Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 22-23

"[P]ropaganda in some form or other lurks in every book, ... every work of art has a meaning and a purpose — a political, social and religious purpose — that our aesthetic judgements are always coloured by our prejudices and beliefs."

--George Orwell; image from article, with caption: George Orwell broadcast to India for the BBC during World War II


The Dancing Bear (Russian President Medvedev, whose name is reminiscent of the Russian word for bear, dancing); via Global Chaos; see also "Medvedev Tweets Where and With Whom He Was Dancing,", with following image and

caption “You dance like my dad! Thanks to you, I’ve been in a good mood since this morning."


Sinking Into Quicksand With the Devils We Know - Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post: "Where is American public diplomacy extolling to Egyptians that peace with Israel is a valuable asset to Egypt's long-term future as much as it may be to Israel's? ... [O]ur government is not adequately organized to promote Egypt's transition to a democracy under girded by an infusion of major public and private sector job-creating financing. ... [O]ur public diplomacy operations have yet to develop a coherent strategy to help influence the debate inside Egypt on democratic values as it approaches its first free vote."

Is an Arab-Iranian clash looming? - Thomas E. Ricks, Foreign Policy: That's what John McCreary fears [note: link does not lead to quotation].

'The language of the public diplomacy indicates the Arabs, at least, are prepared for a violent confrontation at some point, though the location and timing are not yet apparent. The consequences for the world's energy supplies could be significantly negative.' I wonder how that plays out, besides probably throwing the world into a deep recession." Image from

US Embassy, Local Partners Sign MOU -- For Educational Resources - "The United States Embassy near Monrovia has reaffirmed the U.S. commitment towards supporting the American Corners in Liberia. The American Corners are resource centers that are jointly sponsored partnership between the Public Diplomacy Section of the United States Embassies and host country institutions, and provide access to current and reliable information about the United States through book collections, the Internet and local programming, amongst others. Speaking when she renewed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with partners of the American Corners

in the country at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield said her government was pleased that the program had expanded since the Embassy began partnerships with libraries outside the capital in order to share more broadly educational and cultural resources on the United States. She said last year, the American Corners celebrated ten years, disclosing that presently, there are 406 corners in 133 countries and around the world; 33 countries in Africa, while in Liberia there are four. The four in Liberia were established in 2008 and are located at Ricks institute, Virginia, Montserrado county; Booker Washington Institute in Kakata, Margibi County, while the others are in Grand Bassa and Grand Gedeh Counties." Image from

Exchange 2.0 Connected Youth: The Future of Peacebuilding and Problem Solving a Free Live Webcast on April 27th - International Higher Education Consulting Blog: "The United States Institute of Peace will be hosting a free webcast focusing on the revitalization of international educational exchanges as a core pillar of public diplomacy. Those in Washington, D.C. can register to attend in person of course. The following snippet is a description with agenda of the webcast: 'The orientation of U.S. public diplomacy is changing from telling America’s story to direct dialogue in an interconnected world. With this shift has come a need to revitalize a core pillar of public diplomacy strategy: international exchanges. Although traditional exchange programs have been effective in expanding access to cross-cultural educational opportunities beyond those that study-abroad programs reach, participation remains limited. Developing the next generation of Exchange 2.0 initiatives—that is, technology-enabled programs embedded in curricula and with a cross-cultural educational purpose—will improve the number, diversity, and experience of international exchange participants. ... AGENDA ... 9:30 a.m. Keynote Address Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State."

Mission Creep and Its Discontents: The Afghanistan Conflict - Amitai Etzioni

Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2011, pp. 3-15: "[A] nation should engage in a 'just war' if and only if there is a clear and present danger, if all other means to resolving the conflict have been exhausted, and only to protect innocents. However, when the United States must engage in war, economic considerations will not prevent it from proceeding. Some argue that Washington has a moral obligation to 'reconstruct' countries it invades. Opinions can differ on what the United States owes a country it helped liberate or that used to harbor terrorists. However, in any case, given that nation-building cannot be carried out long-distance by foreign powers in nations in an early state of development (in contrast to post-World War II Germany and Japan), the moral issue is moot. At the same time, there is no reason to stop non-lethal interventions through educational, cultural, and public diplomacy means, from Fulbright scholarships to foreign aid. It is also worth noting that diplomacy is dirt cheap. The U.S. State Department budget famously has fewer foreign service officers than the Pentagon has military band musicians." Via. Image from

