Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30-31

"Our departing flesh will never abandon us."

--Line of a poem sent by a valued PDPBR subscriber; image from


"Vatican Protest Of Sexual Abuse Stopped By Italian Police (VIDEO, PHOTOS) ... Watch video from the protest from the Voice of America"


Elusive hearts and minds - Huma Yusuf, "Washington sees bilateral foreign assistance as a way to sway public opinion and foster stability by earning the trust of elusive hearts and minds. But while the US has given Pakistan over $18bn in military and civilian aid since 2001, only 17 per cent of Pakistanis view the US favourably, according to a Pew Research Centre survey from June. These contradictory statistics suggest that the harder the US tries to improve its image by doling out bucketfuls of aid, the more suspicious of its motives Pakistanis become. ... As the debate rages about the ability of aid to win hearts and minds, the US should clarify why Pakistani public opinion matters. Is this just an egotistical concern, whereby the US cannot abide by the fact that there are some people who, despite receiving its billions, continue to hate its guts? Or is this a genuine security concern that plays directly into America’s stated goal for this region (to guarantee that Pakistan and Afghanistan are not used as launching pads for attacks against the US) and presumes that people are more likely to bomb those they hate? In the latter case, US policies face a difficult challenge.

Developmental aid may just succeed in winning over average Pakistanis in coming years. But average souls pose fewer threats to US security. The danger is increasingly coming in the form of Faisal Shahzad and Farooque Ahmed, another Pakistani-born US citizen who was arrested this week for plotting to bomb Metro stations in Washington DC. These Pakistanis are acutely aware of Washington’s schizophrenic policies in Pakistan that couple developmental aid and drone attacks. They are not likely to be won over by a sack of rice or a maternity ward. They are more interested in seeing the US alter its foreign policy with regard to drone attacks, relations with India, the conflicts in Kashmir and Palestine, and more. If it is Pakistanis like these the US aims to entice, it should focus less on winning hearts and minds and more on changing its policies." Image from article, with caption: "US special envoy Richard Holbrooke spoke in support of major, visible aid projects such as bridges that could win back the appreciation of the Pakistani people." See also John Brown, "Richard Holbrooke: Able and Insufferable," Huffington Post.

Obama's India visit will feed Pakistan's sense of insecurity‎ - Mosharraf Zaidi, "Pakistani complaints about how it is treated by the US have come to constitute the very foundation of Pakistan-US relations. The real fuel to the fire that is burning a hole in the hearts and minds of Pakistanis (the hearts and minds that US public diplomacy laboriously strives to win) is the blossoming courtship between the US and India. As fading global American power seeks anchors in an increasingly multipolar world, the growing perception that India — despite all its attendant and existential challenges — is going to be a vital economic power in the world, draws great attention in Washington DC. The US-India relationship, in the epic words of Right Said Fred has 'legs that go on for miles and miles.' India’s place in the American calculus is stable, sustainable and deep-rooted. Why? Primarily because American interest in India is driven by qualities that India wants to be known for — trade, commerce, innovation, creativity, and enterprise. The dominant narrative of India in the US is one of economic potential and hope. Pakistani envy at the strong roots of this organic relationship is understandable. America’s interest in Pakistan is not driven by qualities that any country wants to be known for — terrorism, poverty, instability and conflict. The dominant narrative of Pakistan in the US is of insecurity and fear."

QU law students conclude US visit - "Six students of College of Law at Qatar University (QU)

concluded a trip to the US where they visited judicial sites in Washington DC, and law schools in New York. The week-long trip was organised and sponsored by the US Embassy in Qatar. The objective of the trip was to provide the students with practical exposure and experience with the US legal system and legal education system. The trip also aimed at promoting cross-cultural understanding between Qatari and US law students. ... They were briefed by [among others] ... Patricia Kabra, Deputy Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, US State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs." Image from

US Agencies Team Up to Support Iraqi Universities‎ - Eoghan Cullen, NewsBlaze: "The Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team and Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment recently visited two Basra universities to increase students' awareness of various educational opportunities. Jeff Lodermeier, assistant cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and three PRT members visited the north and south campuses of the University of Basra in October. 'The goal of these visits is to support the education initiatives in multiple ways,' Lodermeier said. During the visits, the PRT's public diplomacy officers spoke with students about scholarship opportunities and studying abroad in the United States."

