Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 24-25 Public Diplomacy Review

"the NSA has to 'make RAS' — that is, to show 'reasonably articulable suspicion."

--Jack Riley, vice president of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Rand Corp. and director of the Rand National Security Research Division; image from


"Inspiring oral history of the impact of cultural and educational exchange between South Africa and the United States during apartheid. For almost forty years, under the watchful eye of the apartheid regime, some three thousand South Africans participated in cultural and educational exchange with the United States. Exposure to American democracy brought hope during a time when social and political change seemed unlikely. In the end the process silently triumphed over the resistance of authorities, and many of the individuals who participated in the program later participated in South Africa’s first democratic elections, in 1994, and now occupy key positions in academia, the media, parliament, and the judiciary. In Outsmarting Apartheid, Daniel Whitman, former Program Development Officer at the US Embassy in Pretoria, interviews the South Africans and Americans who administered, advanced, and benefited from government-funded exchange. The result is a detailed account of the workings and effectiveness of the US Information Agency and a demonstration of the value of 'soft power 'in easing democratic transition in a troubled area."  Text and image from

"[From] the Author of Land of the Firebird [:] 'She is the greatest student I know of the Russian people.' - Ronald Reagan diary, May 20, 1986 [.] For the first time, Suzanne Massie, the 'woman who ended the Cold War,' shares the inside story of her interactions with Ronald Reagan that led to the transformation of America’s relationship with its most dangerous adversary. Reagan turned to Massie for her advice and carried her suggestions — including the now famous Russian proverb — 'trust but verify' — into his meetings with the new Russian leader." Text and image from


Al-Jazeera America Anchor at USC First Monday Program - "Joie Chen, anchor of Al Jazeera America’s prime-time evening news show America Tonight, will be the featured guest at the February 3 'first Monday' lunch program at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C. The program is free, but reservations are required by e-mail to acpowell [at] usc [dot] edu. Chen has been the anchor of America Tonight since it first aired in August 2013. She earlier worked as a correspondent with CBS News and CNN. American Foreign Service Association is located at 2101 E Street NW in Washington, D.C. (Metro: Foggy Bottom). The program runs from 12:00 noon to 1:20 pm, and is organized by the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and Public Diplomacy Council."


[LISTEN] The State of Canadian Public Diplomacy - In Canada, internal public diplomacy agenda-setting is being overshadowed by economic and social media diplomacies - "Michael Ardaiolo discusses the state of Canadian public diplomacy and its shift toward social media engagement with David Carment. David Carment is a full Professor of International Affairs at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University and Fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI). He is also a NATO Fellow and listed in Who’s Who in International Affairs. In addition Professor Carment serves as the principal investigator for the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy project (CIFP)."


In the past, your Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review has been provided to subscribers by email via the Google "feed-burner" service. Your compiler has just been electronically informed, however, that the "PDPBR" (or at least one of its editions) has been relegated to "junk"-email by hotmail. If you are on hotmail and a kind subscriber wishing to receive the PDPBR via this "feed-burner"  service, you might want to check your daily hotmail "junk mail." Image from


In flap with UN, a chance for the US to look tough on Iran - Michael Wilner, "Washington's surprise at the UN inviting Iran to the Geneva II summit allowed the Obama administration a chance to look tough in public on Iran. ... Entering Geneva with sub-zero expectations, a public row with the UN over Iran might have been interpreted as a win-win opportunity for the US. The Obama administration had a chance, however hallow, to look tough, in public, on Iran. US officials demonstrated their ability to stick to a policy line previously laid before the international community on a significant issue. And they appeared ready to bear significant cost for enforcing it: the sacrifice of a major peace conference, months in the making.

