Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28

"Churchill was prepared to deal with individuals on equal terms if they were 'civilized', which in practice meant rich and well educated or, in the case of one Afghan officer with whom he and some friends dined, good at billiards."

--Richard Toye, Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made (2010); image from


On the START treaty, did America.gov censor? And was VOA 90% imbalanced? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Blogger News Network, 27 Dec 2010, Ted Lipien: 'On the day the U.S. Senate voted to approve the new arms reduction treaty with Russia, I found an article on the State Depa[r]tment’s website, America.gov, which gave a long list of the START treaty’s benefits lauded by the Obama administration but failed to note any of the objections from some key Republican lawmakers and other critics. I posted a short comment that a website devoted to public diplomacy, with a name that implies that it represents the views of the entire American government and the American public, should try to present a more balanced perspective and mention some of the difficulties in getting the U.S.-Russian agreement approved by the Senate. Within only a few minutes my comment was removed. After successfully challenging censorship for more than 30 years by bringing balanced news to communist-ruled Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and other countries,

I was finally successfully censored by my former employer, the United States government. ... I have checked the Voice of America’s recent coverage of the START treaty debate and found that the VOA English Service devoted about 90 percent of its online START news content to views in support of the treaty. While a VOA spokesperson described my claim as incorrect, a text analysis of all recent online VOA English Service stories on this subject can be easily done by anyone using an word count application. By law, the Voice of America, which is funded by American taxpayers to communicate with audiences abroad, is required to offer balanced news coverage. ... The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which has mismanaged the Voice of America for years, should be abolished and journalistic independence and standards at VOA and other government-funded U.S. international broadcasters significantly strengthened under some type of public monitoring and oversight.' [Elliott comment:] Thanks to Ted for providing a provocative essay in the slow time between Christmas and New Year's Day. About the first paragraph, perhaps America.gov doesn't use comments from the United States, given Smith-Mundt and all that. Public diplomacy does not represent 'the views of the entire American government and the American public.' It represents the views of the administration's [underscored] foreign policy. The 'public' is overseas, not our [underscored] public. 'Balanced' is not the job of America.gov, but rather of US international broadcasting, over in a different agency. About VOA coverage of the START treaty, the most detailed VOA stories about this topic are on 19 December, 21 December, and 22 December, 2010. They seem balanced to me, but read them yourself. (See also RFE/RL, 21 Dec 2010.) The third paragraph is precisely contradictory. 'Public monitoring and oversight' would not strengthen journalistic independence. It would eliminate it. The public broadcasting entities of the world have found only one way to achieve independence, and that is the protection of a multi-partisan board with fixed and staggered terms. Without the BBG, US international broadcasting might continue as bureaucracy and boondoggle, but it would no longer have its independence, and thus no credibility, and thus no audience. It would simply be a waste of money. Free Media Online, 23 Dec 2010, Ted Lipien: 'The Voice of America could have played a major role delivering news and information to Belarus by radio, but it did not have that capability due to bad planning and mismanagement at its parent agency. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, BBG, which manages VOA, terminated VOA Russian FM, shortwave and medium wave radio broadcasts in 2008, just 12 days before the Russian military attack on Georgia. Such radio broadcasts, especially medium wave (AM) from transmitters in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia,

which cannot be easily blocked, would have been extremely useful during the emergency in Belarus or any other type of crisis, also in Russia. According to VOA insiders, citizen journalists were able to tell their news to a VOA reporter on the ground, but the Voice of America was unable to deliver the news back to Belarus because it lacked effective program delivery when faced with the blockage of the Internet by the regime in Minsk.' [Elliott comment:] As a VOA stalwart, Ted did not mention archrival RFE/RL's extensive Belarusian Service. It does transmit on shortwave and (via Lithuania) on medium wave. In fact, in response to the post-election crisis, RFE Belarusian shortwave and medium wave transmissions were expanded to provide an all-night service, per a report from Ivo Ivanov to the DX Listening Digest Yahoo! group, 22 Dec 2010. See previous post about same subject." Lipien image (top) from; Elliott image from

Iranian broadcasting official, citing "recent poll," says BBC Persian is less popular than before - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting:"It would have been helpful for Press TV to provide details about the 'most recent poll,' e.g. who conducted it. Does his statement mean the audience is below 25% of what it was eight months ago? If this is true, perhaps increased satellite jamming (terrestrial, because I haven't heard of any increased jamming of satellites themselves in the past eight months) and satellite dish confiscations are the reason. The criticism of VOA Persian by the IRIB official on one side, and that of Larry Klayman (previous post) on the other, suggests that VOA Persian must be doing something right."

Good Daily and Good Luck - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I wrote a while back that Jon Stewart should be the new USIA's chief. I was a tad prescient. The NY Times has an article today comparing Stewart to Murrow." On USIA, see.

India - Address by Foreign Secretary at launch of MEA & PD Division websites - isria.com: Foreign Sercretary Nirupama Rao: "The MEA website needed a complete re-do, both in terms of its look and feel, as well as, content. Even though it is still work in progress, I am pleased that the new website, which was launched recently, has met those criteria to a large extent. It aims to make available comprehensive and speedy information, on India’s foreign relation activities, as well as, Ministry’s views on salient Foreign Policy issues.

Besides the media, academia, Indian and international governmental agencies, businesses and travellers, the new website is also meant to be a resource for youth and students. Encouraged by the response, and I may mention that the website is currently receiving close to 300,000 hits daily, which is twice as much as the earlier website, we have started work on an more ambitious integrated MEA Portal. It is meant to introduce uniformity in the look, feel, content and navigational ease for all the websites of the Ministry and its Missions/Posts abroad." Rao image from

The Holocaust's Boomerang Effect On Public Diplomacy - backspin.typepad.com: "I was never comfortable with the way Israel has over-emphasized the connection between the Holocaust and the founding of the state. ... There are connections between the Holocaust and Israel's founding. But years of over-emphasis are having a boomerang effect on Israel's public diplomacy."

