Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31

"In the USSR, we have the biggest microchip in the world."

--Cold War joke; image from


TechWomen Graduates First Class: TechWomen is a U.S. Department of State initiative that pairs women from Muslim-majority countries and territories with female mentors from leading U.S. tech companies - Editorial, Voice of America: "A new international exchange program that aims to give women in the Middle East and North Africa an upper hand in technology recently graduated its first class. TechWomen is a U.S. Department of State initiative that pairs women from Muslim-majority countries and territories with female mentors from leading U.S. tech companies.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to the class of 37 graduates: 'We’re excited about the role of technology, and we want to help facilitate your use of it. We are trying to use technology to open up doors that are otherwise closed.' ... Applications for the 2012 program will be accepted this fall. For more information, log on to" Image from article, with caption: TechWomen program participants during their visit to Washington, DC.

USA Department of State, Official Press Release ~ Uganda Little League Team Visas - "QUESTION: Visa issues writ large, or more specifically, why did the – does the State Department deny visas to the Ugandan little league team, which was about to be the first African little league team to ever play in the Little League World Series? MR. TONER: Well, I’m certainly aware of the story. As you know, we are limited or we cannot, frankly, discuss individual visa cases in public. I would just say in this case that I can assure you that consular officers examined each of these individuals and accorded them every consideration under the law. This is a very difficult situation, and we – but our consular officials are committed to upholding U.S. law. At the same time, they do accord these individuals who are coming in for visa interviews every consideration. And beyond that, I would have to refer you to the Little League officials in Williamsport. ... QUESTION: ... It just seems to me a little bit odd that this building would give a visa to a guy who puts a bomb in his underwear and flies to the United States and tries to blow up the plane, and a handful of Ugandan teenagers can’t come to play a game of baseball.

It would just seem to strike at the very heart of your public diplomacy effort, particularly when baseball is supposed to be America’s game and you’re wanting to expand it and show goodwill. It just mystifies me. MR. TONER: Well, Matt, it’s – again, it is a difficult situation. I won’t deny that. But these cases are adjudicated by consular officials who look very closely at all the appropriate data and they make their decisions based on that. In this case, these individuals did not receive a visa. Beyond that, I really can’t comment other than to say that I’d refer you to the Little League organizers for more information." Image from

Voice of Russia: Breaking from the Past to Inform Americans - Kimberly DeGroff Madsen, PD News – CPD Blog, University of Southern California: "Russia has a great opportunity to present a positive image of itself through Voice of Russia. Accurate information about Russia is badly needed, and this could be the perfect venue for reaching out to Americans.

A mix of domestic and international news that is important to Americans, broadcasted with American and Russian voices is a great way to reach the news-conscious populations in New York and D.C. Perhaps in time, it will be the norm to go to a Russian news source to get U.S. news. Kimberly DeGroff Madsen is a public diplomacy consultant specializing in Eastern Europe and Faith Diplomacy, doctoral candidate, and full-time mom." Image from

Law students take public diplomacy into the legal arena - Joanna Paraszczuk, Jerusalem Post: "In the aftermath of the would-be Gaza Flotilla II and the Welcome to Palestine 'Flytilla' in which hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists flew to Israel, a group of law students are making their own contribution to Israel’s public diplomacy efforts. The students, all members of Israeladvocacy group StandWithUs at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have organized a conference to discuss Israel’s position in international law and the issues arising from it. Fifty student delegates from abroad are set to take part in this week’s event, the Student Conference on International Law (SCIL), at the university’s Law Faculty. The delegates, who were selected from more than 2,500 applicants, include outstanding law students, social leaders and activists from countries as diverse as Australia, Germany, Nigeria, Bosnia, Slovenia and Uruguay. ... Tal Dror, the conference’s coordinator, said that though Israel’s public diplomacy is mostly directed at the media, the 'real battle' takes place in the arena of international law. For this reason, Dror said, it is essential to educate international law students about the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

The Trouble with Jeffrey - Ibishblog: The weblog of Hussein Ibish: "Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic magazine is ... an influential columnist and blogger with a strong ethnic Jewish perspective and a deep attachment to Israel. This makes him anathema to many Arab and Muslim Americans (I've been vilified for agreeing to be interviewed by, and later -- horror of horrors -- coauthoring an article with, him), and to many on the extreme left, including some ultraleft Jewish Americans. But he's also a strong critic of the occupation; the settlements (he has written sympathetically about settlement boycotts);

Islamophobia (I'd note that his initial speculation that Islamists might have been involved in the Norway terrorist attacks was hardly out of bounds and bore no resemblance to the disgraceful ravings of Jennifer Rubin or John Podhoretz); paranoid TSA pseudo-security practices (about which he has written hilariously); and bigotry in general. This provokes the ire of a great deal of the extreme right, including the Jewish far-right. So the extremes on all sides dislike him a great deal, and they are disliking him more with every passing day. ... Some left wing critics acknowledge that he's not exactly without any audience, such as Joseph Dana, who recently referred to Goldberg as 'the dark lord of American Zionist hasbara.' Well, if all of this is the work of Netanyahu's American 'dark lord of propaganda,' the Israeli government's public diplomacy is in much worse shape than even I thought it was." Goldberg image from

Falklands General Purposes Committee Report 27 July 2011 - "A suggestion was received from the Public Diplomacy Group that the 4th June 2012 be made a public holiday to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the queens coronation. The actual coronation took place on the 2nd of June which falls on a Saturday so the fourth will be a day in lieu. The 4th is also the day that has been chosen for the lighting of beacons across the UK and world to celebrate the jubilee, which we here in the Falklands will be participating in; there will be more about this in due course."

Breivik's rhetoric: from the personal to the political - "James Pamment är expert på internationell politik och forskar om Public Diplomacy. Han svarar för bloggens analyser av medier och kommunikationsstrategier, främst ur ett utrikespolitiskt perspektiv."


Georgia using US media as a “propaganda instrument” - Russia Today: Washington appears to have accepted Georgia’s account of a bombing incident last September at the US Embassy in Tbilisi, while one Russian diplomat says it is more political intrigue aimed at undermining Russia’s international reputation. ­According to The Washington Times, US intelligence agencies concluded in a classified report that “Russia’s military intelligence was responsible for a bomb blast that occurred at an exterior wall of the US Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, in September.” The classified report about the Sept. 22 incident was described to The Washington Times by two US officials who were said to have read it.

According to these unidentified individuals, the report echoes the findings of the Georgian Interior Ministry, which has pointed a finger of blame at a Russian military intelligence officer. The Washington newspaper reported last week that Shota Utiashvili, director of information and analysis for the Georgian Interior Ministry, said the embassy blast was the work of a Russian military intelligence officer named Maj. Yevgeny Borisov. Yevgeny Khorishko, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, dismissed the Georgian charges last week. “All these rounds of allegations are absolutely false and baseless,” he said. "It looks like the aim of the publication in The Washington Times is to trigger a second propaganda wave around issues that have already been discussed with American and Georgian representatives at the beginning of this year," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Interfax. Image from article

Beijing imposes media ban on rail crash coverage - Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times: The Chinese Communist party is fighting back against public criticism of China’s recent deadly high-speed train crash, imposing a media ban that has caused an angry outcry online. Chinese newspapers, which last week defied government censors, were forced to scrap pages of coverage of the Wenzhou rail crash at the last minute on Friday night, after the Communist party’s propaganda organ issued an order restricting crash coverage that was not “positive.” Please respect's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. The crash, in which at least 40 people died, has emerged as a focal point for public dissatisfaction at central government, and the quality of life delivered by breakneck economic growth.

China will implode if it doesn't change its authoritarian ways: A knowledge economy operating at the frontiers of technology is incompatible with a one-party state - Will Hutton, The internet is proving an instrument that not even the authoritarian Chinese can control. China is a volcano waiting to explode. It is difficult for those not familiar with the country to comprehend the scale of corruption, the waste of capital, the sheer inefficiency, the ubiquity of the party and the obeisance to hierarchy that is today's China. The mass of Chinese are proud and pleased with what has been achieved since Deng Xiaoping began the era of the "socialist market economy". But there is a widespread and growing recognition that the authoritarian model has to change, a fact that every disaster dramatises.

Facebook Reluctantly Permits Holocaust Hoax Pages - David Cohen, The touchy issue of what to do about Facebook pages claiming that the Holocaust was a hoax reared its ugly head again at the social network, but it remained consistent in allowing the pages. The Jewish Chronicle Online reported that 21 Holocaust survivors affiliated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center sent the following in a letter to Facebook earlier this month: We are writing to you to protest Facebook’s policy that categorizes Holocaust denial as “free speech,” rather than the shameless, cynical, and hateful propaganda that it is.

Do not permit Holocaust denial any platform on Facebook to preach its inherent message of lies and hate. By allowing this hate propaganda on Facebook, you are exposing the public and, in particular, youth to the anti-Semitism that fueled the Holocaust. Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes was sympathetic but firm in an email response to’s Digital Life, admitting that handling controversial content is one of the social network’s toughest issues. He said that while the social network feels that the groups posting the Holocaust denial pages are “repugnant and ignorant,” after careful consideration, “the mere statement of denying the Holocaust is not a violation of our terms.” Image from article

Move over Captain America, make room for the Fighting American - Nick Owchar, Where Captain America and his sidekick Bucky battled Nazi goons, the Fighting American and his sidekick Speedboy (who looks like Bucky with peroxide-blond hair)

faced off against nefarious Communists during the Cold War 1950s. Titan has published a collection of Fighting American's battles against crazed Commies that's perfect for perusing after you see the movie "Captain America: The First Avenger." Image from article

Watch this uplifting FSM propaganda video - Bobby Henderson, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster [video]: "I love this video so much. Years ago I had the experience of watching an authentic over-the-top propaganda show and this video is spot on. Who can resist accepting information as Truth when it’s set against delightful music and animation? I think all good propaganda straddles the boundary between happy and creepy. My question to you is: what emotions did this invoke?"


Ladies! Cannonball cure for constipation - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing: In 1901, this Ladies Guide in Health and Disease ad advised women

that they should let an “eminent German physician” cure their constipation by rolling a leather-encased cannonball around on their tummies. Image from article


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