Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 10

"The perfect weapon ... has no odor and makes no sound. The perfect weapon, of course, is ideology."

--John Feffer, Co-director, Foreign Policy In Focus; image from



Is Kony 2012 a propaganda campaign?  - Russia Today


"Korny [intentional spelling] 2012" -- What it really is: a Facebook ad - John Brown, Notes and Essays.

Image from

'Kony 2012': Two sides to being a digital media sensation: "'Kony 2012' is a YouTube success, but Invisible Children finds that digital media attention can be a double-edged sword as its detractors rise - James Rainey, Los Angeles Times: "The fevered, multi-channel response seemed to flow into two major streams. One credited the video with drawing attention to the plight of people living in Uganda and neighboring countries. The second attacked the slickly produced presentation for glossing over complications, overstating the current threat from Kony and diverting attention from solutions more fruitful than a Kony manhunt."

‘Simplistic’ Kony Viral Video Under Fire - "A viral video calling for the arrest of a brutal central African rebel leader has come under fire from critics who say it misrepresents the complicated history of the continent’s longest-running conflict. The film, part of a campaign by the charity Invisible Children to make Ugandan militia leader Joseph Kony a household name, has received enormous attention on social media after a string of celebrities promoted the issue. By Friday evening the 30-minute video had received more than 57 million hits on YouTube. But critics said the video glosses over a complicated history that made it possible for Kony to rise to the notoriety he has today. They also lamented that the video does not inform viewers that Kony originally was waging war against Uganda‘s army, whose own human rights record has been condemned as brutal by independent observers. Thousands of comments have been posted on the YouTube video but not all are supportive of its aims, with many pointing to recent oil discoveries in Uganda as a pretext for US interests. Sceptics have voiced concern that it is part of the Obama administration’s promised use of 'smart power', as promoted recently by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Time magazine describes smart power as: 'The use of everything from public diplomacy and new media to development aid and public-private collaboration to protect and advance US interests abroad in ways America’s military power cannot.' The film has also come under fire because it did not use recent footage from northern Uganda. Footage in the film was apparently shot eight years ago and is considered not reflective of the current situation, as many refugees have returned home recently." Below image from

Kony 2012: Pro-AFRICOM Propaganda by the Regime Change Machine? - "[W]hat appears the next phase in false-flag interventionist propaganda [is] the use of so-called 'social media' with heavy celebrity representation to push for a US military goal under cover of a highly selectively reported humanitarian problem. While most of the criticism of the Invisible Children, the organization that made and sent viral the 'Kony 2012' video, centers on claims of salary-heavy expenditures or similar beside-the-point observations, real questions such as why the ties to 'regime change' organizations like and others are not being asked. ... Is it possible that US military and foreign policy goals could be pushed through using humanitarian propaganda films produced by government-affiliated NGOs? To ask the question is to answer it, sadly, in this era of NED, IRI, NDI, Freedom House, etc. What do they want; what are they pushing? According to the excellent analysis linked above, nothing short of US domination of Africa through the expanded presence of its AFRICOM and denial of Chinese access to the resource-rich continent."

Kony 2012 offers only a glimpse into the horror the children endure - Youngbee Dale, "Kony Campaign 2012 is waking the world to fight for the children’s rights in Uganda, even as critics point to the sensationalism and propaganda style message.

The statement of young victims show that the Kony 2012 video offers only a glimpse into the reality of kidnaping, rape, and drug ordeals at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)." Image from article

