Monday, September 30, 2013

September 29 Public Diplomacy Review

"[I]t's got no propaganda in it. And I think they like that. It's just a pure, simple soap opera."

--Associated Press Asia correspondent Tim Sullivan, explaining why North Koreans read Gone with the Wind, which came to North Korea in the 1990s;  image from, with caption: Korean-American and B singer Lena Park lights up this Gone With the Wind homage in the arms of the Clark Gable impostor.


(a) Yes and Yes Abroad - "The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, provides scholarships for secondary school students (age 15-17) from countries with

significant Muslim populations to spend one academic year in the United StatesScholarships for the YES Abroad Program are also available to U.S. citizens attending high school (age 15-18) to spend one academic year in select countries."

(b) Sports Diplomacy in Motion -


A Conversation With Hassan Rouhani [interview] - Council on Foreign relations:

"Rouhani (through translator): Among the programs that the government has considered seriously is to ensure that people must have sufficient access to information, and that in the access to information, they will -- can benefit from the various ideas around globally, get a sense of what it is globally, and, of course, just as I also said in an interview, any country, when it comes to the virtual world, has some moral and ethical frame of reference that it tries to keep up and preserve. And in the same token, the Islamic Republic of Iran expects that its ethical framework, the frame of reference for approaching the virtual world, is preserved. But at the same time, to expand the opportunities for our people, to access information globally, we are interested in seeing nations have closer relations with each other. Perhaps to bring Iran and the United States closer, the initial steps may likely have to be taken by the people. They have to start it, very likely. If an environment is created where the -- you know, the exchanges are done easily, more easily Iranians can come here more easily and people from here can go to Iran more easily, then this will be actually create a public diplomacy venue that will also expand the overall diplomatic activities and the extra steps that we need to take." Image from

US-Iran: Inching Towards Détente - Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh, "The pace of developments in Iran's foreign policy has been very high during the last week of September 2013. Iran's effort to take the best advantage of the general atmosphere at the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly led the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to put his power and the power of his foreign policy team in the area of bilateral and multilateral relations, especially public diplomacy, to the first test. Many domestic and foreign analysts believe that he has successfully passed that test. ... In the midst of diplomatic exchanges, the cultural measure taken by the United States for giving the historical Silver Griffin back to Iran was also a symbolic step taken

to demonstrate Washington’s goodwill which should not be easily ignored. ... During the entire past 34 years, contacts between the two countries did not go beyond insignificant cultural exchanges, encounters in sports fields, or sitting at the same table for indirect negotiations, which were also limited to the two countries’ ambassadors or deputy ministers (and even that took place only once). A comparison between the recent developments and what happened in the past will clearly reveal the huge importance of the recent steps taken to shatter this age-old taboo. ... Sharp remarks made by certain American officials, which are meant for propaganda purposes and are aimed at consoling Israel or initiating a new round of arms sales to regional states, can ... increase suspicions and pessimism on the side of Iranian officials." Image from

Iran sees tourism as effective means of public diplomacy - “'I would like to emphasize once more the great significance of tourism as one of the most important means of public diplomacy that can help create relations and interactions among nations and lead to cultural proximity and mutual understanding of cultures and traditions,' Iran's President Rouhani

said while addressing a conference on tourism. Tourism as one of the most effective means of public diplomacy can help improve interactions between nations and lead to peace and fraternity, said Iran's president on Sunday. ... Iran is expected to attract some 20 million foreign tourists by 2025, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said last month. 'We can reach that level (in attracting foreign tourists) if we work on scientific, religious and health tourism,' Iranian Permanent Ambassador and Delegate to UNESCO Mohammad Reza Majidi told Tasnim. Iran's '20-Year Vision' document projects investment of over $32bln in the country's tourism sector. The document also predicts that Iran will be able to attract two percent of international tourists by 2025." Image from entry

