Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27

“How to Write a Poem Like Walt Whitman”

--An article by a library-science graduate student named Alison Sperry, posted at eHow, a former content-farm division of Demand Media; image from 



Branding USA: Government Seeks Pair to Boost Travel, Improve Image: Congress Seeks CMO for New Corp. for Travel Promotion, While State Department Looks to Fill Public-Diplomacy Post - ‎Nat Ives, "A pair of job openings are going to require the answer to that question: the CMO slot at the new Corp. for Travel Promotion, a public-private partnership created by Congress with a potential $200 million budget; and the undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs post at the State Department, whose current occupant plans to step down July 1. 'The individual filling this high-profile role will have the historic opportunity to create 'Brand USA,''

the travel corporation's job listing says, 'improving the worldwide reputation of the United States' along the way to attracting more visitors. Visitors to the U.S. are projected to increase 7% to 64 million this year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. But the U.S. has been losing share of the international travel market as global travel has boomed, according to CTP. ...The State Department's public diplomacy position 'isn't about marketing,' according to its current occupant, former Discovery Communications CEO Judith McHale, as much as conversations and connections, often enabled by digital and social media. 'It is about entering into what we call the marketplace of ideas, and debating and discussing with people and listening to what they have to say, on the theory that that's the best way to get your message across.' 'Our goal is not to have people love us,' she said. 'It is to have a respectful relationship with them so when we disagree it doesn't stop us from working in areas where we agree.' The State Department now has more than 100 foreign-language Twitter feeds. 'We analyze the incoming information to see what the critical themes are for a particular population, such as democracy or jobs, and then we tailor our messages to respond to that.' The job openings come at a potentially pivotal time for the global perceptions of the U.S., according

to the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project. 'We've seen a decline in ratings for the U.S. over the last year in Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan,' said Richard Wike, associate director. 'At this point only 10% of Turks have a positive view of us and the numbers in Jordan and Pakistan aren't much better.' ... [S]quaring promotion with policies will be as crucial. 'The global public is much smarter now and they're much more skeptical,' said Philip Seib, director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. 'Their attitude now is, 'You say you're a great country? Prove it.' An ad campaign is not going to take care of that.'" Top image from; below image from article

"The White House finally ended its boycott of VOA," she writes - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Elliot comment on Helle Dale, "Obama (Finally) Talks to Voice of America," Heritage Foundation: "Most presidents have not been interviewed by VOA. All, since FDR, have 'appeared on air with VOA,' mostly through speeches or speech excerpts. By that definition, Barack Obama has 'appeared on' VOA since his inauguration day. When a president considers USIB to be a 'strategic asset,' USIB is screwed. How can a 'strategic asset' provide a comprehensive, reliable, and independent news service, which is the main reason for the audience to tune in?'

Afghanistan poppy killers get scrutiny absent in prior contracts - Michelle Jamrisko, Washington Post: “U.S. contractors with almost $2 billion worth of counter-narcotics business in Afghanistan will get more scrutiny than they faced for work completed in Latin America over the past decade, government officials said. DynCorp International, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT and ARINC, which are working with the Defense and State departments on anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan, performed similar work in Latin America with inadequate competition and little oversight, according to a report by the majority staff of a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee and a previous investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general. ... Barbara Silberstein, an INL [The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs] public diplomacy officer, declined to comment on the subcommittee’s report or progress on the new database.” Via GG on facebook.

Quick! Look Over There! - Thomas S. Harrington, Common Dreams: "[A]t a time when agents of public diplomacy and their pliant mouthpieces

in the press are directing our collective gaze to the problems of information control in other places, the US government is moving quite swiftly and deliberately to circumscribe our 'fundamental right to communicate' without interference." Image from

Fateh-Hamas Reconciliation Agreement - ‎Antonia Dimou, World Press Review: "Under the present circumstances, the United States needs to improve public diplomacy efforts towards Israel and the Palestinians, including a presidential visit, to explain the U.S. strategy and reinforce support for negotiations. The United States needs to restore confidence with the Palestinian side, since the first two years of the Obama administration have been discouraging to Palestinians, who were greatly encouraged by the

American president's early statements and speeches as well as the apparent contrast with former president George W. Bush. The slow pace set by Senator George Mitchell on negotiations, U.S. backtracking on the settlements issue and a lack of noticeable results from the proximity talks all account for this disappointment." Image from article, with caption: Palestinians celebrate the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas at a rally in Gaza on May 4.