Kony baloney - Jack Shafer, Reuters: "Call me a traditionalist, but when a non-fiction film’s soundtrack includes anything but incidental music, my eyes cease to view it as a documentary and begin to receive it as propaganda. Kony 2012, this week’s viral video sensation on YouTube and Vimeo, reaches for the heart-melting, minor-chord music about 16 seconds into its 30-minute run, efficiently alerting me to its emotional scheme. ... Whatever the source of Kony 2012‘s viral power, it has been more than matched by a swift anti-viral counterreaction, with commentators at the Atlantic, the Guardian, Jezebel, the Independent, the Wronging Rights blog, the Traveling While Black blog, the Backslash Scott Thoughts blog and the Visible Children blog scrutinizing the video and its maker-marketers. They criticize the Invisible Children project for exaggerating the evil Joseph Kony is perpetrating these days; for engaging in paternalism that verges on colonialism; for failing to note that some of the 'good guys' that the group supports are known to rape and loot themselves; for pretending that viewers sharing a video with other viewers will change the world; for selling 'yesterday’s papers' and calling it news; for portraying Africans as helpless victims in need of saving by Westerners; for oversimplifying the central-east African crisis; and for other clap-your-hands-and-everything-will-be-all-right dreams. ... By any measure, Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 has backfired. Every project and video the group now launches will be analyzed and criticized to the nth degree, and I can guarantee that enterprising reporters are excavating the group’s history looking for dirt. People who hate to be taken for a sucker ... will avoid the group, its maudlin videos, its fundraising forays, its silly T-shirts and its action kits with maximum effort."

Anonymous Hackers Call Kony 2012 ‘Shady’ ‘Propaganda,’ Stand by Ugandans -



The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On [British WWII domestic propaganda posters] - YouTube; image from

State Department (website) recognizes new Libyan government - Josh Rogin, Foreign policy: "Following our Thursday report that the State Department website still had Muammar al-Qaddafi listed as the ruler of Libya, today the crack web team in Foggy Bottom updated its site to reflect that the Libyan revolution did in fact succeed. The new note updates the name

of the country from the 'Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya' to 'Libya,' noted the date of the revolution as Feb. 17, 2011, displays the flag of the new Libya, and recognizes Libya's interim Transitional National Council as the official government. Interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib is in Washington this week and met with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." Image from article

Public Diplomacy Programs for Afghanistan and Pakistan - "Objective - The U.S. Government (USG) is providing resources to promote diplomatic solutions, through language training, critical skills development and other public diplomacy programs. These resources support the people, platforms, and programs necessary to meet the international challenges to American security and welfare. Educational and cultural engagement is premised on the knowledge that mutual understanding, the development of future leaders, and the benefits of education programs influence societies and affect official decision-making almost everywhere in the world today. ... NGO proposals should identify the importance and relevance of their application to the broader U.S. Public Diplomacy policy objectives as well as the relevance to the program objectives of the Department of State, as described in the solicitation."

Cloud to Street! - "The Cloud to Street: project aims to contribute the expertise and networks its members have developed in the fields of international politics and diplomacy, democracy promotion and communications to ensure that the networked power of Egyptian activists wields as much influence in offline political processes as they do online.

Who is Cloud to Street? The Cloud to Street project seeks to mobilize expertise to help Egyptian activists maximize their political power. The project brings together four supporters of democracy in Egypt to listen, learn, and work with activists through the turbulent times ahead. [Among them:] Farhaan Ladhani recently returned from a 13-month posting as the Head of the Strategic Communications section at the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar City (KPRT) where he worked in close collaboration with Afghan and international partners on strategic communication and public diplomacy initiatives throughout Kandahar Province." Image from Cloud to Street website

JAH Reviews (Dec. 2011) - AmericanScience: A Team Blog: "Measuring America: How Economic Growth Came to Define American Greatness in the Late Twentieth Century. By Andrew L. Yarrow. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010. Reviewed by W. Elliot Brownlee. Notes: Why do we care about GDP? I have wondered about this before. 'Andrew L. Yarrow reaches two key, intertwined conclusions in this book. The first is that 'Beginning in earnest in the postwar era, opinion-shaping elites in politics, business, academia, media, schools, and public diplomacy gloried in America's ever-growing economy as the ‘measure of the nation’' (p. 2). The second conclusion is that 'Economic ideas came to have vastly greater influence on American culture' as they 'dovetailed with' the assertions of elites that 'the meaning and value of the United States increasingly resided in its growing, quantifiable abundance'(p. 3)."