Iran-Syria Bashing - Stephen Lendman, "WaPo [Washington Post] editors don't explain. They focus instead on bashing Iran unjustifiably. 'Mr. Rouhani was in New York on Tuesday not because democracy triumphed in Iran but because Iran’s real leader decided to give the soft-sell strategy a try,' they said. 'A genuine renunciation of the capacity to build a weapon, and the acceptance of international controls that would enforce that commitment, looks far-fetched. The danger is that, in the fevered atmosphere generated by Mr. Rouhani's skillful public diplomacy, the United States and its allies will be induced into further, unwarranted concessions - or deluded into believing that a 'grand bargain' is possible with Iran.' ... WaPo's hostility shows what Rohani faces. Decades of good faith efforts failed."

Iran President Hassan Rouhani Live-Tweeted His Historic Call With Obama - Slade Sohmer, Quotes former State Department Internet guru Alec Ross:

  1. A logical and necessary next step is for @HassanRouhani to announce an end to blocking social media in Iran.
Rouhani cannot justify using Twitter for public diplomacy if he denies his citizens the right to use it.

Israel's Cassandra moment: Israel must find more effective and less shrill ways of making the case for caution, vigilance, and strength regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions – or risk being left alone and unheeded - David Harris, "Israel succeeded in helping galvanize the world’s attention to the imminent threat of the Iranian nuclear program. Yet now there are new faces in Iranian public diplomacy, figures who complicate a tableau made starkly simple by the combative and offensive former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. ... Rouhani and Zarif [Foreign Minister Javad Zarif] are on the move, employing social media, their fluency in English, initiating public appearances galore, and participating in marathon diplomacy to send a message of engagement, openness, and moderation.

And, no doubt, they sense they have at least one other card to play – the belief that the West really does not have the appetite for confrontation with Iran, with its built-in risk of military conflict. ... So, unless Israel wants to continue to find itself largely alone on the world stage, it will have to find new ways to make its case, so that it is not just talking to itself and its supporters." Image from article, with caption: The Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran.

Experts Agree: Interim Accord is a Bad Deal for Israel: At roundtable discussion, experts say unilateral Israeli moves would be a mistake, and would only teach the Palestinians not to compromise - Arutz Sheva, "Several Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center research associates agree that an interim accord or unilateral Israeli moves would be a mistake, and would only teach the Palestinians not to compromise. ... The panel included ... Prof. Eytan Gilboa, an expert on American-Israeli relations, U.S. policy in the Middle East, American and Israeli politics, public opinion, international communication, and public diplomacy. ... Gilboa: Israel needs to launch a well-organized global public diplomacy campaign to explain Palestinian inability and unwillingness to sign a peace accord with Israel." Image from entry, with caption: London rally for 'peace'

What Jewish leader is willing to take up the opportunity Rouhani has provided? - Marc H. Ellis, "DICKERSON3870 says: September 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm RE: 'Yesterday Iran’s President Rouhani continued to discuss history’s political topic of topics, the Holocaust. There isn’t another historical event in the world that engenders such political discussion.' ~ Marc Ellis MY COMMENT: Israel and its supporters have turned the Holocaust® into nothing more than a litmus test. Everyone (excepting Palestinians, who are not at all welcome) is expected to go on bent knees (with wreath in hand) to Yad Vashem (ironically built within full view of Deir Yassin) to provide a photo op for Israel’s 'public diplomacy'! ! !"

UN Matters For US –- OpEd - Keshav Prasad Bhattarai, "Amid Syrian Crisis, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin employing public diplomacy in a skillful way, made an exceptional appeal to the American people on Syrian Crisis with an article that was published in The New York Times. The day the article published [September 11], was itself a most sensitive and painful day for American people. Putin’s idea worked. It saved Barack Obama and United States from a war that could endanger American interest more critically in already an unpredictable region at a time when United States has already begun to suffer from its huge cuts in its defense spending.
Vladimir Putin’s direct appeal to American people and Congress members worked."

