Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5

"I informed Nicolas on the way in that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother's looks rather than her father's, which I think is an excellent thing."

--President Barack Obama, congratulating French President Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni on the birth of their baby daughter on Oct. 19; cited in Dave Boyer, "Obama’s Sarkozy remark offends French," The Washington Times; image from


Names: Tara Sonenshine nominated as State's new public diplomacy head - Josh Rogin, The Cable, Foreign Policy: President Barack Obama announced on Friday his intention to nomination Tara Sonenshine, currently the executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), as the new under secretary of state for public diplomacy. ... Sonenshine's nomination came as a surprise to most of the public diplomacy experts and officials we spoke with today, but there was general support for the selection and plenty of praise of Sonenshine to go around. ... Jim Glassman, a former undersecretary of State for public diplomacy during the Bush administration, told The Cable today that, if confirmed, Sonenshine could represent a shift toward using the State Department's public diplomacy arm to focus more on advancing near and medium-term national security goals, rather than on a long-term reshaping of the U.S. image. ... Multiple U.S. officials told The Cable they hoped Sonenshine would add some consistency and clarity to the office of the under secretary of public diplomacy, which seems to change its focus with each new leader. ... The thousands of public diplomacy professionals who work for State at diplomatic posts around the world will also be looking to Sonenshine to represent their interests

in the interagency process, and fix the bureaucratic problems at State that often prevent the most appropriate people from being assigned to public diplomacy posts due to strict seniority rules. ... Another official told The Cable today that Sonenshine 'understands that the key to public diplomacy is revitalizing the morale of the people who serve in it, and she understands that public diplomacy practitioners have talents and need to be empowered to do things they are not empowered to do now.' This official said that Sonenshine would be an improvement over [recently-resigned former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith] McHale, because at least 'she knows what she's doing.'" Sonenshine image from

Smart Power and Postmodern Art: How “provocative” should our artistic ambassadors be? - Daniel Kettinger, "It’s the latest strategic move from the State Department: smART Power. A two-year, $1 million pilot program, smART Power will field a different kind of American 'diplomat' — a cadre of élite artists. Their mission: to use visual arts as a medium for winning the hearts and minds of foreign populations all over the globe. The impetus for this initiative comes right from the top. It’s part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s new approach to U.S. foreign policy, what she dubs 'smart power.' State’s cultural-diplomacy programs have grown rapidly over the last ten years — and so has the funding. The ante has been upped steadily by $1 million per year. Cultural diplomacy is, of course, a good thing. ... It is doubtful, however, that the typical American would identify with any of State’s select 15 artists, nine of whom live and work in New York City and most of whom were molded at art-establishment meccas such as Yale, Pratt, and the Rhode Island School of Design. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with the Big Apple or these big-name schools. But just how representative of America, and American art, can such an insular, homogenous group of artists be? ... It is important to remember that the idea of employing American artists as cultural diplomats is nothing new, and it has met with success before. One shining example is 'Jazz Diplomacy.' During the Cold War era, it greatly enhanced America’s appeal in global hotspots through the universal language of music. ... Over the last several years, select contingents of American rappers, graffiti artists, and break dancers have held concerts and workshops all over the globe on the State Department’s dime. Intent on introducing youngsters abroad to U.S. culture, these artists promote 'the positive nature of hip-hop and graffiti cultures and present them as healthy alternatives to drugs, violence, and delinquency.' So says State. ... The smART Power 15 seem to have more in common with the hip-hop and graffiti ambassadors than with the jazz diplomats of yesteryear. That’s not to say that the artists sent by State should all be reincarnations of

Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, or Georgia O’Keeffe. But it is worth recalling that we continue to be drawn to these classic artists because they tell us something about ourselves both as human beings and as Americans." Image: Russian Classroom by Norman Rockwell. On Rockwell's Russian Classroom,  see also.

