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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28

“I plan to work very hard every day.”

--The second sentence of the dictation New Times columnist Roger Cohen had to write when he became an American citizen; image from


Tomorrow (6/29): Global Twitter Q & A with Under Secretary for Press and Public Diplomacy Judith McHale - U.S. East Asia and Pacific Media Hub, U.S. State Department: “The the first ever global Twitter Q & A with Under Secretary for Press and Public Diplomacy Judith McHale wull [sic] be hosted on @StateDept Twitter feed starting 9:30 am DC time – evening in Asia on June 29, 2011. Connect directly with Under Secretary McHale and exchange ideas about public diplomacy and cultural exchange on @StateDept. Under Secretary McHale Bio:"

“American Seasons “ in Russia – unique cultural event‎ - Eugene Nikitenko, The Voice of Russia: "U.S. Embassy in Moscow has announced a unique year-long American arts and culture festival in Russia. It is both a fresh start in this sphere of relations between the two countries and homage to Sergei Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons in Paris. As such, it will start with performances in Moscow of the famous American company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Meeting journalists on June 27th – and speaking Russian, U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle said: 'The performances of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre is the beginning of a very important programme of the year-long festival supported by our Embassy and the Russian-American Bilateral Presidential Commission formed in 2009 to increase cooperation. Sergei Diaghilev’s 'Russian Seasons' aimed at showing Europe the best of Russian culture.

The U.S. 'Russian Seasons' also aim at showing the widest possible range of the best of American culture to the Russian public. Taking the relay baton from Sergei Diaghilev, we decided to open this festival with the performances of our world-renowned dance theatre, a synonym of the American dance arts. Of course the activities of the Bilateral Presidential Commission are increasingly important, but the main thing is the extending contacts between our peoples, and we hope that 'American Seasons' will contribute to this.' Other highlights of the 'American Seasons' in Russia include the MOMIX Dance Company, and the three-times Grammy winner hip-hop/salsa fusion band from Ozomaitli, an exhibit of Annie Leibovitz photography at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, performances of New American plays translated into Russian to be staged in many parts of this country. The Russian public will also be offered three performances in Moscow and St.Petersburg by the famous Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Muti. Mikhail Shvydkoy, Russia’s special presidential representative for international Culture Cooperation, gave some details about the 'American Seasons' festival: 'The idea was born at the very first meeting of our bilateral; commission on cultural and education exchanges of youth, Mrs. MacHail [sic], senior deputy State Secretary for public diplomacy and Ambassador Byerl[e]. American culture is represented in Russia well enough, but mainly in the mass culture sphere. It’s American movies and literature, but the highlights of U.S. culture is not very much presented here. The preparation of this festival has been going on for several years, and we hope that it will be the first in a long series of festivals and events demonstrating the best of American culture, one of the most developed intellectual cultures. I hope that next year we will hold a reciprocal Russian cultural season in the United States, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Fort Ross in California. 'Russian Seasons' in America will also highlight some significant cultural events that we find it hard to hold within the framework of other events. I hope that 'Seasons' may become regular, ['] said Mikhail Shvydkoy, co-chairing the press conference dedicated to the opening of 'American Seasons' culture festival announced by

the United States Ambassador John Byerle."  Top image from; below Byerle image from

Kissinger optimistic about China-US relations‎ - Qin Zhongwei, China Daily: "China and the United States should have a non-exclusive and mutually supportive relationship around the world, Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state, said on Monday. 'I'm optimistic about Sino-US relations, and confident that we will overcome difficulties and build up a structure of friendly cooperation,' he said. Kissinger was in Beijing for a series of public and private meetings to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his secret mission in July 1971 to break the ice in China-US relations. ... Kissinger said

that when he first came to China, he knew little about the country, but now he admires the Chinese people and Chinese history. Kissinger has visited Peking University four times between 2001 and 2008 for face-to-face talks with students, according to Yuan Ming, director of the American Studies Center at Peking University, who witnessed the four visits. Qu Xing, director of China Institute of International Studies, said Kissinger set a good example in bringing the two countries closer by promoting public diplomacy, increasing understanding between China and the US through non-traditional means." Image from article, with caption: Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state, shakes hands with a participant at a forum in Beijing on Monday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his secret mission to China.

