Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28

“Car culture is America's culture.”

--Wall Street Journal commentator Daniel Henninger; image from


Diplomacy Chief Predicts Turnaround in US Standing Abroad - David Gollust, VOA: "The U.S. State Department's new public diplomacy chief says she's confident America's image abroad can be rebuilt after sagging badly during the Bush administration.

Former media executive Judith McHale spoke in an interview with VOA on her first full day as Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. … McHale oversees a $1 billion a year array of State Department communications, cultural, educational and exchange programs. She promised a top-to-bottom review of U.S. public diplomacy efforts but said she enters the post with no preconceived notions about structural changes, though there are abundant study-commission reform recommendations."

Judith McHale Resigns DigitalGlobe Board Position - Consumer Electronics Net: "DigitalGlobe, a leading global content provider of high-resolution world imagery solutions, today announced the resignation of Judith McHale from its board of directors, effective as of May 26, 2009. Ms. McHale joined DigitalGlobe's board of directors in July 2008 and is resigning to accept the position of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Ms. McHale's resignation was expected by the Company."

North Korean nuclear test leaves us no choice but to reduce the broadcasting budget - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "The United States can open more radio and television broadcasts from the United States, but it's up to South Korea and to the 'West' if they want to increase their output to North Korea. An excellent way to improve US broadcasting to North Korea would be to merge VOA and RFA [Radio Free Asia]. That would bring together their strengths and eliminate duplication. Because of the reduced administrative costs, i.e. the elimination of one administration, the budget for broadcasts to North Korea would have to be reduced. To politico-bureaucratic Washington, any budget reduction is an appalling prospect." On RFA, see. Image: Underground nuclear test of the North Korean type

BBG's Blaya [Broadcasting Board of Governors member Joaquin Blaya] makes the case for Alhurra - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Bush's Propaganda Effort in Middle East Outed as Colossal Waste of Money, Effort - O'Dwyer's Blog: Covering PR, public affairs, marketing and the world of communications: "The Bush Administration spent millions for public diplomacy in the Middle East to improve the image of this country and bankroll the President's idea that 'freedom is on the march.' That march never left the starting line. The American propaganda campaign was a colossal waste of money and effort, according to a Zogby International poll released last week. Zogby asked more than 4,000 Arabs in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Jordan what are the two most important factors driving American policy in their region. 'Promoting democracy,' 'spreading human rights,' 'promoting peace and stability' and 'fighting terrorism' hardly registered among those polled. Those were 'talking points' of our public diplomacy."

White House Homeland Security Council Merged Into the National Security Council - Lawrence Dietz, Psyops Regimental Blog: "The Department of State is the lead for Public Diplomacy, but often lacks the resources and reach to exert information influence in many parts of the world where conflicts exist."

Danger Will Robinson! White House creates the Global Engagement Directive - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "I don't know if US international broadcasting will be among the activities 'coordinated' by this new office, but 'international communications' suggests this might be the case. It dovetails with the rumors that the Obama Administration has not nominated new members for the Broadcasting Board of Governors because it plans to eliminate the BBG. The best thing the BBG can do now is to place large pieces of furniture in front of the door. When staff of the Global Engagement Directive come to visit, be very quiet until they leave. Otherwise, eventually, someone in a goatskin tent in the desert will be listening to the news on VOA. He will say to his companion: 'It sounds like someone has coordinated this newscast. Please retune the radio set to the BBC.'" On BBG, see.

New GAO Report on Public Diplomacy is out (Updated) – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: "The report is interesting and worth reading. As others have said, this is a timely report that pulls together much of what has been said. However, there are ... points that need emphasis. First, the GAO does not quite know what to do with the emergence of two sometimes complimentary and sometimes adversarial labels for US engagement: public diplomacy and strategic communication. … Second, the report does not even footnote the abolishment of Defense Support to Public Diplomacy, the existence of the Global Strategic Engagement Center, or other interagency mechanisms beyond the PCC. Third, problems caused by the Smith-Mundt Act are ignored. ... Fourth, they only obliquely address the problems of bifurcating public affairs and public diplomacy. … Fifth, it is important the report notes the damage the lack of consistent leadership has had on formulating a strategy and improving the practice of public diplomacy. However, the report fails to note that the absence of immediate leadership – vacancy in the Under Secretary’s office – was just one part of the problem. Failure to understand the real requirements and purpose of public diplomacy notwithstanding, the report should have also noted the lack of support of the Under Secretaries (some of which was expected). The Under Secretary was incapable of substantial change without active and visible support from the Secretary and the President, both of which we can believe the new Under Secretary will have."

