Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30

"[T]he states of America are a country where there are thirty-two religions, but there is only one course at dinner — and it’s bad."

--Statement attributed to gourmet French diplomat Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1st Prince de Bénévent, who was in the U.S. in the 1790s;  image from


[Disney's] Food Will Win The War [World War II] --


The Arts Diplomacy Festival 2012: Cultural Diplomacy in Practice (Berlin, International Conference, March 22nd - 25th, 2012). See also.


Has France become a charity case?‎ A downtrodden French suburb accepts aid from Qatar - Clea Caulcutt, GlobalPost: In December, the Qatari embassy in Paris announced it was launching a fund to help entrepreneurs in impoverished areas in the French suburbs, known as the 'banlieues.' ... Five to six million Muslims live in France, many whom can trace their heritage to former North African colonies.

Benjamin Pelletier, a writer and intercultural management trainer, said France has failed to exploit and promote the assets of this population. 'It is embarrassing to see others value and promote talents in our [suburbs].' he said. 'It’s a clear sign we failed and abandoned these areas.' Pelletier agues that as Qatar’s presence in France becomes more visible, the Arab nation needs to actively defend its image. 'In terms of public diplomacy, it is always more interesting if members belonging to the local population express your message. The French won’t believe what the emir of Qatar tells them, but they will believe the director of a start-up in the French suburbs,' said Pelletier. The Qataris are not the first to court young professionals in the French suburbs. The US embassy in Paris has been working on a network of partnerships with youth leaders in immigrant areas to better their image with Muslim communities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. 'The Americans target young people, youth leaders, students — they will meet them, support them, offer them trips to the United States to create long-term privileged contacts,' Pelletier added. But he said the Qatari approach is 'more opportunistic, more straightforward.'" Image from

Rhode Island School of Design Partners with the U.S. Department of State's Office of ART in Embassies: Collaboration On Art for Moroccan Embassy Kicks Off with Wintersession Course Led by Renowned Artist and RISD Alumnus Jim Drain - "Visiting artist Jim Drain (RISD BFA 98/Sculpture) is leading Art in Embassies: Morocco, a Wintersession 2012 studio course at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), as the first phase of a multiyear partnership between RISD and the U.S. Department of State's Office of ART in Embassies (AIE), made possible through the generous support of RISD alumna and Board Vice Chair Lisa Pevaroff (RISD BFA 83/Textile Design).

This collaborative project has been designed to promote cross-cultural exchange, and to recognize and nurture the talents of the next generation of professional artists. Ultimately, the collaboration will yield a large-scale outdoor work of art for the U.S. Embassy building currently in the design phase for Rabat, Morocco. ... Established in 1963, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations' office of ART in Embassies (AIE) plays a vital role in our nation's public diplomacy through a culturally expansive mission of temporary exhibitions, permanent collections, artist exchanges and residencies, and publications." Image from, with caption: Jim Drain is not a fashion designer. He is an artist.

Will Twitter's new country-specific censorship include a ban on VOA tweets to US tweeps? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Marketing Land, 26 Jan 2012, Danny Sullivan: 'Until now, Twitter’s not had the ability to censor certain tweets or accounts, to prevent them from being seen — if legally required — by users in particular countries. That’s now changed, though Twitter stresses that it hasn’t yet used this new ability and that should it have to, anything withheld will be disclosed. Twitter has shared the news on its blog, saying: 'As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression.' ... Twitter is preparing for potential demands in the way that Google already does, by alerting its users to when content has been withheld and providing information about why, through the Chilling Effects site.' [Elliott comment:]

At present, a US idea 'about the contours of freedom of expression' is the Smith-Mundt Act ban on the domestic dissemination of US public diplomacy and international broadcasting. Twitter's new capability allows this law to be observed. Even if all USIB content is blocked to US IP addresses, many of remaining USIB shortwave broadcasts will be audible in the United States. That is, until those transmissions end. When that happens, enforcement of the domestic dissemination ban will be complete." Image from