Salalah Meets Washington - "I'm on my way home after spending an incredible week on the US Foreign Press Centre Tour on blogging/writing for social and political change that took place in Washington DC and Minneapolis. ... A couple of months ago I was contacted by the US Embassy in Muscat asking if I would be interested in participating in the tour, based on my work for this column. Candidates were selected from countries that are currently struggling with social and/or political tension. Never one to turn down an interesting opportunity, I agreed immediately. ... Social media has forever changed the face of politics in the US, and I'm sure, in the years to come, the same will be true for Oman. Judith McHale, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs,

said something to us on our first day that kept coming up again and again in our official and private discussions for the remainder of the tour. She said, 'The days of one-to-one government relations are over.' Thinking about it now, what she said was very true. With online social media tools and websites like WikiLeaks available to hundreds of millions of people around the world, it will become increasingly difficult for governments to withhold information from their people. ... Overall, the tour was an eye-opener for me and I am bursting with new ideas. Oman may not seem like the most democratic of nations, but we are pretty stable and are definitely on the right track. We have more freedom of speech than we think and we have much to be thankful for. I left the US feeling inspired, empowered, and extremely proud of my country. I honestly feel blessed to be living in Oman." Blogger's image from her blog

GAHS honors Hermann H. Eisele and Barbara E. Nahlik - German American National Congress: national Blog: "The German American Heritage Society (GAHS) of Saint Louis honored Hermann H. Eisele with its 2011 Friedrich Hecker Freedom Award presented by president, Lansing Hecker on March 5 at the organization’s 21st Anniversary celebration of its founding at the Racquet Club – St. Louis in 1990. The gala celebration was attended by 54 members, Charter Members and guests. ... The event’s guest of honor was, Dr. Hans-Ulrich von Schroeter, Deputy Director of the German Information Center at the German Embassy in Washington , D.C. Dr. Schroeter provided fascinating insights on the mission of the German Information Center (GIC) in the United States,

as well as in other selected German Embassies around the world. In addition to providing a weekly, electronic English language 'window on the world' with The Week In Germany (TWIG), the GIC also provides extensive support of annual public diplomacy programs primarily to remind high school and university students of America’s contemporary ties to Germany over the past 60 years. In recent years, these programs have included: The 60th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift; The 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall; 20 years of German Unity; and in 2011, Germany’s hosting of the Women’s World Cup Soccer matches, as well as focus on the advantages of learning German as a second language." Image from

Tahrir among the Gaza flotilla - S.H.Moulana, "Israeli defense sources have 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." Image from article, with caption: The Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign announces today the successful conclusion of arrangements to purchase and register a boat to carry the Canadian delegation to Gaza. The boat’s name Tahrir (Liberation in Arabic) has been chosen to honour the square in Cairo that was the focus of the democratic uprising that has spread hope across the Middle East.

Australia's public diplomacy and social media - "On 6–7 June 2011 the Forum on Public and Citizen Diplomacy was convened in Canberra to formulate recommendations for Australian public diplomacy practitioners, with the aim of identifying best practice and emerging trends in this field. Innovative ways of conducting public diplomacy,

including through the use of social media, have been advanced by Australia's partners." [Article contains brief description of public diplomacy as prcticed by the U.S., the U.K., the European Union, and Australia]. Uncaptioned image from article

Casa África supports African participation in Masdanza Dance Festival - "The África en Movimiento (Africa in Motion) programme is a Casa África initiative for promoting the presence of African stage artists in Spain, with the premises of public diplomacy for cultural cooperation events that are applied by the institution, avoiding paternalism and using these disciplines to bring Africa and Spain closer together. Initially, the programme will be focused on contemporary African dance, although it does not exclude the idea of becoming involved with other arts. The confirmation that an enormous amount of choreographic wealth exists in the neighbouring continent, which has yet to be discovered by Spanish audiences, has been the deciding factor for setting this programme into motion. ... Casa África´s commitment to Pan-African stage arts rests on these objectives: 1. To bring Africa closer to public Spanish opinions by using stage arts to provide a real image of the continent, its potential and heterogeneity. 2. To work closely with the professional stage arts industry in Africa so as to understand its interests and priorities, contributing towards finding potential counterparts in Spain and promoting contact. 3. To act as a speaker of this industry´s interests and priorities for Spain and the European Union."

