Friday, September 19, 2014

Millennials Love Transit Most, Boomers Still Stuck on Cars: Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

from; via GG on facebook

Millennials Love Transit Most, Boomers Still Stuck on Cars

A new study shows generations bucking their upbringings, with sheltered Millennials choosing the bus.
In 2013, transit ridership in the United States hit a 50-year high, with the nation’s transit systems logging 10.7 billion rides. A new survey from the new transportation-focused philanthropy TransitCenter, seeks to discover who those riders are and what motivates them to get on the trains, buses, and streetcars of American cities.

The answer, according to Who’s On Board: 2014 Mobility Attitudes Survey? Transit riders are disproportionately young, members of ethnic minorities, and—most important of all—they live in relatively dense neighborhoods where high-quality transit is available. The most important factor for them in choosing transit is travel time and reliability, not fancier amenities such as wifi.

The survey, which gathered data from 11,842 respondents in 46 metropolitan areas, found that the generational divide over transit that many observers have noted over the past few years is real: People under 30 are far more likely to ride public transportation and to express positive feelings about it than older people, regardless of what part of the country they live in or what kind of neighborhood they grew up in.

The survey looked at five geographical categories: the South, the West/Southwest, the West Coast, the Midwest, and what it classified as “traditional cities,” which included cities with “mature and widely used transit systems”—San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C.

In the “traditional cities,” 43 percent of people under 30 reported riding transit at least once a week, compared with 12 percent of those between 30 and 60 and just 9 percent of those over 60. Even in regions with much lower overall ridership, the trend of young people using transit more held true: 20 percent of those under 30 in the South say they ride transit once a week, compared with 10 percent of those 30 to 60 and 2 percent of those over 60.

The preference for transit also showed up when those under 30 had kids, suggesting that the trend isn’t just about being childfree and easy. Across all income brackets, parents under 30 used transit significantly more than those between 30 and 60. Forty-five percent of the under-30 parent group with incomes above $75,000 said they use transit weekly, compared with 16 percent of parents between 30 and 60 in the same income bracket.

Interestingly, these same young people reported being raised in disproportionately autocentric environments: They were less likely to have been encouraged to walk or bike by their families as children or to have had easy access to transit, and were more likely to have gotten the message from parents that transit was unsafe (as well as the message from peers that it was uncool).

Still, they expressed disproportionately transit-friendly attitudes, even as their elders are continuing to reject the transit option. In the words of the researchers, “The Millennial generation seems to be defying its sheltered, suburban upbringing by delaying the acquisition of a driver’s license and choosing transit. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers, who grew up using transit and were encouraged to do so, are defying their upbringing by avoiding transit now.”

Another key finding is that many respondents say they would like to live in a different kind of neighborhood than the one where they do now. Nearly two-thirds, or 58 percent, of respondents said they would like to live in neighborhood with a mixture of residential, business, and shopping, rather than a strictly residential neighborhood. That didn’t mean that respondents wanted to leave the suburbs for the city, though—that figure combines those with preferences for urban, suburban, and small-town mixed-use neighborhoods.

Only 39 percent of those surveyed are living in such a neighborhood now, suggesting a mismatch between available housing stock and people’s desires. The neighborhood most often chosen as the “ideal” by respondents, with 28 percent favoring it, was a mixed-use suburban neighborhood.

“The findings indicate that attitudes among young people suggest there’s going to be strong and growing support for transit in the decades to come, across the country,” says David Bragdon, executive director of TransitCenter. “This study shows there’s a lot of demand for transit and our local officials need to step up and meet that demand.”

Other key points in the survey:
  • Respondents were five times more likely to take transit if they were offered pre-tax commuting benefits by their employers.
  • Transit use varied widely by race and ethnicity. Thirty-nine percent of African Americans reported using transit at least once per week, as did 37 percent of Hispanics; 32 percent of American Indians and Alaskan natives; 18 percent of Asian and South Pacific respondents; and just 10 percent of whites.
  • In general, transit use decreased as income increased, but respondents in the highest bracket—$150,000 and up—reported riding transit more than any other group except those in the lowest bracket, who make less than $25,000.
  • Concern for the environment ranked last among reasons to use transit across all age groups.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dear Scotland: An open letter from your Canadian cousins

The Globe and Mail; via GG on Facebook
Published Friday, Sep. 12 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Sep. 12 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

Dear Scotland,

You probably don’t know this, but you made us. The first European to cross the continent and reach our Pacific coast was Alexander Mackenzie – a Scot. Our first prime minister and chief Father of Confederation, Sir John A. Macdonald? Scottish. So too our second PM. Our country’s national dream, a railroad from sea to sea, was realized in 1885 when Sir Donald Smith, head of the Canadian Pacific Railway, drove The Last Spike at Craigellachie – a place named after a village in his homeland. The man who did the most to create Canada’s system of universal public health care, and chosen as “The Greatest Canadian” in a national survey of CBC viewers, was Tommy Douglas. He was born in Falkirk. The thistle and the red lion rampant on our national coat of arms identify you as one of our four founding nations; half of our provincial flags contain a Saint Andrew’s cross; and one of our provinces – Nova Scotia – is named after you. There are said to be more pipers and pipe bands in Canada than in Scotland. And nearly five million Canadians identify their ethnic origin as entirely or partly Scottish, which means we have almost as many Scottish-Canadians as you have people.

