Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 23-25

immensely abbreviated holiday edition

“Order one of everything off the menu.”

--National Security Agency's “collection philosophy

"People must communicate"

--Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to one participant who described a confidential meeting with him on the condition of anonymity


--a data query tool, which used color-coded “heat maps” to depict the volume of data ingested by NSA taps

"we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia"

--Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden; see also, for more on Snowden and Russia; on Snowden as a topic for the Foreign Service exam see;  on Snowden and Christmas, see; image from




What is Cultural Diplomacy? - A Definition by President Emil Constantinescu - The Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publications -


Former Eagles cheerleader now stars for Army - Gary Mihoces, USA Today: "As a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader, Rachel Washburn toted pom-poms. As an Army intelligence officer with a special ops combat unit in Afghanistan, she carried an assault rifle and pistol.

She was a pioneer on a special mission to relate to local women in ways that would be culturally inappropriate for male troops — including helping deliver an Afghan baby in a snowstorm.Prior to her first eight-month tour in Afghanistan in 2011-12, she became part of a new 'Cultural Support Team' program to attach women to special ops units to relate to Afghan women. ... 'I was always seen as somebody they could relate to and not this American imposter who brings my values to that country,' said Washburn, who wore a head scarf when amongst the Afghans. ... It would be incorrect to say Washburn traded her white cheerleader boots for combat boots. The Eagles cheerleaders wear uniforms designed by Vera Wang. But for dancing purposes they wear designer Gant sneakers. 'I like to think it's because we were more athletic and did more complicated routines,' said Washburn. She added that cheerleaders – like women in the military – should not be labeled with stereotypes. 'The woman I met in cheerleading were all incredibly intelligent, ambitious women,' she said." Image from entry.



To the tech-savvy types at the Broadcasting Board of Governors:
I was oh so happy to get my hands on a friend’s computer that ran Windows 8, as I am looking to get a new computer. He was showing me the news feature and how I could add all sorts of sources to a news feed. This peaked my interests, as I have thousands of news sources I like to follow consistently to stay updated. I wanted to see a bit about how much this thing had to offer. Naturally, the first source I looked for was Voice of America.  Let me show you what I found:
Yes, that is right. According to Microsoft, VoA is not a source for news.
Yours Truly,
Via RM on Facebook


Russia's Vladimir Putin Is 2013 Public Relations Man of the Year - Ronn Torossian, Huffington Post: "Through the years, Putin has pulled many PR stunts -- from walking through Siberia without a shirt on to his diving into the sea -- or finding two ancient amphora's [sic] which was later revealed to have been planted by his PR staff. The man understands PR and is damn good at it. ... Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, and a board member of one of the largest Russian-American non-profit organizations, RAJE. Torossian's wife is Russian."

The Government Cracks Down, and Egypt Shrugs: The quest for justice and accountability is foundering amid the new regime's attempts to dismantle the Muslim Brotherhood - Sarah Leah Whitson, Los Angeles Times, posted at It's startling to hear Secretary of State John F. Kerry lauding Egypt's new rulers for "restoring democracy" while charging the Brotherhood with "stealing the revolution." Such shameless cajoling does nothing to rein in the military's heavy-handed abuses, much less move Egypt in a democratic direction. As PresidentObama has said, it's hard to have a political dialogue when the opposition is in jail.

Dark Days in Egypt -  Editorial, New York Times: Because the United States considers Egypt crucial to regional stability and because of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would make it easier to resume aid, which was largely suspended after Mr. Morsi was deposed. The generals are almost certain to interpret that as an endorsement of their authoritarian methods.

For Peace in Syria, Will Assad Have to Stay? - Room for Debate, New York Times: President Obama has said the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, must give up power in the face of a civil war that has killed over 100,000 peopleand forced millions into exile. But even with his use of chemical weapons and indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, some say his remaining in power may be the only way to end an ugly stalemate with vicious jihadi rebels. Is it time to acknowledge Assad will not be removed soon and plan for a future with him?

The great U.S.-Israel rift that isn't: Commentators point to discord on the Iran deal, but the two nations have an identical goal - Haim Saban, In statement after statement, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu continue to articulate an identical goal: Iran must not have nuclear weapons. In the coming months, close coordination and consultation between the U.S. and Israel will be crucial for reaching a positive outcome in the nuclear talks for a comprehensive deal with Iran. And so camera-ready rhetoric must give way to quiet conversation. The actions of Netanyahu and Obama tell far more about the continuing alignment of our two countries than any sensational headline.

Yankee Neocolonialism Returns to Colombia: Two congressional Democrats meddle in the affairs of a U.S. ally - Mary O'Grady, Wall Street Journal: During the Cold War many Democrats argued that U.S. efforts to confront Soviet expansionism in Central and South America amounted to neocolonialism and unjustified meddling in foreign lands. So how can the U.S. have any business butting into the domestic affairs of the pluralistic republic of Colombia today?


Top 10 handguns in the U.S.: The most prolific makes of handguns manufactured in the U.S., based on production statistics provided to ATF - Washington Times. Image from entry


"The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. 'Jazz' music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other. The American’s intoxication in 'jazz' music does not reach its full completion until the music is accompanied by singing that is just as coarse and obnoxious as the music itself. Meanwhile, the noise of the instruments and the voices mounts, and it rings in the ears to an unbearable degree… The agitation of the multitude increases, and the voices of approval mount, and their palms ring out in vehement, continuous applause that all but deafens the ears."

--Sayyid Qutb, Egyptian author, educator, Islamic theorist, poet, and the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 60s; from Robert Irwin, review of Sayyid Qutb [:] The life and legacy of a radical Islamic intellectual, ... Oxford University Press, The Times Literary Supplement (December 13, 2013), p. 12


Russian babushka kicks out the bears [VIDEO] - YouTube. Via IL on Facebook


--Via a Facebook friend

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