Europe Does Not Need American Protection Anymore - Joerg Wolf, "9/11 has accelerated the divergence of European and American geostrategic interests. Europe does not need American protection anymore, with the exception of the nuclear guarantee, says Nick Witney, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. ... At a time when so many US journalists and pundits are questioning the relevance of NATO and express their increasing disappointment with the Europeans, I would like to recommend the ten minute video below to better understand why most European countries are not spending more on defense and do not send more troops to US led wars. To paraphrase Nick Witney: Secretary Gates' words have fallen on deaf ears in Europe, because we don't see a particularly productive

use for our militaries. America has global aspirations and has the Pacific to worry about, whereas Europeans are just concerned about their neighborhood and don't feel the need to maintain strong militaries. This trends towards demilitarization is probably dangerous, but it is not a sign of decadence or free-riding. We don't want to be on the 'ride' that has taken us into Iraq and Afghanistan. ... Nick Witney spoke on the panel "New challenges and old alliances? EU, NATO and a security architecture for the 21st century" moderated by Dr. Ulrike Guérot, Head of the Berlin Office of the European Council on Foreign Relation's (ECFR). You can watch the recorded livestream from the entire panel with Dr. Stefanie Babst, NATO's Acting Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Division, Walter Stevens, Head of Crisis Management and Planning Department at the European External Action Service, and Dr. Dimitar Bechev, Head of the Sofia Office of the ECFR." Image from

2011 entrance voluntary reporting - "Fujian High Admissions Notice: Fujian Province June 9, 2011 onwards into the marking period, candidates can expect about 24 inquiries HKALE know their score and ranking. Fujian Province is expected to move 25 or so committee meetings, public subjects class, taking control of batch lowest score. June 26 began voluntary reporting. ... ⒋ political science class: the international political thinking Political Science and Public Administration Education Public Diplomacy"

Essay on Martin Luther King, Jr. published - Svend White, Tikkun Daily: "I’m pleased to report that a 2008 essay I wrote for Religion Dispatches on the occasion of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday has been published in a collection of short essays on the issues involved in his assassination and legacy. The book in question is The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. , edited by Noah Berlatsky and published by Greenhaven Press this year. ... The format of the book is 'opposing viewpoints.' Thus, my contribution was placed in opposition to another essay. From, err, a U.S. Government website (title: 'King’s dream has transformed America.'). So much for a

career in public diplomacy!" Image from


On the Mend? America Comes to Its Senses - Andrew J. Bacevich, TomDispatch: That the United States should avoid wars except when absolutely necessary no longer connotes incipient isolationism. Given what polls indicate is a growing public unhappiness over the Afghan War, speaking out against that war these days doesn’t exactly require political courage. Still, the possibility of our legislators reasserting a role in deciding whether or not a war actually serves the national interest -- rather than simply rubberstamping appropriations and slinking away -- now presents itself. God bless the United States Congress.

Foreign affairs chair wants Syrian ambassador recalled - Seung Min Kim, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen released a statement Monday calling on the U.S. to recall the ambassador to Syria,

Robert Ford, while subtly digging President Barack Obama for appointing him during a congressional recess. Calling Ford’s recess appointment in December an “ill-advised overture,” the Florida Republican said Ford’s continued presence in Damascus only serves as fodder for propaganda by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Image from

How Obama Bungled The War In Libya: Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton on how President Barack Obama’s handling of the conflict in Libya could leave Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi alive and empower Islamist elements within the Libyan opposition – Daily Beast

Taliban add song to the armory - Hejratullah Ekhtiyar, Asia Times: "I have a five-year-old son who doesn't listen to music, but he asks me to play the Taliban songs for him and then sings along with them," Dawlat Khan said. These "Taliban songs" are stored on Dawlat Khan's mobile phone. A resident of Nangarhar province in southeastern Afghanistan, he and his son have joined the growing band of fans of the songs and video clips produced by the insurgents. Much of the material is propaganda designed to stir up emotional support for the insurgents' war, especially among young people. Passed from hand to hand even among avowed enemies of the Taliban, the songs are capturing the popular imagination in ways that more overt appeals for support - from both the insurgents and the government - have failed to do.