You made us – and as a gesture of thanks, we’d like to offer some advice on how to avoid unmaking yourself. This bit of history you are living right now? This referendum thing? We’ve already been through that. We may be a young nation but we have far more experience than you on this issue. We nearly tore our country apart. Twice.

The independence side in your referendum campaign is to be commended for a few things. There’s no ethnic nationalism at the heart of the Yes movement, and that is no small accomplishment. And the question to be asked on the 18th of September – “Should Scotland be an independent country? – sounds remarkably clear and simple. The Quebec independence movement never dared ask anything so straightforward, because outright independence has never been favoured by anything close to a majority of the Quebec population.

Compare your question with the one asked of Quebeckers in 1980: “The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws, levy its taxes and establish relations abroad – in other words, sovereignty – and at the same time to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; any change in political status resulting from these negotiations will only be implemented with popular approval through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?”

The Scottish question is shorter and simpler. But is it really clearer? It has not escaped the notice of us, your cousins from across the seas, that much of the case made by the Scottish Yes campaign is neatly described by our fuzzy 1980 question. “Sovereignty” but maintaining “an economic association”? Check. A new country, but also a plan to “negotiate a new agreement” with the old nation? Check. A Yes vote portrayed as promising co-operation rather than a severing of ties? Check. And the idea that you can leave but keep the currency? Sorry, we’ve heard this song before.

The Yes campaign in Scotland, as reasonable as it imagines itself, seems to believe in the unreasonable proposition that you can improve your marriage by getting a divorce. It doesn’t work that way. The Yes campaign also promises that post-divorce negotiations will take place in an atmosphere of complete calm and rationality – and that rump Britain will give it what it wants. But that glosses over the fact that the other side has demands, too. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said recently that, if Britain didn’t let an independent Scotland continue to use the pound, Scotland might refuse to assume its share of the national debt.

Mr. Salmond has the greatest interest in maintaining the fiction that normalcy will reign and reason will rule in the event of a Yes victory – and yet the mere mention of a hypothetical negotiation has even him testily making threats. How well do you think it will go if things move beyond the hypothetical? Having looked over the edge of the precipice that you are marching up to, and having dipped our toe into the volcano more than once, we can tell you: It will not go well at all.

There is an alternative to independence: federalism. It’s something we’ve been practising and perfecting for a century and a half. You’ve been at it for a decade and a half. Give it time. We’re not sure if the “Devo Max” plans to devolve nearly complete responsibility for taxation to the Scottish Parliament, plans being floated by the British government in the final days of a referendum, are necessarily the way to go. But some devolution of taxing authority can take place. The Scottish Parliament has little power to raise its own revenues – whereas Canadian provinces have a full range of taxation and spending powers. That’s federalism. That’s how strong subnational and national governments can coexist.

Once upon a time in Quebec, the independence option was the choice of the young, as it is in Scotland. That time has passed; most young Quebeckers today do not imagine that their very real economic and social challenges will be addressed by drawing a new border. But it took us a half-century to get to this point. The same can happen for you, too.

So, dear cousins from beyond the seas, here is our advice and our plea: Stay in the United Kingdom. Let time pass and passions subside. Make changes happen, but within the U.K. And meet us back here in, say, 2040. You can take the U.K. apart then, if you still want to. We think you will not. And we know this: If you take it apart now, you can never, ever put it back together again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 14 Public Diplomacy Review

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."

--Henry Kissinger; image from


Background Briefing En Route to Ankara, Turkey - Special Briefing, Senior State Department Officials, En Route to Ankara, Turkey, September 12, 2014 - "MODERATOR: We’re on our way to Ankara, Turkey. We’re going to do a backgrounder to preview our trip there ... QUESTION: Hi. Can you tell us any more about progress on counter-extremism messaging? You told us in the call the other night that that was going to be a priority. Do you have any specific commitments or anything you can tell us on that front? ... MODERATOR: Yeah. One thing I would just add ... is that one of the reasons that Rick Stengel came, our Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, is to talk about – yes, I know, but for the purposes of the transcript – it was to talk about this issue and kind of hear what many of these countries were saying.

And this is something that he has been and will continue to be engaged in moving forward. So it wasn’t the focus of the meeting, but it certainly is a continuous conversation." Image from

Anti-Islamic State Egypt Cleric Opposes U.S. War on Group [September 14] - Alaa Shahine, "Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, will visit the Middle East this month to work with governments and news organizations against giving favorable coverage to Islamist militants, said a U.S. official who asked not to be identified because the trip hasn’t been announced. Among the steps being considered are efforts to raise the profile of leading Muslim clerics and scholars who oppose the Islamic State, the official said."