Twitter's new censorship plan stirs global furor: Its says it now has the power to block tweets in a specific country if the government legally requires it to do so. Dissidents and activists fear the new policy will stifle free speech - Jessica Guynn, "Twitter has promoted itself as a beacon of free speech, and that image was burnished when revolutionaries used the social media service to organize protests during last year's Arab Spring uprising. But in what many view as an about-face, Twitter now says it has the power to block tweets in a specific country if the government legally requires it to do so, triggering outrage around the world, especially in Arab countries. Dissidents and activists there fear the new policy will stifle free speech and thousands of users are threatening to boycott Twitter."

Press TV and the Regulation of International Broadcasting - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "A quick comment on the decision of OFCOM the UK communications regulator to revoke the license of the Iranian international broadcaster Press TV A lot of contemporary international broadcasting depends on platforms (VHF radio, cable TV, national satellite TV) that are under the control of the country they are broadcasting to. This creates a double problem. The international broadcaster is subject to a regulatory regime that is primarily designed to enforce national broadcasting priorities. This creates the risk that the international broadcaster will fall foul of their license terms.

On the other hand an effort by the regulator to enforce license terms will like be perceived as a political action not as a regulatory. ... [I]t could be argued that the operations of Press TV should be treated in political terms for instance by insisting on reciprocity in the treatment of international broadcasters. Press TV should be restricted in its operations as long as Western broadcasters to Iran are jammed. Of course Iran is more bothered by the operation of Western broadcasters than the other way round and presumably wouldn’t agree to such a deal. There’s an interesting mismatch between the international politics of the issue and the efforts of Western countries to depoliticize communications policy. In the wake of the UK action there voices are being raised in the US about the actions of Press TV and other Iranian state funded broadcasters in the US." Image from

Azerbaijan-NATO ties deserve 'positive assessment - F.H., News.Az, Azerbaijan's permanent representative to NATO, Khazar Ibrahim: "As for the main spheres of practical cooperation, it is possible to

single out civil emergency planning, public diplomacy, mine clearance within the Trust Fund, which has helped the successful clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance over an area of 44 million square metres (Saloglu project) in Azerbaijan." Ibrahim image from article

All available resources to be utilized for capacity building of press officers: Firdous - Associated Press of Pakistan: "Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Friday said that all available resources would be utilized for capacity building of press officers posted abroad for effectively projecting true image of the country. ... The minister was addressing the concluding session of a three-day Consultative Conference on Press Officers organized by External Publicity Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting here. ... The conference underscored the importance of training and capacity building of personnel of the ministry for which it will arrange foreign language and capacity building courses on public diplomacy and public relations."

The pernicious logic of consumer ‘choice,’ pt. 1. -  "Academics, corporations, the marketing industry all using their ability to get you to do what they want you to do through ‘attraction rather than coercion.’ When does the infrastructure proving ‘attraction’ slip over the line into ‘coercion’ or is that not a question we should be asking? All of this also suggests that this idea of ‘consumer choice’ as the be all end all of human civilisation serves some better than others. If these are the terms under which our ‘participation’ is constructed, we can’t opt out, whether we like it or not.

Instead, even our most minute ‘choices’ will go into the database to be invisibly sold back to us at some point in the future. Also, as a brief and mostly rhetorical aside, should we trust intellectuals who, instead of speaking instead of speaking truth to power, are busily shaping their brands in the service of power? I suppose some things aren’t all that relative."

GetHired Nabs $1.75 Million To Launch Its Video-Centric Recruiting Platform and Job Board - "[The start-up] GetHired ... is today launching a video-based, social recruiting platform and job board that is looking to empower job seekers — allowing them to set themselves apart from the competition — by creating video and audio profiles to accompany their resumesGetHired is today announcing that it has raised $1.75 million in seed funding from a host of angel investors, including CEO of the Global Environment Fund, Jeffrey Leonard, former CEO of Discovery Communications and the former Under Secretary of State For Public Diplomacy And Affairs, Judith McHale, CEO of, John Suh, and Mack Capital CEO, Ralph Mack."

