Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14

"To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful, and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory."

From Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, cited by Ambassador Chas Freeman in connection with his withdrawal from the post of heading the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC); image from


Feingold, Voinovich Reintroduce Bipartisan Program To Help Americans Volunteer Internationally - Congressional Press Releases, Congressional Quarterly: “U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and George Voinovich (R-OH) have reintroduced the Global Service Fellowship Act, which will strengthen America's public diplomacy efforts by helping more Americans volunteer internationally.

Feingold and Voinovich's bill would reduce the financial barriers to volunteering internationally and comes after recent statements from the Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that finding common ground and common purpose with other people around the world is a critical component of bolstering national and global security. Studies have shown that in areas where U.S. - citizens have volunteered their time, money and services, opinions of the U.S. have improved.” Image from

Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for Counterradicalization - PolicyWatch #1490: Special Forum Report, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy: “On March 10, 2009, The Washington Institute's Presidential Task Force on Confronting the Ideology of Radical Extremism released its final report at a special Policy Forum at the Institute. The release also included a discussion led by three task force members: Tim Roemer, president of the Center for National Policy; Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute; and Dr. Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute. … [Satloff:] In the post-September 11 world, a debate has arisen over the meaning and goals of public diplomacy. In response to rising anti-Americanism, some important actors in current and past administrations argue that the United States should try to enhance its image and approval ratings abroad. This report takes an alternative view that the first priority and main thrust of our policy should be to empower mainstream Muslim voices in the contest against radical extremism. Novel public diplomacy approaches should be directed toward identifying, nurturing, and supporting these voices. … The report provides specific structural recommendations to infuse this new mission into the machinery of public diplomacy. It urges the administration to strengthen the capabilities of the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, to create an assistant secretary position within that office, and to add a deputy assistant secretary in each regional bureau to link public diplomacy and counterradicalization efforts to the responsibilities of those bureaus. Although international broadcasting operates separately from the State Department, it commands half of all public diplomacy funding and should take on the same sense of purpose in engaging societies within and outside the Middle East." Image from

“A New Way Forward” In Doha: Listen To The Artists - Cynthia Schneider, Public Diplomacy Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: Re the U.S-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar (February, 2009): “The Arts and Culture Leaders Workshop at the Forum, which I have led since 2006, concluded that during this time of great complexity and sudden change, it is more important than ever that the United States leverage the potential of arts and culture, from museum exhibitions to transnational reality TV, to increase understanding across cultures, to break down stereotypes and barriers, and to foster positive social change.”

# 3 'The New Diplomacy' - Cafarelli S, The New Diplomacy: The Reflective Blogs of the Students on the New Diplomacy Module at London Metropolitan University: “Public diplomacy (PD), also known as ‘the new diplomacy’, is a diplomatic relation and cultivation mode, obtained via ‘attractive’ processes labelled by Joseph Nye as, ‘soft power’. Soft power is the ability to get desired outcomes by way of attracting and persuading foreign hearts and minds, rather than by use of coercive ‘hard power’. … Propaganda upon first glance is most likely to suggest the handling of data manipulation and misrepresentation. However, as far as PD is concerned, such subversive activities are incompatible, since PD’s principle stands at the opposite pole to one which, deliberately attempts to influence the opinions of others via the distributions in form of cocktail-of-ideas, consciously formulated to serve the interest of specific leaders. On the contrary, PD deals with cultural relations and exchange programmes; it aims to actively engage with foreign publics rather than selling them a package of messages. Essences of this contemporary form of diplomatic-conduct, is that it strives to establish durable ties, as opposed to policy-oriented struggles for short-term interests.” Image from

A Parting Shot That Maligns Obama, Too - Charles Lane, Washington Post: “There's been much talk about Charles Freeman and the angry parting shot he aimed at the 'Israel Lobby,' which he blames for forcing him to withdraw as President Obama's choice for chairman of the National Intelligence Council. … To be sure, Freeman and his supporters feel ill used. The criticism he faced was not 100 percent fair; some of it went over the top in labeling him a pawn of the Saudis, etc. But for the most part it wasn't 'libelous,' as Freeman claims. It was basically a strong policy reaction based on his own voluminous paper trail. That paper trail ranges from the brilliant to the offensive to the strange -- such as Freeman's 2006 speech to the United States Information Agency Alumni Association, in which he labeled both American political parties 'xenophobic, Islamophobic, Arabophobic, and anti-immigrant.' The United States, he opined, had become 'the planet's most despised nation, with its most hateful policies.'"

INSIGHT: Interfaith dialogue: The need to tackle some thorny issues - Bahtiar Effendy, The Jakarta Post, posted at Cempaka Asean: “[M]any are of the opinion that religious tension has become an imminent issue.

This has made the government take necessary measures to prevent or minimize conflict. …Unfortunately, this has been the concern of primarily the Ministry of Religious Affairs. It had never been the concern of any other Ministries until a few years ago, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarded interfaith dialogue as part of its public diplomacy. Working with its counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines, the Netherlands, the Vatican, Canada and Italy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has regularly conducted interfaith dialogue meetings. But it is actually the NGOs that have a far deeper concern over the imminent nature of religious tension and conflict." Image from

1st D-8 Working Group Meeting on Health Tourism Confirms to Boost Cooperation - D-8 Secretariat, Health Meetings News Tourism: “In the meeting, D-8 Organization also made several points to the board. … Also, the necessary vehicles such as institutional development, capacity building, marketing and public diplomacy of D-8 cooperation were mentioned.”