Image: Jeff Lodermeier, assistant cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, speaks to a class of students at the University of Basra-North about scholarship opportunities and study abroad programs.

Ghosts, goblins, and VOA Persian News Network detractors - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "In many languages of US international broadcasting, two stations transmit: VOA and a 'Radio Free' station. In theory, VOA limits itself to news about the United States and the world in general, and the surrogate station provides news about the target country. In reality, the theory is absurd, because it forces the audience to tune to two stations get complete news coverage. A less crazy dichotomy for US international broadcasting to Iran would be for one television channel to broadcast objective, reliable, comprehensive news. That would be VOA PNN. Another channel can devote itself to screeds that are anti-Tehran and pro whichever of the several Iranian exile factions that manages to get control of the station. This channel would be unabashedly biased. It might have content called 'news,' which is to say it's not really news. Both channels can be beamed into Iran using a comparable array of satellites. After a year or so, audience research, which can be conducted, after a fashion, in Iran, would determine which channel Iranian viewers prefer. Because it's a matter of letting the market decide, the Heritage Foundation should go for the idea."

International broadcasting and the Burmese election: "enough funds" for VOA Burmese? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "VOA Burmese is now on a 'surge' schedule of six hours per day (includes repeats), plus 60 minutes of television per week. After the election, it will return to its normal schedule, though I'm not sure how many hours that is. In 2006, VOA transmitted only 1.5 hours a day. ... The VOA and RFA Burmese services divide and compete for scarce resources, and report on many of the same stories. To complicate things, television has become popular in Burma, and many Burmese are seeking out foreign television channels via satellite. For US international radio to Burma,

the division of resources is harmful. For US international television, it will be fatal. If US international broadcasting can be reformed, it will probably discover that it already has 'enough funds.'" Image from

Sanity Rally and Cold-War Public Diplomacy - John Brown, Huffington Post: "All of a sudden, I felt back in Central Europe during the Cold War. But this was Washington, D.C., on October 30, 2010. At the Rally to Restore Sanity in the imperial capital yesterday, the mood reminded me of my postings as a U.S. Foreign Service public diplomacy officer in Prague (1983-1985) and Krakow (1986-1990). In Prague, working with the Jazz Section, I used the small garden of my 'official' residence near the Vltava river (with its then ever-present swans) as a venue for Jazz concerts. Most of the Czechs attending these events were 'dissidents' -- a hard word to define, but meaning persons (mostly young) who looked beyond the narrow, parochial views of a dinosaur communist regime. Humor and irony were an essential part of their politics. Living in an Orwellian society in many ways absurd, they used as sanity tools gentle you-know-what-I-mean winks, and, above all, music. Least on their minds was violence. ... In Krakow, home of one of Europe's oldest universities, the Piwnica pod Baranami, a cabaret full of wit and energy, was kind (and courageous) enough to establish contact with American diplomats. Its stellar cellar performances on late-night occasions were highlighted by the singing of Anna Szałapak, with whom it was impossible not to fall in love. After the cabaret returned from the United States on a tour, a reception was held in its honor at the American Consulate in Krakow. The leader of the group, the unforgettable Piotr Skrzynecki,

brought his pet goat to the party." Skrzynecki image from article

Pambassadors in the Post - Laura McGinnis, manIC: "Flipping through the Washington Post this morning, I came across this, a news supplement 'prepared by China Daily, People's Republic of China,' in the style of Russia Today. ... The presence of the supplement was no surprise. This blog has reported on China's expanding PD efforts before. According to the website, China Daily's U.S. edition was launched in 2009 and 'its circulation includes the United Nations Headquarters, government agencies of the United States and Canada, universities, think tanks, major financial institutions and many high-tech companies.' But I have to wonder how effective these supplements actually are. The writing is about as subtle as an episode of Jackass, and it's hard to read stories about the stresses of white collar capitalism without the word 'propaganda' popping into your head. And who, exactly, are these supplements targeting? As I understand it, the Washington Post's print subscribers essentially consist of me and a few dozen Luddites scattered around the city. I attempted to call the China Daily offices in D.C. and New York for more information, but went to voice mail both times. China is nothing if not consistent."