Vladimir Putin, Syria and Why the UN Security Council still matters - Martin Sieff, "[P]ure vintage Russian foreign policy. ... I first encountered this tradition in the post-Cold War world while attending the 1998 Wehrkunde, or War Studies Conference in Munich as a member of the U.S. delegation.

These days it has expanded and transformed itself into the Munich Security Conference and has become a global media platform for the leaders of RussiaChinaIndia and other nations to wage their public diplomacy before a world-spanning audience. ... The fundamental Russian concern over Kosovo in 1998 was exactly the same as Putin’s argument against unilateral U.S. intervention in Syria today." Image from article, with caption: Putin: Unilateral Syria strike would up-end world order.

Vladimir Putin: Master Of The World’s Greatest Imitation Democracy - Nick Kosturos, "Putin’s contradictions are too many to count. He holds elections only to rig them. He praises the impartiality of the Russian judicial system, and then uses it to jail political opponents. He projects himself as a world peacemaker and continues to support murderous regimes. He expresses a desire for public diplomacy but constantly stimulates anti-foreigner sentiments among his people. He worships state sovereignty and then uses obstructionist tactics to bully other nations into economic and military cooperation."

Voice of America English and Russian News Ignores Walesa Human Rights Award for Khodorkovsky - BBGWatcher, "As a further example of how mismanaged and provincial the Voice of America (VOA) has become, the U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcaster for overseas audiences has failed to report on Sunday (as of 5PM Washington, DC time – 11PM Gdansk, Poland ) that the son of Russia’s imprisoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky accepted a human rights award for his father from Solidarity leader, Nobel Peace prize laureate and Poland’s former

President Lech Walesa, who turned 70 today. The $100,000 Walesa Human Rights Award was announced on Thursday, but the Voice of America also missed the news on Thursday on both its English and Russian news websites." Image from entry, with caption: Lech Walesa Photo from 2002 Voice of America Interview

BBG Governor Susan McCue Nominated to Millennium Challenge Corporation Board - BBGWatcher, "We hope that the new BBG Chairman Jeff Shell and other new BBG members will have enough determination to continue the reforms which are desperately needed to save U.S. international broadcasting, particularly at the Voice of America (VOA). Most of the problems, for which the BBG Board is often blamed in the media and by public figures such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who herself was an ex officio BBG member, can be traced to the permanent IBB executive staff that has not changed in many years despite record low employee morale, as measured by the OPM, and many embarrassing scandals, some affecting U.S. public diplomacy and America’s image aboard."

Facebook entry and comment:
Speaking of rocket science... the Chinese are now building what US the used to build (and abandoned)
Chinese engineers are proposing a Moon rocket more powerful than the Saturn V of the Apollo missions and matching the payload of NASA's planned Space ...
Like ·  ·  · about an hour ago · 
  • Ben Davis Yes, with stolen U.S. tech at that!
  • John Brown On a "hearts and minds" level, the Chinese are now building what the US used to build -- "public diplomacy" as implemented by the now defunct USIA. How they -- a souped-up Saturn V and late 20th-century US PD -- are applicable/relevant in our new century is of course open to question.

See also.

Seeing Through Perception Management - Greg Guma, "[A] concerted effort to influence public opinion ... would soon be labeled 'perception management' in a Defense Department manual. Basically, this tactic involves both conveying and denying information 'to influence emotions, motives, and objective reasoning.' The goal is to influence both enemies and friends, ultimately to provoke the behavior you want. 'Perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations,' according to DOD.

In the Reagan years this type of operation was euphemistically labeled 'public diplomacy,' which was officially expanded to include domestic disinformation during the Bush I administration. In those days it was mostly about stoking fear of communism, the Sandinistas, Qaddafi, and anyone else on Reagan’s hit list. Clinton modifications were outlined in Directive 68, which still showed no distinction between what could be done abroad and at home. When Bush II took office, the name was changed again, this time to 'strategic influence.'" Image from entry

Sex Jihad and Ill-fated Tunisian Women - "Al Arabiya is known for being an arm of Saudi foreign policy or what can be termed as public diplomacy weapon. It is seen as being part of ‘a concerted Saudi attempt to dominate the world of cable and satellite television media in the Arab world’. Barack Obama gave his first formal interview as president to Al Arabiya delivering the message to the Muslim world that US is not the enemy of the Arab people."

