Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19


"The Taliban consider adultery as a violation of Islam's sharia law, punishable by death."

--Richard S. Ehrlich, "Panetta: Taliban Won't Turn Petraeus Story Into Propaganda,"; image from


U.S. Department of State Welcomes Indonesian Performers Jogja Hip Hop Foundation to the United States, Brings Cultural Diplomacy to Main Street America - Media Note, U.S. Department of State: "The U.S. Department of State announced today that Indonesian performers Jogja Hip Hop Foundation is traveling from Yogyakarta, Indonesia

to communities across America as part of a cultural diplomacy initiative, Center StageSM, from November 15 to December 8. Center StageSM brings performing artists from Haiti, Indonesia, and Pakistan to the United States to interact with American audiences in 60 medium and small-sized towns and cities, using the performing arts to create opportunities for greater understanding builds on Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of 'smart power.' Jogja Hip Hop Foundation will perform on Tuesday, November 20 at 6 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. ... For a full list of performance dates, click here. Center StageSM is a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. ... Media Contact: Katie Leasor," Image from

The Dellas Take Tashkent - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "We had been warned that jazz was still very much king in Central Asia, from years and years of cultural diplomacy promotion. I even heard a story about a Cajun group named the Pine Leaf Boys, who visited Uzbekistan-- everyone liked their Cajun music but kept asking when they were going to play some jazz. Let know one forget, jazz won the Cold War. The Dellas played their own set, and the music school kids loved it. They did some collaborations, and then the Dellas were mobbed as rock stars for pictures and autographs. One adorable little girl remarked to me: 'Splendid, Super! ... The next day ... [T]he Dellas had a program at the Pop Circus Music School. We were welcomed with a drum barrage, then the Dellas gave a performance followed by the music students reciprocating. One girl with some serious pipes gave a rendition of Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You,' which was a bit impressive.

The music students also played Tom Jones' 'Sex Bomb,' which got the principal up and dancing with the Dellas. It was a bit surreal. Then they all collaborated together, it was all a lot of fun. ... Today was a rest day. After a slow morning, I led the Dellas through the immaculate Tashkent subway to the Chorsu Bazaar. We met Greta the CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer], who took us through the shopping. The girls got to shop at the bazaar, and had a good time in the spice dome, getting saffron and cumin, and tasting tart yogurt balls and salty pickles. They also bought lots of silk, and I did a bit of negotiating. ... Tomorrow, they are having their big concert at the Turkestan Palace in Tashkent. The Dellas are apparently the hottest ticket in town, and the show is well sold-out." On "American Voices," which receives support from American diplomatic missions worldwide, and of which the above forms part of its programs, see. Dellas image from

Untitled Facebook entry - Mahtab Farid, Facebook: "Our state of U.S. Public Diplomacy is absent. We are like a soccer goalie who is daydreaming instead of defending. Have been reading all the hateful messages on different Afghan, Iranian and Middle Eastern social sites blaming everything on U.S.

They even post hateful messages on different embassy pages but there is no defense..."  Uncaptioned image from entry

The State Department Helps Navy Dolphins Make a Splash in Montenegro - David P. Hardison, DipNote: "Pigs might not fly, but dolphins just did, and in the process helped Montenegro pinpoint the location of unexploded bombs, mines, and other munitions that were fired, dropped, and dumped in its coastal waters. On October 5, six specially-trained bottlenose dolphins and their handlers from the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program flew to TivatMontenegro from their base in San DiegoCalifornia as part of Operation Dolphin 2012. Thanks to the coordination of the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro, and with a little help from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the dolphin teams participated in a multinational military operation to search for submerged unexploded munitions from past conflicts in the Bay of Kotor. The dolphin teams, along with the U.S. Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit-1 based in Point Loma, California, also trained Montenegrin Navy divers to conduct similar operations.

Military divers from Slovenia and Croatia observed operations as well. ... Upon completion, the Montenegrin divers were recognized in a graduation ceremony at which U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro Sue K. Brown donated diving equipment to Montenegro, courtesy of the U.S. European Command's Humanitarian Mine Action Program. Grids with the precise locations of hazardous items will be provided to the government of Montenegro. With this information, equipment and training, Montenegro will be better able to continue neutralization of underwater explosive hazards to ensure that its beautiful waters may continue to be used safely by fishermen, recreational boaters and divers, cruise ships and freighters. This operation was a team effort, and a great example of ongoing State Department/Defense Department cooperation.

