Monday, October 29, 2012

October 28-29

"My doctors were all dead."

--Ninety-seven-year-old cancer survivor Stamatis Moraitis, a native of the Greek island of Ikaria, disclosing why his American doctors, who gave him six months to live when he was in his 60s, could not explain why he was still among the living for so long after he returned to his birthplace; cited in Dan Buettner, "The Island Where People Forget to Die," New York Times; via WK on Facebook; Moraitis image from article


In Vietnam, US relies on pirate site to network - George Lucas Laura Schlessinger, "It’s a wildly popular website laden with unlicensed songs and Hollywood movies, a prime exhibit of the digital piracy that is strangling the music industry in Asia and eroding legitimate online sales around the world. But a few clicks inside the free-to-download bonanza that has pushed Vietnam’s into the globe’s top 550 websites reveals a surprising presence: the American government, which maintains a bustling social media account on the site. Washington is a vocal proponent of intellectual property rights in Vietnam as it is around the world, and a site like Zing would be shut down in the United States. But with space with for public diplomacy limited in Communist Vietnam, the embassy’s uses its 'Zingme' account to reach out to young people in Vietnam as it seeks to build closer ties with its former enemy. The embassy presence shows just how mainstream pirate sites have become in Vietnam, where the government does nothing to stop them operating.

But it also raises questions whether Washington is legitimizing a renowned pirate site that record labels, singers and industry groups say ignores requests that it take down infringing material. Those have become pressing since Coca-Cola and Samsung pulled their advertising from the site earlier this month because of piracy concerns following questions by The Associated Press. The move challenged Zing’s business model and was praised by recording industry groups. Samsung said last week it was also closing its Zingme account for the same reason. The embassy said it recognized the concerns for U.S. copyright interests posed by Zing but that it believed that 'contact with users of this website' could reduce traffic or infringing activity on it. The mission sometimes uses its Zingme page to post about copyright infringement." Image from

Read more: State Department finds success using eDiplomacy for knowledge management, says report - Molly Bernhart Walker, The State Department allocates the bulk of its eDiplomacy resources toward public diplomacy, Internet freedom and knowledge management, but gains the most success with information technology-enabled knowledge management, according to a report (.pdf) published Oct. 25 by the Brookings Institution. 'In the area of knowledge management, foreign ministries have a lot to learn from State,' writes report author Fergus Hanson, a nonresident fellow in Brookings' Foreign Policy program. With more constraints on government resources and increasing public demand for information, 'the ability to mobilize human and informational resources efficiently will only increase in importance,' he adds."

Happy Birthday to the Secretary of State! - "As a J-1 designated Visa Sponsor, we would like to wish our fearless leader from the Department of State a wonderful and Happy Birthday! CCI Greenheart’s home offices are located in Chicago, the hometown of our Secretary of State – Hillary Clinton. During her term as Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton has been a constant advocate for public diplomacy throughout the world. As the national election come to head, we want to celebrate one of the country’s

leading and inspiring ladies for all the work she has done to further cultural understanding and world peace. If you are unfamiliar with Secretary Clinton’s work here and abroad, we invite you to visit the Department of State’s website. Hillary Clinton’s actions prove that through mutual understanding; the world can profit and revel in eachother’s prosperity. As a cultural exchange organization, we strive to do this every day, and we hope you do too!" Image from

Telling the Afghanistan story to the Americans - Mahtab Farid, U.S. Public Diplomacy in Afghanistan: "Here at home in the United States, President Obama announced the U.S. forces will pull out of Afghanistan by 2014. During the U.S. presidential and vice presidential debates, Afghanistan was an important point of discussion. With high unemployment rate in the U.S., Americans want to know whether U.S. needs to be in Afghanistan and what happens after we leave.

So many questions and not enough answers or not enough clear answers or portrayal of a real picture in that country. Recently I had a chance to discuss the American story in Afghanistan on two panels." Image from article, with caption: Staff sgt Ashlee Lolkus and Mahtab Farid in Panshir, Afghanistan

In the Middle East, a Tipping Point for U.S. Public Diplomacy - Philip Seib - PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "America’s public diplomats face the formidable challenge of undercutting radicals’ support by helping improve the lives of the vast majority of Arabs."