Israel urged to speak directly to Arab world: Israel's global public diplomacy campaign has long ignored the Arab world. But with recent political changes in the region, some say the Jewish state's future security may depend upon its ability to reach out to the Arab street - ‎Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times: "Few countries are as active in courting international opinion as Israel. An entire ministry is devoted to a kind of global PR called hasbara, the Hebrew word for 'explaining.' Israelis studiously track public opinion in the United States and Europe, and Israel's military has taken to using YouTube, Twitter and an army of bloggers to disseminate real-time updates around the world, sometimes in the middle of battle. But the public diplomacy campaign, which has largely focused on the West, has ignored the Arab world, which many in Israel have viewed as a lost cause. But now, as popular unrest, organized in part by the use of social media tools, topples long-standing Arab regimes, some say Israel has an opportunity to make use of those same tools to try to improve its image among its many enemies in the region. With political reforms promising to give Arab citizens a greater voice, some say that Israel's stability and security will rest partly on whether it can adapt its well-oiled PR machine to launch a new relationship with the Arab street. Whereas the U.S., Britain and France launched Arabic-language news channels in recent years to speak directly to Arab populations, Israel let its Arabic-language satellite station go dark in most of the region. The hasbara-focused Public Diplomacy Ministry employs plenty of English speakers but no one fluent in Arabic, its top official said. The Israel Defense Forces

have released hundreds of YouTube videos and Twitter messages in the last two years, but only a few have been in Arabic. For years, many Israelis dismissed the idea of 'Arab hasbara' as a waste of time, doubting that the Jewish state could overcome generations of hostility from some nations, particularly without a resolution of Israel's 44-year occupation of the West Bank. ... Yuli Edelstein, Israel's minister of public diplomacy, said the government appreciates the new political situation in the Arab world and is working to improve its advocacy. ... As an initial step, the prime minister's office in May hired its first Arabic-speaking spokesman and unveiled a new Arabic-language website. The Israel Defense Forces, which already had an Arabic-language spokesman, began tweeting in Arabic for the first time this month, during the deadly pro-Palestinian protests along the Syrian border. ... Proponents of an Arab world campaign say the next priority is the launch of an Arabic-language news channel, which they bill as an Israeli version of Al Jazeera or CNN Arabic. Years ago, the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the nation's public television provider, beamed such a channel throughout the Mideast, but over the years the channel lost funding and focus, Edelstein said. Unfortunately, he added, Israel lost interest in the channel just as satellite television exploded in the Arab world. Now the IBA is developing a plan to spend more than $30 million to double its Arabic-language programming to eight hours a day and next year launch a new satellite that can beam its signals to the entire region." Image from article, with caption:Palestinians take part in a rally at the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip to thank Egypt for easing travel restrictions.

Netanyahu: Israel will not allow flotilla to breach Gaza naval blockade: Security officials inform cabinet that they have no information indicating that anyone affiliated with a terror group is planning to take part in the flotilla - Anshel Pfeffer, Danna Harman and Barak Ravid, "Government and defense sources said the fact that most, if not all, the flotilla participants will be European peace activists presumably not interested in violence will present a 'more difficult public diplomacy challenge,' and Israel wants to avoid clashes with the activists. In contrast to the decision last year to deploy naval commandos onboard the ships when they ignored Israeli warnings not to continue to Gaza - this year Israel will try other methods to stop the ships and direct them toward Egypt's El Arish port."

Baby’s First Presidential Conference - Jessica Snapper, "Maybe there was something we could learn from the Palestinians when it comes to Israel’s own machinations (or lack thereof) when it comes to public diplomacy and image framing in the international arena."

Reckless Western anti-Zionism rebounds over Libya killings: Uproar over NATO’s accidental killing of civilians shows how short-sighted and damaging was Western fury at Israel’s operation in Gaza - Robin Shepherd, "Our armed forces owe a huge debt to Israel over the operation in Afghanistan where our strategy against suicide bombing was designed according to advice from the Israeli military and its counter-terrorism experts. Israel has saved British lives, which is one reason why we really do owe that country such a debt of thanks. Instead, of course, our public diplomacy is Arabist to the core. The Foreign Office’s anti-Zionism

is so extreme that when Richard Goldstone himself withdraw the key allegation in his United Nations report that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza conflict in December 2008 and January 2009, they issued a statement to The Commentator saying not that they now believed the Goldstone Report should be withdrawn but that they were determined to stand behind it!" Image from

WikiCable: Israelis, State, huddle on Hizballah - "Today a SECRET 6 September 2006 duspatch from Ambassador Richard H. Jones in Tel Aviv reporting on a meeting between Deputy Coordinator Virginia Palmer of the Department of State Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism [S/CT in cablese] and Israeli counterterrorism [CT] officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council’s {NSC] Counter-Terrorism Bureau headed by Danny Arditi. An excerpt: ... [T]he MFA is putting together a full-court public diplomacy press on Hizballah aimed at European parliaments."

