Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31



"The human mouth is basically filthy."

--Dr. Seth Thaller, the chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine; image from

TEXTS

a) 112TH Congress 2D Session H.R. 5736. To amend the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 to authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences, and not for other purposes.

B) USC 22 - US CODE 22 - US Code - Title 22: Foreign Relations and Intercourse: Chapter 18 - United States Information and Educational Exchange Programs - Specifically: 22 USC 1461 - Sec. 1461. General authorization 22 USC 1461; 22 USC 1461 - Sec. 1461-1a. Ban on domestic activities by United States Information Agency

VIDEO

The History of Propaganda Exposed - beyondthecurtain.wordpress.com

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

Afghanistan: Mind the God gap - Knox Thames, Foreign Policy: "The U.S. government can ramp up its efforts to increase public diplomacy relating to religious freedom and religious tolerance, and bring more delegations of Afghan religious and NGO leaders to the United States and take American religious and NGO leaders to Afghanistan. The United States can jump-start training about the balance between religion and state and the compatibility of Islam with human rights and religious freedom. Continuing to press for greater freedoms in public and private is critical, as well as starting new initiatives, such as creating a special working group on religious freedom/tolerance in U.S.-Afghan strategic dialogues.


U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces should be trained to understand international standards when engaging with Afghan religious leaders, local government officials, or Afghan local police forces. U.S. government personnel also need to increase their 'religious IQ' on the role of Islam in Afghan society, as well as understand how religious freedom can promote stability and security. As Afghanistan goes about building institutions as the international community departs, getting the religion question right will be a part of every answer." Image from

What would America gain by investing in child education vs embassies in Iraq? - psyche.askedfor.info: "~-~-Answers!-~-~ One of the issues here that will perhaps be overlooked by other responses to this question is the factor return on investment. Recent studies have shown that quality of education is not necessarily dependent upon the level of financial endowment, but is much more dependent upon a series of other related factors. Hence, showering the “failing” education system in America with money isn’t going to solve the fundamental causes of the problems associated with it. On the other hand, the return on investment for embassies in Iraq will show a much greater degree of success than all the money and human capital that we are investing with our hard power/military influence on that country. As such, it is much cheaper to invest in embassies and public diplomacy programs in order to 'win the hearts and minds of the people' than to have costly and lengthy deployments of divisions of troops there for the sake of maintaining order."

American Quartet Hits All the Right Notes at Historic St. Louis Jazz Festival in Senegal - Kristin M. Kane, DipNote: "There is something special about seeing American jazz played in Africa: The audience responds in a unique way -- as do the musicians performing the music. Such was the case at the recent St. Louis Jazz Festival: St. Louis, Senegal, that is. The former capital of French Africa and a UNESCO world heritage site, the city is known for its crumbling but still-captivating architecture on the mile-long island on the border of Mauritania.


The festival, the most important of its kind in Africa, celebrated its 20th year last week. The brand-new Minister of Culture, Youssou Ndour, otherwise known as one of Africa's leading artists, declared for the first time that the festival's tickets would be free. During the opening ceremony, Ndour handed the U.S. Embassy an award to show the appreciation for our contributions to jazz over the years. In years past, jazz greats, such as Herbie Hancock, performed under the U.S. banner. Our Public Affairs Section has tried to support the festival in various collaborations over past years; this year, we brought over a wonderful quartet from Portland: The Devin Phillips Quartet." Image from entry

Congressmen Propose Domestic Distribution of Pro-U.S. Propaganda - Joe Wolverton, II, thenewamerican.com: "In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a serpent-like beast that possessed many heads. Perhaps the most frightening quality of this fearsome amphibian was the fact that for each head that was cut off two grew in its place and the breath from these new heads were more poisonous than the one they replaced. Such is the case with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. Just as constitutionalists are busy hacking at the deadly indefinite detention provisions that were codified in the 2012 version, the iteration being proposed for the next fiscal year contains elements that are perhaps more constitutionally lethal. As we have reported, there were about 140 amendments to the bill that were considered along with the larger legislation. One of these allows the federal government to print pro-American propaganda for domestic distribution. Ostensibly, the purpose of the pamphlets is to combat al-Qaeda’s attempts to discredit the United States and its policy of delivering democracy via drone attacks. Such materials were previously only broadcast overseas for the pleasure of foreign audiences but a provision in the 'Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012]' (H.R. 5736) would remove that restriction, making 'available, in the United States, motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials prepared for dissemination abroad or disseminated abroad pursuant to this Act….' Intended as an update to the post-World War II Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, the bill’s primary sponsors are Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Washington). Currently, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is considering the proposal. If this amendment remains attached to the Fiscal Year 2013 NDAA and is passed by Congress and signed by the President, then for the first time in the history of the United States, citizens and residents will be exposed to government-produced propaganda in a manner that would impress even Orwell’s Big Brother. As expected neither Congressman Thornberry nor Smith admit that the underlying purpose of their amendment is the brainwashing of Americans by the federal government.