Raha TV, from London studios, now "promoting democracy and freedom" in Iran - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: [Elliott comment:] "With many commentators calling for US broadcasts to Iran to be more supportive of the opposition and to call for the overthrow of the regime, and claiming that VOA PNN is pro-regime, I have thought that eventually the United States would develop two television channels to Iran. One would be the advocated opposition station, the other the existing VOA PNN. The people of Iran could then decide, in the spirit of free-market competition, if they prefer anti-regime propaganda or a straightforward treatment of the news.

Now Raha TV removes the need for such an opposition channel, and does so at no apparent cost to the US taxpayers. Nevertheless, the one thing that US international broadcasting does more consistently than anything else is to duplicate already-existing broadcasting efforts. So we might indeed, eventually, see a US government funded channel to compete both with Raha TV and VOA PNN. Image from entry

Trafficking Anti-Iranian Propaganda - Stephen Lendman, "American media scoundrels honed it to an art form. Britain's BBC and commercial media regularly feature it. So does a newly licensed anti-Iranian TV channel. More on Raha TV below. ... On October 25, Russia Today ( headlined 'EU hypocrisy? Anti-Tehran channel launches in London amid ban on Iranian state TV,' saying: Britain's latest propaganda channel 'comes just over a week after 19 state-run Iranian TV and radio stations were banned in the EU.' Raha's founder, Amir Hossein Jahanshahi, is an Iran expat billionaire businessman. He's a venture capitalist and property developer. He accumulated much of his wealth in Spain and France. He likely got it the old-fashioned way. Behind every fortune is a great crime."

Intelsat joins Eutelsat in removing Iranian TV channels - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Radio Liberty-in-Exile protest in Moscow planned for Monday - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Radio Liberty-in-Exile group of fired Radio Liberty journalists is planning a protest in Moscow during a panel discussion on Monday by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Steven Korn, his deputy Julia Ragona and their new Russian Service director Masha Gessen. ... Korn

has accused the fired Radio Liberty staffers, some of the best known independent Russian journalists and new media professionals, of being resistant to change, stuck in the 1980s, and incapable of using digital media. Radio Liberty-in-Exile plans to stream its protests live." Image from entry, with caption: BBG Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton is CEO, Sony Corporation of America and Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Radio-Svoboda-in-exile [image] - Ted Lipien in Facebook.

Image: Mikhail Sokolov, Radio Liberty-in-Exile, with Aleksander Melman

The Role of the Arts in International Relations - "The Initiative for Russian Culture (IRC) - a joint initiative between the History department at the American University and the Russian Embassy in the US - held its (by now annual) grand event at the Library of Congress on Thursday, October 25. I had mentioned the Initiative on this blog last April, when they put together an interesting conference on 'Overcoming Cold War Stereotypes'. The monthly Russian movie screenings at the Embassy have resumed, as well, with 'The Messenger Boy' kicking off this academic year. The event last Thursday - titled 'The Role of the Arts in International Relations' - was of slightly different nature, however. It involved a lavish reception in the main hall of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, live performances by the Brass Ensemble of the Mariinsky Theater and amazing pianist Denis Matsuev, presentations on the role of culture and public diplomacy in international affairs by John Beyrle (former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow) and Valery Gergiev (General Director of the Mariinsky Theater and Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra), and - perhaps most impressive - a wonderful live ice skating performance, right there, inside the Jefferson Building.

It was all somewhat overwhelming... I am a strong believer in that public diplomacy - especially cultural diplomacy - are and should be 'leaps of faith', in that they must be carried out and invested in despite their immediate results, that might or might not be 'measured'. However, there is always a difference between a wise and an unwise investment. And, when it comes down to this, it helps to consider concepts such as opportunity cost and context. Russia has come to increasingly value the importance of public diplomacy and has been trying to restart its 'culture charm offensive', especially in the US, over the past few years. Events like these are impressive and strong on the 'wow' factor. How necessarily or useful are they, however, especially given the ever-present 'budgetary constraints' when it comes to true public diplomacy? In terms of wider impact: the event didn't even get coverage by any of the media in the area. Clearly, that wasn't all that well-planned, and effectively limited the potential 'target audience' to only those who were actually there." Image from article

PMW material in Israel's public diplomacy - "The government of Israel recently released its "Index of Palestinian Incitement" as a PowerPoint presentation. Virtually all of the examples in the government report were from Palestinian Media Watch's research. Click to see PMW's English language translation of the government index. PMW has included the links to the original PMW reports and documentation, which did not appear in the government's Hebrew report. PMW material documenting PA terror glorification, promotion of hatred and denial of Israel's right to exist, is being used not only by the Israeli government but by MPs and governments worldwide to document, expose and fight these critical impediments to peace."