For the State Department, U.S. Embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro, coordinated the deployment, and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs provided funds for some logistical costs of the deployment. For the Defense Department, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. European Command Humanitarian Mine Action Program, and the U.S Department of Defense's Humanitarian Mine Action Program were instrumental in the deployment. All of this was accomplished with the kind cooperation of the Montenegrin Ministry of Defense. This was the first time that the Marine Mammal Program partnered with the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the Department of Defense Humanitarian Mine Action program simultaneously. The State Department and Defense Department plan to employ this collaborative approach in the future to help countries affected by unexploded mines, bombs, and other munitions." Above Image from entry; below image fromSee also.

RFE/RL management blocks employee access to Radio Liberty in Exile website - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the management of BBG-supervised Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) often complain when countries like Iran and China block news websites, but RFE/RL executives have no problem preventing their own journalists and other employees from accessing at work a news website set up in Russia by a dissident group Radio Liberty in Exile.

Dozens of fired Radio Liberty journalists, other journalists who resigned in protest and their supporters have set up a news and information website, which is now blocked on computers at RFE/RL news offices, making it inaccessible at work for the station’s journalists unless they request permission by sending an email to the management." Image from article

The fight for public opinion and warfare on the Web - Maya Epstein, "Both sides have taken the fight to the virtual streets during Operation Pillar of Defense, battling for public sympathy through Facebook posts and fiery tweets. ... Israelis are reporting rocket alerts on Facebook and Twitter before the media announces them. And they're sharing their experiences, which then become part of Israeli public relations effort. Official Israeli sources such as the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry and the IDF Spokesperson are trying to lead the discourse through the social networks. The 'Israel Under Fire' Facebook page has become a weapon on the virtual front, spreading posts in English, German and other languages that show simulated effects of rocket fire upon major cities across the world. ... Hamas and other terrorist organizations, for their part, are publicizing photographs of victims.

As happened during Operation Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara flotilla, Israelis have spotted erroneous photos distributed by Hamas who claim they are from the current conflict but are actually recycled from other conflicts, like the one in Syria. ... Hamas is also trying to send a message directly to Israelis: In a recent propaganda video, in Hebrew, mock images of a direct hit on a Tel Aviv skyscraper are paired with a warning to the 'Israeli settlers.' ... More than ever before, news websites have adopted the role of state television and are working around the clock. Social networks may play a central role in shaping mood and attitudes, as well as breaking minute-by-minute news, but the detailed reports and analysis are found on Israeli news websites, which serve as primary sources for the international press since extensive foreign coverage of Gaza is lacking. ... Smartphones have emerged as the device of choice in this conflict." Image from article, with caption: Poster on Pillar of Defense posted on Facebook by the IDF

IDF goes all out in PR battle against Hamas (Video) - "Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense last Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces has been actively working to present Israel's military actions to the world in a positive light. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit has published a steady stream of videos in recent days, including some that highlight lies that the IDF says Hamas has propagated in the media since the fighting started. The unit has also embedded combat photographers with various units that may enter Gaza if a ground operation is launched. The unit’s Interactive Media Department has been busy on social networking platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, to get the IDF's message out to the world. ... Jewish communities throughout the world have found various ways to show support for Israel in recent days, including solidarity rallies, Facebook and letter-writing campaigns and telephone conversations with Israelis living under the threat of rocket fire. Pro-Palestinian groups have been waging their own propaganda battle as well since Wednesday."

Israel engages in social media warfare this time - Haaretz, posted at: "Israel used to be painfully behind the curve in its Internet-based efforts to influence world opinion. It took an image-battering during both the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead for the government to realize that the era of controlling public information in wartime was dead and gone. ...To its credit, Israel has learned from past mistakes and in this conflict use is being made of every platform. The country's communication apparatus has been doing battle in an aggressive and coordinated fashion, utilizing its army of eager volunteers to plead, post and Tweet its case internationally via prose, pictures, and video. Jess Nowlin, an enterprising young high-tech guy, set up a social media team inside the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, complete with a 'situation room' full of volunteers tweeting and Facebooking in various languages - with others pitching in from their homes - all under the slogan of 'Israel Under Fire.' Some of the viral campaigns have been very successful, such as the Facebook graphic 'What Would You Do?' created by the IDF, showing the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House with missiles raining down on them, accompanied by the message 'Share this if you think Israel has the right to self-defense.' The picture has been shared more than 51,000 times."