Over the past several months, during negotiations over its nuclear program, the White House has learned the value of public diplomacy on Iran. 'I think the politics of trying to look tough on Iran are often good when you’re running for office or if you’re in office,' US President Barack Obama said at a press conference in December. The alternative would have been unfortunate: the altogether cancellation of a conference that is not likely to produce anything, anyway. But for once, the blame would have fallen at the feet of the secretary-general. Given the alternatives, the US could do worse." Image from

No, Social Media Will Not Solve Syria's "Social Media Civil War" - Jessica McKenzie, "The Syrian peace talks got off to a rough start Wednesday in MontreuxSwitzerland, with the New York Times reporting 'sharp divisions' between the Syrian factions, as well as Russia and the United States, causing friction early on in the proceedings. So far, it does not appear as though social media will somehow interfere to save the day. I say that, somewhat facetiously, only because last week diplomats, NGOs, academics and developers met in Sweden for the Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy (SIDD).

At a TedX event staged in conjunction with SIDD, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs—and digital diplomacy advocate—Carl Bildt spoke optimistically about the power of social media as an instrument of peace. Bildt expounded on 'How internet makes it easier to save the world': [‘]Diplomacy is essentially about communication -- human minds getting together to share information and change the way in which we think, act and do. Thus diplomacy is about changing behaviour, it's about informing and creating better opportunities that might not have been there before. Can we save the world? At least we can change things. Diplomacy is about communication between nations and we live, thank god, in a much more open world where the voice of individual people means much more. Governments are becoming more open than used to be the case, thus public diplomacy and digital is becoming more important. It's about getting to the pulse of what's happening. ['] Sweden's English-language paper ‘The Local’ reported that Bildt called the Syrian conflict ‘the world's first social media civil war.’ On Twitter, the reporter confirmed the comment." Image from entry

Meeting the Challenge of Chinese Expansionism on the East Asian Littoral - Dean Cheng, "Over the past several months, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has exploited more and more tools to reinforce its claims over much of the East Asian littoral. The intended Chinese message seems clear: Administratively, militarily, diplomatically, and economically, the East Asian littoral is under Chinese dominance. ... American Policy Responses ... Increase public diplomacy efforts. While Confucius Institutes are established throughout the world, well-stocked with multimedia materials extolling the virtues of the PRC and well-funded with Chinese support, American efforts at public outreach, including strategic communications and information dissemination, are far less visible. Given regional suspicions of China, American public diplomacy would generate a positive return on investment. There needs to be more outreach to the broader Asian public to foster better understanding of the U.S. and show American interest in the region. One method would be the creation of more 'American Centers' directly funded by the U.S. government, as well as 'American Cultural Centers' established with American university partners at Asian colleges and universities. ... In light of Beijing’s growing assertiveness, the U.S. needs to make clear to both the PRC and its allies that it will maintain a firm, reliable presence in the region and that this extends beyond mere rhetoric. Moreover, given China’s economic prowess, it is essential that any American response encompass not only military measures but the full array of diplomatic and positive economic levers as well."

Twitter Diplomacy: Behind The Kennedy Dolphin Tweet - Interview Highlights: R. Nicholas Burns - "On his analysis of Ambassador Kennedy’s tweet about the dolphin hunt [:]

'I think it was smart and very effective of Ambassador Kennedy to do what she did. She didn’t lash out. I thought the tone of what she did was respectful. … You know the United States has a specific view and she was representing the government and she reached a lot more people via Twitter than she would have if she issued some dry public statement on paper from the embassy.' ... On the State Department’s social media strategy [:] 'Of course we all know that Twitter, Facebook, the Internet is a double-edged sword, but there’s no turning back. We live in the 21st century, and the United States has to participate in the 21st century. And diplomacy is no longer a backroom game, you know, of just world leaders talking without reference to the public. And I think Hilary Clinton was one of the first Secretaries of State, along with Condoleezza Rice, to say to the employees of the State Department, ‘You need to be on Twitter, you need to be on Facebook, you need to be out, arguing the U.S. point of view in the public domain.’ So sometimes you get burned, as we did in India, but sometimes you have employees doing the right thing, like Ambassador Kennedy, so you just gotta continue to participate in public diplomacy." Image from entry, with caption: A rare albino calf swims with its mother as bottlenose dolphins are confined in nets by fishermen in Taiji, western Japan, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014