France leaps ahead of Britain, Germany as key Kazakh partner‎ - Martin Sieff, Central Asia Newswire: France is now springing ahead of Britain and Germany as Kazakhstan’s main industrial trading partner in Western Europe. The change is due to diplomatic and financial, as well as industrial, factors. This week, French and Kazakh firms celebrated the signing of no less than $2.7 billion in lucrative new industrial and development deals. The agreements were especially welcome to embattled French President Nicolas Sarkozy. ... Indeed, Kazakh President Nazarbayev went out of his way this week to publicly endorse Sarkozy and support him on the economic austerity measures he is enforcing.

That kind of support for the domestic policies of even allied nations is unusual in public diplomacy. ... Now the Kazakhs are encouraging their major corporations to get listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the second largest in terms of capitalization in all of Asia after Tokyo. That move is widely seen as moving the main center of Kazakhstan’s financial operations halfway around the world from the City of London to be based in and focused on East Asia. And to add insult to injury, the British Consulate and the culture-promoting British Council may be evicted from the prestigious historic building they have long occupied in Kazakhstan's biggest city Almaty. BTA Bank is trying to gain control of the building. A Kazakh court last week annulled BTA's prior sale of the building to its current owners, Samal properties. If BTA regains control, there is widespread speculation in Almaty business circles that British institutions will be evicted." Image from

Buttressing Pak-Turkish linkages - Shanzeh Iqbal, "The relations between Turkey and Pakistan are entrenched deeply. Both the countries share a common vision on many regional and international issues. The relations are based on mutual respect, trust and interest. The two countries face the same challenges and a common cultural heritage. Turkey has acknowledged on many forums the sacrifices offered by the Pakistani nation and its army in waging a war on terror. Turkey has rendered an unflinching support to Pakistan. Times have proved it. ... The sectors where the [Pakistan] government has to work include increased corporate sector cooperation, greater people to people contacts, exchange of students, media and intellectuals. Along with this transport, telecommunications, energy, water, public diplomacy and other industries are the areas where the attention must be focused. We must take advantage of the existing potential of Turkey. This can be a way to avert the looming shadows of misfortune hovering over the economy of Pakistan."

Joint Senior College-Camden Conference Forum on Asia - Camden Conference: "The Belfast Senior College and the Camden Conference are pleased to announce a jointly sponsored forum on political themes related to the 2011 Camden Conference topic 'The Challenges of Asia'. The event begins with a presentation titled 'The Politics of US-China Relations' by November’s Senior College Distinguished Speaker, David Firestein. ... David J. Firestein

is EWI's Director of Track 2 Diplomacy; in this capacity, he leads EWI's China, Russia and United States initiatives, reporting to the president. A career U.S. diplomat from 1992 to 2010, Firestein is an expert in China, Russia, public diplomacy and U.S. politics. In his Foreign Service career, he served at the U.S. embassies in Beijing and Moscow. Firestein speaks near native-level Chinese and fluent Russian and has interpreted for senior U.S. officials in both languages." Firestein image from article.


Culture Club: Reston Salon offers eclectic mix of conversation, culture - Alex McVeigh, "Reston residents don’t have to go far to find interesting conversations. The Chez Nous Salon, hosted by Najwa Saad, offers residents from all over Northern Virginia the chance to explore art, culture, science and other topics as explained by experts from all over the world. ... This month’s salon featured a presentation from Virginia Shore, the curator and acting director of the Art in Embassies Program of the Department of State. Her presentation was titled 'The Role of Art in Cultural Diplomacy' and she described her department’s role in collecting and displaying American art all over the world. 'Art plays an important role in all of our diplomatic facilities, it is a powerful tool of American diplomacy,' Saad said. 'Art for art’s sake is powerful, it stimulates gathering and exchange and bridge building wherever it happens.' Shore spoke of helping ambassadors find art to decorate their embassy, and the various levels of involvement.