Hancher's Yarrow to participate in online cultural diplomacy presentation: The U.S. Department of State is hosting a Google+ Hangout on the power of music diplomacy "Jacob Yarrow, programming director for the University of Iowa’s Hancher, will participate in a conversation about cultural diplomacy hosted by the U.S. Department of State. Hancher is a participant in the Department of State’s Center Stage program, which brings musicians from around the world to the United States to engage with American audiences and communities.

On Mon[day], Sept. 15 at 2 p.m., Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Even Ryan will lead a Google+ Hangout on the power of music diplomacy to connect local and global communities in the United States and around the world. Members of the public can participate by joining the Hangout." Yarrow image from entry

Hoba Hoba Spirit Opens DC Leg of US Tour at Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage - Elisabeth Myers, [September 10]: "Hoba Hoba Spirit, a Casablanca-based band, played to a full house last night for the second concert of its US tour, at the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage in Washington, D.C. Incorporating traditional Moroccan instruments such as qarqaba (Moroccan metal castanets) and darbouka (dumbek/drum) into their original rock music, and singing in Darija (Moroccan Arabic), English and French, Hoba Hoba Spirit’s seven members play Morocc’n Roll, a mixture of homegrown roots, rock, and reggae, with the rythmic swagger of North Africa. The band’s energy and irreverance got the crowd on its feet dancing to the North African beat. The band has a repeat performance at Bossa Bistro in DC tonight. Mara Tekach, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges at the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, introduced the band. Representatives of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, Driss Alaoui, Counselor, and Yasmina Ait Lahri of the Cultural Section, attended the concert.

Also attending was Stacy White, Cultural Programs Division Chief for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 'Morocco appreciates the State Department’s Center Stage program which contributes so much to international cultural understanding,' said Mr. Alaoui. 'We welcome all of these energetic ambassadors of Moroccan culture, such as Hoba Hoba Spirit, to the US and wish them well on their tour.' The tour is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in conjunction with the New England Foundation for the Arts as part of the Center Stage program. The band has engagements in Seattle, Atlanta, New York, Austin, and Cedar Rapids." Image from entry, with caption: Moroccan band, Hoba Hoba Spirit, opened the second leg of the band’s month-long Center Stage tour to the United States with a concert at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage yesterday." Image from entry, with caption: Moroccan band, Hoba Hoba Spirit, opened the second leg of the band’s month-long Center Stage tour to the United States with a concert at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage yesterday

Voice of America executives took a break at ice-cream social to forget about John Kerry - "Thanks to the power of social media, we have seen photos of Voice of America (VOA) executives, whose six-figure salaries and generous benefits are paid by U.S. taxpayers, relaxing at an ice-cream social

during government office hours on September 9, 2014. While we do not know whether these executives took annual leave to eat ice-cream, the social event

still had to cost U.S. taxpayers plenty of money and staff time while Voice of America was not making adequate arrangements for important news coverage and interviews, including an interview with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry." Images from entry; lower image has caption: Voice of America poster for a bingo night social

The scriptwriter - Mosharraf Zaidi, "[O]ne of the biggest changes in Pakistan is that the state and the idea of the state, have been drained of legitimacy and authority to the point of paralysis.  That single factor is what enables a perpetual stream of invective to be hurled at the country’s institutions, interrupted only by commercial breaks. Parliament is ‘fake’, the judges are ‘sold’, the armed forces are authoring ‘scripts’ and the world is ending! This is the kind of public diplomacy that terror strategists for organisations like Al-Qaeda and the TTP have salivated about for the duration of their existence."

U.K. Embassy accepting scholarship applications - "The British Embassy is now accepting applications from Korean students for the United Kingdom’s Chevening Scholarships until Nov. 15 for the 2015-2016 academic year. North Korean settlers in South Korea are also invited to submit applications for the scholarship, an official at the embassy said. Chevening Scholarships offer the opportunity to study for a one-year master’s degree at any U.K. university, including tuition fees and a monthly stipend. The Chevening Scholarships are awarded to outstanding established or emerging leaders across a wide range of fields, including politics, government, business, the media, the environment, civil society, religion and academia.

The program provides future leaders with a unique opportunity to build a global network of professionals and establish social, cultural, academic and commercial partnerships with Britain, the embassy said. The program operates in 150 countries around the world, and this year will support approximately 1,500 individuals. Around 20 Koreans were selected for the 2014-2015 academic year and an equivalent number of student are eligible for next year, too. The embassy said that the scholarship makes up an important part of its public diplomacy efforts and grants young professionals who have displayed outstanding leadership the opportunity to study in Britain." Image from

Catalan activists look to Scottish campaign as an object lesson - Tobias Buck, “[T]the Catalans are determined to turn Scotland’s independence referendum into a precedent for their own struggle: the regional government in Barcelona says it will hold a regional plebiscite on Catalonia’s political future less than two months later, on November 9. ‘It was feasible in the UK. It was feasible in Canada. So it should be feasible here in Spain,’ says Albert Royo, the secretary-general of Diplocat, the Catalan body that handles public diplomacy.”