Washington and Ankara meet on idealism towards Syrian uprising - İlhan Tanır: "It can be argued that Ankara’s realist approach towards stability in the region continued through the first weeks of the Libyan upheaval. In the beginning of March, when Amb. Selim Yenel, deputy undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, was visiting Washington right about the time Moammar Gadhafi’s forces began his move to crash evolving rebel forces. Yenel’s message to Washington was: 'We have to look out for our interests there... saying certain things are good, but living in the real world, of course our approach and our policies have to gear toward this realism.' ... Still, instead of supporting despotic regimes and being deceived by a fake stability, Ankara and Washington increasingly appear to believe that gone are the days of providing zero problems to despots."

National Security And The Global Commons - Kanti Bajpai, "India should work with the non-aligned movement (NAM) when it can but should not be tied to NAM positions. New Delhi should represent the interests of those who are not sufficiently heard, yet it must be prepared to look after its own interests and to be mindful of larger, more cosmopolitan goals. In addition, since the global commons increasingly involves a range of NGOs, Indian diplomacy must reach out to these entities in a way that it has traditionally not done. India’s ‘public diplomacy' must be massively increased in order to reach out to NGOs and enlist their support. Indian diplomacy should recognise that non-governmental actors are also sources of information and ideas and can enlarge policy thinking. The government has to acknowledge this reality and to use it to best advantage."

Canada needs to engage it citizens living abroad - Globe and Mail: "Ottawa should appoint a parliamentary secretary to oversee an office dedicated to engaging with these Canadian citizens, who live in Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Through outreach and public diplomacy, this office could foster greater business, educational and cultural ties with Canadians who live abroad. Many other countries, including Ireland, South Korea, Italy, India and the Philippines, have long understood the value of diaspora communities, and have dedicated ministries and programs to leverage the benefits." Image from article, with caption: Nearly two million Canadians live in other countries

More Matter, Less Art: Wen's Love for Shakespeare‎ - Wall Street Journal: "Judging by his portrayal in China’s state-run media, Wen Jiabao, the country’s 68-year-old premier known as “Grandpa Wen” to admirers, has talents that run the gamut. He plays basketball, does taichi, surfs the Internet, and helps clear rubble after natural disasters — all, of course, while he’s not busy running the world’s most populous country and pondering economic development. The latest addition to the list: He’s a diligent Shakespeare enthusiast. 'I read and reread many of Shakespeare’s plays as a young man, and I have watched some of his plays, such as Twelfth Night, Othello, King Lear and Hamlet,'

Mr. Wen said Sunday while visiting William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon during a trip to the U.K., according to a copy of his remarks. 'His works were not to be read only once or even ten times. They must be read up to a hundred times to be fully understood.' ... Whether or not Shakespeare fits the political message Beijing wants to deliver, a viewing of 'Hamlet' is in keeping with the populist brand of public diplomacy favored by Mr. Wen, who has often added cultural events to his visits abroad." Image from article, with caption: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C, L) and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (C, R) watch two actresses performing Hamlet during a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, Sunday, June 26, 2011.

Medvedevka? - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "[P]ublic diplomacy, and especially 'soft power' (although I'm being very cautious to be using this term here), are sometimes inextricably linked and often interdependent with business. The latter relies on the pre-existing national image to expand and succeed abroad (especially when it comes to such 'nationally-linked' products), while further reinforcing and/or extending the nation's 'soft power'.

Thus, whether Putin runs for President in 2012 might have no actual significance for Russia's long-term image and public diplomacy in the region. As long as Putinka and Medvedevka [brands of vodka named after the two Russian politicians sold in Armenia] enjoy widespread demand, Russia can rest assured that its message will sell, too." Image from article

NATO rep to visit Tbilisi workshop - N. Kirtskhalia, Trend News Agency: "Representative of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division Despina Afendouli will visit Tbilisi

today. Afentoul will attend workshop organized by the NATO Information Center in Tbilisi at the Vere Palace, the Georgian Foreign Ministry told Trend. The workshop is devoted to Georgia's integration into NATO. A NATO representative will leave Georgia on June 28." Image from article

"A Decent Respect" – Sherry Mueller, Public Diplomacy Council: “Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence with a clear belief that the opinions of others mattered—even in a time of primitive communication technologies. It took nearly three months for a handwritten copy of the newly adopted Declaration to reach Europe by ship. Whether 13 colonies, united with fragile bonds in 1776, or a continental power in the early 21st century—when people learn about events in real time—the United States of America is rightly concerned with how it is perceived around the world. These perceptions affect jobs. They determine whether others buy U.S. products and services, vacation at U.S. destinations, or study at our universities; they affect others’ willingness to cooperate with us to solve difficult global problems. In sum, foreign perceptions of the United States ultimately influence our economic wellbeing and national security. ... There are a group of modern day patriots who work hard to earn a 'decent respect' for our country. These are citizen diplomats who, by participating in international exchange programs, volunteer their time and expertise to strengthen relationships between citizens of the United States and those other countries ‘one handshake at a time.’”