Irsay-Manning feud sure to steal Super Bowl spotlight - "[Indiana QB Peyton ] Manning talked to the Indianapolis Star and described an unhealthy atmosphere around the organization . ... Few suspected he would reveal as much as he did in the Star. ... Manning's a politician now, after a decade and a half of public diplomacy about everything personal and professional"


U.S. Drones Patrolling Its Skies Provoke Outrage in Iraq - Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times: A month after the last American troops left Iraq, the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance drones here to help protect the United States Embassy and consulates, as well as American personnel. Some senior Iraqi officials expressed outrage at the program, saying the unarmed aircraft are an affront to Iraqi sovereignty. The program was described by the department’s diplomatic security branch in a little-noticed section of its most recent annual report and outlined in broad terms in a two-page online prospectus for companies that might bid on a contract to manage the program. It foreshadows a possible expansion of unmanned drone operations into the diplomatic arm of the American government; until now they have been mainly the province of the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.

American contractors say they have been told that the State Department is considering to field unarmed surveillance drones in the future in a handful of other potentially “high-threat” countries, including Indonesia and Pakistan, and in Afghanistan after the bulk of American troops leave in the next two years. State Department officials say that no decisions have been made beyond the drone operations in Iraq. The drones are the latest example of the State Department’s efforts to take over functions in Iraq that the military used to perform. Some 5,000 private security contractors now protect the embassy’s 11,000-person staff, for example, and typically drive around in heavily armored military vehicles.  Image from

English Is Global, So Why Learn Arabic? - New York Times: In a recent essay in The Times, Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard University, wrote about preparing American students for the future. In the essay, he said that international experience was essential, arguing that English’s emergence as the global language makes the investment in other languages less essential.

Does he have a point? Even though Americans aren’t as monolingual as you might think, is learning a language other than English a worthwhile investment? Image from

The Mixtape of the Revolution - Sujatna Fernandes, New York Times: During the recent wave of revolutions across the Arab world and the protests against illegitimate presidents in African countries like Guinea and Djibouti, rap music has played a critical role in articulating citizen discontent over poverty, rising food prices, blackouts, unemployment, police repression and political corruption. Why has rap — an American music that in its early global spread was associated with thuggery and violence — come to be so highly influential in these regions? After all, rappers are not the only musicians involved in politics. Rappers, according to the Senegalese rapper Keyti, “are closer to the streets and can bring into their music the general feeling of frustration among people.” Another reason is the oratorical style rap employs: rappers report in a direct manner that cuts through political subterfuge. As the Arab revolutions and African protests are ousting and discrediting establishment politicians, the young populations of these regions are looking to rappers as voices of clarity and leadership. Rappers are hoping to inaugurate a different kind of politics.

Coalition of the Departing: France may be the first in a stampede for the exits in Afghanistan - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The President faces an uphill battle in April's presidential election, and the French public is overwhelmingly opposed to the Afghan deployment. It would be unfair to lay too much blame on Mr. Sarkozy, who is only trying to get ahead of the coming stampede for the exits.

That was bound to happen the moment President Obama announced a timetable for the surge and a date-certain for withdrawal, thereby giving the Taliban hope that they could bide their time while giving America's coalition partners no good reason to stay. Image from

Britain is Better Off Without Iranian Press TV, Regardless of What the Channel's Supporters Tell Us - Tom J Wilson, Huffington Post: Press TV is in breach of broadcasting regulations on account of its editorial content being dictated from outside the United Kingdom, indeed from Tehran no less.

Anti-Zionism conference held in Gaza - The Palestinian Center for Political and Development Studies (CPDS) organized the meeting on Sunday. Mahmoud Herthany, a CPDS member, told Press TV that the situation in Palestine must be made clear to the world in order to put an end to Israel's propaganda that is “controlling many of the media outlets of the world today.” See also.