Korea opens mobile science lab at DU - "South Korea has inaugurated a mobile science laboratory at Dhaka University whose members will visit different schools to make science education popular. State Minister for Science and Technology Yeafesh Osman opened the lab on Wednesday and lauded Korea’s role in Bangladesh’s development particularly in the modern technology.

Korea’s development arm, KOICA supported development of the lab with the help of the Hanyang University in Korea. Ambassador Lee Yun-young said his government 'always recognizes Bangladesh as one of top priority countries in the region'. He cited ‘friendly’ relations between the two countries in the last 40 years of diplomatic ties. Korea is celebrating its 40 years relationship with Bangladesh this year with intense public diplomacy. Earlier, it inaugurated a ‘Korea corner’ at Dhaka University Central Library to help students studying Korea. Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddiqui acknowledged KOICA’s contribution at his university and hailed the ‘friendship’." Image from

Green sees vast opportunities for British exporters in KSA - Rashid Hassan, "A technology partnership between Saudi e-commerce firm 3Omlati and UK tech firm Ixaris was signed Wednesday in the presence of UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Green, who is in Riyadh to boost bilateral trade and investment. The deal will allow 3Omlati to use Ixaris' cloud-based payment software. 'The minister visited the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) for a discussion of science and technology collaboration and the signing of a technology partnership between Ixaris, a UK firm, and 3Omlati, a Saudi company, a public diplomacy and communications official at the British Embassy in Riyadh told Arab News."

Welcome to MOFA: the false ceiling is gone! Women diplomats carved a niche for themselves in top echelons and their rise continues - Qudssia Akhlaque, Ms Leena Moazzam holds the post of director-general Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy . ... Pakistan Foreign Service opened to women only in 1973 as a result of the 1972 Administrative Reforms but so far no government has appointed a woman foreign secretary. However, given the steady rise of competent and committed women professionals in the top hierarchy and on the frontlines of diplomacy, the prospects of Pakistan having its first woman secretary are not remote."

Comedy Club: Callous Comedian Cuffed For Clocking Correspondent Over Twitter Punch Lines - "Beastly behavior. Comedian performing at Wednesday night’s DC’s Funniest Celebritypunches Daily Beast/Newsweek scribe Josh Rogin after Rogin tweeted nasty about his performance

And he wasn’t joshing.  UK Daily Mail. Josh Rogin Facebook commenter: Maybe you could take on a 'safe' job as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs … A slam at TIME mag’s managing editor Richard Stengel who just defected to the aforementioned Obama gig." Rogin image from entry. See also

International Conference on Media in Transformation: Exploring Role of ICT, Innovative Communications, and New Media - "Can a better world be achieved via better communication education? This is a perpetual question concerning communication researchers and practitioners over centuries. It is our vision that free and balanced communication between communities, nations, and civilization is the path to a peaceful and prosperous world.

Public diplomacy can be a potential means to achieve this. Public diplomacy is closely related to the development of each individual. It is also interrelated with community and global contexts. ... The 6th GCRA International Conference aims to provide a forum where researchers, practitioners, media workers, trainers and students can engage in a comprehensive dialogue exploring the role of ICT, strategic communications and new media in democratization." Image from entry

Contemporary History: Whither American Seapower?, Oct. 3 - "The Contemporary History Institute speaker series presents Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Seth Cropsey on the current state of America’s maritime defense strategy, 'Whither American Seapower?,' on Thursday, Oct. 3 . ... During the period that preceded the collapse of the USSR—from 1982 to 1984—Cropsey directed the editorial policy of the Voice of America on the Solidarity movement in Poland, Soviet treatment of dissidents, and other issues. Returning to public diplomacy in 2002 as director of the U.S. government’s International Broadcasting Bureau, Cropsey supervised the agency as successful efforts to increase radio and television broadcasting to the Muslim world."