George Tsunis under fire in ambassador confirmation hearings - "Long Island businessman George Tsunis, nominated by President Barack Obama as ambassador to Norway, is facing criticism for a lack of knowledge about the country's government. Tsunis, who switched parties to become a top Democratic fundraiser in the 2012 election, appeared last week before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which is considering his confirmation. ... Tsunis said he planned as ambassador to provide 'support to public diplomacy efforts to reach out to people throughout

Norway and to provide educational exchange opportunities for Norwegians to study in the United States, and expand these opportunities wherever possible.' In 2008, Tsunis gave $50,000 to McCain's presidential campaign but registered as a Democrat in 2009. In the 2012 election cycle, Tsunis raised $988,550 for Obama, said the Center for Responsive Politics. This week, some political blogs in Norway and the U.S. cited Tsunis' testimony in criticizing presidents' practice of rewarding top donors with diplomatic posts. One English-language Norwegian publication, The Leader, said Tsunis showed a 'total ignorance' of the country's government." Image from entry, with caption: John H. Cornell, 1993 | A photo of George Tsunis, of Cold Spring Harbor, who was named ambassador to Norway.

Letting him go - Editorial, "The US has tried the carrot. And they’ve tried the stick. And they’ve tried withholding the carrot. They’re willing to go to all lengths, really, to get Dr Shakil Afridi, the doctor who allegedly helped the US gather intelligence for the Osama Bin Laden operation, free from incarceration. The US Congress recently moved a resolution to withhold thirty-three million dollars for Pakistan till the doctor’s release. But no cigar. The Pakistani government maintains that the matter is sub judice and that Dr Afridi’s release is to be in accordance with the law, not the vagaries of international diplomacy. A valid point of view, which the US would be hard-pressed to fight. ... The US should realize that, despite the dividend it might achieve on the human intel front, the negative feedback for highhandedness is going to be several times over that in terms of public diplomacy."

Lost prison manuscript confirms The Real Mandela - Joel McDurmon, "The Spectator has dropped a bombshell which confirms my previous report, The Real Mandela. Rian Malan’s article 'What a lost prison manuscript reveals about the real Nelson Mandela' debunks to a large degree the liberal-left revisionist history of Mandela’s alleged non-violence—a history bought into even by many conservative and evangelical Christians today. That view is nonsense. The manuscript contains sections revealing that Mandela never changed his views on Marxism, communism, revolution, or even the use of violence—all things whitewashed from the official PC version of Mandela. Not without irony, somewhere in between Mandela’s own original manuscript and the edited version later published as his autobiography, all of those inconvenient truths disappeared from the text. Perhaps also not without irony: the ghostwriter/editor of record for that 'autobiography' is now Obama’s undersecretary for public diplomacy."

Statement – Jaipur Literature Festival- Condemn corporate crimes - "The US government institutions like American Centre have failed to reveal as to why there are some 702 military installations of world’s super power throughout the world in 132 countries along with 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads? We must remember how US Congress that recommended the passage of the US Information and Educational Exchange Act on January 27, 1948 declared that 'truth can be a powerful weapon'.

Drawing lessons from the amendments to the US Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1972 in July 2010 that banned disseminating within the USA any 'information about the United States, its people, and its policies' prepared for dissemination abroad with the aim to engage in a global struggle for minds and wills to bolster its 'strategic communications and public diplomacy capacity on all fronts and mediums – especially online'. This reveals that US government’s relationship with the non US citizens is not healthy." Image from entry

Media cooperation at center of communication minister’s talks in Washington - "El Khalfi met at the headquarters of the department of state US coordinator for international communications and information policy Daniel Sepulveda, the director of the department of state’s press and public diplomacy office Emilia Puma, acting principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs Richard Schmierer and Jennifer Larson, spokesperson in charge of Near Eastern affairs. El Khalfi discussed with the officials the media cooperation program which falls within the framework of the Morocco-USA strategic dialogue which culminated with the official working visit by HM King Mohammed VI to Washington last November.

The Moroccan minister held, earlier in the day, a meeting with vice president of the International Center for Journalists Patrick Butler on the center’s expertize in terms of training and supervising reporters, as well as on means to foster cooperation in the sector of communication, radio and television. El Khalfi also met with president of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai. The meetings were attended by Morocco’s ambassador to the USA Rachad Bouhlal." Image from entry, with caption: Communication minister, government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi held, on Wednesday in Washington, several meetings with officials from the US department of state on means to promote media cooperation.