Propaganda hits social media like a mortar shell - Asher Klein, "Those jabs [image]
We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.
@IDFSpokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)
from across the world's most contentious wall drew lots of commentary, much of it on the pit-bull aggressive posts by @IDFSpokesperson. This is a new wrinkle on military propaganda because its reach is limitless—what an illustration of globalized war—and it's a chilling addition to the on-the-ground war reports that Twitter's been heralded for. ...  The IDF doesn't just continue to tweet out its victories and status updates and threats, grandstanding on a global stage that the Internet's might classify as trolling writ large (the other side absolutely does the same, I should note, but I think there's a different level of expectation for a Western-style democracy). It's also using Tumblr, previously the domain of artsy pictures and streams of cute GIFs and porn, to bait people into listening to its side of an actual war. It's not great at racking up hits just now, but wait until the military gets fluent in what goes viral and starts producing rage comics and military cat videos and funny Photoshops. If the Internet is good at anything, it's at making emotions seem rational."

Hamas Uses Twitter to Advance False Propaganda Campaign, Posts Image of Victim From Syria - "While conflict rages between Israel and Hamas on the ground, Twitter has become a virtual battlefield for the two sides. The official Twitter page of Hamas’s military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, continues to try to provoke that of the IDF. And then there’s the fact that they’ve been caught tweeting pictures of fake casualties. Check this out:

Here are the comments:

China's Soft Power Surge: The People's Republic is no longer content with economic hegemony -- it's making a play for the hearts and minds of Southeast Asia - Dustin Roasa, Foreign Policy: 'After investing tens of billions of dollars in Southeast Asia, China has now decided that its vaunted economic power, which has bought it significant influence with regional governments, is not enough. Beijing now wants to be loved, too. In this brave new world of Chinese diplomacy, language and culture -- and, yes, pop songs -- are playing a major role in Beijing's quest to be understood and, if all goes well, win the affection of Southeast Asia's 600 million people. It's is uncharted territory for a government that until recently appeared to care very little about how it was perceived outside of China. 'The Chinese government is paying much more attention to public diplomacy than before,' said Yang Baoyun, a Southeast Asia expert at Peking University in Beijing. 'The government has realized that people are important, and that cultural exchange can supplement traditional diplomacy.' ... Beijing has overseen an explosion of language schools, exchange programs, bookstores, and cultural corners. The effort began in earnest in 2004 when Hanban, an organization that falls under the Ministry of Education, began establishing Confucius Institutes at universities around the world. There are now 353 of them in 104 countries, part of what Hu Jintao described in a 2007 speech as China's effort to 'enhance culture as part of the soft power of our country.' Hanban plans to open 1,000 Confucius Institutes by 2020. Cambodia, the current chair of ASEAN and a key backer of China in its disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, and other bloc members over resource-rich islands in the South China Sea, is a microcosm for China's cultural ambitions. Phnom Penh's Confucius Institute, which coordinates closely with the Chinese Embassy, has 31 teachers from China and 1,000 students.

In addition, Beijing has provided nearly 500 scholarships for Cambodians to study at universities in China, and it has sent numerous government officials, academics, and journalists on exchange visits to Chinese cities. One of the largest bookstore chains in China recently opened its first overseas outlet in Phnom Penh, and the country is home to 57 Chinese-language schools with more than 40,000 students, although many of these do not receive support from Beijing." Uncaptioned image from article

European Music Festival 2012 To Headline The Prominent Cultural Event In Vietnam: European Music Festival 2012: 22 Nov – 02 Dec 2012, 8 pm Youth Theatre, Hanoi HCMC Conservatory of Music, HCMC - "From Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam: Over the past ten years, the European Music Festival in Vietnam has introduced a remarkably diverse line-up of concerts to its stage in November in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Bringing together musical talents from the European Union, the European Music Festival aims at reaching a diversified audience with a varied repertoire to celebrate the richness of European culture.

This year, the Festival once again invites artists and audiences of all ages to experience music in established and conventional settings, exploring the combination of classic and contemporary rhythms. Over more than past 20 years, relations between the European Union (EU) and Vietnam have developed vigorously. Relations extend far beyond commercial, investment and development ties. The two sides continue to strengthen linkages and build bridges between the peoples of the European Union and the Vietnamese people, across the board. Cultural exchanges and public diplomacy activities are an important part of these efforts." Image from article

Public Diplomacy in Sri Lanka - Kevin Lallaugher, "I recently returned from a public diplomacy tour of Sri Lanka and The Maldives.

It was a terrifically interesting visit. I addressed a wide range of citizens including journalists, students and civil society forums on the value and importance of freedom of expression. I was also interviewed by a variety of print and television media during my visit, including this nice piece from the cover of Ceylon Today."