Diplomat advises for global careers - Chuck Mason, "Michael McClellan, a senior foreign service officer for the U.S. State Department, is about to retire from a profession 'he just fell into.' The Bowling Green area native has 29 years of public diplomacy under his belt in 11 different embassies around the globe. However, when he was in his mid-20s, pursuing a doctorate, he didn’t really have a clue what he wanted to do. McClellan spoke Thursday evening at Gary Ransdell Hall on Western Kentucky University’s campus about 'Successful Careers in the Age of Globalization,' sponsored by the WKU Honors College. ... McClellan told the students there were 13 qualities they could seek in themselves that will not only prepare them for a possible career in foreign service, but also increase their opportunities for success: composure; cultural adaptability; ability to integrate information; apply initiative; exercise judgment; discern what is appropriate, practical and realistic; objectivity and integrity; oral communication; planning and organizing; tracking trends seen in data; resourcefulness; the ability to work with others; and written communication. 'You have to be ready for unanticipated circumstances,' he said."

Historical Dictionary of American Propaganda Martin Joseph Manning Herbert Romerstein 2004 - "Review [:] 'Dictionaries are usually dry but useful resources for moments of uncertainty, Martin Manning, a research librarian in the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, has created an uncharacteristic volume that tells an intriguing story of U.S. and some foreign propaganda. More than a dictionary, it reads like an encyclopedia and, for those so inclined, is worth reading from front to back....[p]rovides a wealth of information, some of which cannot be readily found elsewhere, and is a useful resource for researchers interested in propagandas role in American history."

Urgently required: Finance Officer (full time) Education Partnership Outreach Services - "Finance Officer (full time) – "Education Partnership Outreach Services Full time position Position open to Indonesian Nationals only URS is the managing contractor of the Education Partnership Outreach Services (EPOS), providing project management and technical support. The objective of EPOS is to deliver a public diplomacy and outreach program that will ensure Australia’s profile as a partner supporting Indonesia’s education development goals are both visible and recognised."


Bashir denied US visa; Sudan angry - AP, The Sudanese Foreign Ministry summoned the US charge d’affaires in Khartoum to protest Washington’s failure to grant a visa to the country’s president, who faces war crimes charges, media reported Saturday. President Omar Bashir requested the visa to attend the UN General Assembly in New York. The charges are linked to the bloody conflict in the Darfur region.

“It is with deep regret that I inform you of the refusal of the authorities of the United States, the host government, to give an entry visa to President Bashir and his delegation,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti told the UN General Assembly. Bashir image from entry

The Mystery of Washington's Waning Global Power - Dilip Hiro, TomDispatch: In the future, the indecent haste with which Barack Obama sought cover under the umbrella unfurled by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Syrian chemical weapons crisis will be viewed as a watershed moment when it comes to America’s waning power in that region.

Al Qaeda opens first official Twitter account - Bill Gertz, An official al Qaeda website that is restricted to members of the terrorist group opened its first Twitter account this week in what U.S. officials say is an effort to resolve a major split over Syria’s Islamist rebels.

The Shamukh al-Islam website, used as an official clearing house for al Qaeda members to communicate and issue propaganda statements, started its first Twitter account on Tuesday. Image from article

Brian Williams' Iran propaganda: The NBC star tells his viewers that Iranian leaders are 'suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons', even though they've been saying it for years - Glenn Greenwald, Guardian: NBC News feels free to spout such plainly false propaganda regarding Iran - "suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons!" - because they know they and fellow large media outlets have done such an effective job in keeping their viewers ignorant

Children killed for Anti-Syria Chemical Weapons Propaganda [September 22] - Finian Cunningham, Several reports have tied the involvement of Saudi, Turk and Israeli intelligence with the supply of toxic chemicals to the foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria for the Western agenda of regime change against the government of President Assad. These intelligence agencies are closely aligned with those of the US, Britain and France.