Public Diplomacy: Teaching without Saying Anything - "'We really have to pay tribute to [VOA jazz DJ during the Cold War] Willis Conover, because later, I found out that he had to really fight for the integrity of his program, for the pureness of it. And also later I found out that there were many, many occasions when someone tried to push into his programs what he didn’t consider jazz, what’s not up to the standard. And only then I realized, Jesus, if not for Willis Conover, we would probably have been listening to some nonsense … '

Valery Ponomarev, a jazz messenger from Russia, quoted in a Lincoln Center documentary." Ponomarev image from

A chorus of voices to preserve the cacophony of voices in US international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Victor Ashe questions BBG decision to cut Voice of America radio to Tibet - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: A senior Republican member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) publicly questioned the BBG decision to end Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to Tibet. At an open BBG meeting Thursday, Ambassador Victor Ashe said that he and other board members received numerous protests about the proposed cut of VOA Tibetan radio programs. ... BBG Watch has learned that at least some board members feel that they were not fully briefed by the BBG staff about the proposed VOA program cut to Tibet and were caught by surprise by the protests. ... BBG staffers claim that Radio Free Asia Tibetan radio broadcasts are sufficient in times of tight budgets. They propose to eliminate seven radio broadcasting positions

in the VOA Tibetan Service. This move would effectively prevent the Voice of America from reaching any substantial audience in Tibet due to local Internet and satellite TV restrictions. ... Critics of this decision point out that BBG executives who now work for the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) director Richard Lobo failed to consider strategic, public diplomacy, foreign policy and human rights reasons for keeping Voice of America radio broadcasts to one of the most repressed populations in the world today. Critics charge that these BBG staffers also failed to explain to board members that the VOA Tibetan television program is not likely to reach the vast majority of Tibetans living in Tibet." Ashe image from article

South Florida columnist praises Radio/TV Martí: "Much to my surprise ... it was balanced" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Survey measures VOA, BBC, Radio Pakistan audiences in Pakistan's FATA - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Video of the VOA 70th anniversary event is now available online - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from article

In Defense of the Peace Corps - "The seemingly uninhibited flow of money into developing countries with no strings or expectations attached, is impeding development and killing the confidence of people’s self-determination. That is why Peace Corps is so good and necessary in the realm of international aid. The model Peace Corps follows is completely grassroots based. Peace Corps volunteers act as facilitators, empowerers, and as a resource to help the communities they serve decide what they need and how to bring about positive change themselves. ... [But it] is a common misconception that Peace Corps is solely a development agency, when in actuality, two of its three goals are related to cultural exchange. The second goal is for Americans to better understand the country served and the third goal is for the people being served to have a better understanding of America and its people. So, theoretically Peace Corps is not even a development agency, since it is 2/3 dedicated

to cultural understanding. Maybe it would be better to call it a cultural exchange with a focus on development, but we all know that would never be allowed to be financed by the U.S. Government. ... This cultural experience enlightens the Americans serving, so that when they do eventually go home, they are much more aware and can be better citizens that improve America. The second beneficiary of this cultural exchange are the host country nationals. One of the major things they get a kick out of is just talking with someone from a completely new and enchanting place. They get to share their culture and learn about America, which most of the time is dispelling rumors. Ultimately they see that Americans are not arrogant or think they are better than anyone else. ... Peace Corps is basically the cheapest, most effective, positive PR that any government could dream of. Each volunteer is like a mini ambassador that makes everyone like America better. That is really hard to do seeing as many countries see the U.S. as an imperial bully. ... I am not saying that Peace Corps is totally efficient or that it should be excluded from budgetary restructuring. What I am saying is that it’s a bit ridiculous that Peace Corps is getting such major reductions to its budget. The entire budget of the Peace Corps is about $200 million, or the same amount of money that the Department of Defense spends on the bands of the armed forces!" Via MS on facebook; image from blog