Exchange program launched in Wilton area - "Western Maine now has local coordinators working to promote 'public diplomacy' through the hosting of high school students from 45 countries. Wiltonites David Olson and Paula Widmer have been certified as

coordinators by American Councils for International Education, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., which organizes and facilitates exchange programs funded by the U.S. Department of State." Image from article, with caption: Two exchange students attended orientation with their host families. In back from left are Irving Faunce, Jan Collins and Anita Wright; front, Nayab Jamal and Sonja Mitic.

Reports of raid on home of VOA correspondent in Cabinda [enclave of Angola] - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The Army Just Sacked a General for Trash-Talking Karzai‎ - Andam Clark Estes, The Atlantic Wire: "'Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, just announced that he fired Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, the deputy commander of the crucial mission to train Afghan security forces.' ... Fuller

was out of a job within about 24 hours. ... And how bad were Fuller's statements to Politico? Let's just say it didn't exactly promote constructive public diplomacy efforts. Politico's Tim Mak quotes directly: 'The two-star general flashed irritation when he brought up Karzai's recent remarks that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in a war against the U.S., blasting the president’s comments as 'erratic,' and adding, 'Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You've got to be kidding me … I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care'?" Fuller image from

The Government of Cuba opens Hemingway bar in Washington - Cuba Headlines: "It has been inaugurated within the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, the Hemingway Bar, in homage to the famous American writer and as part of an effort to bridge Havana with public opinion in this country. 'I've been asked many times in recent weeks, the reason for this our humble tribute to Ernest Hemingway. Well, the answer lies in how little is said or written in the United States about the close relationship of this transcendental figure of the literature Cuba,' he said last night

the head of the Cuba Interests Section, Jorge Bolaños, during the opening ceremony. ... Foundation of the Finca Vigia, which bears the name of the property where Hemingway lived outside Havana, provides cultural and educational mount exhibitions on the life and work of American author during his two decades on the island. However, there are people inside and outside Cuba who share an appreciation for Hemingway and Havana authorities want to use it as a tool of public diplomacy, does not automatically translate into an improvement in bilateral relations, according to observers. The opening of the bar occurs at a time when persistent friction between Washington and Havana on the embargo, human rights and free markets, among others." Hemingway image from article

Would a Chinese Bailout of Europe Be Worthwhile?‎ - China Briefing: "[T]he country [China] knows full well how to maximize

public diplomacy results through offering international financial support." Image from

Buckley, If Not God, Returns to Yale: What the late, great controversialist would have said to Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and today's conservative talking heads - Neal B. Freeman, Wall Street Journal: To the hardy band of right-leaning scholars beavering away in the American academy, he [William Buckley] would have said: 'Be brave, but until you have secured tenure, be no more brave than conscience demands. Concentrate your careerist energies on the edge of evolving scholarship, but celebrate loudly and redundantly the core values of the Western canon.' To the stewards of his movement's public diplomacy—the editors and publishers, writers and producers, the bloggers and talking heads—Bill would say: 'Keep handy the metrics of fusionism and appreciate the vital contribution to our coalition made by each major strain of conservatism. Avoid sectarianism. Adhere strictly to principle, but polish to a high shine the fresh formulations of our timeless proposition. Labor without pause to coin language that will fire the imagination and ignite commitment. And along the way, please, have a little fun. Try to be a little less, uhhhh,

constipated.'" Image from

Islamists and the Tests They Face
- Philip Seib, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Muslims must decide if faith and freedom are to coexist. As they decide, a primary task for the states emerging from the 'Arab spring' is to make democracy more than a matter of electoral politics, and instead embrace the notion of a democratic culture."


WikiLeaks is the Future - Tim Maurer, Power and Policy: WikiLeaks stands for a new technology that can be used by hacktivists, criminals, and governments alike. This technology has its vices and its virtues. It enables a single individual to ‘steal’ a large quantity of data at low, nearly equal to no, cost. Moreover, this data can go ‘viral’, spreading exponentially online, and become accessible to the public at large.