Spying on lovers at the NSA | USA NOW video -; imagefrom


The U.S. ranks 99th in peacefulness -


I’ll Have What She’s Thinking  - William J. Broad [sic], New York Times: At Rutgers University scientists have repeatedly had female volunteers put their heads into giant machines and focus their attention on erotic fantasies — the scans reveal that the pleasure centers of their brains light up

in ways indistinguishable from everyday orgasms. At Rutgers, Dr. Komisaruk expanded his research to brain scans. In 2003, the first images confirmed the earlier study. Pleasure centers lit up more or less identically whether the women reached sexual highs by hand stimulation or by erotic thoughts. Image from


--Александр Сенников (Sennikov) via IK on Facebook

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Public Diplomacy as a Global Phenomenon: South Korea/ Bangladesh

Korea opens mobile science lab at DU - Senior Correspondent,

South Korea has inaugurated a mobile science laboratory at Dhaka University whose members will visit different schools to make science education popular.

State Minister for Science and Technology Yeafesh Osman opened the lab on Wednesday and lauded Korea’s role in Bangladesh’s development particularly in the modern technology.

Korea’s development arm, KOICA supported development of the lab with the help of the Hanyang University in Korea.

Ambassador Lee Yun-young said his government “always recognizes Bangladesh as one of top priority countries in the region”.

He cited ‘friendly’ relations between the two countries in the last 40 years of diplomatic ties.

Korea is celebrating its 40 years relationship with Bangladesh this year with intense public diplomacy.

Earlier, it inaugurated a ‘Korea corner’ at Dhaka University Central Library to help students studying Korea.

Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddiqui acknowledged KOICA’s contribution at his university and hailed the ‘friendship’.

September 28 Public Diplomacy Review

"Stengel is Obama's new propaganda chief."

--Commenter ahandout regarding Time editor Richard Stengel’s recent decision to leave his managing editor post at Time magazine and become undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs; image from


Iran’s messenger has changed. Its message has not - Robert Menendez and Lindsey O. Graham, Washington Post: "Robert Menendez, a Democrat representing New Jersey in the Senate, chairs the Foreign Relations Committee. Lindsey Graham, a Republican representing South Carolina in the Senate, is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. We remain skeptical about Tehran’s intentions. Iranian leaders are skilled negotiators with expertise in delay tactics and obfuscation. Yet to ignore the overtures coming from Iran during this period of furious public diplomacy would have been imprudent, especially when a peaceful resolution preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capability is the outcome we all aspire to achieve. ... As [Iranian President] Rouhani returns home, diplomacy remains our hope and goal. But our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged."

Lake Titicaca - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Lake Titicaca! I love to say it, and yes, I am 12 years old. It looks like I am heading to Bolivia

after Venezuela next spring to do some Hawaiian cultural diplomacy there. Such as teaching Bolivians in bowler hats to hula!" Image from entry

Azerbaijani political scientist: Authorities accuse opponents of sympathy for Armenians but talk about public diplomacy - "Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbul oglu stated that they need to 'continue looking for common ground between Armenians and Azerbaijanis' . ... According to the Azerbaijani political analyst Zafar Guliyev, the ambassador’s statements are certainly agreed with the authorities. ... ['] I am positive about the possibilities of the public diplomacy if they are initiated by the people, public officials. However, it is not effective when these games are held by the power structures,' the expert said."


