Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 30-31 Public Diplomacy Review

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Via MT on Facebook


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

Public Diplomacy as a Global Phenomenon: Japanese Diplomat wrestles in Sudan

Sudanese-Japanese Friendly Wrestling Match on 25th October 2013 - Sudan Vision

At the presence of Japanese Ambassador, Ryoichi Horie and his staff of the Embassy,  a friendly wrestling match between a Japanese Diplomat, Mr. Yasuhiro Murotatsu, Head of Culture and Information section, known as Barefoot Diplomat Muro, and a Sudanese wrestler, Mr. Saleh Omar Bol Tia Kafi Known as Al-Mudiriya, took place on 25th  October, in Haj-Yousf in the outskirt of Khartoum. “Al-Mudiriya” defeated “Muro” again.
It was Mr. Muro’s 5th challenge as he wrestled against Mr. Dahiya on 8th FEB, Mr. Ahmad Shabaka on 3rd May and 5th July, and Al-Mudiriya on 23rd August, 2013 respectively.  With regard to his continuous challenges to Sudanese wrestlers despite his successive defeats , Mr. Muro said about the reasons behind his challenges as follows:
I believe that sports could boost good relationship between Sudan and Japan on the grassroots level. In this context, Japanese-Sudanese friendly wrestling matches can be considered as one of the successful examples of public diplomacy that create and foster great impression among Sudanese people toward Japan and the Japanese people. This is one of our missions as a diplomat. Sudanese audience welcomed me very warmly whenever I entered into the Sudanese wrestling ring. I hope my participation showed my great respect for them and I am thankful of the enthusiastic welcome I received from Sudanese people. Tokyo, Japan, will host the Olympic and Paralympics games in 2020. I, personally, hope my challenges to the Sudanese wrestling could encourage Sudanese wrestlers to challenge to the modern wrestling internationally. I have experienced and witnessed that Sudanese wrestlers are strong and I believe they have enough potential to compete with wrestlers in the world.  
Furthermore, I wanted to attract attention from the public to the precious Sudanese traditional wrestling and its culture. Sudanese wrestling is originated from the Nuba Mountains in the South Kordofan. It has been practiced, preserved and respected for thousands years and is regarded as one of the oldest styles of the wrestling in the world. Due to this cultural value and Sudanese people’s support and enthusiasm, now even international media as well have started covering the event. I think Sudanese wrestling is worth earning reputation and being supported for further development as one of the precious Sudanese cultures. My role here is to make my challenges a chance for that purpose.
I hope peace and stability will be achieved throughout Sudan including Nuba Mountains where Sudanese wrestling was originated. I will be very happy if many Sudanese from different parts and from different tribes come to Haj Yousef to support my opponent Sudanese wrester against a foreign, a Japanese wrestler. As we can see in the Olympics or World Cup games, sports could boost a sense of national unity under the one national flag. National identity is important to build an unified nation. I hope my challenge as a foreign wrestler will help Sudanese people to recognize their own identify, and peruse peace in Sudan.

By Press Release, 1 day 20 hours ago  

As Interest Fades in the Humanities, Colleges Worry

As Interest Fades in the Humanities, Colleges Worry
By TAMAR LEWIN, New York Times

STANFORD, Calif. — On Stanford University’s sprawling campus, where a long palm-lined drive leads to manicured quads, humanities professors produce highly regarded scholarship on Renaissance French literature and the philosophy of language.

They have generous compensation, stunning surroundings and access to the latest technology and techniques of scholarship. The only thing they lack is students: Some 45 percent of the faculty members in Stanford’s main undergraduate division are clustered in the humanities — but only 15 percent of the students.

With Stanford’s reputation in technology, it is no wonder that computer science is the university’s most popular major, and that there are no longer any humanities programs among the top five. But with the recession having helped turn college, in the popular view, into largely a tool for job preparation, administrators are concerned.

“We have 11 humanities departments that are quite extraordinary, and we want to provide for that faculty,” said Richard Shaw, Stanford’s dean of admission and financial aid.

The concern that the humanities are being eclipsed by science goes far beyond Stanford.

At some public universities, where funding is eroding, humanities are being pared. In September, for example, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania announced that it was closing its sparsely populated degree programs in German, philosophy, and world languages and culture.

At elite universities, such departments are safe but wary. Harvard had a 20 percent decline in humanities majors over the last decade, a recent report found, and most students who say they intend to major in humanities end up in other fields. So the university is looking to reshape its first-year humanities courses to sustain student interest.

Princeton, in an effort to recruit more humanities students, offers a program for high school students with a strong demonstrated interest in humanities — an idea Stanford, too, adopted last year.

“Both inside the humanities and outside, people feel that the intellectual firepower in the universities is in the sciences, that the important issues that people of all sorts care about, like inequality and climate change, are being addressed not in the English departments,” said Andrew Delbanco, a Columbia University professor who writes about higher education.