Michael Poole Attends Islands Developing States Meeting - "MLA Michael Poole is currently overseas attending the United Nations Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa. The theme for the conference is ‘the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States

through genuine and durable partnerships.’ ... The SIDS conference concludes on Thursday 4th September, after which MLA Poole and Mr Rendell will spend time in the Pacific region carrying out public diplomacy." Image from

Buffalo Bill lecture set for Sept. 24 in Bozeman - MSU News Service, "Buffalo Bill will be put in transatlantic context when historians from Montana State University and the Netherlands team up to present a free public lecture on the showman Wednesday, Sept. 24, in Bozeman. MSU professor Robert Rydell and Utrecht University professor Rob Kroes will discuss 'Buffalo Bill in Bologna and Beyond from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Baxter Hotel at 105 W. Main St. ... William F. Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, and his Wild West troupe toured England and Europe several times between 1887 and 1906.

The show appeared twice in cities and towns across Italy. Buffalo Bill played the Vatican in 1890, and a delegation of his performers met with Pope Leo XIII. He was the hit of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887 and of the Paris Universal Exposition in 1889. By 1906, when the Wild West show returned to Bologna, Italy, Cody was no stranger to Europeans. ... In their Bozeman lecture, Rydell and Kroes will reflect on the show’s significance, especially for the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific worlds. The Wild West shows always featured cowboys and Indians, but what is often overlooked is that the show also featured performers from Russia, Japan, South America and the Middle East. By the end of Buffalo Bill’s career, when he joined forces with another showman, Pawnee Bill, the show was billed as the 'Far East and Far West.' 'Was this show just for fun?' the professors ask. 'Or, should it be taken more seriously as a form of public diplomacy?'” Image from entry, with caption: MSU and Dutch historians will present a Sept. 24 lecture on Buffalo Bill. (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Did EC president Juncker break protocol by tapping Muscat’s head? He is the President of the European Commission so he will touch your head if he wants to... - Kris Bonnici, [scroll down link for item]: "Making a good impression is important. ... Before founding Diplomatic Envoy Consultancy, Kris was a career diplomat. He worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta, in the Protocol and Consular Services Department, and then spent tours of duty in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Serving as Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy in Cairo and Canberra, his diplomatic duties included protocol and etiquette and public diplomacy."


White House still seeking coalition in Mideast war - Charles Babington and Lara Jakes, For the last week, Secretary of State Kerry has traveled across the Mideast, to Turkey and finally Paris, to pin down nations on what kind of support they will give to a global coalition. But Kerry has refused to detail what countries have committed. He said some nations are still

deciding whether their contributions will target foreign fighters or financiers helping the militant group, send more humanitarian aid to Syrian and Iraqi refugees, mount a propaganda campaign to decry the extremists’ brand of radical Islam or join a military mission. Image from entry, with caption: Sailors prepare to launch aircraft from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Sept. 13 in the Arabian Gulf

When Doves Cry: Why would we trust U.S. intelligence about anything, including the lack of an ISIS threat? - Ron Fournier, "What is the enduring lesson of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when the Bush administration overestimated and, in some cases, exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein? Some say it's to be skeptical of government officials who are making the case for war. I say the legacy should be skepticism toward government officials, period – all of them. Their hidden agendas can shade the case for peace as well as war, which might explain why there's no consensus among so-called experts about the threat posed today by ISIS. ... Some people understandably assume that the U.S. government, aided by a compliant media, is overselling the threat. ... According to this school of thought, evidence of a successful propaganda campaign lies in polls showing that 90 percent of Americans consider ISIS a serious threat. In other words, the American people are lemmings. How arrogant. My fight is with the small number of people – hawks and doves alike – who've already hardened their views on the nature of the ISIS threat and the best way to confront it, and who cherrypick officials' assessments to support their biases."

What ISIS Is Trying to Achieve With Their Slick Videos - James Phillips, ISIS aims to horrify Americans to discourage increased U.S. military involvement in combating the Islamic State. But there also was another target audience: supporters and potential recruits for that terrorist movement. The slickly-packaged jihadist propaganda seeks to stimulate and galvanize members of the movement, spur potential recruits to join in the carnage and incite additional terrorist attacks against the United States.