Oral diplomacy at its best - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "Dental workers of various faiths and nationalities come together in the interest of peaceful international relations - Stanley M. Bergman and Dr. Amid I. Ismail, USA Today"

Now, the Hard Part - Editorial, New York Times: The Iranians haven’t actually done anything to satisfy concerns about their nuclear program. In fact, Mr. Rouhani has repeatedly affirmed Iran’s plans to continue enriching uranium. Moreover, it is hard not to worry about how crushing, and possibly dangerous, the disappointment will be if the two countries fail to settle differences over Iran’s nuclear program and begin to build a new relationship beyond that. Below image from

Charmed by Rouhani, but only to a point:The Iranian president's message was refreshing. Now comes the hard work - Doyle McManus, The main message to the U.S. and the rest of the world of Hassan Rouhan, Iran's new president, was undeniably refreshing: Iran wants to work quickly and seriously to end the dangerous confrontation over its nuclear programs. For all the haziness of Rouhani's rhetoric, at least one of his bromides was true: This is a window of opportunity, and we should seize it — if only to determine whether there's substance behind the charm.


--Everything Wrong With America In One Simple Image (INFOGRAPHIC)


Four Catholic men and a Catholic woman were having coffee. The first Catholic man tells his friends, "My son is a priest, when he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father'."

The second Catholic man chirps, "My son is a Bishop. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Grace'."

The third Catholic gent says, "My son is a Cardinal. When he enters a room everyone says 'Your Eminence'."

The fourth Catholic man then says, "My son is the Pope. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Holiness'."

Since the lone Catholic woman was sipping her coffee in silence, the four men give her a subtle, "Well?" She proudly replies, "I have a daughter, slim, tall, 38D breast size, 24-inch waist and 34-inch hips... When she walks into a room, people say, "Oh My God!”

--Via SL by email; image from

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why it's time to put college football/basketball coaches on food stamps rather than pay them outrageous "public employees" salaries

Everything Wrong With America In One Simple Image (INFOGRAPHIC); see also John Brown, "Food Stamps and Funeral Homes," Notes and Essays

How the NSA promotes international understanding ...

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens - By JAMES RISEN and LAURA POITRAS, New York Times

WASHINGTON — Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a “contact chain” tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the N.S.A.’s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the agency’s operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation’s intelligence court or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of the potential for the “misuse” of such information without adequate safeguards.

An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans’ data, said, “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.”

“All of N.S.A.’s work has a foreign intelligence purpose,” the spokeswoman added. “Our activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity.”

The legal underpinning of the policy change, she said, was a 1979 Supreme Court ruling that Americans could have no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called. Based on that ruling, the Justice Department and the Pentagon decided that it was permissible to create contact chains using Americans’ “metadata,” which includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails, but not their content. The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

N.S.A. officials declined to identify which phone and e-mail databases are used to create the social network diagrams, and the documents provided by Mr. Snowden do not specify them. The agency did say that the large database of Americans’ domestic phone call records, which was revealed by Mr. Snowden in June and caused bipartisan alarm in Washington, was excluded. (N.S.A. officials have previously acknowledged that the agency has done limited analysis in that database, collected under provisions of the Patriot Act, exclusively for people who might be linked to terrorism suspects.)

But the agency has multiple collection programs and databases, the former officials said, adding that the social networking analyses relied on both domestic and international metadata. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the information was classified.

The concerns in the United States since Mr. Snowden’s revelations have largely focused on the scope of the agency’s collection of the private data of Americans and the potential for abuse. But the new documents provide a rare window into what the N.S.A. actually does with the information it gathers.

A series of agency PowerPoint presentations and memos describe how the N.S.A. has been able to develop software and other tools — one document cited a new generation of programs that “revolutionize” data collection and analysis — to unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible.

The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation’s adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.

Phone and e-mail logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people’s friends and associates, detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter.

“Metadata can be very revealing,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person’s cellphone is going to allow to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

The N.S.A. had been pushing for more than a decade to obtain the rule change allowing the analysis of Americans’ phone and e-mail data. Intelligence officials had been frustrated that they had to stop when a contact chain hit a telephone number or e-mail address believed to be used by an American, even though it might yield valuable intelligence primarily concerning a foreigner who was overseas, according to documents previously disclosed by Mr. Snowden. N.S.A. officials also wanted to employ the agency’s advanced computer analysis tools to sift through its huge databases with much greater efficiency.