Seminar on the Marshall Plan - Dambudzo Muzenda, STM 103 Democratic Governance Class Blog: Seminar on the Marshall Plan: “For more information about the Marshall Plan’s public diplomacy campaign:”

Did Olympics improve human rights in China?- Associated Press: “[Some] have likened Beijing to the '36 Berlin Olympics. In those games, Nazi Germany won the most medals, built spectacular venues, and German citizens were lauded for being friendly -- as Adolph Hitler's regime used the event for propaganda.

Barry Sanders, a lawyer who teaches a course in public diplomacy at the University of California, Los Angeles, has visited China frequently over 25 years, and is chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. He suggested Beijing's legacy was in doubt … ‘If it happens that the current economic disaster causes China to fall into the very disorder that the games were meant to help avoid, then the Beijing games might be seen as a last hurrah,’ he said. ‘There is this continuing fear in the Chinese leadership -- certainly during the Olympics -- that things could always go out of control.’" Image from

Fought to speak at Viewpoints on March 15 - Diane S. Smith, Lake Travis View: “[Dr. Stephen] Fought is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the Air War College. He also served for 18 years at the Naval War College as professor, Director of Electives, and Forrest Sherman Chair of Public Diplomacy.”


Iran: The Propaganda Never Stops - Timothy V. Gatto, “I never cease to be amazed at American news.

I watch a few outlets, just to see if they ever mention anything about the rest of the planet. Except for earthquakes, floods, threats against the US and plane crashes, if we didn’t have maps and globes, we wouldn’t know that there is a world outside the U.S., Mexico and Canada (unless we are in a war somewhere). … The truth is, if Americans really want to pull themselves away from the mind-numbing effects of their 'network news', common sense tells us that if Iran did indeed build a nuclear device, where would they use it? … . Would it be Israel? It’s just about common knowledge that the Jewish State has between 300 and 600 warheads and a delivery system to compliment it. Would Iran attack the United States that has over 18,000 nukes?” Image from

U.S. shifts a Guantánamo policy - William Glaberson, International Herald Tribune: The Obama administration said it would not use "enemy combatant" in reference to Guantánamo Bay detainees, but asserted a power to detain them.

Democracy's Appeal: Will President Obama listen to liberal activists in the Muslim world? – Editorial, Washington Post: The Obama administration could find many allies for progressive change in the MiddleEast -- if only it looks beyond the rulers' palaces.

An Alternative to War in Afghanistan - Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: Obama administration officials are said to be very skeptical of the idea that talking with the Taliban will work.

The State That Tolerates No Criticism: How Israel Gives Jews a Bad Name - Saul Landau, CounterPunch: “'Long Live Israel,’ scream the US fans. ‘Anyone who doesn’t like our team is an anti-Semite.’ I want to shout: ‘Go Back to Israel where you didn’t come from.’”

So much for changing one-sided Mideast policy - Ron Smith, Baltimore Sun:

For those who believe not all actions taken by Israel are necessarily in the best interests of the United States, the Freeman withdrawal - essentially a veto by the Israel lobby - represents a continuation of the status quo and the end of any "hope" for "change" in it. Image from

U.S.-Cuba relations: The U.S. is rethinking its policy; Havana has shaken up its Cabinet. Is reform on the horizon? - Marjorie Miller, Los Angeles Times

Cuba's surrogates: Latin American leaders are sending Obama a message to stop treating Cuba as a pariah state - Sergio Muñoz, Los Angeles Times: In December, a summit of 33 Caribbean and Latin American nations agreed that, in Raul Castro's words, the U.S. should "cease this illegal and unjust violation of the human rights" of Cubans. They may have a point.

Obama Administration Affirms U.S. Neutrality in Salvadoran Election - Robert Naiman, Common Dreams


"The health care debate includes buzzwords and acronyms with more meaning to experts than laymen. This list of acronyms will remain at the top for easy access while the discussion continues, updated as I add more. Contributions welcome.

ADVAMED == The Advanced Medical Technology Association
AHIP == America’s Health Insurance
PlansCCHIT == Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology
CMS == Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
CON == Certificate of Need
EHR == Electronic Health Record
HFAP == Healthcare Facilities Accreditation ProgramHIMSS == Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
HIT == health information technology
HSA == Healthcare Savings AccountICE == In Case of Emergency
IOM == Institute of Medicine
LVN == Licensed Vocational NurseMedPAC == Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
MIPPA == Medicare Improvements for Patients and Physicians Act (2008)
NCVHS == The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics
NVCA == National Venture Capital Association
OIA == Osteopathic International AllianceOPM == Office of Personnel Management
P4P == Pay for Performance
PCIP == Primary Care Information Project (NYC)
PhRMA == The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
PHR == Personal Health Record (or Electronic Health Record, EHR)
PORI == Physicians’ Quality Reporting Initiative
PVBP == Physicians Value Based Purchasing
RHIO Regional Health Information Organizations (aka RHI “exchanges”)
SCHIP == State Children’s Health Insurance Program
SGR == Sustainable Growth Rate (various formulas)
XML == Extensible Markup Language"

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