Obama's anti-IS strategy: Difficult Task in Challenging Region - James Reinl, America’s 154 airstrikes so far have struck mostly IS sitting ducks in wide-open Iraqi deserts. That will change when the targets are command centers and bases in IS-run cities of Iraq and Syria, and we see military mishits like those that dent US credibility in Afghanistan. The IS, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL, has a slick public relations division. You Tube videos of dead children being pulled from burning schools in Raqqa would be potent propaganda tools for extremists. It will look like Hamas holding out against Israel.

Beheading Shows Just How Bad U.S. Intelligence Has Become - Michael Rubin, Neither the United States nor United Kingdom has much of an idea about where its citizens are being held hostage. Given the importance to ISIS of its propaganda campaign, this means in turn that the United States and United Kingdom likely have little to no idea about where high-value ISIS targets are.

I’m Not Afraid of ISIS - Chris Ernesto, "I live down the street from the US Capitol. If ISIS struck in the belly of the beast, my family and I would likely be negatively impacted. But I’ve never lost a minute of sleep worrying about it, and I never will. Not because I’m 'tough' but because I’m not a pawn of the government controlled media that misleads Americans into accepting Obama’s propaganda to 'scare' us into more war."

US Will Use “ISIS Airstrikes” in Syria as Aircover for Rebels, Hit Syrian Military Targets - Patrick Henningsen, We’ve been observing US airstrikes overseas for a few decades now, long enough to understand

the reality beyond Pentagon propaganda. Not to be naive, expect that the US will certainly use any air strikes in Syria to offer real time air intel to the rebels, provide air cover, and create much-needed corridors for the FSA Syrian rebels. Image from entry

Tactic of terror: What’s behind the gruesome strategy of the Islamic State? - "Another video portraying the beheading of a foreign hostage was released Saturday by the Islamic State. What's behind this gruesome strategy? Tom Sanderson from the Center for Strategic and International Studies joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the issue. ... TOM SANDERSON:... At this point in the current state of the battle, the U.S. can hit ISIS with impunity: we’ll have drones in the battle, we have aircraft now — we don’t need boots on the ground — so ISIS can’t hit back and bleed us, but they can through our civilians, through the reporters, through NGO workers, humanitarian workers or whatever. So this to them levels the plain field to some degree. It’s also about revenge, clearly — the orange Gitmo jumpsuit is about hitting back, and it’s very difficult to strike the U.S., so this gives them that opportunity to satisfy that need of actually inflicting the pain on the West. ... That brings me to ... the recruitment element, the propaganda tool. And this is very satisfying for young men who come from countries where they are marginalized, where they are subject to harsh treatment, where they feel denuded and impotent. And this gives them a sense of power that they are probably never had before."

he American who coordinates the Islamic State’s online propaganda efforts... - The American who coordinates the Islamic State’s online propaganda efforts was caught on tape by the FBI in 2006 plotting “peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches” from “culinary school” — code for terrorist attacks and training camps.

ISIS may have 24 western hostages including Britons and even jihadists who changed their minds - Steve White, The videos of the decapitated David Haines, James Foley and Steven Sotloff are unlikely to show their actual murders, but have instead been released as “propaganda,” it has been claimed.

‘Act of Pure Evil’: ISIS Video Depicts Beheading of British Hostage - Ken McIntyre, Steven Bucci, director of Heritage’s Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, addressed the propaganda motives of this latest ISIS murder of a hostage, which follows the beheadings in recent weeks of two U.S. journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. “This is unlikely to drive a wedge between the U.S. and our strongest ally, the UK,” Bucci said. “It is obvious that ISIS does not remember other attempts to intimidate the British people — Hitler and the terror bombing of London, for example.”

UK Muslims 'need to do more to stop fanatics' [scroll down ink for item]: Signatories to a letter to David Cameron from a coalition of organisations and imams admit that UK Muslims need to do more to dissuade their young men from being misled into taking part in the extremist group rampaging through Syria and Iraq's "hatred and poison. Sughra Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Britain, told the Observer: "These extremists aren't us. This isn't the Islam that we recognise. But we need to do more than just say 'not in our name, not for our faith'. We need to work together and make sure that these fanatics don't get the propaganda that they feed off."

Father of Australian Islamic State fighter warns parents to be vigilant about extremist behaviour - Allan Clarke and Mohamed Taha, Thousands of people attended the community barbecue, Muslims Love Australia, in Lakemba in Sydney's south-west on Sunday. Event organiser Jamal Rifi said the gathering was organised to quell the pressure the local Muslim community was feeling, by inviting the wider community to break down misconceptions over food. 'We have different faiths, colours and races all here to enjoy an Australian barbecue,' Dr Rifi said.

Dr Rifi said many young Australians were being drawn into the conflict by IS propaganda on social media. 'My message to our young people is 'Imam YouTube' and 'Shaykh YouTube' want your head,' he said. 'They are attacking you to attract to a war that is non-Islamic. What they are doing is barbaric — it has nothing to do with Islam." Image from entry, with caption: Muslims Love Australia organiser Jamal Rifi (centre) with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison at the event.

