Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 29

"Wouldn't it be absolutely awful that all that is left of this American decade is reality television?"

--Vivian Norris, a Globalization Studies Phd based in Paris; image from


Edward Bernays: Propaganda — [VIDEO]


Abhay K.: Writer, Poet, Artist and Diplomat


I Tweet for Freedom - James Kitfield, National Journal: "If there is a single lesson that can already be distilled from the Arab Spring democracy movements sweeping through the Middle East, it is this: social media is mightier than the sword. Despots who once ruled in blacked-out realms are now challenged by flash mobs organized over the internet and wielding thousands of cell phone portals to the outside world. Under its '21st Century Diplomacy' initiative, the State Department has taken a proactive stance in arming those masses with advanced communications gear and training. With millions of dollars of grants, for instance, State has been financing 'stealth wireless networks,' mobile 'internet in a suitcase' systems, and software that protects the anonymity of cell phone and internet users in places like Iran, Libya, Syria, and China. State Department officials consider the initiatives a natural extension of long-standing programs to advance freedom of speech through Voice of America broadcasts. In an interview with National Journal, Under Secretary of State Judith McHale, the former president of Discovery Communications, discussed those initiatives. ... [McHale:] With the proliferation of information technology across all societies, people around the world are participating in shaping the political lives

of their countries to an unprecedented degree. That drove us to an understanding that the United States government had to take a different approach to public diplomacy. For centuries, traditional diplomacy was conducted on a government-to-government basis through negotiations. That continues to be a critical component of diplomacy. We need to complement it, however, with a new outreach to populations that are increasingly involved in their governments’ decisions. If we don’t strengthen those relationships then we can’t meet our foreign policy objectives or, frankly, assure our own security. That meant we needed to find ways to engage 7 billion people around the world. ... The larger point is that in the world of social media, if you don’t provide a context for what you’re doing, other people will interpret your actions for you. That’s why this morning I met with 30 plus bloggers from around the world, who have an expectation that I will engage with them in dialogue. I have 200 folks at the State Department focused solely on social media, and around 1,000 employees worldwide who have social media as a large component of their jobs. We produce 100 foreign language Twitter feeds. That’s the character of 21st century diplomacy." Image from

Bipartisan Support for Secretary Clinton’s Leadership on International LGBT Rights - "Leaders of the LGBT Equality Caucus and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton last week welcoming her 'leadership in responding to human rights abuses targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals around the world.' Quoting the Secretary’s statement at a Pride celebration last year, where she said that 'human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights,' the letter, which was signed by 45 members of Congress, calls for the Secretary 'to continue to build on that commitment.' ... The letter details many of the State Department’s actions in support of LGBT rights over the past year, and it calls for additional information so that Congress can work with the State Department 'to situate this agenda within our country’s broader human rights, public diplomacy and international development priorities.'”

Is the Corp. for Travel Promotion a model for US international broadcasting? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "I think a public-private partnership could work for US international broadcasting. Imagine a Corporation for International Broadcasting."

BBG and BBC execs meet -- wearing protective gear in case disgruntled employees fling overripe fruit? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting. "Broadcasting Board of Governors Highlights, 27 June 2011:

'BBG Governor Dennis Mulhaupt met with senior BBC officials in London on June 9 and toured BBC's historic Broadcasting House facility, which is undergoing massive reconstruction and expansion.'" Image from article

Israel is the greatest #14b by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg - "Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck will arrive in Israel in two weeks to teach Knesset members how to combat delegitimization as part of Israeli public relations preparations before the Palestinian Authority's expected unilateral request to the United Nations this September to be recognized as an independent state.

Over the past two years, Beck has served as one of Israel's greatest supporters and advocates in the U.S. Last month, he met with MK Danny Danon (Likud) to discuss Israel's global public diplomacy effort, focusing specifically on efforts in the U.N. Danon invited Beck to visit the Knesset to transmit his message to Israeli lawmakers and to give them tools to deal with one of the most complex arenas in which Israel operates. Beck will explain to MKs how to recruit friendly nations and U.S. public opinion to Israel's side." Image from, with caption:  "In conjunction with Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Courage’ Rally in Israel this August, Nicole J. Pearce and I have decided to start a grassroots movement to recruit conservative and pro-Israel activists to host rallies all over America to accompany this event."

WJC organizes international forum of Jewish lawmakers in Jerusalem‎ - World Jewish Congress: "A delegation of 55 Jewish lawmakers from 22 countries gathered in Jerusalem for the Consultation of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP).

The meeting was organized by the World Jewish Congress. ... Dan Diker, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, said that creating a common voice among Jewish parliamentarians was one of the most important public diplomacy objectives for Israel and the Jewish world." Uncaptioned Image from article

Gearing Up For This Year's Gaza Flotilla - Josh Mitnick, The Jewish Week: "A year ago, armed activists on a Gaza-bound flotilla surprised Israel’s navy, sparking deadly clashes that ballooned into a diplomatic crisis. As a second flotilla gathers in the Mediterranean to again test Israel’s maritime closure of Gaza, analysts say the government is over-prepared. ... [E]ven if Israel comes into a face-to-face confrontation with the activists, the fact that it has lifted a ban on imports into Gaza puts it on more solid ground for public diplomacy. The restored flow of consumer goods and industrial raw materials to Gaza has given Israel a more effective position to argue against the flotilla."

Image from article, with caption: Israeli commandos intercept a ship bound for Gaza during last year’s ill-fated flotilla that resulted in nine deaths. Israel is better prepared this time, both diplomatically and militarily.

Diplomatic reform - Editorial, "Two new innovations of our foreign service are being prepared. One is designed to help recruit personnel with the ability and integrity required to advance Korea’s national interests in the global community. The other is designed to correctly evaluate the performances of diplomats posted overseas. A bill for the establishment of the National Foreign Service Institute (NFSI) passed the National Assembly standing committee last week and was submitted to the plenary session for a final vote, possibly in July. ... What is desired at this time, when real changes are sought for the first time in the 63-year history of the Foreign Ministry, is greater emphasis on developing our diplomats’ specialized language abilities for different countries, as well as cultural expertise with which they can effectively engage in public diplomacy. Of as much importance is excluding educational, regional and social backgrounds in new assignments and relying solely on performance records. This perhaps will prove to be the most difficult part in the ministry’s quest for innovation."

India gets 'thinking foreign secretary' in Mathai - "The time has come now when it's necessary that ministry of external affairs strike a balance between its role in public diplomacy and policy making. Increasingly, the intellectual work of shaping foreign policy to carry forward India's vision on the world platform is being done in the Prime Minister's Office while MEA

is in real danger of becoming merely an implementing agency of the policy made outside MEA and mostly 'entertaining media crews'."  Image from

On Armenian rabiz, ballet, and public diplomacy - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "Thanks to Armenia's geography, history as well as economic 'well-being', there are more people who would identify themselves as 'Armenians' abroad than within the country itself (some estimates of the Diaspora range from 4 to 6 million, while the country has, officially, a population of about 3 million, though many would say that's a gross over-exaggeration). The significance of public diplomacy in reaching out to diasporas, as well as mobilizing them for the work of public diplomacy is already a much-discussed (and well-practiced) theme. It becomes even more important for tiny and insignificant countries, like Armenia. ... [I]t pains me to see 'decent' culture, and especially high culture, virtually absent from Armenia's cultural and public diplomacy. ... Last night I had the opportunity to attend a ballet - Prokofiev's 'Romeo & Juliet' - performed by the National Opera and Ballet Theater. Yes, perhaps there is nothing 'Armenian' about this piece, either (written by an Englishman, and composed by a Russian); yet, the choreography as well as the performance was all done by Armenian artists. What is more, the Armenian Ministry of Culture was the one to provide the major chunk of the financial support. Why not use this opportunity for 'high culture' public diplomacy, whether live or televised?"

Egyptian administrative court to dissolve local councils - ‎Zeinab El Gundy, Ahram Online: "Earlier Tuesday, the administrative court issued an order to dissolve local councils across the country. The court order fulfils another important demand of the January 25 Revolution, since local councils were regarded as another tool used by the former regime to maintain a firm grip on the country. ... During a meeting with the public diplomacy delegation to Tehran yesterday, [Prime Minister] Sharaf

told former independent MP Gamal Zahran to anticipate an important decision regarding the local councils within the upcoming 24 hours." Sharaf image from


Poll: Obama's Afghanistan plan wins public support - Susan Page, USA TODAY: President Obama's plan to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year and next wins broad approval from Americans who are increasingly ready for the nation's longest war to end, a Gallup Poll finds.

Documentaries: In Defense of Diversity -- Documenting Our Changing World - Vivian Norris, Huffington Post: We in the English-speaking West are no longer the focus of documentary filmmaking, nor are we dominating the international news. The monopoly of information and history shaping is pretty much over. Just check into a hotel in Eastern Europe or even some parts of Western Europe, much less anywhere outside of the U.S., and you will find an increasing number of Middle Eastern,

Asian, and Latin American channels. Often it is impossible to find CNN, yet Al Jazeera, France 24 and Russia Today are ever-present. But once again, we have not lost the "information war" we simply have to learn to be more respectful of the rest of the world, and frankly, learn to share. This is not to say that other sources of news and information are better, and yes, there will always be political and economic agendas at work behind the scenes editorially, but this new reality is forcing us to have to understand and accept diversity, because not doing so means being left behind. We need to be able to read these images, analyze what is behind them, become media-literate as a human race... and that means including every point of view. Via. Norris image from

The Changing Face of Al Jazeera English‎ - Eric Steuer, Wired News: Just a few years ago, the Qatar-based network was seen as a mouthpiece for Arab governments and anti-US propaganda. But that perception is changing. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton recently praised Al Jazeera’s coverage of world events. And commentators across the political spectrum cited their reporting on the recent upheavals in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Wired spoke to Mohamed Nanabhay, the network’s 31-year-old head of online, to find out how Al Jazeera English is changing American minds. Wired: You’ve helped improve Al Jazeera’s brand in the US. What’s worked? Nanabhay: Offering our video online for free and allowing people to download and share it has been really successful. Our viewers catch a live stream on our website, use our iPhone app, watch clips on YouTube, or subscribe to our podcast. Our audience takes our content and puts it on the screens

of people who may not have heard of us before or who may have had a negative perception of the brand, so they can see what we’re really about. Wired: Why won’t American cable networks carry Al Jazeera English? Nanabhay: That’s a question they need to answer. One of the responses I’ve heard is that there’s not demand in America for another 24-hour news channel. I think over the last few months we’ve seen that argument blown out of the water—nearly 10 million people in the US are regularly watching our content online. That’s more than a lot of cable news shows. Nanabhay image from article

Not everyone is a fan of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Comic book version of bin Laden raid to be released - Jason Ukman, Washington Post: a California comic book publisher is releasing a graphic novel about the raid that killed bin Laden, animating the lives of SEAL Team 6 and the others who had a hand in the operation in Abbottabad.

“Code Word: Geronimo” was written by retired Marine Capt. Dale Dye, an author and longtime consultant on military films including “Platoon” and “Saving Private Ryan,” and his wife, Julia, who conducted the research for the book. The point, Dye said, is to “celebrate what happened, especially among youngsters.” Image from article

Don’t believe everything you see and read about Gaddafi - There is nothing particularly surprising about the rebels in Benghazi making things up or producing dubious witnesses to Gaddafi’s crimes. They are fighting a war against an authoritarian whom they fear and hate and they will understandably use black propaganda as a weapon of war. But it does show naivety on the part of the foreign media, who almost universally sympathise with the rebels, that they swallow whole so many atrocity stories fed to them by the rebel authorities and their sympathisers.

Israeli Gov't Attempts to Discredit Flotilla with Hoax Video Claiming Flotilla Is Anti-Gay - stay human, The disillusioned “gay activist” called “Marc” who appeared in a YouTube video condemning the Gaza Freedom Flotilla for alleged homophobia, that was tweeted by the Israeli Government Press Office, has been identified as an Israeli called Omer Gershon.

This definitely proves that the video is either a hoax or a piece of propaganda designed to discredit the flotilla and use a mask of concern for gay rights to pinkwash Israel and justify the persecution of Palestinians in Gaza. See also. Image from

Chinese government photoshop disaster goes viral - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing: A crummy government photoshop propaganda disaster in China has turned into a meme among Chinese netizens, who are furiously remixing three enthusiastic government officials into all manner of situations:

On the evening of June 26, an Internet user made a post titled "Too fake: the propaganda photo for our county" at the Tianya Forum. "I had nothing to do today so I visited the website for our county government. The headline story was about the upgrade for the road to the countryside. I looked at the photo and I almost coughed out half a liter of blood! Even a rank amateur like myself can tell that this was a PhotoShop job, and they had the nerve to put this on the home page!" The post included a screen capture of a photo,

in which three men were "floating" over a road. There were clear indications that this was a composite job. According to the caption: "County mayor Li Ningyi and vice-mayor Tang Xiaobing are inspecting the newly constructed country road at Lihong Town." This post drew plenty of readers, and the Huili County Government website was even down for a while because of the heavy traffic volume. On the afternoon of June 27, our reader interviewed the Huili County Government publicity department director Zhang Yongzhi. According to Zhang, several county leaders went out to inspect the road. An accompanying worker took some photos for the record. But when it came to posting onto the website, the worker decided that "the background of the original photo did not look very good" so a decision was made to crop the leaders onto a different background. The Huili County Government has removed all relevant information and reprimanded the worker who handled the photo. The Huili County Government issued an apology at the Tianya Forum and the Weibo. Image from article

Opinion: We Are Living in 1984 - Randy Sly, "I'm not going to belabor all the parallels we could find in current society regarding 'Big Brother,' the thought police, the various government agencies, revisionist history and language (which Orwell called 'Newspeak'), not to mention sexuality gone out-of-control. However, one particular aspect of our current Orwellian culture involves what I would call 'Hatespeak.' It would seem, for example, that Catholics and other Christians are no longer allowed to express personal conviction or Catholic teaching about moral issues such as same-sex marriage or abortion. To do so is considered a personal attack on individuals and relegated as a hate crime when we are addressing a principle even though no people are targeted."


Universities turn to outsourced instructors - Didi Tang, USA TODAY: Virtually unheard of a decade ago, instructional outsourcing is sprouting on university campuses around the country. "Given the significant reduction in state support for public education, compounded

by the fact institutions need to maintain quality programs, we are going to see additional innovative attempts at partnerships that will address both issues of being able to provide cost-efficient programs that are high quality," says Daniel Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Image from


"So infinitesimal did I find knowledge of Art, west of the Rocky Mountains, that an art patron -- one who in his day had been a miner -- actually sued the railroad company for damages because the plaster cast of Venus of Milo which he had imported from Paris had been delivered minus the arms.

And, what is more surprising still, he gained his case and the damages."

--Oscar Wilde; cited Matthew Hofer & Gary Scharnhorst, Oscar Wilde in America: The Interviews (2010), p. 180; image from

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