Higher Ed as a Weapon - Mark A. Ashwill, "A diplomatic cable known as the 'U.S.-Vietnam Education Memo,' which originated in the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi in the spring of 2008 and surreptitiously found its way onto the Internet, offers telling examples and revealing insights into the use of education as a tool of soft power. ... The Embassy staff who penned this erstwhile confidential document seem almost giddy with excitement at the prospect that the U.S. could somehow influence the political course of events in Vietnam through educational exchange and in-country activities in support of higher education. ... The letter and spirit of the memo are not exactly what Sen. J. William Fulbright had in mind when he proposed the creation of what has become the U.S. government's flagship scholarship program and one of its more noble undertakings. Fulbright once said about the objectives of educational exchange: 'Its purpose is to acquaint Americans with the world as it is and to acquaint students and scholars from many lands with America as it is--not as we wish it were or as we might wish foreigners to see it, but exactly as it is -- which by my reckoning is an 'image' of which no American need be ashamed.' (From the foreword to The Fulbright Program: A History). ... The notion that international educational exchange should contribute to remaking other societies in the United States' image is not only cynical and misguided; it is also delusional -- so much pie in the sky."

People Power - Laura McGinnis, manIC: "Recently at a University event, a prospective student asked me why I thought the field of Public Diplomacy was growing and whether I thought it reflected a change attitudes about diplomacy in

general within the United States. While it's impossible to determine the effects of new attitudes, I do think it's fair to say that U.S. attitudes about diplomacy have changed significantly in recent years, and that Obama and Clinton have adopted a much more expansive, citizen-focused view." Image from

Live Bloggin' -- The Last Class - Occasionally Clever: A semi-regular blog on public diplomacy: "So what is USPD -- or what should it be? Relationship building? Influence? Propaganda? Monologue? Dialogue? Collaboration? Grand strategy? Strategy? Tactics? Soft power? Strategic communication? Sticky power? Nation branding? Nation building? Values and norms? What are the theoretical justifications for public diplomacy? Soft power? Social power? Cultural hegemony?"

Public Diplomacy as a Linguistic Phenomenon - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "USG PD doesn't quite know what it's doing (is that just as well?), despite its so-called roadmap and the money we, the US taxpayer, spend on it. Quite ironically a country challenging US hegemony -- China -- is, to assert itself on the changing global stage, using the US Cold War model of public diplomacy, at the very time that the some in the US (including in the current administration) are abandoning such a oh-so-twentieth century activity as too 'top-down.' Take, as an example, the very words of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Judith McHale (November 11, 2010): ['] I think that the more we can have people having direct conversations with each other — and through those conversations and initiatives, through history of cultures we can learn about each other and if we do that, at the people-to-people level, that will provide us with a path to a more peaceful and prosperous future. So it's a key part of what we're trying to do, to really have people engage with each other, to learn about each other. So it's not public diplomacy, it's not messaging, it's not just a marketing campaign [my highlight]. It's really fostering an environment where you can strengthen relationships between people.['] US PD:

Paradox? Rip-off? Investment? An Act of Faith? Winning Hearts and Minds? Information War (as Hillary Clinton at one point suggested)? Mutual Understanding? Propaganda? Hit 'em Hard Through Our Message? Engagement? A Conversation? That monster of a word, 'Strategic Communication'?" Image from

De Borchgrave's "dumbest move of all in the Obama administration" actually happened during the Bush administration - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "UPI, 19 Apr 2011, Arnaud de Borchgrave (commentary): 'America (Voice of America) and Great Britain (BBC) are losing their global voices, victims of drastic budget cuts, while China's voice is gaining strength daily. Among the recent outreach of the world's most populous nation: a new broadcasting center now going up on Times Square in New York, part of a $7 billion investment in 'global propaganda,' reports The Wall Street Journal's Gordon Crovitz. VOA and BBC, meanwhile, are slashing Chinese language programs and dozens of other foreign language newscasts. The dumbest move

of all in the Obama administration is to put the VOA's Arabic programs on the chopping block as the Arab world belches revolution from Algeria to Libya to Egypt to Syria to Bahrain.' [Elliott comment]-- VOA Arabic was shut down in 2002, well before the Obama Administration, replaced by Radio Sawa. I am not aware of any 'chopping block' for Radio Sawa or its television counterpart Alhurra.Image from

Why subjecting US international broadcasting to an "overarching strategy" would be Not Very Smart Power - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "The reason why the government funds a news service over which is has no editorial control is that, in most world language[s], such a news service has no commercial potential. Audiences in need of reliable news would not get that news if it were not for subsidies from the United States, the UK and other Western governments."