Gaddafi spokesman says propaganda not slowing down - Washington Post: With the recent decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against Gaddafi, Allen Pizzey reports on the latest of the leader's propaganda effort in Libya. (CBS News video)

North Korea: propaganda cartoons reach kids - Emily Lodish, Global Post, In "Pencil Rocket," a young boy learns that he must studying hard, learn to use a protractor and fend off U.S. enemies. You better learn to use a protractor.

Or else you won't be able to fend off an attack by a fleet of U.S. military tanks. That's the message in this North Korean cartoon, "Pencil Rocket," made for the purpose of teaching kids how to use a protractor. Image from

Flotilla activists planning to kill Israeli soldiers, just propaganda? - Anissa Haddadi, Israeli army sources told the Jerusalem Post on Monday night that new intelligence information obtained in recent days shows that participants of the flotilla planning to break Israel's sea blockade over the Gaza Strip later this week plan to kill Israeli Defence Forces soldiers who board their ships. The sources told the newspaper that some of the participants have prepared sacks with sulfur, which they plan to pour on the soldiers as they board the vessels. "This is a chemical weapon, and if poured on a soldier it can paralyze him," an IDF source told The Jerusalem Post Monday night. "If the sulfur

is then lit on fire, the soldier will light up like a torch." The information was obtained from closed meetings held by participants on the ships during which some voiced their intention to "murder Israeli soldiers," according to the IDF. In response to the IDF's statements, Dror Feiler, an Israeli participant on the upcoming flotilla, told Army Radio that the claims "are an attempt to justify in advance IDF violence." Image from article, with caption: Pro-Palestinian activists wave Palestinian flags during the welcoming ceremony for cruise liner Mavi Marmara at the Sarayburnu port of Istanbul December 26, 2010.

RT America Called “State Propaganda Channel” on BBC -

Belarusian TV bashes Medvedev (Video) - Charter 97: Belarusian TV (BT) has severely criticized Russia and Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev. The tone of the propaganda programme was in striking contrast with Minsk’s dependence on Moscow to overcome the deep economic crisis, Russian BBC service reports. The Belarusian television said on Sunday evening why president Medvedev did not visit Brest on June 22, the 70th anniversary of the begging of the Great Patriotic War, and how Russian media and Russian business stand against Belarus. Analysts in Minsk say Russia was bashed in the style earlier applied only to the West and Belarusian opposition.

Television Travel and the Strange Beauty of Chinese TV: A former expat on what cartoons and propaganda films tell us about modern China—and how channel 32 always transports her back - In China, most of our channels

were controlled by the state-run CCTV, so propaganda was obvious. One, for example, showed villainous anti-Japanese World War II docudramas every single night, or so it seemed. And of course the news broadcasts were filled with stately images of President Hu and kindly images of "Grandfather" Wen. Sometimes, news just disappeared; foreign broadcasts would go abruptly off air, blocking what China considered sensitive segments about, say, Tiananmen or Tibet. Image from article

Gene Weingarten: How ‘branding’ is ruining journalism - Washington Post. We are slowly redefining our craft so it is no longer a calling but a commodity. From this execrable marketing trend arises the term you ask me about: “branding.” Via manIC

Washington Post Profiles Two OSS Women Agents - Betty McIntosh, 96, and Doris Bohrer, 88, were among the few women who worked for the CIA in its infant years. In the early 1940s, Bohrer and McIntosh fell into jobs at the Office of Strategic Services, the nation’s first intelligence agency, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and led by William “Wild Bill” Donovan, a Wall Street lawyer and World War I veteran.

They were among the rarest of operatives, women working overseas during World War II. In China, McIntosh, a “black propaganda” specialist, whipped up fake news stories to undermine the morale of the enemy — including an effort to convince the Japanese emperor’s soldiers that their wives were procreating with other men back home. Stationed in Italy, Bohrer analyzed aerial photographs of Germany, helping select sites to air drop and rescue OSS officers behind enemy lines. Image from


"Since 2006, athletics budgets at 219 Division I public schools have increased 22%, and subsidies — the part of the budget that comes from student fees and university money — have increased 26%."

--USA Today

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]