By-Pass the FSOT (Part 3): “The Skill Code Change” - Join the Foreign Service: An (Unofficial) Case for Joining the State Department: "A skill code change request is a request by any State Department employee to switch into another career track

after she has demonstrated she has already been doing an outstanding job in that career track. ... Now comes the skill code change: you’ve been doing the management job for so long you might as well just convert, and under the rules of this program, you can do exactly that. This applies for any job you can consistently do well, e.g. Management to Political, Consular to Economic, OMS to IRM, IRM to Consular, CS to Public Diplomacy etc." Image from article


What's happened to America’s leadership role? - Fred Hiatt, Washington Post: It takes spine to persuade Congress to pay the cost of what Obama formerly understood as the “enlightened self-interest” of global leadership. Whether the United States continues to help keep the peace will depend less on India or Brazil’s emergence than on whether it can find leaders, as it always has before, with the conviction to make the case.

Hillary: State Dept. ‘Instrumental in Sealing Deal’ For Lady Gaga’s Gay Pride Gig in Rome - Penny Starr, CCN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the State Department played an instrumental role in “sealing the deal” for pop-rock star Lady Gaga to perform at a gay pride rally in Rome, Italy. Clinton specifically pointed to a letter that David Thorne, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, sent to Lady Gaga urging her to participate in the event. “And then there is the work that our embassy team in Rome has been doing,” Clinton said. “Two weeks ago they played an instrumental role in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a Euro Pride concert. On June 11, Lady Gaga performed at a rally at the ancient Circus Maximus in Rome, Italy. The rally followed a gay pride march through the city of Rome. Gaga sparked controversy earlier this year when she released a video of her song “Judas” on Easter Sunday. The video depicted Gaga as a Mary Magdalene figure--in a motorcycle gang—who becomes enamoured with Judas. “The video opens with a motorcycle gang cruising down a freeway, as Gaga clutches onto a Jesus-like figure who wears a golden crown of thorns,” said a description of the video. “Oh, I'm in love with Judas, Judas,” says the song. “In the most Biblical sense I am beyond repentance. Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind.” Via LB.

Pravda Will Set You Free: Russia's answer to Fox News and MSNBC - David Weigel, Slate: “R[ussia]T[oday] is cagey about the media; questions about the prime-time line-up were received but not answered. At the same time,

the network relishes in its reputation as propaganda. One of the house ads that runs between segments quotes angry comments from its many YouTube pages, with sentiments like 'RT clearly is anti-American propaganda.' Sure, these stories about America in steep and hilarious decline are funded by the Kremlin. Why hide it?" Image from article, with caption: Russia Today exists to counter supposed anti-Russian bias. Via MP on facebook.

Iran Rejects Western Claims about IRGC's Involvement in Syria - FARS: The Iranian Foreign Ministry strongly rejected a recent claim raised by the European Union about involvement of a number of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders in containing protests in Syria.

"The baseless claim made by the EU to connect the IRGC to the incidents in Syria displays that the union is seeking to launch a purposeful propaganda campaign against the Islamic Republic of Iran and distort the realities," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said. Mehman-Parast image from article.

UK suggests information sharing restrictions through Youtube - Adrienne Valdez, FutureGov Magazine - The UK Ministry of Defence warns its servicemen and women, and their families, of the possible dangers of sharing information over social media sites by posting short, relevant videos on Youtube. Taking after the Second World War British government propaganda motto, “careless talk costs lives," the videos show simple and casual social media posts that can trigger an act of terrorism. According to the ministry, it has implored its servicemen and women, and their families, to be careful about gossiping online, especially on Facebook and Twitter. Videos posted end with the warning: “Think before you tweet, blog, update, tag, comment, check-in, upload, text, and share.”


Unpatriotic Catastrophe - Apostrophe Catastrophes: "The lack of apostrophe on this t-shirt, which Jen spotted at Ocean State Job Lot, implies that the nation has fallen from its former glory."


Miss USA: Should Evolution Be Taught? [video]


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