'Some ambassadors are very involved, wanting to pick just the right pieces to reflect certain aspects of culture, and some are just concerned with matching color swatches,' she said. She also noted the various styles of various presidential administrations, and how it affected their collecting of arts. She said that George W. Bush’s administration was marked by a fondness for Western-style art, while Bill Clinton’s was big on abstract impressionism. ... More information about the Chez Nous Salon can be found on Twitter at, or at Image from article: Kathi Robinson, realtor, Reston, pictured with Najwa Saad

Looking East: Real J-info for fans in Japan and around the world - Takamasa Sakurai - The Yomiuri Shimbun: "In addition to my work as Japan's pop culture ambassador, I work as chief executive editor for Tokyo Kawaii Magazine, a digital magazine app for the iPhone. Toshihiro Fukuoka, who is chief executive editor of weekly magazine Shukan Ascii, is responsible for the actual editing as editor in chief; I'm more of an advisor, but I've been involved in the publication since its inception. In summer and autumn 2008, I realized we are amid a world kawaii revolution; I heard girls in Europe talking about how they wanted to be Japanese, or that Japanese high school uniforms symbolize freedom. Fukuoka was the first person to truly recognize the meaning and significance of the movement. While visiting a number of countries through my cultural diplomatic efforts, I have come across several magazines with 'Japan' as part of their name. But the Japan-related information in these magazines was often unsatisfactory for the local fans of Japanese pop culture. I began to see the potential in producing a Japanese pop culture magazine in Japan for readers in other countries and felt the first edition should be in English. Fukuoka, who--like me--attended the Japan Expo in Paris in July 2009 and Salon del Manga in Barcelona in October 2009, felt the same way. The time had come. While I toured Russia, Brazil, South Korea and China for my cultural diplomacy programs, Fukuoka proceeded with preparations for the launch of Tokyo Kawaii Magazine. To make it possible for people around the world buy it at the same time it is released in Japan, we decided to make the magazine an app for the iPhone. We started with the English version, and are planning to release it in Spanish, and then in French."

Seattle Peace Chorus Wine Tasting - Lift Your Glass for Peace!‎ - press release, WebWire: "In June 2011, a delegation of singers will travel to Israel and the West Bank continuing the Seattle Peace Chorus’ 26 year tradition of spreading a message of peace and justice through song.

The 10 day trip will be an opportunity to learn some of the realities and challenges facing the people- Jewish, Palestinians, and Muslim; an opportunity to do compassionate listening; to offer encouragement thru song and to visit various historical sites. The chorus was started during the cold war. For the past 26 years they have been doing citizen-to-citizen cultural diplomacy through trips to the former Soviet Union, Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela." Image from

"India: Asian Sub-Continent Giant" - Press Release, PRLog: "Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to the United States, will discuss India: Asian Sub-Continent Giant on the November 17 at the Stamford Yacht Club. ... Ambassador Shankar served as Director in the Prime Minister's Office from 1985 to 1991; was posted to Washington DC and served as Commerce Minister from 1991 to 1995. Thereafter, she headed the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in New Delhi overseeing India's cultural diplomacy. Subsequently she moved to the Ministry of External Affairs. After promotion to the rank of Additional Secretary in 2002, she held the responsibility for the United Nations and International Security. Her last assignment was as Ambassador of India to Germany from December 2005 to April 2009. Ambassador Shankar has been posted to Washington since April 2009."


One of Those Fabulous Flights: How a scrawny Italian kid from Jersey learned to feel the words and redefined the Great American Songbook - Eddie Dean, Wall Street Journal: You can go anywhere in the world, the saying goes, and if you can find yourself a nice, classy place where civilized people are gathered, it's a sure bet you will hear a Frank Sinatra song. It doesn't matter what language is spoken.

Everybody understands at least a line or two of Lingua Frank, and who knows how many have ditched their Berlitz tapes to instead tackle English to the immaculate phrasing of 'Time After Time' or 'Young at Heart'? A classic Sinatra song defines that elusive quality 'class' as much as any other American cultural export, and it's no small irony that it's what Sinatra aspired to and yet so often felt he lacked." Image from


The smell of America says, ‘Come in and buy.’ The smell of Russia says, ‘Ladies and gentlemen: Russia!’ ”

Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia

"The French love to hate American food."

--Renée Kaplan, "Très français: An American at the table," Princeton Alumni Weekly (November 3, 2010), p. 33


From Boing Boing

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