NSA, Israel, GVEs, Hasbara, and Gun Massacres in the USA and Beyond - Michael Gillespie, "Because broadcast media news outlets in the USA seldom if ever mention Israeli espionage in their news coverage or in their ever more rare investigative reports related to matters of public interest, most Americans are unaware of and unconcerned about Israel as an espionage threat. Nevertheless, Israel has long been at or near the top of the list of nations with active and robust intelligence and espionage programs aimed at the USA and is by far the single worst offender among nations with propaganda campaigns directed at American audiences. Israel calls its public diplomacy efforts hasbara, and it is well-nigh impossible to overstate the influence of Israeli propaganda on American audiences. Likewise, because Israeli leaders and their political and media operatives exercise truly extraordinary influence over them, the vast majority of US elected officials seldom if ever mention the Israeli espionage threat or criticize Israel in any way. ... Israel’s long history of espionage against the United States government on Unites States soil, Israel’s long history of spying on Americans and listening in on Americans’ private conversations – even the communications of FBI counter-intelligence units and the telephone conversations of president of the United States – is largely absent from the thus distorted but crucial public debate about the NSA’s overreaching surveillance programs only because Israel-friendly US politicians and media organizations typically cover up or down play those crimes."

Hamas on Twitter: “You’ve Opened Hell’s Gates on Yourselves” - "Is Twitter going to succeed where all the American presidents and special envoys have failed? Yeah, probably not. I’m sure that would make my friend Peter Lerner’s  [from Lerner’s twitter entry: 40 yo Israeli with British roots. IDF Spokesman for Intl. Media. Love good humor, spiffy and courteous remarks and open minded people.RT ≠ endorsement - JB] public diplomacy job much easier but I’m afraid that for a second there I drifted into a fantasy, sorry about that.

The fact is that hostile social media accounts will continue to pop up like mushrooms after the rain. Homophobic, Xenophobic and other Polyphobic groups will continue to spread hate rather than engage in productive dialogue. Governments and organizations will continue to try to deliver messages according to their agendas. But with all the accounts in the world, they will never reach the impact they desire if they do not step out of their comfort zones and create content worth sharing beyond their natural circles." Image from entry

To each their own no longer applies to China - "Today, China is determined to change the status quo

in the region, to project its values through public diplomacy, and increasingly to link trade and investment with political trade-offs. ... Canberra is behaving as if nothing has changed." Image from entry, with caption: China has lately been more inclined to throw its weight about, leading to the fear that it will insist on the imposition of Chinese values in other countries. 

Human Rights Watch Says Obama Still Violating Privacy Rights: Human Rights Watch says Obama not gone far enough on NSA reforms as the group publishes its annual World Report - "The Human Rights Watch report is also very critical of Russia, calling on the international community not to take part in the prestigious opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. [Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, HRW]: 'It's important that the international community take a lesson from this. To recognize that Putin cares about his image, that stresses the need for public diplomacy as one way to put pressure on Putin to relax this repression, not simply for Sochi but over the longer term. And so we have urged leaders not to play into that strategy. And for the leaders themselves to boycott the opening ceremonies. Not to lend legitimacy to the Putin misrule through their high-level presence.'"

Can Sochi Athletes be Diplomats? - Markos Kounalakis, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "During the Sochi Olympics, there will be plenty more opportunities for athletes to share in peaceful exchange. The infectious Olympic spirit invariably uplifts participants and spectators. But there are as many pitfalls in sports diplomacy as there are potential merits. For every successful pingpong diplomat there is a Rodman waiting in the wings."

Toronto out, is U.S. in for the 2024 Olympics? - Alan Abrahamson, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The American Olympic system is set up differently than everywhere else. Around the world, Olympic sport is largely run by — and funded by — each country’s national government. In the United States, by formal act of Congress, the USOC must be self-supporting — not a dime from the federal government."