"Early returns" suggest Iran's HispanTV does not have much impact in Latin America" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Upcoming Eurovision 2012 - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "I [had a] passion for Eurovision... before coming to the US, that is. But since it's such a big deal back in the region, I thought it merits a mention, especially after this week's events. ... Last year, Azerbaijan won the contest hosted by Germany [hmm... I'll be honest and say that they were my favorite], meaning that Eurovision 2012 would be held in Baku. ot only did this turn the spotlight on Azerbaijan's civil freedoms and human rights record, but it also raised the question of what Armenia - whose citizens, and therefore fans, cannot travel to

Azerbaijan - is going to do this year. Azerbaijan has already started full-scale preparations, in terms of construction of the promised Baku Crystal Hall as well as international PR (or should we say, 'public diplomacy'?) As for Armenia... After much ado, it decided to officially withdraw from the contest this week. But they did so not with dignity and honor, but after much humiliation and ridiculous attempts at cover-ups related to domestic issues. In short: pathetic." Image from

Foreign Service Friday 3 - Kelly, "We are well on our way to a habit friends! Today I am going to talk about the amazing opportunities you have to serve others when you are in the Foreign Service. Although I believe our situation was special, being stationed in the poorest country in Asia, I firmly believe there are opportunities to serve all over the world (and plenty in the states) if you just look for them. I am excited to share a few of the many projects we were lucky enough to be involved in. I had never heard of the

USS Mercy or the USS Comfort before being in Timor. Both are military ships who’s [sic] 'primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services to support Marine Corps Air/Ground Task Forces deployed ashore, Army and Air Force units deployed ashore, and naval amphibious task forces and battle forces afloat. Secondarily, she provides mobile surgical hospital service for use by appropriate US Government agencies in disaster or humanitarian relief or limited humanitarian care incident to these missions or peacetime military operations' ... They ... have a crew of dentists, optomologist’s [sic] and veterinarians. ... While Christopher slaved away arranging an insane amount of logistics for the ship’s visit (remember he was the political, economic, consular, public diplomacy officer while in Timor gah!) I was asked to photo document the visit and got to fly all over the island with the doctors and commander of the ship." Image from


Why Egypt moved against unregistered NGOs - Fayza Aboulnaga, Washington Post: Recent strains in the U.S.- Egyptian relationship over unregistered nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating in this country are unfortunate. Neither country benefits from these tensions. But a necessary first step to putting these differences behind us is U.S. understanding of the Egyptian government’s concerns, which are shared by the overwhelming majority of Egyptians. Egyptian law requires all NGOs to register before starting operations. Last year alone, 4,500 NGOs were registered.

The NGOs under investigation are not registered; their activities are, therefore, illegal. Whether and when they applied for registration, or should have, does not change the fact that they were operating illegally. International institutions operating in Egypt must abide by Egyptian laws. When violations are committed, no one should be exempted from judicial investigation. Giving privileges to some was the way of the former regime. Egyptians now aspire to much more. Image from

Iran held me hostage three decades ago. It shouldn’t hold America hostage today - Don Cooke, Washington Post: Iran is coming back to the negotiating table -- but not because it has suddenly decided to live up to its international obligations. These talks may provide a face-saving way to halt its nuclear program. The key to the Iranians accepting such a solution is to convince them that we have the capability and the will to end their program ourselves. The irony is that the more clearly we demonstrate that capability and will, the less likely we will need to use them. Don Cooke retired from the State Department as a senior policy adviser for Iran after a 33-year career in the Foreign Service. He currently consults on economics and the Middle East.

Evidence of War Lies Public Pre-War This Time - David Swanson, President Barack Obama is pretending to want to avoid a war on Iran and to want Israel not to start one, while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going.