Panetta: Taliban Won't Turn Petraeus Story Into Propaganda - Richard S. Ehrlich, Afghanistan's Taliban "obviously" could "explore" the possibility of turning Gen. David Patraeus's adultery into anti-American propaganda, but "there are probably other issues that they could focus on, besides the Petraeus matter," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday (November 15). Asked if he was concerned about the Taliban creating propaganda from the extramarital affair by former CIA director Gen. Petraeus, who previously led U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, Mr. Panetta replied: "Obviously, you are never quite sure what the Taliban may or may not use for propaganda purposes, to try to advance their cause. Obviously, this is a possible area for them to explore but I think frankly that, you know, that if they want to have an impact, there are probably other issues that they could focus on, besides the Petraeus matter," Mr. Panetta said. The Taliban consider adultery as a violation of Islam's sharia law, punishable by death.

Pentagon opens website in propaganda war with terrorists - By Jason Straziuso, Associated Press, Washington Times: A propaganda effort by U.S. Africa Command (Africom) aimed at countering extremists in two of the continent’s most dangerous regions – Somalia and the Maghreb region of North Africa.

Omar Faruk Osman, secretary-general of the National Union of Somali Journalists, said is the first website he has seen devoted to countering the terrorists’ message. The military said that averages about 4,000 unique visitors and up to 10,000 articles read per day. Image from

The world after Petraeus: Obama should seize this chance to adjust his foreign policy - Sarah Chayes, Los Angeles Times: Perhaps the most important foreign policy challenge Obama faces in his second term is how to expand, restructure and reinforce the range of civilian instruments of U.S. power. That is a generational task, but one the current crisis has provided an unparalleled opportunity to tackle.

Bush's Burma Policy, Obama's Victory Lap: The president inherited an effective policy of sanctions, diplomatic pressure and human-rights advocacy -  Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal: The Obama administration has moved quickly to upgrade diplomatic ties and ease sanctions, but it is too early to be sure where it will go. Serious problems remain: The regime still violently represses ethnic minorities, many dissidents remain in jail, and the country is overrun with traffickers in drugs and human beings. President Bush helped to prepare the way for Burma's recent reforms. It's up to President Obama to press the country's leaders to finish the job.

Sergei's Law - Wall Street Journal: "A Congressional victory for trade and human rights in U.S. relations with Russia. Bravo, Congress. Seriously. The House has earned this praise after Friday's legislative victory for trade and human rights. Passed with a rare bipartisan majority of 365 to 43, H.R. 6165 "normalizes" trade ties with Russia by retiring Jackson-Vanik, a landmark 1974 law that pressed the Soviet Union to liberalize Jewish emigration during the Cold War. The bill will let American investors take advantage of lower tariffs and better protections for intellectual property from Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization this summer. But the law will be forever and justly associated with Sergei Magnitsky. The House voted on the third anniversary of the anticorruption activist's death in a Moscow jail, after months of torture and neglect. Title IV of the trade measure bans Russian officials who commit such abuses from traveling or banking in the U.S. The "Magnitsky Act" is the most consequential piece of human-rights legislation since Jackson-Vanik, and a worthy successor."

Targeting Russia’s offenders - Editorial Board, Washington Post: Despite its misgivings, we hope that the administration will implement the new legislation named for Mr. Magnitsky in full, even if it causes heartburn for Mr. Putin and Co. Some principles rise above the usual oscillations in diplomatic relations with Moscow, and protecting human rights is one of them.

Russia’s PR Firm Is Planting Propaganda on Your Favorite Website - Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a story that would simultaneously indict authoritarian governments, greedy PR firms, and amoral, careless media outlets, all at once? Aha. Yes. Here's oneJustin Elliott reports that massive evil multinational PR firm Ketchum, which is

paid tens of millions of dollars to do reputational whitewashing PR work for Vladimir Putin's Russia, placed several pro-Russia op-ed columns in the Huffington Post and, all without any pesky disclosure (like, for example, "What you are reading is propaganda"). Image from article

IDF rocket attack propaganda: looking at the numbers - Phan Nguyen, It can be argued that numbers ultimately don’t matter: One death is a death too many; one rocket is a rocket too many. But if that is the case, why do the IDF and related Israeli agencies need to inflate or fabricate numbers? Why has the numbers game been the cornerstone of Israeli rhetoric about rockets, as depicted in these other recent IDF graphics:

Israeli Propaganda Exposed: Video - Israeli Bombs Interrupt CNN Interview in Gaza [video] - Mohammed Sulaiman, who works for a Palestinian NGO, was talking to CNN International's Isha Sesay and an Israeli about the situation. He and his Israeli counterpart, Nissim Nahoom, were having a debate about the conflict when, all of a sudden, huge blasts could be heard. Sulaiman flinched, cried out and covered his ears at the sound. He then returned to the interview, as the blasts continued. "You can hear everything," he said.