Say ‘no’ to war and media propaganda - AGB/HRJ. "[The] decision by the United States/NATO to create a high readiness force with the alleged purpose of countering an alleged Russian threat reminds me of the war propaganda of lies, half-truths, insinuations and rumors to which we were all subjected in order to try to soften us all up for the Iraq war and subsequent horrific wars of terror which were carried out by NATO allied forces."

Russian TV Softens Rhetoric on Ukraine - The Moscow Times: Russian television news broadcasts have softened their rhetoric with reference to Ukraine in recent weeks, having shied away from referring to the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev as a "junta," according to Medialogia research company.

In fact, the term "junta" has not been mentioned in this context since Sept. 4. Ekho Moskvy radio's deputy editor Vladimir Varfolomeyev posted a graph on Sunday, compiled by Medialogia, illustrating a drastic change in Ukraine rhetoric on the government-leaning television channels, some of which have faced accusations in the past of having disseminated propaganda. Image from entry, with caption: Most Russian television channels began to refer to the Ukrainian central government in Kiev as a junta after former President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February.

N.K. calls on Seoul to stop propaganda leaflets - North Korea on Saturday denounced South Korea’s recent proposal to hold high-level talks, saying that Seoul should first stop all anti-Pyongyang hostile activities, including floating propaganda leaflets into its territory, before making such a “deceptive” offer.

Wartime film idol, propaganda tool Rikoran dies at 94 - Film idol Yoshiko Yamaguchi, who was known as Rikoran and symbolized Japan’s dreams of Asian conquest, has died at the age of 94. Known as Shirley Yamaguchi in the United States and one of the biggest Japanese film stars during and after World War II, Yamaguchi died of heart failure Sept. 7, according to NHK.

Born to Japanese parents in northern China in 1920 and raised in Japan’s wartime puppet state of Manchukuo, Yamaguchi was adopted by a Chinese friend of her father and was renamed “Xianglan,” or “Fragrant Orchid,” when she was 13. She debuted as a Chinese singer Li Xianglan — Rikoran in Japanese — and starred in Chinese-language films made by the Japanese-run Manchurian Cinema Association, many of them propaganda movies. Uncaptioned image from entry

Hitler's final moments uncovered and how the Daily Express reported his death 69 years ago - Dominic Midgley, Whenthe Daily Express reported the death of Adolf Hitler, it refused to dignify his passing with a picture on its front page and in a box entitled "Obituary" said: "The Daily Express rejoices to announce the report of Adolf Hitler's death. The front page dated May 2, 1945 - two days after what is now acknowledged to be the day of Hitler's death - reports that the Hamburg radio station that broadcast the announcement spent one and a half hours telling its listeners to stand by for grave news and played a piece by Hitler's favourite composer Wagner, Twilight Of The Gods, part four of the Ring Cycle known in German as Gotterdammerung.

When it came to the detail of the announcement the Nazi propaganda machine exhibited its customary mendacity: "Adolf Hitler has fallen this afternoon in his command post in the Reich Chancery fighting to his last breath for Germany against Bolshevism." One element of the Daily Express's coverage offers a revealing insight into the propaganda tricks employed by both sides - the Allies as well as the Nazis. It notes that Hitler was born with the surname Shickelgruber. This is now believed to have been the work of psychological warfare experts keen to belittle the Fuhrer using all means possible, including by attributing to him a name that sounds slightly ridiculous to British ears. In fact, while Hitler's father had been born out of wedlock to a woman called Shickelgruber (or Schicklgruber), his paternal grandparents later married and the Nazi leader's father legally changed his name to Hitler 12 years before his son Adolf was born. Image from entry


Athens 2004 Summer Olympics Main Fountain Entrance

From: 30 Haunting Photos Of Abandoned Olympic Stadiums. It's Scary To Think Sochi May Be Next...; via MV on Facebook

