generally. Finally, I maintain a longstanding research program on institutional political design as it applies to the post-Arab Spring states, drawing on established comparative politics literature on democratic transitions while hoping to generate new generalizable insights from the region (rather than simply applying concepts to the region)." Image from entry

New Article up at Pragati: Lethal Ideas and Insurgent Memories – Review of The Violent Image
[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"] - "I have a new book review up at Pragati this morning: Lethal ideas and insurgent memory ….One expert who does acknowledge a paradigmatic shift and posits a powerful explanatory model for the behavior of what he terms 'the new revolutionaries' is Dr Neville Bolt of the War Studies Department of King’s College, London and author of The Violent Image: Insurgent Propaganda and the New Revolutionaries. Taking a constructivist view of irregular military conflict as the means by which insurgents weave an enduring political narrative of mythic power and shape historical memory, Bolt eschews some cherished strategic tenets of realists and Clausewitzians.

The ecology of social media, powered by decentralised, instant communication platforms and the breakdown of formerly autarkic or regulated polities under the corrosive effects of capitalist market expansion, have been, in Bolt’s view, strategic game changers 'creating room to maneuver' in a new 'cognitive battlespace' for 'complex insurgencies'. Violent 'Propaganda of the Deed', once the nihilistic signature of 19th century Anarchist-terrorist groups like the People’s Will, has reemerged in the 21stcentury’s continuous media attention environment as a critical tool for insurgents to compress time and space through '…a dramatic crisis that must be provoked'. ... zen Says: October 26th, 2013 at 4:43 am T. Greer, It’s a good book. Some what Bolt discusses is politics moreso than strategy but it is politics intended to reinforce the collective will to prevail in a conflict. I think Matt Armstrong would find it interesting as well, given his public diplomacy job." Image from entry

Meet The Goldman Partner Who Gets Paid $2 Million To Give Away The Bank's Money - Goldman insiders are ... bitter that Dina Habib Powell, the head of Goldman's corporate engagement, has been receiving a sizeable paycheck even though her job isn't about making money. ... Powell, 40, joined 

Goldman in 2007.  In 2010, Goldman made her a 'partner'—one of the most highly-coveted titles on Wall Street. Under her leadership, Goldman launched its 10,000 Women program—a $100 million initiative that trains underprivileged women running small businesses around the world. Before she worked for Goldman, Powell was the Assistant Secretary of the State for Educational and Cultural Affairs during the George W. Bush administration. She also served as the Deputy Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs." Image from entry, with caption: Dina H. Powell, the head of corporate engagement at Goldman Sachs

Kennedy Center Lecture - "'Euro Elections 2014: Polls, Politics, Popularity, and Protest' will be presented by Sarah Lambert, a visiting EU fellow at Colorado European Union Center for Excellence, on Friday, 25 October at 10:00 a.m. in 238 HRCB. Lambert joined the European Commission in 1995 after fifteen years as a foreign correspondent reporting from all over Europe, including Brussels, and has been head of the political section in the Madrid office since 2010. She had previously worked as head of office in London, responsible for government relations and public diplomacy in the UK, where she started out in 2003 as head of political and regional affairs."

Buzzfeed post featured video produced by two Annenbergstudents - Alex Reed, "A video produced by USC Annenberg Master in Public Diplomacy candidates Reagan Cook and Gabriel Shapiro was featured in a recent post on Buzzfeed. Featuring a cover of the Lorde song, 'Team,' the video promotes the October 26th Campaign, a movement led by Saudi Arabian men and women, urging the government to lift the ban on women driving. Cook and Shapiro produced and directed the music video."

Degree from Top Journalism School for Bright Career Prospect - "School of Media and Public Affairs-George Washington University [:] The students nurturing interest in mass communications studies with prime importance to matters related to public diplomacy issues can derive maximum benefits from this organization’s Walter Robert’s Endowment sponsored Institute for Public Policy and Global Communication (IPPGC). The institute is engaged in conducting practical training, research programs and much more in the areas of global communications and public diplomacy."


Hey Europe, you’re welcome: Allies made safer by U.S. snooping, lawmakers insist - Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times: As outrage in

Europe grows, lawmakers are defending U.S. surveillance practices — including phone tapping — and saying other nations likely engage in similar spying, even if their leaders don’t know it. Top members of Congress also suggest that GermanyFrance and other nations should be thankful for, rather than angry about, American snooping. Image from

Why Arabs Fear a U.S.-Iran Détente - Marwan Bishara, The Arabs have learned from bitter experience that whether by confrontation or collaboration, whatever Iran, America and Israel decide to do leaves them feeling trampled. Arab powers fear that negotiations between America and Iran are likely to leave Israel as the one nuclear power in the region, while allowing its occupation of Palestine to continue unabated.