Hollow Pursuaders [sic] - Joshua Midgett, Applied Public Diplomacy Group 3 Blog: "[T]he challenge that has been present since week 2 of this class to me, and likely long before this to the rest of the Public Diplomacy world: How does one measure who has 'soft power' and how much do they have?"

How to hard sell China's soft power - Peng Kan, China Daily: South Korea unleashed the "Korean Wave" in Asia in the 1990s, by exporting and promoting its cultural products such as TV dramas, films and music. In China, millions of youngsters have become fans of Korean pop stars. And now the "Korean Wave" has spread beyond Asia - South Korean TV soap operas are a big hit with people in Egypt, Turkey and East European countries. All this has increased the economic value of South Korean cultural products to $5 billion a year. China, too, has made it a strategy to improve its soft power. Chinese leaders have stressed many times that since cultural exchanges are much easier in today's world, the country that occupies the cultural commanding height and possesses strong soft power will win the initiative in global competition.

To spread and establish its soft power, China has held several international events such as Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and Shanghai 2010 World Expo. Confucius Institutes, aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture, have been established in more than 350 colleges in over 100 countries across the world. China's official news agency, Xinhua, has set up more than 150 branches overseas, and intends to increase the number to 200. China's national TV channel, CCTV, too, has established several broadcasting centers around the world. Though China is trying to make its language and message be heard across the world to overcome its disadvantageous position in global communications, the exports of its cultural products are far from satisfactory. It is still far from making a product like Gangnam Style. China does export a large amount of cultural products every year, but few of them become popular abroad. Image from article

The Mystery of Macedonia’s Islamic Manuscripts: Interview with Mesut IdrizOctober 2 - "Prof. Dr. Mesut Idriz ... is also a regular Visiting Professor

at the International Summer School (PISU) of Prishtina University, Kosovo, teaching a special course on 'Public Diplomacy in the Balkans.'” Uncaptioned image form article


Pentagon inspector starts criminal probe of contractor - Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today: The military's top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan is under federal criminal investigation for its possible role in smear campaign against USA TODAY, according to a letter from the Pentagon's Inspector General.

The Defense Criminal Investigative Service has an ongoing investigation of Leonie Industries. That probe followed a USA TODAY story in February that found the owners of the company had failed to pay $4 million in taxes on time. Image from

Reconsidering Sam Bacile’s Agitation Propaganda – Analysis - Brett Daniel Shehadey, A closer look at the movie Innocence of Muslims had all of the classic signs of a black propaganda operation. Consider the features and its making: Non-existent movie producer “Sam Bacile”; Deceitful casting calls under false titles like Desert Warrior; False plots and altered scripts; Post-production voice-overs; Multiple post-production title releases like The Innocence of Bin Laden or The Real Life of Muhammad; Strategic placement; False flag attempt with “American” name tag as first source; Conspiracy to incite Islamic-US conflict. Disinformation to blame Israel and shelter anti-Islamic activists. The 13-minute trailer was released by an unidentifiable source that mocks the Prophet Mohammed and everything Muslim.

The film actually has two minor objectives that support its larger strategy: demonstrating that Muslims hate Americans, and demonstrating that Islam is a religion of violence. The project was specifically designed to incite Muslim anger by portraying Islam as a violent and intolerant religion. This film was planned by anti-Islamic activists, most likely Coptic dissidents and American fundamentalist Christians. The primary objective is to bring the United States into direct confrontation with Islam and its followers. The videos exist to provoke Muslims and purportedly to “inform” the Western world of the greater “Islamic” threat. Image from article, with caption: Muslims praying

Not Propaganda? Obama’s the Star of New Cable Film on Bin Laden - Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary: The decision of the National Geographic Channel to air a film about the successful hunt for Osama bin Laden just two days before Election Day had already generated controversy. But the promotional materials released to the press this week confirm the suspicion that it is what even the New York Times was prepared to call a “political stunt.” The movie, “Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden,” is being promoted by Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood mogul as well as a major bundler for President Obama. See also.

‘Seal Team 6’ Director: My Movie Isn’t Propaganda! - John Stockwell, Daily Beast: John Stockwell, whose film recounts the dramatic behind-the-scenes decisions behind the raid on Osama bin Laden—and airs just two days before the election—fights back against criticism that President Obama was given a ‘starring role’ to juice up his chances at reelection.


Via RB on Facebook


Via NR on Facebook, with caption: "Beautiful Lady"

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