Global Think Tanks Index 2013: Does Russia fall behind? - Pavel Koshkin, "Only four Russian think tanks were included in the Top 100: Carnegie Moscow Center (26th), the Institute for World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (32nd), the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy (98th) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), ranked 100th. ... [T]he author of the ranking, James McGann, believes the only way to improve record and influence for Russia's think tanks is to 'actively engage with the top think tanks in the U.S. and in other regions around the world' and 'create both Russian and English version of their websites so scholars and the public can know and engage with scholars at the leading think tanks in Russia,' as he told Russia Direct. Robert Pszczel, director of NATO’s informational office in Moscow, echoes Trenin. 'Such ranking is a good start for discussion,' he told Russia Direct while describing the index as encouraging for those not included in the index to start thinking how to improve their quality and increase influence in the world. Viktor Mizin, Deputy Director at MGIMO’s Institute of International Studies, agrees. 'We have to teach people to write in a certain way [to meet the Western standards of research],' he said. 'We have to create a kind of coordination center.' In addition, Mizin points out to the correlation between the images of countries and the number of leading think tanks. He argues that think tanks should pay much more attention to public diplomacy now. 'Even in comparison with Soviet times, Russia saw a decline in the field of international studies despite the fact we have high-profile think tanks such as IMEMO and Carnegie Moscow Center,' he said. 'Unfortunately, the level of international analysis is declining now. It can be seen in the perception [of Russia] in the U.S. and Europe. From my point of view, the image of Russia is becoming more negative in comparison with the Soviet Union.'” Image from entry, with caption: The 2013 Index of the world's top think tanks attracted attention of Russian pundits

Brave Davis at opening of BFSB International Business and Finance Summit in Georgetown, Exuma - Presentation by The

Honourable Philip Davis, M.P., Acting Prime Minister On the occasion of the Opening Dinner of the BFSB International Business and Finance Summit Georgetown, Exuma 23rd January, 2014 [:] ... Smart Policy: Public Diplomacy and Increased Dialogue [:] A second component of The Bahamas’ survival and growth strategy for the financial services sector is public diplomacy and increased dialogue. The Bahamas Government, led by the Ministry of Financial Services, supported by all other relevant Government agencies have undertaken to champion our financial services industry. The Government of The Bahamas will respond systematically, through all channels available to us, to counter misperceptions about The Bahamas and its financial services industry." Uncaptioned image from entry

Burkina Faso and Cultural Diplomacy - "Cultural diplomacy is known as a type of public diplomacy and soft power that includes the 'exchange of ideas, information, art and other aspects of culture among nations and their peoples in order to foster mutual understanding. ['] Explorers, travellers, traders, teachers and artists can be all considered living examples of informal ambassadors.

Through the interaction of peoples, the exchange of language, religion, ideas, arts and societal structures have consistently improved relations between divergent groups. In 2014, we can see a good example of African Cultural Diplomacy in the little borough of a West African capital city: Ouagadougou." Uncaptioned image from entry

2013: a year in review - "March - Held in São PauloApplying soft power: the Brazilian and British perspectives was the 6th roundtable meeting in our public diplomacy series.

Not just in Mideast, Turkish TV series catch on in China, Russia - Al Arabiya News: "Not only in the Middle East, Turkish soap operas are on the path of expanding their fan base after joining the Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian and Pakistani markets for the first time in 2013. The drama productions have drawn interest from audiences from around the world, in particular, the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia, the Hurrieyat Daily News said. According to the Prime Ministry Office for Public Diplomacy (KDK), the exports of Turkey’s drama sector, which has productions broadcasted in more than 50 countries, have brought $150 million input to the country in 2013. ... Information provided by the Culture and Tourism Ministry states that 'Turkish dramas were sold at a price between $35 and $50 per episode. Today, these prices vary between $500 and $200,000 per episode'”

Martin Scorsese In Conversation - "After Martin Scorsese delivered the 42nd  Jefferson Lecture in April last year, he sat down for a conversation with Jim Leach, the outgoing Chairman of America’s National Endowment for the Humanities, which conducts the lectures. The following is their record of that conversation. ... LEACH: The movie industry is America’s greatest presentation to the world in terms of public diplomacy. For instance, Charlie Chaplin was truly universal. You didn’t have to translate it into any language. SCORSESE: Norman Lloyd, who was a great actor and producer, he worked with everybody: Hitchcock and Welles and Chaplin. He’s in his nineties now."