Image from

How India Became America - Akash Kapur, New York Times: "[India] is infused with an energy, a can-do ambition and an entrepreneurial spirit that I can only describe as distinctly American. India’s Americanization has in so many ways been a wonderful thing. It has lifted millions from poverty, and, by seeding ideas of meritocracy and individual attainment into the national imagination, it has begun the process of dismantling an old and often repressive order. More and more, though, I find myself lying awake at night, worrying about what will take the place of that order. The American promise of renewal and reinvention is deeply seductive — but, as I have learned since coming back home [to India], it is also profoundly menacing."

Attack Iran or more sanctions? A third option: Israel and Iran forsake nukes: An attack on Iran and sanctions are both unworkable. A third option is to create a nuclear-free Middle East. Yes, it sounds far-fetched. But it actually meets the strategic needs of both Israel and Iran. One idea is to relocate Israel's nukes elsewhere, rather than destroy them - Boaz Atzili. A nuclear-free Middle East is the best compromise for the current conditions, and it is the strategically rational move to take for both Israel and Iran.

A deal like this would require brave, outside-of-the-box thinking in the region – as well as leadership by outside actors. Via YO on facebook; image from

Chinese ridicule greets North Korea’s blog - Kathrin Hille, When a microblog account opened to spread North Korean propaganda on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, it tried to set clear terms. “Anyone who dares to insult the dignity of North Korea will not be tolerated under the heavens!” it declared in the introduction.

China may be the reclusive communist state’s only ally, but that warning has fallen on deaf ears with Chinese “netizens." During the past three days they have bombarded the account, which appears to represent North Korea’s official propaganda outlet, with a mix of scorn and ridicule. A picture of Kim Jong-il, the late leader, and his son Kim Jong-eun, who recently succeeded him, in matching clothes was posted with the propaganda slogan: “The great leader Comrade Kim Jong-il will be together with us forever!”  Kim Jong-eun image from article


"The recent exchange between an atheist and a judge in a small courtroom in rural Pennsylvania could have come out of a Dickens novel. Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin was hearing a case in which an irate Muslim stood accused of attacking an atheist, Ernest Perce, because he was wearing a 'Zombie Mohammed'

costume on Halloween. Although the judge had 'no doubt that the incident occurred,' he dismissed the charge of criminal harassment against the Muslim and proceeded to browbeat Perce. Martin explained that such a costume would have led to Perce's execution in many countries under sharia, or Islamic law, and added that Perce's conduct fell 'way outside your bounds of 1st Amendment rights.'" Image from

--Jonathan Turley, "Free speech under fire: Western nations appear to have fallen out of love with free speech and are criminalizing more and more kinds of speech through the passage of laws banning hate speech, blasphemy and discriminatory language,"

“'Fifty Shades of Grey,' an erotic novel by an obscure author that has been described as 'Mommy porn' and 'Twilight' for grown-ups, has electrified women across the country, who have spread the word like gospel on Facebook pages, at school functions and in spin classes. ... Except this book has been credited with something else: introducing women who usually read run-of-the-mill literary or commercial fiction to graphic, heavy-breathing erotica.

And in the cities and suburbs of New York, Denver and Minneapolis, the women who have devoured the books say they are feeling the happy effects at home. 'It’s relighting a fire under a lot of marriages,' said Lyss Stern, the founder of and one of the early fans of the series. 'I think it makes you feel sexy again, reading the books.'” Image from

--Julie Bosman, "Discreetly Digital, Erotic Novel Sets American Women Abuzz," New York Times


Time-lapse video of an ant colony eating a scanner, captured with the scanner in question [video] - Gary Doctorow, Boing Boing: François Vautier infested his flatbed scanner with an ant-colony and scanned the burgeoning hive-organism every week for five years, producing a beautiful, stylized stop-motion record of the ants' slow consumption of his electronics.


--Via GI on facebook

No comments: