Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22



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Bluzgrass - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The days in Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan have passed, the time was frenetic but fun. On Saturday, after the masterclass/jam session at the Pop Circus College, we had lunch at the National Plov Centre. ... After lunch, we went to the studio of the Uzbek musician Jassur, who the Dellas [see American Voices] would be performing with at their big concert on Monday. It was fun to watch them jam together over different styles and different instruments as they worked on the Uzbek fav, 'The Andijon Polka.' That evening, we had a lovely diplomatic soiree at the Ambassador’s residence. The Dellas performed some of their own music and played with local musician Jassur and some of his bandmates. The ambassador was a gracious host, and pinned Uzbek-American flags on each of the Dellas. He gave us all small medal-coins. ... Monday was spent soundchecking at the lovely Turkestan Palace. ... The soundcheck took a while to get situated, as things are never quite easy. After fiddling with the two bands sound checks, we spent the day resting a bit ahead of the concert. The Dellas had a nice session with Uzbek students studying English, who got to sit in on their warm-up. A quick soundcheck prior showed some holes in the previous soundcheck, and got everyone a bit skittish, so I sent for a bottle of vodka to steel the nerves. That did the trick, and the show was a huge hit. The packed hall loved the fast, rhythmic melodies of the bluegrass tunes, and the Dellas charm won them over quite quickly.

And their jam session of Uzbek music with Jassur & Sultan had the crowd roaring in their seats. They finished with everyone playing a Della song called 'Stay All Night,' which is more about jamming late than amorous encounters, but got a big laugh from the audience in a cute lost-in-translation moment. Tuesday was busy, with no rest for the weary. We had to depart to the airport around 6:30am for an 8am flight to Urgench in the very west of Uzbekistan. ... The freezing winds were whipping through the old city ... . After the chilled tour, the Dellas went on to the Khorasm Music College. They received a local show of traditional Khorasmi music and dance, with all sorts of fun instruments and costumes. Then they played for the music students, and had them tappin’ to the pickin’. The musicians came back on stage for the Dellas to collaborate on some Uzbek music, and the crowd went nuts when they all played the 'Andijon Polka.' ... The last day in Tashkent was a bit of a down day. ... Greta the CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer], Celia and I went to a master potter’s studio ... .We ... bid farewell to Greta- the Cultural Affairs Officer who had been working with us from the US Embassy. It was poignant because this was Greta’s last project before she heads out in a few days back to the US and eventually on to her next assignment in Peru. She really enjoyed having the Dellas and an all-girl bluegrass band as her final project." Image from, with caption: Pickin' Diplomacy: US Sends Bluegrass Band to Central Asia

Public Opinion and International Intervention: Lessons from the Iraq War [Review of Public Opinion and International Intervention: Lessons from the Iraq War, Edited by Richard Sobel, Peter Furia, and Bethany Barratt, Potomac Books: Dulles, VA] - Alan Kotok, American Diplomacy: "The world rarely speaks in unison on policy issues, but public opinion outside the U.S. was almost universally opposed to the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. The negative spillover from the Iraq invasion affected broader attitudes towards U.S. global leadership for the next several years, presenting challenges for American diplomacy worldwide, both public and traditional.

A new book — edited by Richard Sobel of Northwestern University, Peter Furia at University of Virginia, and Roosevelt University's Bethany Barratt — presents essays by social scientists on the ground in 12 democracies that examine how opinions about the war in Iraq affected policies of those governments. While the book’s contributors look for empirical connections between public opinion and government actions and consequences, public diplomacy practitioners can find lessons in the the essays as well." Image from entry

PM Netanyahu Thanks Public Diplomacy Activists - "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a video conference on Monday with volunteers who are working to assist in the national public diplomacy efforts of the State of Israel. Participating in the video conference were personnel from the Prime Minister’s Office National Information Directorate, the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office New Media Division, the Foreign Ministry from Dublin, as well as students and public diplomacy activists. 'It is good to see you,' the prime minister said. 'I want to thank you.

You are doing very important work; I follow your activities. We are [operating] on four fronts: The military front, the home front, the diplomatic front and the public diplomacy front. 'What you are doing greatly strengthens us on the public diplomacy front. We must fight for the truth, for the facts, and your help is worth more than gold. The fact that you are focusing on refuting the industry of lies and that you are reaching so many sectors is a significant addition for the State of Israel,'” the Prime Minister added. Image from

Israel 'Media Bunker' Peppers Internet With Propaganda Tweets And Facebook Posts - Lauren E. Bohn, AP, Huffington Post: "The Israeli government is trying to pre-empt a publicity pounding over its Gaza offensive by aggressively pushing out its version of events, furiously tweeting and Facebook posting updates from a 'media bunker.' The instant they heard about a bus bombing in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, scores of tech-savvy youth in Israel's government media command center in Jerusalem sprang into action. They began flooding social media with updates and created a graphic exclaiming: 'We didn't send in our ground troops, but they sent in theirs! (at)IsraelUnderFire.' In an operation attached to Israel's press office, hundreds of volunteers produce and post instant videos and graphics about the latest twists in the Gaza offensive from Israel's point of view. Its Facebook site, 'Israel Under Fire,' has gained more than 24,000 'likes' over the last week. ... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rallied the volunteers earlier this week in a video conference, where he reflected the widely held view among Israelis and many of their supporters that the news media are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. 'We are (operating) on four fronts: The military front, the home front, the diplomatic front and the public diplomacy front. We must fight for the truth, for the facts, and your help is worth more than gold ... refuting the industry of lies,' he said.

The Israeli military spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a self-described Twitter addict, heads a two-month-old 'Interactive Media' branch, staffed with around 30 soldiers trained in writing and graphic design. She plans to devote full time to the new effort next year. For its part, Hamas is countering Israel's Internet firepower with only an unverified Twitter account, though legions of pro-Palestinian activists around the world are peppering the Internet with posts and tweets. Media experts say that Israel's public relations campaign is just an extension of the traditional effort by government propaganda machines to dictate and control the media narrative during a conflict." Leibovich image from


Cease-fire came after hard-fought diplomatic battle - Richard Wolf and David Jackson, USA TODAY: If it holds, the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas could be the start of a greater peacemaking role for the United States in the Middle East, offering President Obama a rare opportunity to make good on his Nobel Peace Prize. Obama's rock-solid support for Israel during the past eight days of violence and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's shuttle diplomacy in the region helped pave the way for the cease-fire agreement announced this afternoon, experts agreed. What remains to be seen is whether the agreement is honored, whether the new Egyptian government can police the border with Gaza to prevent the flow of weapons — and whether a brief peace can lead to a lengthier negotiation over issues that have long divided Israelis and Palestinians. For now, even some of the administration's occasional detractors are giving Obama and Clinton credit for their role in the fledgling peace process. Image from

A New Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire - Editorial, New York Times: The cease-fire that ended eight days of bombing and airstrikes between Hamas and Israel should allow Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza to return to some normalcy as the two sides pull back from a violent cycle that killed 140 Palestinians and five Israelis in the past week. But even if it holds — and that is a big if — this moment of calm will not create real stability if it is not followed by a serious new peace effort aimed at a two-state solution.

Israel dominates the new Middle East - Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post: The only real outside broker in the region is, of course, the United States, Israel’s closest ally. These are the realities of the Middle East today.

In Gaza, media war is not just a metaphor - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting. Below image from entry

BBC Reporter Accused of Anti-Israel Propaganda After Claiming Syria War Pic Was Taken in Gaza - A BBC war correspondent sparked a wave of criticism after he tweeted a photo of an injured Syrian girl lying on a stretcher, saying it was taken in Gaza. BBC Gaza and West Bank correspondent Jon Donnison described the picture he re-tweeted from Palestinian 'journalist and social activist' Hazem Balousha as "heart-breaking," adding the words "pain in Gaza." However netizens soon found out the snap was actually from Syria, and some accused him of anti-Israel propaganda.

Image from article, with caption: The Tweet by BBC correspondent Jon Donnison (Twitter)

Bake love, not war: Let them eat cupcakes -- Operation Pillar of Defense inspires themed munchies for the bomb shelter-bound - Jessica Steinberg, Trying times often necessitate serious noshing, particularly when one is spending frequent 10-minute intervals in bomb shelters, stairwells and sealed rooms.