Anti-American propaganda taken down in Iran amid peace-talks with the U.S. - Elle Tilden, As Iran Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani tries to continue diplomatic talks with the United States, officials were ordered to take down anti-American propaganda strewn across Tehran. One poster, which showed an American and Iranian diplomat sitting across from each other with the American dressed in military garb from the waist down, was replaced with a poster that read, “in a world that is filled with oppression, we don’t oppress, nor do we allow oppression,” says The Atlantic Wire. Iran is very well known for making its criticism obvious of American politics, but lately the state has been showing blatant disapproval of these signs. Many take this as an indication of Rouhani’s determination to reach a diplomatic end with the US over Iran’s nuclear program.

Western media use Rami’s tally of dead in Syria as propaganda tool - The US government and its European allies as well as some puppet regimes in the Middle East region are using information provided by a man, who makes his living from a local clothing shop in Britain, as a propaganda tool to further their political interests. Rami Abdurrahman, 42, has been reporting to the world the number of casualties since more than two years ago when foreign-backed insurgents hijacked Syria’s peaceful and legitimate call for reforms. The tally of

killings and clashes provided by the British man of Syrian origin has so far been used by the West’s mainstream media outlets as well as some western-based human rights organizations as the main source of information coming from Syria in their desperate attempts to accuse the popular government of President Bashar al-Assad of committing war crimes. Abdurrahman is operating the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights alone from his house in the cathedral city of Coventry about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of London. Image from article, with caption: Rami Abdurrahman, London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

Supreme Propaganda on the Road to Global Tyranny - Bernie Suarez, U.S. illegal intervention in Syria is already on record with many calling for the immediate impeachment of Obama.

No amount of propaganda can change that. Not even making the audience view the crime from the perspective of another country or political partner will change the view of the people who are awakened. We are happy to call out their propaganda and use it as a teaching tool for others to become better at recognizing their lies. Image from entry

Nobel Prize Part of West’s Propaganda Fog - Finian Cunningham, The Nobel Peace Prize should be renamed the Nobel Propaganda Prize, after this year’s ever-so contrived award to the UN-approved chemical weapons team sent to disarm Syria. Other dubious winners of the “illustrious” prize include the accused war criminal, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who oversaw the genocidal carpet-bombing of Indochina during the 1970s. More recently, another accused war criminal, US President Barack Obama, is among the honorees of the award despite his ongoing use of assassination and murderous aggression in multiple countries, including Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen and Syria. A Norwegian-based committee of seemingly Scandinavian neutrality makes the award every year as it has done for more than a century ever since 1901. The prize was the creation of Alfred Nobel, a major armaments manufacturer. That in itself speaks volumes of the institution’s contradictory nature. Nobel Peace Prizes and Western human rights groups may sound innocuous. But they are a central part of the Western propaganda machine, as much as MI6, CIA, Mossad, the Pentagon, Whitehall and the panoply of Western news media outlets with august titles, such as BBC and New York Times.

Maliki’s Democratic Farce - Ramzy Mardini and Emma Sky, As Iraq Prime Minister Maliki prepares to seek a third term in 2014, Mr. Obama should insist that he adhere to democratic norms as a condition of American aid.

The United States should be seen as supporting the Iraqi people as a whole, and not favoring any faction or figure. Image from

Obama fell prey to Indian propaganda: Hafiz Saeed - Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermindHafiz Saeed has said that US President Barack Obama fell prey to Indian propaganda and issued a statement against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa(JuD), an avowedly religious front headed by Saeed. In an interview to Geo News here, Saeed on Thursday said it was regretful that Obama, without making any investigation into the Indian propaganda, went ahead and "issued a statement against us", reported the News International. Stating that Pakistan's Supreme Court had earlier ruled that no charges were proved against JuD, Saeed said: "India too had failed to hand over any evidence to Pakistan on Mumbai attacks in the past five years."

Foreign policy based on fantasy - Jackson Diehl, For Obama, succeeding in even the limited objectives he has set for the Middle East would require reshaping conditions on the ground: weakening Assad, degrading Iranian strength, bolstering Israeli and Saudi confidence. That work could be done without deploying U.S. troops, but it would be hard, expensive and require a lot of presidential attention.

Foreign travel: State Department renews Colombia warning - 1. The State Department this month renewed its warning on Colombia, noting that people travel safely to the South American country but that "violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural areas and parts of large cities." 2. The State Department also renewed its warning on North Korea, saying "U.S. citizens crossing into North Korea, even accidentally, have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention. Since January 2009, four U.S. citizens have been arrested for entering North Korea illegally, and two U.S. citizens who entered on valid … visas were arrested inside North Korea on other charges." 3. After the shopping mall attack in September, the State Department reissued its warning on Kenya, saying "U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. The levels of risk vary throughout the country."