Huge Jewish Internet propoganda [sic] machine exposed - forums.islamicawakening.com: "Hasbara refers to the propaganda efforts to sell Israel, justify its actions, and defend it in world opinion. Using contemporary euphemisms, it is Public diplomacy for Israel, or using a pejorative interpretation, then it is apologia. Israel portrays itself as fighting on two fronts: the Palestinians and world opinion. The latter is dealt with hasbara. The premise of hasbara is that Israel's problems are a matter of better propaganda, and not one of an underlying unjust situation."

Russia - The Major Foreign Policy Events of 2010 - isria.com: "24. Consistent work was carried out to intensify collaboration with the Russian NGO community of foreign policy orientation. Pursuant to the executive orders signed in February by the President of the Russian Federation, the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund

was established and work on the formation of the Russian Council on International Affairs is continuing." Gorchakov image from

Egypt - The Third Ministerial Meeting for Asia-Middle East Dialogue Countries - "The Third Ministerial Meeting for Asia-Middle East Dialogue (AMED) was held on 15th, 16th December in Thailand under the title of 'Strengthening Cooperation towards Common Prosperity'. Thirty-nine Countries participated in the meeting, where the Egyptian delegation was presided by Assistant Foreign Minister, Ambassador Rauf Saad. ... Ambassador Rauf Saad has called on the Dialogue states to launch an initiative entitles 'A Poverty-Free World' in the next decade, in order to eliminate this problem and its negative social and economic consequences. He also called for sustaining cooperation on the public diplomacy level as a new axis for dialogue and closeness between the parliaments of the two regions."

Even tax collectors are anti-imperialist nowadays - businessday.co.za" "In a previous blog [November 10] I gave some tips on how the public diplomacy division in the foreign affairs department should go about during their public relations exercises. Boy, are they going to need these and many more after the multimillion dollar anti-imperialist youth festival started in Pretoria this week. ... Just the basic facts are already cause for mirth and hilarity – the imperialistic amounts to be splurged, the imperialistic scale of the slogans, the imperialistic arrogance

in all the sweeping resolutions. How will our under-resourced foreign affairs department handle it all? If they had a clue, we are not seeing any sign of it. We should be having furious spin and PR contortions by now. Instead our foreign minister has been told to complain to Hillary Clinton about WikiLeaks." Image from


WikiLeaks Disrupts US Propaganda Machinery: Israel’s Motor Scooter Bombers in Iran? - John Stanton, dissidentvoice.org: An intriguing document found in the WikiLeaks dump is a cable concerning the spread of Israel’s Mafia. At first glance, it seems inconsequential as every country has organized crime rings operating freely. Besides, one never knows when members of the mafia might be useful for national security purposes. At any rate, we learn that a few years back an Israeli mafia don was assassinated by a motor scooter bomber in the same manner as the Iranian physicist recently executed in Tehran.

Western influence turns yoga on its head in Mumbai - Gail Sheehy, USA TODAY: "Yoga offers many benefits, from mind control to pain relief, but I'd never heard that weight loss was one of them. A huge banner outside of Gold's Gym touted its 'Fat Burning Yoga Package.'

The gym is a California import with franchises all over Southeast Asia. I suspected an American commercialization of India's greatest contribution to self-care." Image from

N.B.A. in India, in Search of Fans and Players - Jeremy Kahn, New York Times: The success of N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern’s 25-year crusade to globalize basketball is often summed up in two words: Yao Ming. After Yao, a 7-foot-6 center from Shanghai, was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2002, the league attracted hundreds of millions of new fans in China.

And though Yao is out for the season with a stress fracture that could end his professional career, the N.B.A.’s international march continues.This season, the league will play its first regular-season games in Europe, a two-game matchup in March between the Nets and the Toronto Raptors in London. And having conquered China, the N.B.A. has its sights fixed on Asia’s other big emerging market: India. Image from article: The N.B.A. has built community basketball courts in neighborhoods across India, like Nagpada in Mumbai.

Hitler’s Triumph of the Will & Christ - Kelly O'Connell, canadafreepress.com: The movie Triumph of the Will was created to show the power and majesty of Nazism. Some consider it the greatest work of propaganda in history. It celebrates Nazism and especially the rise of Adolf Hitler (his speech) (entire film here). The message is Nazism is the new religion, the new salvation for people, where mankind saves himself through heroic deeds. Nietzsche celebrates this in Ecce Homo, demanding humans reject all previous beliefs and create a new moral system. Ironically, this book decisively proved Nietzsche was hopelessly insane. Hitler himself chose the title, an explicit refutation of Martin Luther‘s Bondage of the Will and German Christianity in general. It’s easy to see now Hitler was likewise on an insane mission to replace God with the swastika over human ambition. This was set against Luther’s mantra, “The just shall live by faith.”

Now THIS is Soviet-style propaganda - Chemjobber: Image from article


Frito-Lay to make snacks from natural ingredients - Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY: An unlikely name is about to step into the natural foods world: Frito-Lay. Today, the world's largest snackmaker — often mocked by nutritionists for its Cheetos and Doritos — will unveil a revamped product line for 2011, with 50% of its snacks made from all-natural ingredients. "This is the largest evolution we've ever had in our product line," says Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay. Until now, she says, 30% of its line was "all natural."

For example: •A bag of Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips will lose all of these additives: monosodium glutamate, sodium diacetate and artificial colors. •Lay's Barbeque chips will drop the monosodium glutamate and some other additives. But don't look for major changes anytime soon in artificially flavor-laden Cheetos or Doritos. Image from article


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