Chinese editorial discusses freedom of speech, mentioning VOA and Deutsche Welle - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Broadcasting Board of Governors Non-Sunshine Meeting - [Federal Register: April 20, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 76) ] "DATE AND TIME: Thursday, April 14, 2011; 3:45 p.m.-4 p.m. PLACE: Radio Free Asia Headquarters, 2025 M St., NW., Washington, DC 20036.

SUBJECT: Notice of Closed Meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. SUMMARY: At the time and location listed above, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) determined to conduct a meeting closed to the public pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(6). The meeting was closed to protect privacy concerns during the consideration of potential appointees to serve as the Director of the Voice of America. Although discussion of the matter in an open setting was considered, the potential consequences of disclosing the identities and circumstances of  individuals considered for appointment compelled the Board to close the meeting to public observation. The Board also determined that shorter than usual notice for a meeting was required by official agency business and the delayed availability of required information. Members Vote To Close the Meeting ... [among them] Lynne Weil, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Image from

White House Easter egg roll keeps getting bigger - Richard Wolf and David Jackson, USA Today: "He has a $14.3 trillion national debt, an 8.8% unemployment rate, two wars and a re-election campaign to worry about. Even so, President Obama is making time Monday to have 30,000 people over for eggs. Not just any eggs: Easter eggs. ... Why all the fuss? ... • Public diplomacy. Over the years, its popularity has grown, creating a backlog of disappointed children who didn’t make the cut. This year, 205,739 tickets were requested through an online lottery."

VOL. VII NO. 8, April 8-April 21, 2011 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media:
"9/11 Trials Redefine Gitmo’s Legacy Controversy over the Justice Department’s conclusion to hold the trials of the alleged 9/11 plotters in Guantanamo Bay, rather than in the United States under a special military commission has raised questions regarding such a decision’s ramifications, particularly on US judicial law.
Taking US Public Diplomacy Seriously The United States must carefully reconsider its foreign policy efforts in the Middle East as a result of the Arab Spring in order to meet its subsequent challenges. While some argue that its efforts in the past months have been commendable, stronger diplomatic initiatives remain crucial.
Jewish Al-Jazeera The President of the United Israel’s Appeal has announced his intentions to launch an international news network to counter “negative” Israeli media coverage, as sentiment towards to the Jewish state is reportedly at an all time low.
Al-Jazeera’s Moment of Glory International popularity for Al-Jazeera continues to rise as the network’s consistent and thorough converage of the Arab Spring has many believing it is a reformist

driving force in and of itself.
Social Media Ups and Downs  As Syrian protesters continue to provoke both proclamations of support and violent backlashes from their sitting government, international commentators and journalists weigh the positives and negatives of social media in the recent Arab revolutions.
A Spring for Middle East Media? In the aftermath of the Arab spring, the annual media forums in the Middle East eagerly tackle topics about the future of journalism, social media and satellite TV networks. Other industries are also attempting to capitalize on the region's growing access to the Internet, looking to provide users with Arabic-language content.
Bloggers and Journalists in the Same Boat As the uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa ushered in political reform and unseated authoritarian officials, censorship continues to be a problem. Meanwhile, journalists in Egypt and Libya face a new set of challenges as they fight for political change and press freedom." Image: Leon Shahabian,  Senior Editor of The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media.

Israel embraces tablets and e-readers for public diplomacy‎ - "Today, as communication technologies change the way people get their information, the tools that governments use to engage with the public must adapt as well. The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, an official diplomatic office of the government of Israel, has begun a new public diplomacy initiative to utilize e-readers and other tablet devices to streamline the distribution of books

and official documents. ... Recent statistics show that tablet and e-reader adoption is growing with 70% of US internet users considering a purchase within the next three years. The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles is laying the groundwork for this growth by developing the infrastructure and document creation protocols early on. And, over the next several weeks the consulate will launch a special portal on its website allowing users to download documents specially formatted for tablets and e-reader devices. Interactive digital diplomacy apps for popular tablet devices and smart phones are also in the development pipeline."