The Kremlin's Propaganda Campaign and Russia's Regression - Leon Aron, As the Soviet Union’s enemy number one, the United States was a logical choice to cast as the prime target of the propaganda campaign. A signal for a no-holds-barred propaganda campaign was given from the top in 2011 when Putin accused the U.S. Department of State of playing the lead in organizing the first protests against the falsification of the Duma election results. This was followed by media attacks on and harassment of U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul. Then, in fall 2012, the Kremlin ordered the expulsion of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). After the death of an adopted Russian boy in Texas in early 2013 (an autopsy later proved the death was accidental), another propaganda campaign portrayed Russian orphans adopted by American parents as subjected to all manner of abuse and even murder. The Duma rushed to pass a law banning all U.S. adoptions.

Trans Woman Commits Suicide After Firing Under Russia's 'Propaganda' Ban: Dasha Stern was 22 years old when she took her own life after being fired under Russia's nationwide ban on so-called homosexual propaganda - A 22-year-old transgender woman

in Russia reportedly took her own life last Wednesday after she was fired from a promising job because her employers feared they were in violation of a nationwide ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships," reports the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights on its blog, RusAdvocat. Image from entry

Five Ways Lenin's Propaganda Destroyed Marriage And The Family In Russia - Monica Showalter, 'The success of a revolution," V.I. Lenin declared at the first all-Russian conference of working women in 1918, "depends on how much women take part in it." And based on his writings, there was little doubt he believed this. Problem was, most Russian women weren't interested.

Johnny Weir to respect Russia's anti-gay propaganda law while doing TV at Olympics: 'You don’t have to agree with the politics, but you have to respect the culture of a country you are visiting' - Greg Hernandez, Openly gay Johnny Weir is heading to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi as a commentator for NBC and doesn't plan to ruffle any feathers when it comes to Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.

The former Olympic skater, who announced his retirement from his sport earlier this week, says he will be focused on skating, not politics. Image from entry

Journalists in Kenya Warned Not to Spread Propaganda About Westgate Attack: Westgate Mall looting reports prompts journalists' arrests - Katherine Beard, Journalists covering the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, have been warned not to "provoke propaganda" with their reports. This warning elicited by Kenyan Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo, comes after television

and news organizations revealed footage of Kenyan security forces, who helped defeat the Islamist militants, looting goods from a store inside the mall. Image from entry, with caption: Kenyan police have warned journalists to be careful of what they report about the Westgate Mall attacks. Two journalists are being pursued for questioning over their release of a report about Kenyan security forces looting shops during the attack.

North Korea Propaganda: South Koreans Released by Pyongyang Posted Pro-North Messages Online - It has been revealed that a few of the six South Koreans released by North Korea last Friday had a history of posting pro-North Korea propaganda on the Internet before they traveled to the North.

Authorities investigating the case said that the six detainees went to North Korea between 2009 and 2012, crossing the Yalu or Tumen River, which are both near the border between North Korea and China. Authorities say that family issues and business failures may have prompted some of them to post messages that praised North Korea, Arirang News reports. They said that the individuals were also under the impression that they would be treated well upon arrival in North Korea, but they were instead detained for years and interrogated. Image from entry

Nigeria: Ogeah - 'You Don't Need Propaganda to Get Your Message Through' - Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ogeah is 52 years today. "I believe that propaganda has never been an enduring and successful strategy in getting heard and making people key into your programme. Initially, it might seem to be effective, but ultimately it is unmasked," says Ogeah of his style of laying the facts before journalists. "When you have a lot of concrete things to unveil, it is counterproductive to adopt propaganda. Fortunately for me, Governor Uduaghan (Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, governor of the state, went through the unprecedented storm of undergoing two elections in three months) made my job easier by having so much to talk about in terms of the people-oriented projects he has completed or that are on-going."

RAND Corp. on the Propaganda Value of ‘Captain Phillips’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ - John Glaser, In a commentary that appeared in USA Today, RAND Corporation senior adviser Brian Michael Jenkins praises President Obama’s increased reliance on Joint Special Operations Command raids in place of drone strikes. There is a lot of “psychological utility” in the use of raids over drones, Jenkins explains. “Now, America can turn things around,” he writes. “Terrorists want us to live in fear. We will make them live in fear.” with a comment like that, this Jenkins guy belongs in a Hollywood movie! Interesting you should say that, because Jenkins cites another advantage to special operations raids over drone strikes: it feeds Americans’ appetite for warrior praise.