Palestinians censure UK students' tour - Palestinian student groups have issued an open letter condemning Britain's Labor party student officers for taking part in a recent propaganda tour of the occupied Palestinian territories. The all-expenses paid tour organized by the British Union of Jewish Students (UJS) involved a visit to the illegal settlements being developed all across the lands occupied by the armed to teeth army of the Zionist entity.

Cell phones are now illegal in North Korea, propaganda over 3G resumes in 100 days - The North Korean government has imposed a total ban on mobile phones. During the 100 days of mourning for the loss of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, those who get caught using a mobile phone will be treated as war criminals.

Or in other words – sentenced to many, many years of prison or even death. The ban is actually a way for the ruling (and only) party to protect the stability of the country by preventing the leaking of information. It will also reduce the risk of uprisings against the regime. Supposedly, the ban will be lifted after the 100 days of mourning are over. Image from article

You, Me and The DMZ: Imagining North Korea - North Korea is so wacky they have their own calendar system, and it marks its centennial anniversary in 2012, the birthdate of the late Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather. Dovetailing neatly with the recent passing of Übermeister Kim Jong-il, A Postcard From Afar: North Korea From A Distance, curated by Mark Feary, showcases the bull’s eye vision of Apex Arts unsolicited proposal program’s winning entry. North Korea calls itself the Junche Republic (100). The 100 marks its centennial anniversary (2012), chosen because it is the 100th birthday of the late Kim Il-sung, the current leader Kim Jong-un’s grandfather. Feary’s curatorship asks eight artists to image what is going on behind its secretive borders.

North Korea’s propaganda machine is so replete with Hollywood show-biz flash-in-the-pan razzle dazzle that it is cause for a movie within a movie, which is the real take away from this exhibit. Eight artists were asked to envision “a state and culture that is shrouded in secrecy, being both the producer and victim of oppositional propaganda mechanisms.” The first thing Feary did was boldly approach a special art center in Melbourne, Australia that supports artists with “intellectual disabilities.” The residents were given standard photos of Kim Il-sung and Kim-Jong-il, display items compulsory in all houses and buildings inside North Korea. The residents were not told whom the pictures represented, a decidedly opposite approach of state supported propaganda painters in the DMZ. The conflicting tensions of the two portraits by Peter Cave highlight the backward alchemy of authority, image making and meaning stripped lean by the characters anonymity through their outrageous and hilarious decontextualization. Image from article: Peter Cave, "Kim Il-sung" (2011)

UK and US Wartime Food Propaganda -  Image: from one of 18 entries:

The Nazis’ 1943 film version of Titanic - We all know what sort of propaganda films the Allies produced during the war – films like Casablanca, Went the day well?, In which we Serve etc, but have you ever wondered what sort of feature films the Germans were watching at the same time? As I gradually researched more and more films produced during the Nazi era it soon became apparent that a number of myths had emerged over the years about the nature of Nazi film propaganda. One, that the Nazis were masters at producing film propaganda.

Actually, they made a lot of mistakes. Two, that everything in the Nazis’ film was a lie. In reality, there is quite a bit of truth in their historical feature films. Three, that the only films of interest are the Riefenstahl documentaries, Triumph of the Will and Olympia. In fact, there is a whole host of feature films designed to arouse hostility against the Nazis’ enemies which are of far more interest to the modern viewer including Ohm Krüger – the most anti-British film ever produced; their 1943 anti-capitalist version of Titanic; anti-English films about Ireland and Scotland; and anti-American films like The Emperor of California. Image from article

Propaganda poster calling to serve in the SS Division Nederland - [JB note: some may find this Céline-like Russian/English blog from which this image is culled from surfing the internet totally objectionable]


--By Olga Soldatova on facebook

1 comment:

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