Monday, October 31, 2011

October 30-31

"In the space of a generation, the vast imperial metropolis of Rome fell into disrepair, the aqueducts broken, the splendid marketplaces deserted."

--Empire commentator Niall Ferguson; via JB on facebook; image from Ferguson's article, "America's 'Oh Sh*t!' Moment: Has the U.S. deleted the very things that made it great? Niall Ferguson on how America can avoid imminent collapse," Los Angeles Times 


U.S. has work to do in post-Gadhafi Libya - Robert Gosende, "A reset is certainly needed now in U.S./Libyan relations and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent remarks announcing the re-establishment of the Fulbright Program and U.S. government-sponsored English teaching activities are most certainly welcome. Our programs in Libya should be focused on international education. These activities, which will allow young Libyans and Americans to come to know each other and each others' countries through academic collaboration, are the most important thing we can be doing as Libyans work to create their new political order. ... Though the Fulbright Program and U.S. government-assisted English teaching efforts are important, they will only be a very small part of the international education effort that needs to go on between the United States and Libya.

Libya was my first assignment 45 years ago when I became assistant cultural affairs officer/English teaching officer for the Foreign Service in Tripoli. We worked out assignments then for two Fulbright professors and established English-teaching programs in Tripoli and Benghazi, where then-Lieutenant Gadhafi was one of our 1,500 students. But the most important thing we were able to do was to draw together a consortium of American oil companies to begin sending Libyans for undergraduate study in the United States. The first 106 students arrived under auspices of this oil companies-sponsored program in the academic year 1968-'69, but the program was cut short by Gadhafi's coup in l969. ... Robert Gosende is a visiting professor of public diplomacy at the University at Albany." Image from article, with caption: Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters sit on top of a pick up truck in the city of Sirte on October 28, 2011. NATO decided to end its mission in Libya on October 31, declaring it fulfilled its "historic mandate" to protect civilians as contact was made with Moamer Kadhafi's fugitive son

Social Media and Public Diplomacy - "Organizations and businesses have jumped on the social media bandwagon to promote themselves, and the government tries to do the same. Every governmental department has a Twitter account. You can 'like' them on Facebook. Yet, once again, the U.S.’ attempts at public diplomacy falls short. The reason I believe that these attempts at public diplomacy through social media outreach fall short is based on authenticity.

Facebook was successful because it provided an opportunity for you to learn more about your friends and connect with people (although most people use it for gaming now). Twitter allows you to interact with your favorite celebrities. However, when the government gets involved, we know that someone has been hired to craft the messages that are being sent out. Even if we guess that this is happening with our favorite actors and musicians, we know that this is the case from our government. People don’t go to social media outlets for serious business, they go to have fun and keep in touch with their networks. Ultimately, the people that are the most candid on Twitter have the most followers. This may be why the official State Department Twitter account has about 175,000 followers, while Snooki from 'Jersey Shore' has 3.5 million. Or maybe this just means that the Rapture is imminent." Image from article

Public Diplomacy”: America’s Public Relations Campaign - "To a degree, public diplomacy is America’s PR campaign. We constantly need to maintain our image to the rest of the world, and that involves some of the same methods used in business PR. ... Knowing how to communicate properly is key. Proper listening tools

are also very handy, especially if the conversation is filtered through several interpreters. ... This is the same as it is with your business. If you don’t learn how to talk to your customers, your business is toast. And if you forget to do proper research and offend even a small portion of people with something you say, you could be looking at the end of your business." Image from. On "tools" for public diplomacy, see John Brown, "Let the Fools Have Their Public Diplomacy Tools," Notes and Essays.

At House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Secretary Clinton hears proposal to add a VOA Sindhi Service - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Follow the advice of the host of VOA's Straight Talk Africa, and he might buy you lunch - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from article

At a camp for Somali refugees, "the crackle of shortwave radios" and a VOA soccer ball - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

No small wonder‎ - Rachel Marder, Jerusalem Post: "The creators of the new documentary Israel Inside: how a small nation makes a big difference are looking to re-brand the Jewish state in America’s living rooms as an innovative, ethical country working tirelessly to find solutions to global problems of the day. ... Israel Inside premiers December 1 on PBS in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Florida, but an audience in Jerusalem got a sneak peak this month at an event that also featured a panel discussion with Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. ... The documentary is a smart and savvy approach to hasbara (public diplomacy) because it does no persuading, arguing or advocacy whatsoever. Politics could not be further from this film. Rather, it’s an emotional, inspiring look at what makes Israel tick, what accounts for its technological and financial success over the last 63 years. Featuring interviews with leading entrepreneurs, academics and politicians like President Shimon Peres, Naty Barak, chief sustainability officer at Netafim – the global leader in drip irrigation – and Harvard University professor and Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz, the film puts a heroic and approachable face to Israel."