Editor's Notes: The moralist - David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post: "Tel Aviv University philosophy professor Asa Kasher co-authored the first IDF Code of Ethics and continues to work on the moral doctrines that shape the parameters of our army’s actions. [Q:] But the fact is that Israel feels itself increasingly isolated, and there are potential practical implications. [A:] Really? What potential for practical consequences? We as Jews – and I understand this, but we have to stop it – are acutely sensitive to every attack on us. Not only when it’s anti-Semitism or anti-Israel. Even when someone attacks us for this or that government’s politics. The lights go on. 'They’re attacking us.'

It seems to us to be absolutely terrible. I understand that feeling. We don’t have a history of being loved by everyone. Quite the reverse. But some perspective is required. Obviously we have to be active on all fronts. The international media is a front. So you have the IDF Spokesman. You have the Ministry of Public Diplomacy. Everyone must do what they can to improve this situation. But it’s not that important. Look what happened after Operation Cast Lead. European leaders and the US president came here. That was a sign of solidarity with Israel. So I don’t think there’s a danger of us becoming [a pariah state] like South Africa." Image from

Nurit Greenger: The State Of Israel - posted at "Because of Israel’s failure in its public diplomacy, countless of people, in support of Israel, living in all four-corners of the world, saw fit to amass private, public diplomacy in favor of Israel. These private diplomacy efforts are applied through new media blogs, social media, and much writing and videos posting. They all hope and pray that their efforts are helping Israel – the only Jewish country in the world – that is facing existential threats and its right to exist is being questioned."

Turkey expresses support for Palestine's efforts to move towards statehood - Trend News Agency: "Ertugrul Apakan, Turkey's ambassador to the UN, said here Thursday that his country has offered 'unwavering support and determination' to help Palestine reach the goal of statehood . ... The Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israel since Hamas took control of the land in 2007. In the aftermath of an Israeli raid on a Turkish humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010, Israel says it has eased restrictions on goods entering Gaza.

Apakan said that Israel should lift the blockade altogether. 'Minimalist approaches aimed at public diplomacy will not work,' he said. 'Israel must lift its illegal blockade of Gaza immediately.'" Apakan image from article

A Beacon of Light: The Public Diplomacy of Kurdistan - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "For the Kurdistan Regional Government, public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy represent[...] key vehicles for which the issue of Kurdistan can be projected internationally, and more understanding and appreciation can be generated for the Kurdish cause. Effective Kurdish public diplomacy ensures that the Kurds will no longer be voiceless in the world, and will not be forgotten." Image from

Pakistani Parliamentarians urge NATO to revisit its policy on Afghanistan - "Pakistani Parliamentary delegation has urged NATO to revisit their policies towards Afghanistan and should hold dialogue with all factions of Taliban to achieve lasting peace. A three member delegation of Pakistani parliamentarian visited NATO headquarters in Brussels. Chairman Kashmir Committee Maulana Fazl ur Rehman was leading the delegation. According to NATO spokesman Pakistani delegation met with high level NATO officials from the public diplomacy, political affairs and security policy."

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: what’s in a name? - "Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn ... briefed the media on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, going into some detail of the facts and figures. Following the Egyptian revolution, there is a new momentum there and the Egyptian Prime Minister is coming to Ethiopia shortly together with public diplomacy groups to discuss the issue. There is, said the Deputy Prime Minister, a desire on both sides to discuss matters. Ethiopia believed that policy makers in Egypt, and the younger generations, were beginning to understand the values of the dam." See also.

The Practice of Public Diplomacy: Confronting Challenges Abroad Global Public Diplomacy Edited by William A. Rugh - "The conduct of public diplomacy is carried out as much abroad, by Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) stationed at U.S. embassies, as it is in Washington. This book focuses on what FSOs do in actual practice in field operations. In a series of analytical case studies of public diplomacy operations in different regions of the world, the authors explain how the foreign publics in different countries view America and how FSOs deal every day with misconceptions and distortions of America’s image and policies. Every country is unique, so public diplomacy must be tailored to fit local conditions. The authors also discuss how their work is being impacted today by various developments such as the rise of terrorism, the spread of the Internet and the cell phone, or the election of Barack Obama. This book focuses on field operations and goes beyond broad generalizations and theory, presenting information about actual operational challenges and the best practices used today in working abroad. ... Part I: Public diplomacy in Europe and Southwest Asia * Ameliorating Strained Relations: Public Diplomacy in Serbia--Lucija Bajzer * Revitalizing Relations with Turkey--Nicole E. Farina * Iran and the United Kingdom: A Study in Contrasts--Sarah M. Riley * Afghanistan and Pakistan: Public Diplomacy during Conflict and Instability--Rachel E. Smith * Part II: Public diplomacy in Africa * Kenya’s 'Native Son' and Enduring Local Issues--Mabel Ntiru * Sierra Leone: Public Diplomacy Unwired--Tulani N. Elisa * Part III: Public diplomacy in Asia * South Korea:

The Staying Power of Personal Contact in Public Diplomacy--Yoon-Jeong Huh * Economic Issues and Anti-Americanism in Japan--Yohei Ogawa * U.S. Public Diplomacy and Stationed U.S. Forces in Japan--Tomonori Niho * Part IV: New media or old? * U.S. Public Diplomacy 2.0: Beyond Catch-up--Takahiro Yamamoto * New Media or 'the Last Three Feet' in Africa?--Rachel O. Okunubi * New Media or Old in Egypt and South Korea?--John Rahaghi * Finding the Right Media Formula from the Soviet Union to Russia--Elise S. Crane * Part V: New thinking about public diplomacy * Should Public Diplomacy be Privatized?--Nicole Gabrielle Kravec * Do Peace Corps Volunteers do Public Diplomacy?--Minta Madeley * Conclusion: Field Experiences and Best Practices--William A. Rugh" Image from article

Does the Arab Spring show how strategic narratives work? - Ben O'Loughlin, new political communication unit: "[S]trategic narratives are state-led projections of a sequence of events and identities, a tool through which political leaders try to give meaning to past, present and future in a way that justifies what they want to do. Getting others at home or abroad to accept or align with your narrative is a way to influence their behaviour. But like soft power, we have not yet demonstrated how strategic narratives work. We are documenting how great powers project narratives about the direction of the international system and their identities within that. We see the investments in public diplomacy and norm-promotion. We have not yet demonstrated that these projections have altered the behaviour of other states or publics. Does the Arab Spring show these narratives at work? ... Who has successfully promoted an overarching narrative? Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy? Where did the ‘Arab Spring’ narrative come from? How does an overarching narrative play out in each country? What room does it leave for individual governments and public to create their own destinies? In the next year, building up to a debate at the International Studies Association (ISA) convention in San Diego in April, we will be exploring this."

The Public Diplomacy/Affairs Efforts Surrounding NAFTA and the American Backlash to Free Trade - Ren's Micro Diplomacy: "This is a paper I wrote for the course Public Diplomacy of Trade in the Americas."

Image from entry, with caption: Dr. Pam Starr's comment

Deutschland: Die Vaterländer Geschichte und Kultur...Erin Kelly - Press Release, PRLog: Erin Kelly presented Deutschland: Die Vaterländer Geschichte und Kultur, to her schoolmates and school families on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at St. Thomas of Canterbury School located in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. From a very young age Miss Kelly was exposed to her father’s work with award winning author and culinary arts personality Corinne Trang and Music-Radio Icon Zach Martin in Tourism, Culinary Arts, Culture, Arts/Music promotional campaigns as well as diplomatic affairs through Public Diplomacy campaigns for various entities both foreign and domestic for K2 GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS LLC. See also


The 2011 TIME 100: Hillary Clinton -- Secretary of State - Joseph S. Nye Jr., Time: When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, she pledged a "smart power" policy that meant striking up a close working relationship with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates while reshaping the State Department to emphasize development and people-powered diplomacy. She deployed her personal star power in direct contacts with the public overseas, speaking clearly about human rights and freedom of expression on the Internet. But above all, Hillary, 63, has set a model of how to be a member of a team of rivals. Unlike in many Administrations that have suffered from friction between State, Defense and the White House, Barack Obama's strongest rival in 2008 has become one of the most effective and loyal supporters in an Administration that has been notably cohesive on foreign policy.

Pakistan Rejects US 'Negative Propaganda' on Militancy - Voice of America: The head of Pakistan's army has rejected U.S. suggestions that Islamabad is not doing enough in the war on terrorism. General Ashfaq Kayani Thursday criticized what he called "negative propaganda" on the issue.