For Danielle Levy, the British-born proprieter of Tel Aviv’s I Love Cupcakes, that means Operation Pillar of Defense-themed cupcakes, but with a positive slant. In hues of blue and white, pink and yellow, the fondant-decorated cakes display sugary Israeli flags and peaceful doves, a chocolate peace sign, hearts, the IDF symbol and a “Make Cupcakes Not War” reminder. Image from article, with caption: Operation Pillar cupcakes, for a sweeter shelter experience

Pro-Life Means Anti-Drone: If life is sacred, how can we justify the random killing of innocent children? - Jack Hunter, American Conservative: The drone strike program that was controversial during the Bush administration has grown dramatically under President Obama.

The logic behind drone strikes is plain—the ability to eliminate terrorist targets with unmanned aircraft means we don’t have to endanger U.S. military personnel. But the grim reality of these strikes drastically undermines any good intentions. The method has quickly become an everyday nightmare for average Pakistanis. Image from article. Via GG on Facebook

Ambassador Cameron Munter, Drone Policy Casualty Corrects Record, Talks Yellow Card and Drone War - Domani Spero, DiploPundit:  Former US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter departed Islamabad this past summer after a two-year tenure and retired from the Foreign Service.  He is currently a visiting professor at Columbia Law School. In a May 2012 article in the NYT,  Ambassador Munter reportedly complained that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy in the country and that “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,” according to an unnamed colleague.

PRT Diaspora: View from the Lab - Peter van Buren, We Meant Well:  PVB cites an email from a reader of his blog: "A few years ago, I retired the Department of Health and Human Services. During my last years of federal service, I was an international assignee. Because I was both new to and naive about USG 'foreign service' my tour was eye-opening. As I found myself routinely unable to complete 'impossible tasks' assigned to me, I felt obliged to 'explain' to my foreign service superiors what they failed to grasp about laboratory work. Slowly I realized that ... my task was to spend money. I was supposed to 'demonstrate' that the money had 'been spent'. In my case, I was supposed to demonstrate that I had 'built laboratory capacity' and 'strengthened laboratory infrastructure.'"

A Pakistani Tale of Phony Politics, Propaganda, and Photoshop - Lauryn Oates, Like the Iranian Government's Press TV, RT (Russia Today) wears the veil of a mainstream corporate English language news service, often being mistaken by the casual listener for a tabloid style independent news company. It is in fact a Kremlin-created and funded propaganda-disseminating organization.

Hu ally appointed propaganda chief - Raymond Li, South China Morning Post: Liu Qibao, a close ally of President Hu Jintao, has been appointed the country's propaganda chief, with analyst saying they expect he will maintain the hardline press controls of his predecessor.

Liu Qibao image from article

Retro Propaganda Posters from China's Space Program - Among them:

The South’s Man in London - Andre M. Fleche, New York Times: In late 1861, a 27-year-old naturalized Alabamian from Switzerland named Henry Hotze was sent on a secret mission to London. Officially, he would be a Confederate commercial agent, negotiating trade deals between Britain and the South. But his real task, given to him by the Confederate secretary of state, Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter, was

much more sensitive: to persuade the British people to support the Confederate cause. British public opinion might seem apathetic, but he also found it “in a fusible state.” He concluded that Southern officials had put too much faith in economic self-interest and had not spent enough time appealing to the hearts and minds of the British people. Determined to seize the opportunity, he proposed to carry out a propaganda campaign on behalf of the Confederacy. Hotze image from article


A redacted copy of an email obtained by The Associated Press discusses the attack of the Benghazi, Libya mission. Two hours after the U.S. Consulate came under attack in Benghazi, Libya, the White House was told that a militant group was claiming responsibility for the violence that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

--From the Los Angeles Times

Via MS on Facebook

U.S. abortion rate fell in ’09, CDC statistics show - Cheryl Wetzstein-The Washington Times: America’s abortion rate fell 5 percent in 2009 in the largest single-year drop seen since the federal government started tracking data on the procedure.


"It [Israel] launched about 10 times as many airstrikes this time but caused about 10 times fewer Palestinian deaths."

"[T]he 80 percent-plus success rate of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system."

--Karin Brulliard, "For Israel’s Netanyahu, cease-fire has benefits and risks," Washington Post; Above image from; below image from

"The first lesson that you must learn is that, when I call for statistics about the rate of infant mortality, what I want is proof that fewer babies died when I was Prime Minister than when anyone else was Prime Minister. That is a political statistic."

--Winston Churchill


Via CR on Facebook

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