Inside a U.S. Embassy: Diplomacy at Work - BU Today: "Author Shawn Dorman discusses her book, Inside a U.S. Embassy: Diplomacy at Work. Inside a U.S. Embassy is widely recognized as the essential guide to the Foreign Service.

This all-new third edition takes readers to more than 50 U.S. missions around the world, introducing Foreign Service professionals and providing detailed descriptions of their jobs and firsthand accounts of diplomacy in action. In addition to the profiles of diplomats and specialists around the world--from the ambassador to the consular officer, the public diplomacy officer to the security specialist--is a selection from more than twenty countries of day-in-the-life accounts, each describing and actual day on the job." Image from Blog Updates - "This page provides further updates to the main site pages of, with breaking news, brief analyses or extended versions of Twitter posts. The home site is currently under construction and should be properly operational by late summer. Political scientist specializing in and/or commenting on International Relations, Global Media, Public Diplomacy, Strategic Studies & Irish Foreign Policy."


50th reunion weekend welcomes back 1961 U-M band members who toured Russia - "Among the Class of 1961 alumni returning to the University of Michigan campus for the 50th Reunion Weekend (Oct. 27-30) are a group of musicians who share a particularly special bond. They are the former members of the U-M Symphony Band, a group that made history when it toured Russia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe for 15 weeks in 1961, at the behest of the U.S. State Department. The alumni are being honored with the 2011 'Hall of Fame' award bestowed by the School of Music, Theatre and Dance Alumni Board. 52 of the band’s original members will be making the trek back to Ann Arbor for the celebrations. Still the longest State Department sponsored tour in U.S. history, the groundbreaking odyssey was conducted at the height of the Cold War and was only the second cultural mission of its kind to take place during that tense political period. Under the direction of legendary conductor Dr. William D. Revelli, the Symphony Band musicians were America’s cultural emissaries, using music to forge common ground with our adversaries.

It was an eye-opening experience for the band members, exposing them to cultures and ways of life that were completely new to them while also providing thrills, challenges and invaluable professional experience. ... The 1961 tour was also a major inspiration for last May’s tremendously successful China tour by today’s U-M Symphony Band. Several events will celebrate the reunion of the 1961 Russian Tour Band during the 50th Reunion Weekend, including ... a panel discussion of alumni, faculty, current students and China tour members titled 'Cracks in the Wall: U-M Cultural Diplomacy and the Cold War.'" Image from

La Colmenita Honored in Richmond, California - Jennifer Socorro Ramon, Prensa Latina: Talent, creativity and energy were the main reasons given by Richmond's Mayor Office for honoring the Cuban children's theatre group La Colmenita. Richmond's Mayor Gayle McLaughlin attended the performance of the group at the Richmond Center for the Performing Arts and declared it had been 'simply extraordinary'.

McLaughlin also said that the members of the cast are carrying out a real 'cultural diplomacy', since the message they are sending is a message of love and fraternity in this tour of different US cities. 'La Colmenita has come at a very important moment. They can help to reduce the tensions and conflicts between the United States and Cuba', she said." Image from article

Music provides a bridge between cultures ‎- Ashley Yeaman, The Baylor Lariat: "Monday the Baylor and Waco communities will have the opportunity to listen to a performance of traditional Kurdish music by two Iraqi musicians as part of the program 'American Voices: Art in Difficult Places.' There will be a corresponding lecture on the power of cultural diplomacy and the work of the non-governmental organization

American Voices, which has presented summer youth performing arts academies, workshops and concerts around the world for more than 16 years. American Voices works in countries emerging from isolation or conflict, said John Ferguson, the founder of the organization. 'In many cases, we are the first Americans people have seen who are not diplomats or soldiers,' Ferguson said. The organization travels to countries around the world, teaching classical, jazz and other types of music, usually instrumental, along with hip-hop dance, singing and theater performance. Ferguson said this creates dialogue between the countries they visit and the United States." Image from article, with caption: Rebin Ali, a musician from Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, holds an oud, a guitar-like instrument used in North African and Middle Eastern music. See also.

A Maestro's Tale: Edvard Tchivzhel - leader of the symphony orchestra, patriot and rock star, of course - Courtney L. Tollison, "One evening 20 years ago, when the United States and the Soviet Union remained entangled in the Cold War, one of the USSR’s most renowned orchestral conductors sat amid the cacophony of videogames, simulators, and animated stage shows at Chuck E. Cheese’s on Haywood Road in Greenville. Edvard Tchivzhel

was in the United States for a month-long tour with the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, and was enjoying time with his wife and son and Lena Forster, then director of the Greenville Ballet, who was serving as the maestro’s translator. In his native Russian, he took an enormous leap of faith: although there was no way to be sure that Forster was not working with the KGB, the Soviet Union's national security agency, he decided to trust her. He said he 'wanted to stay.' She is said to have responded: Chuck E. Cheese’s did not close until 10 p.m. The maestro had something different in mind. He wanted to stay in America. ... He was a member of Russia’s elite arts community, widely recognized and respected throughout the communist bloc and in many countries around the world. But in 1991, he left it all behind. In February of that year, Tchivzhel, his wife Luba (an accomplished violinist), and their 4 year old son Arvid left Leningrad with hopes of achieving asylum in the U.S. They bristled under a heavy handed communist system: political and economic corruption, lack of widespread opportunity, and extreme governmental interference into the personal and professional lives of the people. Their multi-city tour of the U.S. included Greenville; the USSR State Symphony Orchestra's performance at the Peace Center was the first scheduled orchestra performance in the newly completed facility. As conductor, the maestro was an important representative of the USSR's cultural diplomacy efforts, a joint program which used the arts to thaw relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. ... The Soviet Union crumbled in December 1991. Eight years later, the Tchivzhel family became U.S. citizens and Tchivzhel became the music director and conductor of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra." Tchivzhel image from

Video: Islamic art as cultural diplomacy - BBC News: "One of the finest collections of Islamic art in the world has been given a new home at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Drawn from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Asia the artefacts on display evoke the rich diversity of Islam. As well as captivating the public, the Metropolitan Museum is hoping its new galleries will also help dispel stereotypes about Muslim culture in the United States.

Michael Maher reports on the exhibition, which opens on 1 November." Image from, with caption: The Met’s Islamic collection returns to view in what are now being called the galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. A carved wooden arch in the Mughal South Asia gallery

Govt to open cultural centers abroad - The Jakarta Post: "As part of its international cultural diplomacy, Indonesia will open cultural centers abroad, with Japan and the Netherlands already on the list. 'There are many foreign cultural centers in Indonesia such as Germany’s Goethe Institute, France’s Culturel Francais or the Dutch Erasmus Huis, so Indonesia must also have similar centers abroad to promote Indonesian and its culture,' Deputy National Education and Culture Minister Wiendu Nuryanti, said last week. Wiendu told reporters recently that the centers would be set up in countries with which Indonesia had relations. However, the deputy minister has yet to detail the plan, saying it was still being discussed. ... Cultural diplomacy is one of the five principles included in a blueprint for cultural development that is now being prepared by the ministry, along with different stakeholders such as sociologists and artists. The other principles are character building; history, heritage and cultural innovation; human resources and institutional building in culture; and cultural infrastructure."

Pinoy artists to mount 'Art Trek' exhibit in Singapore - "Filipino artists in Singapore, including avant-garde icon David Cortez Medalla, will hold a 'Philippine Art Trek' exhibit in Singapore in November, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. The Philippine Embassy in Singapore said 'Art Trek V' includes a month-long series of performance art, lectures, and exhibitions of works by established and emerging Filipino artists in Singapore's top galleries.

'Art Trek has showcased the works of more than 150 Filipino artists in Singapore since 2007, helping to deepen the cultural interaction and friendship between the two countries,' a report on the DFA website said. ... Since it started in 2007, Art Trek V has earned a spot in Singapore's annual arts calendar as the centerpiece of the Embassy's cultural diplomacy program." Image from

Ryukyu-Okinawa Traditional Performing Arts Tour‎ - press release, ‎"Long ago Okinawa used to be an independent kingdom called the Ryukyu Kingdom. During the era of the Ryukyu Kingdom, from the 14th to 19th centuries, Ryukyu’s performing arts became a major cultural asset and played an important role in 'Cultural diplomacy' by the Ryukyu Kingdom. The spirit of the arts cultivated during this period still very much alive today in Okinawa’s traditional performing arts."