He was just talking on television the other night on TCM, and he was saying that Chaplin is universal, probably the greatest, because he kind of told the story of the immigrant. And anywhere around the world people could identify with it. Uncaptioned image from entry

UCF Grad Uses Degree for Career in Diplomatic Relations - "The journey to UCF and beyond has had many twists and turns for Stephanie Parenti Giordano, ’11. ... [S]he was accepted into the McNair Scholar Program. Her active engagement with McNair led her to go abroad with a small group of ‘McNairians’ to Croatia for a research exchange, which shifted her focus from Africa to Eastern Europe. She graduated with honors and credits her passion for international relations to her professors at UCF. While a McNair Scholar, she attended an event hosted by the Burnett Honors College’s Director of Prestigious Awards, Nicole Gelfert. At this event, Gelfert shared with the group the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. This fellowship allows students to continue their education in a master’s program with financial assistance in exchange for three years of service with the Foreign Service at the Department of State. With her long-time passion for the Foreign Service and foreign policy, she worked closely with Gelfert to obtain the fellowship while also applying to graduate schools in the East Coast. Through her hard work, Parenti

received the award shortly before graduation and accepted an offer to attend Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. After her first year of graduate school, Parenti accepted the offer to learn in the Office of Central Europe at Main State in Washington, D.C. She quickly became an acting desk officer to Poland as there was high turn-over in the office due to officers going to their next posts. In her position, she conducted a plethora of activities such as writing papers for the newly appointed Ambassador to Poland, clearing the paperwork for his Congressional Hearing, scheduling appointments for the new Deputy Chief of Mission, and assisting in the renegotiation of a Protecting Power in Syria when Poland closed their embassy. During her second year in graduate school, she wrote, defended, and published her research on Alliance Politics in the Former Soviet Union. She also married her ‘grad school sweetheart’, Matthew Giordano. Upon graduating in May 2013, Parenti accepted a position as assistant cultural Attaché in Vilnius, Lithuania as her second training post. Here, she assisted in activities such as speaking with local business people, bringing Americans over to share their culture with Lithuanians, helped build dialogue through an English discussion group, helped with LGBT week planning, and managed a project that would help bring professional development culture to Lithuanian businesses. Parenti began her A-100 training and Orientation as a Public Diplomacy Officer on Sept. 9, 2013.  She has taken and passed the FSOT and FSOA, which makes her eligible for tenure after her three years of service, allowing her to stay in the Foreign Service indefinitely.

Above image from entry; below vulgar image from


Maximalist -- America in the World from Truman to Obama - Maximalist puts the history of U.S. foreign policy in an unexpected new light, while drawing fresh, compelling lessons for the present and future. When the United States has succeeded in the world, Stephen Sestanovich argues, it has done so not by staying the course but by having to change it—usually amid deep controversy and uncertainty. For decades, the United States has been a power like no other. Yet presidents and policy makers worry that they—and, even more, their predecessors—haven't gotten things right.

Sestanovich explores the dramatic results of American global primacy built on these anxious foundations, recounting cycles of overcommitment and underperformance, highs of achievement and confidence followed by lows of doubt. Maximalist unearths the backroom stories and personalities that bring American foreign policy to life. Who knew how hard Lyndon Johnson fought to stay out of the war in Vietnam—or how often Henry Kissinger ridiculed the idea of visiting China? Who remembers that George Bush Sr. found Ronald Reagan's diplomacy too passive—or that Bush Jr. considered Bill Clinton's too active? Via LJB, Image from entry

S’more Please! A snapshot of life in Utah - Laura is a student from the Netherlands living with her host family in Utah. The following is a translated excerpt from her personal blog back to her Dutch family and friends. …We have a new fireplace here in our house, but we didn’t have a whole lot of firewood. So, we went to a place about two hours away to pick some up. It was really the sort of house you see in the movies; a bearskin rug, a deer head, almost everything was made from wood, no dishwasher. The only problem was that the person had forgotten to bring the wood for us… But I still found it cool! Later, we made a mega big fire and I made s’mores for the first time on it! Mmmmm, those things are really tasty, cookies with chocolate and marshmallow in between. So super bad for you, but so tasty! So yeah, that was fun! The place we were was really high up.