He said Pakistani efforts show a national resolve to defeat militants. The general spoke after meeting with the visiting top U.S. military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, who said Wednesday that some members of Pakistan's intelligence agency have a longstanding relationship with Haqqani network militants fighting in Afghanistan. Pakistan has denied any link with the al-Qaida-affiliated group. Image from article, with caption: Pakistani Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani attends an inaugural ceremony of a technical training center in Gwadar, Balochistan Province, April 18, 2011.

What happens after Gaddafi is removed? - Michael Chertoff and Michael V. Hayden, Washington Post: Whatever one’s view about the wisdom of embarking on our coalition effort in Libya, prudence suggests we begin serious planning about what happens when we win — including what effort and resources and time will be required.

The military interventions we don’t plan for — those to protect civilians - Sarah Sewall and Anthony Zinni, Washington Post: If the United States is serious about protecting civilians, it needs to address the kinds of conundrums that are emerging in Libya: Does civilian protection inevitably require imposing political change? Do we arm rebels who might not protect civilians themselves? What if NATO bombs kill the very civilians they were supposed to protect?

Lost in Libya: Kadafi's still there, and so are the rebels and their Western allies. So what's the endgame? - Editorial, The United States is fighting two other wars at the moment, both of which have proved long and frustrating, and there's little appetite for a third. American resources are limited, and a compelling case has not been made. Let's not get sucked in any further.

Coalition of the Ambivalent: The Libyan campaign shows the dangers of half-hearted war - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Drone attacks in Libya: A mistake - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Now we have Defense Secretary Robert Gates, accompanied by Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating at a news conference that Obama “has approved the use of armed Predators” over Libya—and, indeed, that the first mission was launched Thursday but aborted because of bad weather. They did not state what targets the Predator had been assigned to strike. But surely it’s likely that the goal was to kill Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi or other members of This extension to the Libyan theater is a mistake. It brings a weapon that has become for many Muslims a symbol of the arrogance of U.S. power into a theater next door to the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, the most promising events in a generation. It projects American power in the most negative possible way.

Shameful U.S. inaction on Syria’s massacres - Editorial, Washington Post: To stand by passively while hundreds of people seeking freedom are gunned down by their government makes a mockery of the U.S. commitment to human rights. In recent months President Obama has pledged repeatedly that he would support the aspiration of Arabs for greater freedom. In Syria, he has not kept his word.

U.S. should resettle Uighurs held at Guantanamo: The U.S. acknowledges the five detainees are victims of mistaken identity who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Congress has a moral obligation to make amends - Editorial,

Image from article, with caption: Uighur detainees at Guantanamo protest their situation June 1. Chinese officials wanted them repatriated to stand trial for separatist activities.

The Unsettling Case of Sergei Magnitsky, Hermitage Capital and the Russian Mafia - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: The US House of Representatives has just introduced a bill to bar visas for travel to the US for Russians implicated in this criminal activity. Good. As far as this goes. But then what? Could Putin himself end up on America's “no admittance” list? Is this why the Obama administration would rather deal with Medvedev?

Bay of Pigs and the limits of superpower: The Bay of Pigs invasion 50 years ago offers lessons about American might that are still relevant today - Editorial, These days not just conservatives but liberals as well are arguing that the United States has a significant role to play in determining political outcomes in nations around the world. But it is important to remember that American judgment is not always foolproof, American planning is not always successful and the use of power is rarely predictable, and should be undertaken only as a last resort. A superpower cannot always have its way even with a much smaller country, especially when the planners are many miles away and are insufficiently familiar with the culture and politics of the nation they hope to influence.

Behind Brand Israel: Israel's recent propaganda efforts - Ben White, Although the “Brand Israel” initiative was launched in 2006, its origins can be dated to 2001 when Boaz Mourad, the founder of the Insight Research Group, and Ido Aharoni of the Israeli Foreign Service, “pulled together a branding team for Israel” (including a partner from public relations heavyweight Burson-Marsteller). During her term as foreign minister, Tzipi Livni appointed Aharoni as head of the “Brand Israel” project, as well as assigning $4 million for the first two years (which is additional to the annual $3 million budget for “hasbara” or propaganda). When it was launched in October 2006, the Israeli MFA promised that Brand Israel would “advance several objectives” including trade, tourism and strengthening “Israel’s positive image” for political reasons. On 16 March 2008, The Jerusalem Post reported that Brand Israel identified cities like Toronto, Tokyo, London, Boston and New York as locations for “pilot” programs, which could include “organizing film festivals, or food and wine festivals featuring Israel-made products.” Accordingly, by the end of that year billboard advertisements appeared in Toronto promoting Israel as a leader in technological innovation. At the time, Aharoni voiced his expectation that the plan would be rolled out in 2009. The use of public relations agencies has continued to grow.