UNESCO commends ADACH for culture and heritage initiatives - "Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UNESCO, received Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Advisor of Culture and Heritage in the Court of His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Director General of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) on the eve of the general conference of UNESCO which kicked off in Paris. In the meeting which was held at the organization's headquarters in Paris on Sunday, the two parties discussed the Authority's long-term commitment to the consolidation of cooperation with UNESCO, which resulted in a series of initiatives that enhanced the Authority's technical capacity in the management of culture and heritage. Bokova highlighted the leading role played by ADACH in the Arab World through its strategic projects as well as international contributions to the culture and heritage affairs. The meeting was attended by Dr. Sami El Masri, Deputy Director-General of ADACH for Arts, Culture and Heritage and Director of Strategic Planning, Abdallah Al Nu'aymi, UAE Ambassador to UNESCO, Dr. Awad Salih, ADACH's Adviser for Strategic Affairs of International Cultural Cooperation, and Basim Qudsi, Advisor in Cultural Diplomacy. On the UNESCO side, Kishore Rao, Director of the World Heritage Centre, and Hans d'Orville, Director of Strategic Planning at UNESCO."

'Outsourced' Is My Personal Nightmare‎ - Alyssa Rosenberg: "Because of my ... fondness for inflicting terrible things on myself, I watched a bunch of Outsourced . ... The show is, in fact, not good. It doesn’t do nearly enough to undermine the stereotypes it sets up as the basis of its humor. Rajiv is a tremendous creep in a way that totally undermines the fact that he’s right about Todd’s cultural imperialism. ... Outsourced

is everything I’m pushing back against. It’s not just that the show is set in a call center where the employees sell the lowest of the low-brow artifacts of American culture, and the Americans they encounter on the phone tend to be frat boys and people who are excited by bird-feeders with deliberately stupid misspellings, although that doesn’t help. The bits of culture Todd ends up explaining to his workers are things like Cheesehead-dom. It’s not that rooting for the Packers is not a noble past-time, but there’s something really depressing about the prospect that the collected ephemera of a novelty catalogue is what passes for cultural diplomacy." Image from article

International Nurse Leader Appointed Director and Chair of Nursing at GSU - "Dr. Martha Mathews Libster has been appointed Chair and Director of Nursing for the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) at Governors State University (GSU). Libster comes to GSU from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, where she served as Director and Chair of Nursing.

She is an international nurse leader in the field of nursing history, cultural diplomacy, and holistic nursing — particularly healing traditions, nurse-herbalism, and foot reflexology. She has authored numerous journal publications and five books, including Herbal Diplomats, for which she received the prestigious 2005 Lavinia Dock Award for Excellence in Research and Writing from the American Association for the History of Nursing." Libster image from article


U.S. Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf After Exit From Iraq - Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers, New York Times: The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats.

That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran. Image from

Obama's Tragic Iraq Withdrawal: The president says we're leaving because of Iraqi intransigence—but he never took negotiations seriously - Max Boot, Wall Street Journal: Iraq will increasingly find itself on its own, even though its air forces still lack the capability to defend its own airspace and its ground forces cannot carry out large-scale combined arms operations. Multiple terrorist groups also remain active, and almost as many civilians died in Iraq last year as in Afghanistan. So the end of the U.S. military mission in Iraq is a tragedy, not a triumph—and a self-inflicted one at that.

U.S. had advance warning of abuse at Afghan prisons, officials say - Joshua Partlow and Julie , Tate, Washington Post: Across the street from U.S. military headquarters in Kabul, shrouded from view by concrete walls, the Afghan intelligence agency runs a detention facility for up to 40 terrorism suspects that is known as Department 124. So much torture

took place inside, one detainee told the United Nations, that it has earned another name: “People call it Hell.” But long before the world body publicly revealed “systematic torture” in Afghan intelligence agency detention centers, top officials from the State Department, the CIA and the U.S. military received multiple warnings about abuses at Department 124 and other Afghan facilities, according to Afghan and Western officials with knowledge of the situation. Image from

Israel: A true ally in the Middle East: Israeli contributions to U.S. national interests, underappreciated by many, include enhanced counter-terrorism, intelligence and technology useful in urban warfare - Robert D. Blackwill and Walter B. Slocombe, Israel's substantial contributions to U.S. interests are an underappreciated aspect of this relationship and deserve equal billing to shared values and historical responsibility as rationales for American support of Israel.

Under Western Eyes: Interests of energy security should drive India’s foreign policy - S.L. Rao, American policy in Asia has been governed by the desire to control hydrocarbon

reserves, protect Israel at all costs, contain terrorism of the Islamic kind, and act as a check on Chinese expansionism. India’s policies at last appear to be moving in the direction of our self-interest, though we continue to be persuaded by propaganda of Western governments and media against many hydrocarbon rich Muslim countries and those who are apparent threats to Israel. Image from

Mystery UK Reporter Defends China Soap Opera Ban - Tom McGregor, In the Chinese media, a big debate has erupted over the Ministry of Propaganda’s new law that would severely curtail the airing of entertainment programs on TV that would begin on January 1, 2012. China’s soap opera ban has ignited criticism even from reporters working for China’s state-run media. CCTV China aired a showed called ‘Dialogue’ that discussed the problems of the new law. The Chinese host and two guests appeared to express concerns over Beijing’s rigid censorship laws over entertainment shows. Yet after a brief commercial break, the host introduced an obscure radio presenter from the United Kingdom, Alex McNab, who boldly claimed that China’s soap opera ban is necessary because censorship is very important. He claims that censorship is a good thing. Image from

U.S. Embassy air quality data undercut China's own assessments: One day this month, the reading was so high compared with U.S. standards it was listed as 'beyond index.' But China's own assessment that day was that Beijing's air was merely 'slightly polluted' - Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times: Perched atop the U.S. Embassy in Beijing is a device about the size of a microwave oven that spits out hourly rebukes to the Chinese government. It is a machine that monitors fine particulate matter, one of the most dangerous components of air pollution, and instantly posts the results to Twitter and a dedicated iPhone application, where it is frequently picked up by Chinese bloggers.

One day this month, the reading was so high compared with the standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it was listed as "beyond index." In other words, it had soared right off the chart. "You couldn't get such a high level in the United States unless you were downwind from a forest fire," said Dane Westerdahl, an air quality expert from Cornell University. But China's own assessment that day, Oct. 9, was that Beijing's air was merely "slightly polluted." Image from article

GOP presidential candidates share foreign policy strategy: Republican hopefuls largely ignore the topic – and when they do speak out, it's to criticize anything President Obama does - Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times: After a string of successes — the dispatch of Kadafi, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the decapitation of Al Qaeda's leadership — it will be tough, as things stand, to paint Obama as a Democrat who is feckless on defense and foreign affairs, a staple of past Republican presidential campaigns.

Tunisian Media and Propaganda - M. Adnen Chaouachi, The political debates and programs broadcast on some Tunisian media outlets have played a significant role in misleading the public opinion. There was a gap between the media’s understanding of the political situation in Tunisia and the reality on the ground. Parties were demonized and accused of benefiting from foreign funds and assistance. The media thought that attacking these parties would weaken them and pave the ground for more liberal voices to occupy the seats at the Constituent Assembly. This strategy and propaganda, however, has had the opposite effect because it was based on accusations without evidence.

N. Korea strengthens pro-regime propaganda after Gadhafi's death - North Korea is stepping up propaganda aimed at young citizens in an effort to preempt a revolt similar to the one that recently killed Libya's longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, sources familiar with the regime said Monday.

The communist regime is strengthening its control over hundreds of North Koreans working in Libya and other nations affected by the Arab Spring revolutions, another source said. Image from article, with caption: North Korea's embassy in Libya.

Comics: Holy Terror by Frank Miller Review - "Having never read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Frank Miller’s Holy Terror is probably the most ridiculous, shallow, offensive piece of propaganda I think I’ve ever read. Pretty? Sure. Any good? Absolutely not. So why did I enjoyed the hell out of it? Unless you’ve been living in a nerd-proof bunker, you’ve most likely heard that the original title of the book was Holy Terror, Batman!, and the concept was basically Batman vs Al Queda. When the book moved from DC to Miller’s own company, Legendary, not much changed.

Sure, the characters have different names, but they’re still pretty much Batman and Catwoman without the ears. There’s even a panel where Miller clearly forgot to erase one of the ears off the Catwoman character’s shadow. ... Frank Miller’s Holy Terror is terrible. It really is a bad book. The art is great, but everything else is just plain lousy. The thing is, it’s the kind of lousy that makes Michael Bay so successful. It’s the kind of lousy that you pick up at an airport bookshop. It’s not well written. It’s not intelligent or original or even tasteful, but if you want to kill an hour with some mindless tripe, Holy Terror is a good looking way to do it." Image from article


Illegal silicone buttock injections can be deadly, experts say - Amanda Gardner, USA Today

Image from


“If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus.”

--Edward Gibbon, author of “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”;

via AB on facebook; image from

1 comment:

Mr Lonely said...

walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..