Listening to the Axis of Evil - Walter C. Clemens, Jr.: The world has always had its bad guys. Negotiating with them can be distasteful but useful — as the many arms control accords signed by the United States and the Soviet Union attest. To negotiate effectively with North Korea, we must accept that trust and personal relationships matter to North Koreans.

While Americans often push directly for an explicit commitment drafted by lawyers, the Kim dynasty has shown its preference for deal-making at the highest levels, involving former President Jimmy Carter in 1994, President Bill Clinton in 2000, and former vice president Al Gore in 2009. We should therefore enter negotiations without explicit preconditions and show that all parties are willing to make concessions to achieve mutual gain. Pyongyang flats image from

Russian Propagandists Exploit Wall Street Protests - Cliff Kincaid, The FBI has released photos, videos, and documents in the case of 10 Russian secret agents arrested – and quickly deported – in 2010. The documents are mostly heavily redacted and of no practical value to those interested in the details about on-going Russian operations against the U.S. What is perhaps more interesting and significant is what the Russians are doing in plain sight by using American cable and satellite systems against us. In this context, a complaint has now been filed with the Obama Justice Department over Russian propaganda broadcasts in the U.S. While the FBI disclosures, such as they are, suggest that the Moscow regime regards the U.S. as an adversary, if not enemy, they are not nearly as fascinating as what Moscow is doing in the form of

Russia Today (RT) propaganda broadcasts reaching tens of millions of American homes. Image from

Want to See What Taliban Propaganda Looks Like? - The Taliban produces an online magazine of sorts, mostly full of stolen photos from around the Internet of the fighting and destruction in Afghanistan. The images are tough viewing, explicit photos of wounded and killed Americans and other Westerners, but do offer a very real look at what the war is about. Nothing is glorified, nothing is defiled, the pictures speak for themselves. Some of the most vivid images are frame grabs from a helmet cam video as the soldier steps on a mine. My God, what horrors. Take a look at the full product online.

Taliban Propaganda Watch – 051020UTC Nov 11 - Blog

The ‘Coalition of Evils’ against Islamic Republic - The paranoid Zionist world remains glued to its misguided notion that a vicious propaganda war, based on lies, will force Tehran to stop its nuclear program and its support for anti-Israel forces in the region.

The War on Libya and the Broader US-NATO Military Agenda - Michel Chossudovsky, The war on Libya is an integral part of the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which until recently consisted of three distinct areas of conflict: Afghanistan and Pakistan (the AfPak War), Iraq, Palestine. These four war theaters are interrelated.

They are part of a broader region of conflict, which extends from North Africa and the Middle East, engulfing a large part of the Mediterranean basin, to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan, and Northern Pakistan. The ultimate objective, combining military action, covert intelligence operations and war propaganda, is to break down the national fabric and transform sovereign countries into open economic territories, where natural resources can be plundered and confiscated under “free market” supervision. This control also extends to strategic oil and gas pipeline corridors (e.g. Afghanistan). Image from article

U.S. “Scholar” Propaganda About Syria - A piece in Foreign Policy by Randa Slim, “a scholar at the Middle East Institute," on the Syrian opposition claims: a critical mass of Syrians has clearly opted for regime change It does not provide one fact to support that conclusion. Scanning the news from Syria my impression is that the opposition to Bashar Assad, which obviously never achieved critical mass over the last months, is now shrinking.

Using Toys to Sell Propaganda - David Shear, On Thursday, CNN featured a story titled “Art project combines war, therapy – and toys.” It’s a collection of photographs by photographer Brian McCarty, using toys to explore the daily struggles of Palestinian and Israeli children.