Lies and Videotape - Christopher Walker and Robert W. Orttung: The gains achieved by Egyptian and Tunisian protesters in reshaping their state-controlled news media in the weeks since their revolutions should not be taken for granted. Transforming politically

dominated television and radio networks into more transparent and democratic institutions is a long and difficult process, and the vast majority of citizens in authoritarian states across the world — from Libya and Syria to Russia and China — continue to consume a twisted version of reality through the looking glass of state television. Image from article

N. Korea threatens to launch 'merciless' fire over propaganda leaflets - North Korea on Friday threatened to launch "unpredictable and merciless" fire against South Korea over its anti-Pyongyang leaflets, the latest warning amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts to ease tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula and revive stalled talks on the North's nuclear programs.

Confucius Statue Vanishes Near Tiananmen Square - Andrew Jacobs, New York Times: “When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them,” Confucius once said. Apparently, someone extremely powerful has taken the saying to heart, having decided that a 31-foot bronze statue of the ancient Chinese sage that was unveiled near Tiananmen Square four months ago did not belong on the nation’s most hallowed slice of real estate. The sudden disappearance of Confucius, which took place under cover of darkness early Thursday morning, has stoked outrage among the philosopher’s descendants, glee among devoted Maoists and much conjecture among analysts who seek to decipher the intricacies of the Chinese leadership’s decisions.

Admirers Call It Art, but the Police Call It a Problem - Adam Nagourney, New York Times: LOS ANGELES — Walk into the Museum of Contemporary Art here and urban graffiti — scrawled on walls, buses, a subway car and behind glass — is being celebrated by this city’s art lovers in a hugely popular show. Walk a block away and the same sort of scrawling could get you thrown in jail. An exhibition of street art that opened last week has been responsible, the authorities say, for a new wave of graffiti on buildings, lampposts and mailboxes in downtown Los Angeles, forcing a fresh crackdown on an activity that the police thought they had brought under control.

And it has put them in the awkward position of trying to arrest people for doing something that is being celebrated by the city’s cultural establishment. On another level, the exhibition, “Art in the Streets,” has fueled a 40-year dispute about the nature of graffiti and the appropriateness of a mainstream arts institution, like the Geffen Contemporary wing of MOCA, conveying legitimacy on an activity that some people see as nothing short of vandalism. Image from article, with caption: In many ways, the battle in Los Angeles reflects a recurring debate in cities around the world: Is graffiti a legitimate form of art?


"[T]he ratio of the U.S. deficit to the country’s GDP is only slightly lower than Sierra Leone’s."

--According to Daryl Jones of the research and consulting firm Hedgeye

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Social Poets: Funny Friday Lite: Colbert Addresses The Politically Tone Deaf

The dome of the US Capitol building.Image via Wikipedia
The Social Poets: Funny Friday Lite: Colbert Addresses The Politically Tone Deaf: "So, today Colbert talks about one of our five senses: hearing. Did I mention that I've dedicated this funny video to all the tone deaf politicians currently occupying the halls of Congress? Don't get too comfortable, guys, you are about to lose your jobs."
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Social Poets: Funny 1917 CIA Spy Technology Docs Released: Invisible Writing

The Social Poets: Funny 1917 CIA Spy Technology Docs Released: Invisible Writing: "From Denny: Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows I grew up in the CIA. Yes, it was one weird childhood living with such paranoid uptight and often humorless people. Whenever the CIA releases ancient documents molding down in their deep dark spy basement it always gives me a grin.

When I was a kid we spent a lot of time figuring out codes since Dad had been a code breaker in WWII - among other things. One of our other childhood past times was to figure out intriguing ways to pass messages and, yes, write in invisible ink. Even Dad joined in the fun. My mother just shook her head and thought we were all a bunch of looney tunes. Knowing Dad he was probably using his baby geniuses to do his research on the cheap. Who said you can't take your work home with you?

Anyway, it is with great pleasure I present to you Rachel Maddow's cheeky report about Dear Ol' Dad's creepy CIA. This week, The New CIA under Director Leon Panetta, and a lot less creepy, odious and just plain obnoxious, released some 1917 technology for public viewing, er, laughter."