If Americans can glorify and exalt the bravery and sacrifice of U.S. Marines, it will go a long way towards regaining the public support for U.S. militarism that drone warfare has diminished. War is not to be celebrated or romanticized, but movies such as Zero Dark Thirty and Captain Phillips provide images and narratives that sustain morale in a protracted conflict. These special operations raids contrast the courage and prowess of American warriors with the calculated savagery displayed by murderers of unarmed civilians, so dramatically demonstrated in the terrorist attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi. Image from entry

Hollywood Propaganda: American “Heroes” and Somali “Savages” – “Captain Phillips” Obscures US Crimes in Somalia - Paul Gottinger and Ken Klippenstein, Somalis have served as convenient villains for Hollywood. Blackhawk Down portrayed Somalis as ruthless and bloodthirsty, while making sure to depict Americans as honoring every life. Unfortunately, the facts don’t support this narrative. In the real Blackhawk Down incident, 1,000 Somalis were killed as US rangers dropped into a crowded marketplace.

The film was so distorted in its depiction of Somalis that the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in California called for a boycott of the movie, saying it “portrays Somalis as violent savages." Captain Phillips is keen to mention that the Maersk Alabama was carrying some humanitarian aid, but neglects to mention the US’ extensive crimes in the region. Perhaps most repulsive element of Captain Phillips is its failure to give any explanation for why there are pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. There is no mention of the US role in making Somalia a failed state unable to have a coast guard. The result is that the fishing waters have become ruined by foreigner’s over-fishing and European, Asian, and Gulf companies dumping toxic and nuclear waste into Somali costal waters. Image from entry

Wikipedia wants to erase propaganda and bias from its pages: Wikimedia Foundation launches investigation following reports of widespread 'sockpuppeting' - Amar Toor, The Wikimedia Foundation is cracking down on deceptive and spammy Wikipedia entries as part of an ongoing effort to maintain the online encyclopedia's credibility. At issue are two related practices known as "sockpuppeting"— whereby Wikipedia users create fake online identities "for the purpose of deception" — and paid advocacy editing, which pays users to edit Wikipedia pages on behalf of a brand, product, or company. The Daily Dot exposed the breadth of these practices in a report published earlier this month, describing a sockpuppet network that, as of September, encompassed more than 300 confirmed and 84 suspected offenders. Paid and deceptive editing have been an ongoing issue for Wikipedia, though the sockpuppet operation uncovered last month was the largest such network known to date. Image from entry

Laughable Anti-Marijuana Propaganda From 1930′s - Alex Wain, Ah the trusty Devil’s Weed, women cry for it, men die for it! Don’t you realise that smoking Marijuana will unleash your inner vices, turning you into a sex crazed a lap-dog of Satan! Sure you’ll get a few “wild mad thrills” and participate in “weird orgies” but then your tragic life will become awash with shame, horror and despair.

Who would have thought a naturally occurring plant, would cause such unbridged havoc and chaos? These are just a few of the hilarious and outlandish claims made by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930s. It was all part of a campaign called ‘Call To Arms’ created by the commissioner of the bureau, Harry J. Anslinger to dissuade America’s youth from sampling the devil’s harvest.

Some 80 years on, Nixon’s over-used and clichéd ‘war on drugs’ slogan has been peddled by politicians the world over, with trillions spent warning against the dangers of drug use and disrupting cartels and supply lines. Has it worked? Are drugs less accessible these days? Are young American’s less susceptible to having wild orgies whilst high? Images from entry; note apostrophe catastrophe in top poster. See also John Brown "Marijuana and holy water," Notes and Essays; image from

Propaganda, Public Opinion, and the Second South African Boer War - Kelley S. Ken, The Boer War came at a critical juncture in Great Britain's imperial history and was a turning point in the use of propaganda, both by the British government and the national press, in shaping public opinion.

This propaganda also perpetuated the stereotype of "the Boer." According to many historians, British public opinion in 1898 ‑ 1899 did not favor a war with South Africa, so public support had to be manufactured. Image from article, with caption: Victorian poster depicting the Defeat of Lord Methuen's Force by De La Rey at Tweebosch, March 7, 1902.

Gn-Awesome World War Z historic propaganda posters will grab you, but thankfully not try and eat you: How various countries may have styled their pictorial war efforts for past conflicts, if the enemy had been the undead - What's your plan, come the zombie apocalypse? Remarkably, statistics prove that 10/10 people have never actually had to ward off the unfaltering march of the undead - but that doesn't mean that we can't all learn from non-history and be prepared.

World War Z distributor Paramount have put together an excellent series of posters imagining how various countries may have styled their iconic propaganda posters from history's wars, if the enemy had been the horde. And don't they look dead good? Your country needs you... to destroy the brain.


"public diplomacy, or wielding soft power."

--China Specialist Global Post

"ephemeral messaging more accurately digitizes many of the ways we interact, like in-person conversation."

--Josh Constine, "Kids Love Snapchat Because They See Facebook Like Adults See LinkedIn,"