The future of the humanities has been a hot topic this year, both in academia and the high-culture media. Some commentators sounded the alarm based on federal data showing that nationally, the percentage of humanities majors hovers around 7 percent — half the 14 percent share in 1970. As others quickly pointed out, that decline occurred between 1970, the high point, and 1985, not in recent years.

Still, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences issued a report this spring noting the decreased funding for humanities and calling for new initiatives to ensure that they are not neglected amid the growing money and attention devoted to science and technology.

In The New Yorker in August, the writer Adam Gopnik argued for the importance of English majors. The New Republic ran an article, “Science Is Not Your Enemy,” by Steven Pinker, a Harvard cognitive scientist. A few weeks later came a testy rebuttal, “Crimes Against Humanities” by Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, rejecting Dr. Pinker’s views on the ascendancy of science.

“In the scholarly world, cognitive sciences has everybody’s ear right now, and everybody is thinking about how to relate to it,” said Louis Menand, a Harvard history professor. “How many people do you know who’ve read a book by an English professor in the past year? But everybody’s reading science books.”

Many distinguished humanities professors feel their status deflating. Anthony Grafton, a Princeton history professor who started that university’s humanities recruiting program, said he sometimes feels “like a newspaper comic strip character whose face is getting smaller and smaller.”

At Stanford, the humanists cannot help noticing the primacy of science and technology.

“You look at this university’s extraordinary science and technology achievements, and if you wonder what will happen to the humanities, you can be threatened, or you can be invigorated,” said Franco Moretti, the director of the Stanford Literary Lab. “I’m choosing to be invigorated.”

At Stanford, digital humanities get some of that vigor: In “Teaching Classics in the Digital Age,” graduate students use Rap Genius, a popular website for annotating lyrics from rappers like Jay-Z and Eminem, to annotate Homer and Virgil. In a Literary Lab project on 18th-century novels, English students study a database of nearly 2,000 early books to tease out when “romances,” “tales” and “histories” first emerged as novels, and what the different terms signified. And in “Introduction to Critical Text Mining,” English, history and computer majors use R software to break texts into chunks to analyze novels and Supreme Court rulings.

Dan Edelstein, the Stanford professor who ran this summer’s high school program, said that while it is easy to spot the winners at science fairs and robotics competitions, students who excel in humanities get less acclaim and are harder to identify.

“I got the sense from them that it’s not cool to be a nerd in high school, unless you’re a STEM nerd,” he said, using the term for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

True, said Rachel Roberts, one of his summer students.

“I live in Seattle, surrounded by Amazon and Google and Microsoft,” said Ms. Roberts, a history buff. “One of the best things about the program, that made us all breathe a sigh of relief, was being in an environment where no one said: “Oh, you’re interested in humanities? You’ll never get a job.”

For university administrators, finding the right mix of science and humanities is difficult, given the enormous imbalance in outside funding.

“There’s an overwhelming push from the administration at most universities to build up the STEM fields, both because national productivity depends in part on scientific productivity and because there’s so much federal funding for science,” said John Tresch, a historian of science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, since the recession — probably because of the recession — there has been a profound shift toward viewing college education as a vocational training ground.

“College is increasingly being defined narrowly as job preparation, not as something designed to educate the whole person,” said Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies.

While humanities majors often have trouble landing their first job, their professors say that over the long term, employers highly value their critical thinking skills.

Parents, even more than students, often focus single-mindedly on employment. Jill Lepore, the chairwoman of Harvard’s history and literature program, tells of one young woman who came to her home, quite enthusiastic, for an event for students interested in the program, and was quickly deluged with messages from her parents. “They kept texting her: leave right now, get out of there, that is a house of pain,” she said.

Some professors flinch when they hear colleagues talking about the need to prepare students for jobs.

“I think that’s conceding too quickly,” said Mark Edmundson, an English professor at the University of Virginia. “We’re not a feeder for law school; our job is to help students learn to question.”

His university had 394 English majors last year, down from 501 when he arrived in 1984, but Professor Edmundson said he does not fret about the future. “In the end, we can’t lose,” he said. “We have William Shakespeare.”

But for students worrying about their own future, Shakespeare can seem an obstacle to getting on with their lives.

“Students who are anxious about finishing their degree, and avoiding debt, sometimes see the breadth requirements as getting in their way,” said Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

Many do not understand that the study of humanities offers skills that will help them sort out values, conflicting issues and fundamental philosophical questions, said Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College.

“We have failed to make the case that those skills are as essential to engineers and scientists and businessmen as to philosophy professors,” he said.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29 Public Diplomacy Review

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

--Franklin D. Roosevelt; FDRimage from


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Hitler finds out about Obamacare Exchange Problems -


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

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


--From; via MT on Facebook