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Windmill for March 14, 2024

By Janet Schwartz

President Steve Day was out of town (in Florida), and PP Tom Barron presided over the meeting. Today is “Pi” day in honor of the value of “Pi” (3.14) and is celebrated with all sorts of pies and pi jokes.

PP Tom Barron introduced today’s speaker, Lisa Daftari, who is the director and founding editor of “The Foreign Desk,” an online platform covering international news and the impact on U.S. foreign policy. One can log on to the website and sign up for daily email briefings. She is an award-winning investigative journalist who has appeared on various news broadcasts and has presented briefings and testimony to government and private entities.

Lisa Daftari received an M.A. in broadcast journalism from USC and a B.A. from Rutgers University in Middle East Studies, Spanish, and Vocal Performance. (The weekly Rotary chorus could use an accomplished opera singer.)   She grew up in New York but lives in Los Angeles.

Today’s informative talk was entitled: “Hamas, Iran, China, and the Mainstream Media.” Today there are two active wars as well as a battle for influence and information. Information supporting Hamas and Palestinians has been disseminated online and at universities. Younger people are especially influenced by information on social media. The mainstream news media have relied on data from Hamas as well as onsite reports by individuals who have not been vetted. The emphasis has been on the current battles in Gaza, and the mainstream news media are not talking about the atrocities of October 7, 2023, which started the present conflict.

Russia has been disseminating information about the war in Ukraine and controlling the narrative. It has a sophisticated system of misinformation as well as disinformation.

China also has a highly developed propaganda machine and spy network. For instance, Chinese spy balloons have floated over the United States. The Chinese government uses “copycat” technology and wants to control social media. There are Confucius centers in the U.S. to spread the Chinese narrative. Also, the Chinese have been purchasing farmlands in the U.S. which are near military complexes.

After 1979 the goal of Iran’s government has been to influence Western think tanks, news broadcasts, and elections. It has expanded cyber operations and wants to influence U.S. policies. Lisa Daftari gave an example of a Pentagon official with a security clearance who supports the current Iranian regime.


After her talk, Lisa Daftari fielded questions and provided additional commentary.

Under the Shah Iran was more “westernized", there were more personal freedoms, and the U.S. had good relations with Iran.

After the Shah was deposed, the subsequent governments have been funding terrorist organizations such Hamas and Hezbollah. They consider the U.S. and Israel to be the main enemies of Iran. Also, the mullahs want to expand their Islamic state as well as the Shia branch of Islam.

After 1979 the U.S. policies toward Iran have been inconsistent. Sanctions have not worked, and the nuclear deal has not stopped development. The Carter, Obama, and Biden administrations have incorrectly believed that “political Islam” would bring stability to the region. It is currently not safe to travel to Iran.

As for the war in the Middle East, U.S. priorities have not been consistent. Allies and enemies alike should know where the U.S. stands. U.S. leaders should not be requesting a change in Israeli leadership.

There was a brief discussion of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and a comment that the withdrawal of 4,000 American troops created the current situation there.

In response to a question about where to obtain information about the current issues, the following suggestions were given.

One should view diverse sources, including foreign sources, and study the history of the areas. Some international news sources are Voice of America and, Iran International.

Social media should be used with caution. X (formerly Twitter) can be an acceptable source of information if the entries have been written by a trusted individual. Young people obtain news and information from TikTok. However, TikTok is not a reliable source and should be avoided.

It was a wonderful presentation, and we look forward to hearing from Lisa again at a future WVRC meeting!


Thank you to PP Tom Barron who read the 4-way test. PP Gordon Fell greeted members, and PP Mark Rogo led the Pledge of Alliance. PP Mark also presented a Rotary flag which he recently received from Spain.  In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day PP Ed Gauld wore a “leprechaun” hat and led a rousing rendition of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”

PP Mike Newman presented the Thought of the Day about AI and the law. Apparently, AI can be used to research cases, and it may produce information about actual or fictitious cases. The AI results may end up being cited in court briefs and legal documents.

  • Pageant of the Arts contest judging March 21st at 4pm at University High School. Contact Diane Good if you plan to attend and judge.

  • March 22nd, Music Minds Concert on the VA Campus from 12:30 - 2:30pm. Volunteers are needed. Please contact Diane Goos if you can volunteer.

  • April 27th Rotarians at Work Day cleaning up the beach at Sunset at PCH from 9-11am. Please register on the district website.

  • May 3rd - Dodger Baseball game with the district. You can obtain tickets on the District website.

  • May 3rd to 5th - District 5280 Conference, downtown at the famous Biltmore Hotel. Registration is now opened on the district website.

  • Monday, May 13th - RI President Gordon McInally's luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Plan to attend and purchase your ticket on the District website.

  • May 19th, Sip and Sea wine tasting at PP Chris Rose Gaynor's home.


  • March 21st: Michel Grace, Intellectual Property Attorney at Hillel

  • March 28th: with our very own loveable PP Tom Barron at Hillel! This will be WVRC's first Hybrid meeting.

WVRC 2023/2024 Leadership Team

President: Steve Day

President Elect: Benjamin Fisher

Vice President: Currently Opened

Treasurer: Terry M. White

Youth/Vocational Service: PP Diane Good

Director/Peace: PP Marsha Hunt

Foundation: PP Gordon Fell

Global Scholarships: PP Chris Bradford

Webmaster: PP Ron Lyster

District Governor: Makiko Nakasone

Immediate Past President: Chris Gaynor

Secretary: PP Nancy McCready

Community Service: David Strover

International Service: PP Nancy McCready & Nevin Senkan

Director: PP Tom Barron

Membership: PP Mark Rogo

Director/Social Media: PP Aly Shoji

Sargent at Arms: Jim Crane

Windmill Editor: Teya McCockran