What separatists in Scotland can teach us about separatists in Ukraine

From Russian Direct

Sep 12, 2014

If the Scots vote for independence from the United Kingdom on Sept. 18, that could have interesting implications for the way we think about the separatists in Eastern Ukraine and the complex historical relationship between Russia and Ukraine. 
Republican writing supporting the Yes vote in the Scottish Referendum. Photo: AP / Peter Morrison
Europe could have a new state by the end of the year. Separatists in one corner of Europe appear to be gaining the upper hand in their bid for independence as they tap into complex feelings and emotions that have formed over centuries.
If this separatist movement spirals out of control, some fear it could roil the oil markets and raise concerns about nuclear weapons getting into the wrong hands. And that could have enormous implications for NATO, the EU and the way we think about the right to national self-determination across Europe.
No, it’s not Novorossiya we’re talking about here – it’s Scotland, which is voting on whether or not to declare independence from the United Kingdom on Sept. 18.
The notion of Scotland declaring its independence from the United Kingdom – a surreal dream only two years ago – is now a very real possibility. According to the latest polls, 51 percent of Scots (including Sir Sean Connery) now favor separation from the United Kingdom. This remarkable turn of events in Scotland – a surge of public support for independence that caught the U.S. napping – could help us understand the crisis in Ukraine in three important ways.
First and most importantly, the situation in Scotland could help us understand why Russia feels the loss of its empire so acutely and why Russia values Ukraine so much. Replace “Scotland” with “Ukraine” and “Great Britain” with “Russia” in any op-ed about the Scottish independence vote and you have a surprisingly spot-on description of what people in Russia feel about Ukraine. 
It’s easy to see why many Brits aren’t so pleased about Scotland’s potential rejection of the United Kingdom. Adam Taylor of The Washington Post recently detailed all the ways that losing Scotland could turn out to be exceptionally painful for the Brits. 
For one, you’d have to change the term “Great Britain” to something like “Little Britain.” That hurts. Then, you’d have to create a new flag. In doing so, you’d have to rethink what it means to be British in areas ranging from sports to culture to politics. And you’d have to worry that other constituents of the United Kingdom – like tiny NATO-friendly Wales – might also launch independence movements of their own.
Secondly, the emerging situation in Scotland could help Russia-watchers to understand that there’s a huge difference between calling people “separatists” and “terrorists.” Would anybody call people voting for Scottish independence “terrorists”? What happened after the Kiev Maidan was a spiral of violence that’s only possible when inherent needs for national self-determination are not being met. All of a sudden a word like “separatists” mutated into “rebels” and “terrorists” in Kiev’s proclamations.
This is not to suggest that the same chain of events could happen in Scotland if a vote for independence is somehow subverted after Sept. 18 – only that something supposedly simple – like voting for an Association Agreement – carries very weighty consequences. For example, some people have already speculated that British Prime Minister David Cameron could be forced out of office if the Scots vote for independence. Who could have seen that coming?
By voting for independence from the United Kingdom, Scotland’s separatists are not rejecting capitalism and they are not rejecting London – they just feel that they can do a better job of governing their own affairs. It’s all about national identity and cultural pride and regional autonomy
The same factors – to a much greater and more volatile degree, of course – are at work in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Yet, we focus on the “little green men” and conspiracy plots hatched in Moscow instead of the hundreds of thousands of displaced Ukrainians who are voting with their feet and moving to Russia.
Finally, Scotland’s separatists can help us understand the way forward in Ukraine if the ceasefire holds. What would a “federalism” solution actually look like – and would it be sustainable? There’s a lot for Scotland to work out if it actually does declare independence, everything from how government institutions will work to practical everyday matters like what a Scottish national currency would look like.
And, as Vox pointed out in its Scotland explainer, “Those are just the technical questions – the new government would also need to develop a tax structure, fund its social-welfare platform, and make decisions about immigration and a host of other policy questions.”
If all this works out as the separatists plan, Scotland could provide a Western-approved template for Ukraine. It could help to determine the immediate consequences of granting greater autonomy to regions such as Donetsk and Luhansk. It could provide guidance for bigger, more macro issues – everything from whether or not Ukraine would join NATO and what the border between Russia and Ukraine would look like.
Would it ever be possible to have joint Ukrainian and Russian citizenship? Would Ukraine become monocultural or bicultural?
All of this is really just a thought experiment – like talking about Washington’s debt problems in the same terms as if the U.S. were a banana republic. 
The backers of the Scottish separatist movement claim that this is a once-in-a-generation vote, and that if the vote fails – they will abandon it once and forever. The ads for the “Yes” and “No” campaigns for independence show prosperous families and housewives, not masked separatists or tent encampments. In short, there is no risk of armed conflict. There is no concern about London playing a sinister role in Glasgow to squelch independence.
But this thought experiment is nonetheless interesting for showing us what we’re not thinking about when we think about Ukraine. We’ve been so conditioned to thinking about Ukraine through a Cold War filter that we’re using the same heuristics as 25 years ago to understand what’s going on now in Ukraine.
We see only two rival blocs – NATO vs. Russia – engaged in a winner-take-all confrontation; the reappearance of a new Iron Curtain between Russia and the West; a return of realpolitik in geopolitics; and a clash of civilizations between Russia and Europe.
We instinctively see any vote for independence in Ukraine as a vote between two very different systems (capitalism vs. communism, democracy vs. authoritarianism).
Maybe, just maybe, the Scottish separatist vote will change our views and force us to abandon the old Cold War thinking. Just as the U.S. was caught napping on Scotland, it was caught napping on Ukraine. From here on out, the new thinking about the parameters of Euro-Atlantic security will have to take into account emerging separatist movements – not just within the former Soviet Union but also within the former United Kingdom.
The opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect the position of Russia Direct.