The agency had asked for the new power as early as 1999, the documents show, but had been initially rebuffed because it was not permitted under rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that were intended to protect the privacy of Americans.

A 2009 draft of an N.S.A. inspector general’s report suggests that contact chaining and analysis may have been done on Americans’ communications data under the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, which began after the Sept. 11 attacks to detect terrorist activities and skirted the existing laws governing electronic surveillance.

In 2006, months after the wiretapping program was disclosed by The New York Times, the N.S.A.’s acting general counsel wrote a letter to a senior Justice Department official, which was also leaked by Mr. Snowden, formally asking for permission to perform the analysis on American phone and e-mail data. A Justice Department memo to the attorney general noted that the “misuse” of such information “could raise serious concerns,” and said the N.S.A. promised to impose safeguards, including regular audits, on the metadata program. In 2008, the Bush administration gave its approval.

A new policy that year, detailed in “Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis,” authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could use such information “without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants,” according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.

After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½ years “to great benefit,” according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in November 2010 in “Sigint Management Directive 424” (sigint refers to signals intelligence).

In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists.

Analysts were warned to follow existing “minimization rules,” which prohibit the N.S.A. from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a “U.S. person” — a citizen or legal resident — for actual eavesdropping.

The N.S.A. documents show that one of the main tools used for chaining phone numbers and e-mail addresses has the code name Mainway. It is a repository into which vast amounts of data flow daily from the agency’s fiber-optic cables, corporate partners and foreign computer networks that have been hacked.

The documents show that significant amounts of information from the United States go into Mainway. An internal N.S.A. bulletin, for example, noted that in 2011 Mainway was taking in 700 million phone records per day. In August 2011, it began receiving an additional 1.1 billion cellphone records daily from an unnamed American service provider under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows for the collection of the data of Americans if at least one end of the communication is believed to be foreign.

The overall volume of metadata collected by the N.S.A. is reflected in the agency’s secret 2013 budget request to Congress. The budget document, disclosed by Mr. Snowden, shows that the agency is pouring money and manpower into creating a metadata repository capable of taking in 20 billion “record events” daily and making them available to N.S.A. analysts within 60 minutes.

The spending includes support for the “Enterprise Knowledge System,” which has a $394 million multiyear budget and is designed to “rapidly discover and correlate complex relationships and patterns across diverse data sources on a massive scale,” according to a 2008 document. The data is automatically computed to speed queries and discover new targets for surveillance.

A top-secret document titled “Better Person Centric Analysis” describes how the agency looks for 94 “entity types,” including phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses. In addition, the N.S.A. correlates 164 “relationship types” to build social networks and what the agency calls “community of interest” profiles, using queries like “travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage, employs.”

A 2009 PowerPoint presentation provided more examples of data sources available in the “enrichment” process, including location-based services like GPS and TomTom, online social networks, billing records and bank codes for transactions in the United States and overseas.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, General Alexander was asked if the agency ever collected or planned to collect bulk records about Americans’ locations based on cellphone tower data. He replied that it was not doing so as part of the call log program authorized by the Patriot Act, but said a fuller response would be classified.

If the N.S.A. does not immediately use the phone and e-mail logging data of an American, it can be stored for later use, at least under certain circumstances, according to several documents.

One 2011 memo, for example, said that after a court ruling narrowed the scope of the agency’s collection, the data in question was “being buffered for possible ingest” later. A year earlier, an internal briefing paper from the N.S.A. Office of Legal Counsel showed that the agency was allowed to collect and retain raw traffic, which includes both metadata and content, about “U.S. persons” for up to five years online and for an additional 10 years offline for “historical searches.”

James Risen reported from Washington and New York. Laura Poitras, a freelance journalist, reported from Berlin.