Israel's 'right to self-defense' - a tremendous propaganda victory: By supporting Israel's offensive on Gaza, Western leaders have given the Israelis carte blanche to do what they're best at: Wallow in their sense of victimhood and ignore Palestinian suffering - Amira Hass,; One of Israel's tremendous propaganda victories is that it has been accepted as a victim of the Palestinians, both in the view of the Israeli public and that of Western leaders who hasten to speak of Israel's right to defend itself. The propaganda is so effective that only the Palestinian rockets at the south of Israel, and now at Tel Aviv, are counted in the round of hostilities. The rockets, or damage to the holiest of holies - a military jeep - are always seen as a starting point, and together with the terrifying siren, as if taken from a World War II movie, build the meta-narrative of the victim entitled to defend itself.

Every day, indeed every moment, this meta-narrative allows Israel to add another link to the chain of dispossession of a nation as old as the state itself, while at the same time managing to hide the fact that one continuous thread runs from the 1948 refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, the early 1950s expulsion of Bedouin from the Negev desert, the current expulsion of Bedouin from the Jordan Valley, ranches for Jews in the Negev, discrimination in budgets in Israel, and shooting at Gazan fishermen to keep them from earning a respectable living. Millions of such continuous threads link 1948 to the present. They are the fabric of life for the Palestinian nation, as divided as it may be in isolated pockets. They are the fabric of life of Palestinian citizens of Israel and of those who live in their lands of exile. Image from article, with caption: A Palestinian woman next to a blasted house: Israelis choose not to know.

SICK… Dead Child Used for Terrorist Propaganda Was Killed By Hamas –- Not Israel - Andrea Ryan, Egypt’s Prime Minister wept as he kissed the forehead of a boy killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza. But it was all a lie. Hamas not only uses their children as human shields (firing rockets from kindergartens), but is, also, using their children’s dead bodies as propaganda…and lying.

They claimed that the child in this picture, being held by Egyptian PM Kandil, was killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. That’s a lie. He was killed by a Hamas rocket. Image from entry, with caption: Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (2nd R) and Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Kandil (2nd L) touch the body of a Palestinian boy, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, during a visit to a hospital in Gaza today.

A ban on Nazi symbols and propaganda - Ajay Kamalakaran, "The Russian Government is looking at outlawing Nazi symbols, flags and propaganda, but how effective and useful will such a ban be? Reports by human rights organisations about attitudes in the country and assume that a large number of people are embracing Nazi ideals in Russia.

Nothing could be farther [sic in article] from the truth! Image from entry

N.Korea defectors suspend border propaganda launches - North Korean defectors said on Thursday they had agreed to suspend public launches of anti-Pyongyang propaganda over the border until after the South's presidential election on December 19.

‘Propaganda’ at IDFA – Hollywood Babylon, from Pyongyang - Propaganda is the title of this feature-length cry of alarm from North Korea, which samples everything seductively evil about this global conspiracy in a style that blends marathon screeds by television preachers with the encyclopedic BBC doc panoramas of Adam Curtis. Sometimes it looks so much like Messiah, William Klein’s 1999 Koyaanisqatsi of all things disgusting, that you wonder whether Klein will be suing the North Korean filmmakers. Good luck. That said, Propaganda is worth watching – once, at least. The epic from Pyongyang screens at IDFA in Amsterdam Friday, followed by a discussion between its narrator, a North Korean academic (whose facial features are clouded) and doc director/producer Peter Wintonick. But wait a minute. Kim Il Sung was a huge film fan, as was Kim Jung Il, and presumably the reigning Leader, Kim Jong-Un.

How were they able to resist the perilous gravitational pull that could have led to the destruction of North Korea? Propaganda will help you understand. Image from article

Barack Obama's Persuasion Army: The president has finally made the permanent campaign a reality - Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal: 'The Obama 'turnout machine' wasn't faceless. It was real people living full-time, some much of the past four years, in battleground states such as Ohio, Iowa and Virginia. They attended full-time to targeted racial, ethnic and labor constituencies, as the campaign did in 2008. Obama adviser David Plouffe calls them 'the persuasion army.' I would call it a skilled propaganda machine.'


"two guys trying to touch one another" 

--Overheard in the Sistine Chapel


Teens want more muscle, some use steroids to get there - Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times: Teenagers are bulking up, with almost 35% of male teens using protein powders and 6% using steroids, according to a study in the Journal Pediatrics that also found a significant number of girls engaging in similar behavior.

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