New media advocates see cracks in Obama's open government push - Aliya Sternstein, "Critics noted that with Obama articulating … grand visions [with the open government initiative], there is now a standard to which to hold him. 'So far he hasn't lived up to those expectations, [but] at least those expectations are there,' Kansa said. 'I didn't see this in the last administration.' In contrast, Craig Newmark, creator of craigslist, the popular community-moderated classified ad site, has nothing but praise for the Obama administration's transparency efforts. He noted the open government initiative is akin to the 1787 Constitutional Convention that gathered statesmen to draft the U.S. Constitution. 'It is something of similar spirit,' he said. 'Apparently the events of Nov. 4 got a lot of people to realize that this social media stuff is for real.' Newmark said he wants to contribute to the open government project by becoming a champion for government Web managers, the 'nerds and wonks' in the White House and the innovative public diplomacy officials at the State Department 'who are making it happen.' 'Customer service is kind of like public service, or it should be,' he said. "I have an opportunity to expand this customer service far beyond craigslist. They don't need my help making it happen. They do need the help of people who can bear witness to that." Image from

How Sweet It Is... Brazil's Sugar Ethanol Fuels China's Recovery - Eric Ehrmann, Huffington Post: "Interests in both hemispheres would be better served if Washington shined the public diplomacy lovelight on the Kremlin's new military cooperation agreement with Venezuela that counterpoises the US presence in Colombia. The big back to the future package features all the trappings of the Cold War deals the Soviets cut with Cuba, Somalia, South Yemen and Syria and represents a potential threat to North-South relations and trade logistics."

Garrard County Economic Development Director Tapped for High Profile Leadership Group, Travels to Australia - Cyberhillbilly: “'ACYPL [The American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL)] has the unique mission of proving select young leaders with an opportunity to travel internationally and engage firsthand in public diplomacy,' said ACYPL Chief Executive Officer Linda Rotunno.

'Our delegates have access to key leaders in the nations they visit. They engage in dialogue on sensitive issues, gain a unique perspective on the country’s politics and its relations with the US, and, most importantly, forge professional relationships and friendships that can last a lifetime."'

Jazz Heritage Center Celebrates Grand Opening of Its Media and Education Center With 'Jazz Ambassadors': A Retrospective Conversation With Jazz Legend Randy Weston, Moderated by Jazz Historian Dr. Herb WongPRNewswire: "The Jazz Heritage Center, San Francisco's only permanent complex dedicated to jazz history and culture, today unveiled details for the highly anticipated grand opening of its Media and Education Center, the second phase addition to the non-profit, aimed at keeping the rich tradition of Jazz alive in the historic Fillmore District. … Acclaimed by critics as 'the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk,' Randy Weston will inaugurate the JHC's Media and Education Center in a discussion led by noted jazz historian Dr. Herb Wong. Weston will share stories and insights from his 14-country diplomacy tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department in 1967. The use of American jazz greats such as Weston --- along with Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and others --- in public diplomacy efforts sponsored by the U.S. government is the focus of the JHC's current major exhibit, Jam Session: America's Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World." Image from

Entrevista ao Professor Victor Marques dos Santos - CPA/AJPA: Blog oficial da Comissão Portuguesa do Atlântico e da Associação da Juventude Portuguesa do Atlântico: "Entrevista concedida pelo Professor Victor Marques dos Santos à AJPA, 12 de Maio de 2009. Victor Marques dos Santos. Professor Associado com Agregação. Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa. How do you feel NATO handled the transition into a post-cold war era? The end of the cold war faced NATO with an awkward scenario where the classic enemy had apparently vanished. … The present situation implies handling an environment characterized by uncertainty, and sustained interactive processes of dynamic and synergic change. In this new context, NATO must develop a proactive public diplomacy effort, devising innovative ways to ensure sustained public acceptance, support and credibility as a reliable and legitimate player, to promote and provide security, while improving its visibility and image among friends and partners. NATO must be portrayed as being a part of the solution, through an increasingly flexible and diversified performance capacity, by responding to the new issues and challenges often involving non-military missions." Image from

Canada: We're the other guys (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "Is it Canada's use of 'cultural programs, international education, international broadcasting, trade, and investment promotion' that have resulted in its positive ratings in international opinion polls?"

Egyptian Broadcasters Escape State TV - 3almastaba’s Blog: "The main source of profit to any television comes from advertisements. The emergence of the independent channels slashed the state profits from television commercials. … State broadcast journalists are even confused about their job definition and mission. 'Obviously it is a public diplomacy,' said Amin [Yousef Amin, Nile TV anchor]. 'It should be a news tool a news channel.' The first definition of any channel comes within its agenda. 'There is definitely an agenda,' said Amin. 'Like any other news outlet.'”

Sri Lanka Tamil minority driven toward LTTE due to long abuse by Sinhalese majority, says ‘New York Times’ - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: "The salient point for Sri Lanka to take note ... is (1) minority 12% Tamils in Sri Lanka were long oppressed by the Sinhalese majority (2) most were driven to the guerrillas as a desperation move after decades of abuse (3) until the government treats all of its citizens fairly, there is no chance for the peace (4) more autonomy in provinces where historically they (Tamils) have lived. And, these are the four main arguments that the United States, many nations of the European Union, some nations of the international community and the United Nations have been forwarding for a very long time. Strangely, Sri Lanka has not made any effort to use her overseas public diplomacy and strategic communication to meet these arguments allowing principal players of the international community to bring ‘undue’ pressure on Sri Lanka, which is fighting to safeguard her sovereignty and territorial integrity from a ruthless terrorist organization." Image: Sri Lanka. Political propaganda by SMS


Mr. Obama in Egypt: Will he speak to a rising generation of Muslims -- or the autocrats who rule them? – Editorial, Washington Post: If the Obama administration chooses to uncritically embrace autocrats such as Mr. Mubarak -- as it has so far -- the administration will merely repeat the failures of earlier U.S. administrations, which for decades propped up Arab dictators and ignored their human rights abuses, only to reap the harvest represented by al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It will accomplish the opposite of what Mr. Obama intends, by alienating a young generation of Arabs and Muslims that despises the old order and demands the freedoms that have spread everywhere else in the world. Image from

Report: Iraq prisoner abuse photos depict torture, rape AP, USA Today: A former U.S. general said graphic images of rape and torture are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Obama's administration does not want released. Retired Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the U.S. investigation into the abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, was quoted as telling Britain's Daily Telegraph in an article Wednesday that he agreed with Obama's decision not to release the pictures.

Students studying abroad face dangers with little oversight - Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY

Welcome to North Korea -- a backward and brainwashed nation - Ben Anderson, BBC reporter who filmed undercover inside the Dear Leader's North Korea, "North Korea is one of the world's most secretive societies. It is one of the few countries still operating under harsh communist rule. … There are three newspapers in North Korea, plus one radio and one TV station - all publishing the same kind of propaganda all day long. A typical front-page story I remember had a picture of Kim Jong Il at a goat farm, which he proclaimed great because protein is important.” Image from article.

The 'new' Auden poems aren't poems at all: His newly uncovered translations of Soviet propaganda are interesting, but they are not poetryCarol Rumens, Guardian

Top 10 Movies That Changed The World - Evan Andrews, Top Ten List: The prototypical propaganda film, Triumph Of The Will, is the prime example of the ways that art can be used for evil purposes. Ostensibly a documentary about the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremburg, Triumph Of The Will is in actuality a carefully constructed piece of propaganda designed to champion the ideology of Adolf Hitler.


13 May 2009: Opening Statement by Under Secretary-Designate Judith McHale Testifies before May 13 Senate Foreign Relations confirmation


"Girls embracing girls, girls embracing boys, boys embracing each other — the hug has become the favorite social greeting when teenagers meet or part these days. Teachers joke about 'one hour' and 'six hour' hugs, saying that students hug one another all day as if they were separated for the entire summer."

-- Sarah Kershaw, "For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’" New York Times

"Few places in Virginia are as draining to the soul and as numbing to the buttocks as the branch offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles. And yet, until recently, smiling was still permitted there. No more. As part of the DMV's effort to develop super-secure driver's licenses and foolproof identification cards, the agency has issued a smile ban, directing customers to adopt a 'neutral expression' in their portraits, thereby extinguishing whatever happiness comes with finally hearing one's number called."

--Nick Miroff, "As if It Needed to, Virginia Bans Smiles at the DMV," Washington Post

"In 1940, we had rivers on both coasts teeming with salmon; abalone steak was a basic dish in San Francisco; the New England fisheries were booming with cod and halibut. Maple trees covered the Northeast, and syruping time was as certain as the order of months on a calendar. Flying squirrels still leaped from conifer to hardwood in the forests of Appalachia, where they were eaten in stews."

--Mark Kurlansky, "A taste of America's past," Los Angeles Times

SOVIET PUBLICATION: "A GIRL AND UNCLE TOM [Сергей Михалков, «Девочка и дядя Том»]" (1968)

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