It’s a cute idea, if it wasn’t such a one sided, anti-Israel project. Of the 8 photographs being shown, non are of Israeli children. However, the IDF is featured prominently, shooting Palestinian children, dropping bombs from fighter jets on children, and looking like the aggressive, occupying force this propaganda is trying to push. Image from

"The number of overseas-based websites glorifying the North Korean regime has been increasing rapidly"
- Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Chinese Journalists Fired for Reporting Outside Party Line - Chinese journalists who report outside the official Chinese Communist Party line are being removed from their positions, as free press in the country continues to be restricted. Huang Liangtian, who himself was fired as chief editor of a mainland publication in 2007, explains why the Chinese regime does not tolerate reporters like him. [Huang Liangtian, Former Chief Editor of Baixing Magazine]: “The Communist Party completely acknowledges its propaganda, and all media serves as propaganda tools. If you’re in this industry, you’ll become a tool too, you’ll be its mouthpiece—not its brain or its heart. So you cannot have a conscience, or have your own independent thoughts.” The Chinese regime has recently pushed for an expansion of its so-called “soft power,” as a way to maintain its legitimacy. The Central Propaganda Department heavily controls domestic media and their overseas branches.

Watch for Exaggerated Emotions (Before Inflated Vocabulary) to identify a Political Propagandist - Eisenstaedt made these two photos of Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda in 1933.

The first one registers Goebbels looking at somebody who obviously fascinates him. But the second photo catches Goebbels’ reaction on Eisenstaedt. What is common to both photos? – The exaggerated emotion on Goebbels’ face. As the first photo registers Goebbels’ over-positive reaction on somebody Eisenstaedt didn’t know, the second picture grasps his not less over-articulated over-suspicious reaction on Eisenstaedt’s face.

In both photos the intensity of Goebbels’ facial expression is rhetorically exaggerated. It expresses not what he really feels but what people should notice and understand about his feelings (real feelings in human adults are only partially expressed on our faces and need to be interpreted). Goebbels’ feelings cannot be separated from what he wants to communicate to the public. His emotions are fused with what they are intent to communicate – (they don’t need to be interpreted, they should be obvious like full moon on the night sky). Individualism in a propagandist doesn’t exist – his emotions belong to the audience. His very individuality is communal – it’s common, socialized, it’s a public property. A propagandist is intra-communal communicator – his feelings are identical with their displaying for the purpose of being easily read and identified with by the public. We could say that a propagandist is an actor if it couldn’t be an insult to good actors. But we also cannot say that a propagandist is a bad actor because it would be equally an insult to bad actors.

No, a propagandist is an actor in life. He is acting instead of living. He is living by acting. Joseph Goebbels is an essential propagandist – he coins emotions, he wraps emotions into facial expressions as candies into a bright wrapper. He is successful at creating waves of common (communal) emotions – he is a master of organizing them for mass imitation which triggers commonality which in its turn triggers totalitarianism. Two top photos of Goebbels; below photo of Alfred Eisenstaedt, with caption: Maybe, Goebbels was frightened by Eisenstaedt’s photo-camera – in the same way like today’s American police (of the palace of financial power) is hatefully suspicious of photo- and video-cameras in the hands of protesters against Wall Street’s abuses of American public?

The Return of Mein Kampf - Sarah Wildman, New York Times: Adolf Hitler’s personal-political 700-plus-page screed, the text that provided the opening overture and background music for the racist ideology of the Nazi period,

enters the public domain in 2015. At that point, there will no longer be any legal control over its distribution. Image from article

Propaganda Fashion - "Latest project entitled ‘Propaganda Fashion’ on my university course. We had to take inspiration

from the old world war 2 propaganda posters, looking at colour, lighting and poses." Image from entry

The Prague Post Blogs: Shoot Your Mouth: Comedy improv at Propaganda
- The night, which runs with the tagline “Your stories. Your jokes. No notes. No script.” is on at Propaganda this Sunday November 6, with participants being urged to register for their slot in advance. Say the organizers: “When Shoot Your Mouth"

starts, political correctness goes out the door. Only the audience will judge if you’ve crossed too far over the line. Image from article


--Sathorn Unique is a 50-story skyscraper in Bangkok that was meant to be a luxury living address but now it's totally abandoned and decaying. Includes sound track. From Boing Boing

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