7800 feet they said. Converted that’s approximately 2500 meters! Here back in Layton the elevation is about 1500 meters. Oh yeahhh! I also went to a concert here with a friend. A concert of.. .Michael Buble! We had good spots and with just a little run forward we were able to give him our hands, and we even sang along with him. We stood in the front row at the end, and he ran to the audience so that they could sing a part of the song with him. He came right at us and held the microphone in front of us, and so we sang a part of the song with a group of five people around us. Yeah that was really super! I also had made a poster, and at the beginning of the concert he talked about it — it was really cool! The next day, Melissa talked with someone who had been to the concert and he said something like: “Ooooh it was that poster?!” That was really cool! So that’s kind of a funny story!Uncaptioned image from entry

NGO Propaganda: Who is Behind the Massacres in Syria? Avaaz Spreads Media Disinformation - Michel Chossudovsky, Avaaz, which presents itself as an alternative media and an independent voice, is part of a corporate public relations campaign.

Avaaz will report on civilian casualties in Syria without mentioning the influx of US-Saudi sponsored terrorists. Image from entry

Buried U.S. propaganda uncovered - Diana West, U.S. support for the Big Lie about Katyn [See] continued long after the war.

SeaWorld Says 'Blackfish' is 'Propaganda.' The Filmmakers Say They Want a Public Debate - Back in July, SeaWorld attempted some spin control -- responding to Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary "Blackfish" with a list of 8 problems they had with the film. They're back on the offensive with "The Truth About Blackfish," a web page featuring videos and text accusing the "Blackfish" team of creating propaganda rather than a documentary.

"Blackfish," which was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures and also aired on CNN, details the killing of a trainer by an orca at SeaWorld, and makes a compelling case against keeping killer whales captive. Image from entry

The Secret Nazi Propaganda Hidden In Justin Bieber: Jeremy Wilson discovers a gigantic, paranoid ecosystem of online conspiracy theorists, some of whom believe that modern music is infused with subliminal Third Reich propaganda. No, really - Jeremy Wilson, So are the pitches we hear when Justin Bieber’s autotuned voice whines on the radio the result of a bureaucratic compromise, or are we hearing

Nazi propaganda? Image from entry


Back to (Divinity) School: Seminaries report an enrollment surge among the middle-aged eager to start a second career - Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Wall Street Journal: Students under 30 still make up the largest age cohort in seminaries, according to the Association of Theological Schools. But older students are growing in representation among 74,000 or so students pursuing a seminary degree from an institution associated with the agency that accredits graduate schools of theology. The percentage of students over 50 enrolled in a seminary rose to about 21% in 2011 from 12% in 1995. The percentage of students under 30 has hovered at around 30% during the same period.


Friday January 31 Embassy of Ukraine Winter Ball and Dinner Feast with Dancing to Ukrainian Band Gerdan. We cordially request the pleasure of your company for a very special and rare opportunity to experience A Winter at the Embassy of Ukraine. The evening features a dinner buffet feast of traditional Ukrainian delicacies along with dancing to the Ukrainian Band Gerdan

performing waltzes and other dance music in the elegant and historic ballroom of the embassy. Enjoy champagne during the VIP reception and an open bar afterwards This is a wonderful opportunity to meet Ukrainians who are ICDC members while you discover a country rich in culture and history. The embassy staff will provide information about the history and the future of modern Ukraine. You will also see a movie that offers an overview of the beautiful land, culture, and people that make up Ukraine. As you enjoy your evening tour the embassy's rare collection of beautiful paintings and artistic pieces. Space is limited. Reserve your tickets now as our previous gala at the Embassy of Ukraine sold out.  Top image from, with caption: Special roasting of coffee beans makes “Gerdan” exceptionally soft and at the same time rich in taste; below image from Google search

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