Scottish independence could mean messy divorce: A look at 5 key issues

Scottish independence could make for a messy divorce
A view of a 'Welcome to Scotland' sign at the Scottish border, Scotland Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. (AP / Scott Heppell)




Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Published Sunday, September 14, 2014 8:38AM EDT 
LONDON (AP) -- How do you divorce after a 300-year union? It's complicated, and there is a deadline.
If Scots vote yes to separation on Thursday, a clock starts ticking down to March 24, 2016 - the independence day declared by the Scottish government.
The British and Scottish administrations have agreed that they will recognize the outcome of the referendum and appoint negotiators to work out the details of separation "in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom."
But there is disagreement on many issues, and only 18 months to redraft laws, establish international agreements and work out relationships with international organizations.
Robert Hazell, head of the Constitution Unit at University College London, says that is an "impossible timetable," and estimates it could take up to three years to hammer out the details.
Some of the key issues:
Dividing the assets
The Yes and No campaigns have very different assessments of Scotland's financial picture, including its share of Britain's national debt and North Sea oil reserves.
The pro-independence Scottish government says Scotland would be entitled to 90 percent of Britain's oil wealth - based on divvying up the two countries' waters - but only liable for about 8 percent of its 1.3 trillion pound ($2.1 trillion) national debt, based on its share of the U.K. population.
The British government disputes this, pointing out that Scotland has higher per capita public-sector spending than England and so is more indebted.
Scottish independence leader Alex Salmond has signaled he could play hardball.
Country clubs
Salmond says that Scotland wants to remain in the United Nations, the European Union and NATO, and he anticipates little difficulty in keeping those seats.
Opponents say re-admission cannot be guaranteed. NATO, in particular, may be perturbed by Salmond's promise to remove nuclear weapons from Scottish territory.
That's not so much a problem for Scotland - nuclear weapons are not a membership requirement - as for Britain, whose entire nuclear arsenal is based aboard submarines at the Faslane naval base in western Scotland.
Adm. Mark Stanhope, a former head of the Royal Navy, has said that moving the weapons "would add a dangerous period of destabilization in our nuclear defense posture at a time when the international picture is clearly deteriorating."
The Royal United Services Institute, a military think-tank, estimates that moving the weapons could cost several billion pounds (dollars) and take until 2028. In the shorter term, Salmond may seek to use the base as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Britain.
Opponents of independence also say the loss of Scotland would sharply reduce Britain's clout on the world stage. It could endanger its place in the G-7 group of wealthy industrialized nations and its seat on the United Nations Security Council, although Salmond says Scotland would support Britain in efforts to keep the security council seat.
The currency question
The day after an independence vote, the pound sterling will remain Scotland's official currency. The Scottish government wants to keep it in the long term as well - as a key prop of stability amid the uncertainty independence would bring.
British officials and bankers say it's not that simple. Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said that "a currency union is incompatible with sovereignty."
Salmond thinks the British government is bluffing. He says "a common-sense agreement on a common currency" is in everyone's best interest.
Another unknown is whether businesses will pull out of Scotland. Financial institutions including the Royal Bank of Scotland and insurance giant Standard Life have announced plans to transfer some operations south of the border to ensure they remain part of British tax and currency systems.
Salmond says these are administrative measures and that the firms will keep most of their thousands of jobs in Scotland - but only time will tell.
Drawing a border
At the moment only a blue-and-white billboard informs motorists and train passengers that they have passed from England into Scotland, and border checks will not be set up the day after an independence vote.
Salmond said there is "no danger" of such border formalities, saying Scotland would become part of the passport-free Common Travel Area Britain operates with the Channel Islands and the Republic of Ireland.
He says Scotland, like Britain, will be a member of the EU. But opponents say membership cannot be guaranteed; countries such as Spain, that face strong secessionist movements, may be uneasy about quick recognition.
If Scotland remains outside the EU - or if Britain leaves, as some London politicians wish - there may be no alternative to border checks. Britain could also take umbrage if Scotland adopts much more liberal immigration policies.
Scots will be getting different passports if they opt for independence, even if they don't need them to cross the border. The Scottish government says all British citizens living in Scotland will automatically be considered Scottish citizens, as will Scotland-born Britons who live elsewhere. They will be able to apply for Scottish passports from independence day in 2016, and would be allowed to retain dual Scottish and British nationality.
Keeping the Queen
One thing both sides agree on - Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be the Scottish monarch after independence.
Scotland and England shared a monarch for a century before they united politically in 1707, and the queen remains head of state in Canada, Australia and several other former British colonies.
The queen will keep her Balmoral estate in Scotland, the royal family's traditional summer-vacation destination.
Many other symbols of state are up for grabs. Scotland will likely adopt the Saltire, a blue-and-white flag that already flies alongside the Union Jack over government buildings in Edinburgh.
The red, white and blue British flag combines the emblems of its member regions, including England's red-and-white Cross of St. George and Scotland's blue. A redesign of the iconic banner may be in order.

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