In fact, in a joint press statement released by the two lawmakers, Thornberry and Smith soft-pedal the purpose of the provision by trotting out the favorite trope of the claque constantly clamoring for the exchange of liberty for security. 'We continue to face a multitude of threats and we need to be able to counter them in a multitude of ways. Communication is among the most important,' said Rep. Thornberry. 'This outdated law ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible and transparent way. Congress has a responsibility to fix the situation,' Thornberry said. 'While the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was developed to counter communism during the Cold War, it is outdated for the conflicts of today,' said Congressman Adam Smith. 'Effective strategic communication and public diplomacy should be front-and-center as we work to roll back al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among disaffected populations. An essential part of our efforts must be a coordinated, comprehensive, adequately resourced plan to counter their radical messages and undermine their recruitment abilities. To do this, Smith-Mundt must be updated to bolster our strategic communications and public diplomacy capacity on all fronts and mediums – especially online.' The expression of such specter-summoning sentiments is disappointing coming from Representative Smith. As has been well chronicled by The New American, Smith was the co-sponsor, along with Representative Justin Amash (R-Michigan) of the Smith-Amash Amendment to the NDAA 2013. This measure would have repealed the indefinite detention provision passed overwhelmingly last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. Shamefully, on May 18, Smith’s colleagues in the House of Representatives rejected the proposal by a vote of 182-238. Regardless of his previous championing of Constitutional liberties, Smith has now signed on to hasten the dawning of a new day of domestic agitprop in the United States. Some observers recognize the writing on the wall and the hand that holds the paint brush. 'Clearly there are ways to modernize for the information age without wiping out the distinction between domestic and foreign audiences,' Michael Shank of the Institute for Economics and Peace in Washington tells Buzzfeed, one of the online outlets who have boldly warned readers about the amendment. 'That Reps Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry want to roll back protections put in place by previously-serving Senators — who, in their wisdom, ensured limits to taxpayer–funded propaganda promulgated by the US government – is disconcerting and dangerous.' As one might expect, Representative Smith has refuted the charges that he supports the dissemination of pro-federal government (read: pro-protracted foreign conflict) throughout the Republic. A subsequent statement released by Smith re-casts his amendment in a less Goebbelian light. [']Unfortunately, recent articles have misinterpreted the intent and impact of the Thornberry-Smith amendment in the NDAA. This amendment is intended to ensure that the US government can get factual information out in a timely manner to counter extremist misinformation and propaganda. It does not and is not in any way intended to ‘legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences’ and, in fact, specifically ensures that the content to be rebroadcast or republished domestically by the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) shall not influence public opinion in the US. It clearly states, no funds authorized to be appropriated to State Department or BBG for any activity shall be used to influence public opinion.['] While Representative Smith’s lips draw nigh unto the Constitution, the text of his bill is far from it. A fair reading of H.R. 5736 reveals that the 60-plus year prohibition on domestic distribution of 'motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials' produced by the federal government to promote is globalist agenda is explicitly repealed. In fact, despite the co-sponsors’ denials, Section 208(b) of their proposal plainly mandates that: [']Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure. Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated, when appropriate, pursuant to sections 502 and 1005 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948….['] Citizens of this Republic are being continuously bombarded by the federal government’s big media shills with stories designed to soften the blow of the assault on liberty by wrapping the iron fist of fascism within the velvet glove of a safer America. The difference should this bill be passed is that the funds for the pummel of propaganda will come from our tax dollars. We are now monitored by our government without warrants and should we speak out against such deprivations we run the risk of having our names added to a list of potential threats to the security of the homeland. Once a person’s name is aggregated to that roster, there is little to prevent him from having his one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay punched by the President. That’s assuming a drone attack wouldn’t be quicker." Image from

Propaganda - Alexander Fisher, Rantings of a Long - Haired Poet: A blog about anything and everything. From politics to poetry, to the angst ridden rantings of an American youth: "Friends-Did you think it could get any worse? Now they want to legalize the use of propaganda on American citizens -- and the vote could happen next week. An amendment legalizing the use of mass propaganda campaigns on American audiences has been inserted into the latest defense authorization bill — and that bill just passed the House."

When do we start the honest debate over the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act? - Matt Armstrong, Public Diplomacy Council: "What is it about U.S. public diplomacy that we must hide it from Americans? Is it so abhorrent that it would embarrass the taxpayer, upset the Congress (which has surprisingly little additional insight on the details of public diplomacy), or upend our democracy? Of our international broadcasting, such as the Voice of America, do we fear the content to be so persuasive and compelling that we dare not permit the American media, academia, nor the Congress, let alone the mere layperson, to have the right over oversight to hold accountable their government? The current punditry surrounding the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 leaves little room to use the word 'debate' due to the hyperbole, conflation, and liberal use of the word propaganda. It does, however, demand the frequent use of the word irony. The 1948 law meant to give America a voice, foster mutual understanding, empower engagement, and provide oversight has been so twisted that it is now invoked to muzzle, sow confusion over authorities, and ultimately obfuscates the practice, bureaucracy, and concept of public diplomacy to the extent that the Congress, the public, and even the State Department are at pains to provide examples of public diplomacy. ... The prodigious labeling of public diplomacy as propaganda undermines the legitimate debate, at times purposefully. Today's common use of the word, unlike the past, is weighted as a pejorative. ... If indeed U.S. public diplomacy, including our international broadcasting, is 'propaganda' and unfit for Americans, is it fit for foreign audiences? Should people and organizations in the U.S. have the liberty to review and decide on whether to share that which their tax dollar purchased? The intent of the original Smith-Mundt was the media and the Congress would decide what was fit for domestic eyes. In that sense alone, the amended Act is outdated by the expansion of the term media and ubiquity of communication. However, the authority implicitly granted to the media and individual Members of Congress by the original Act to mediate what came inside the borders was revoked in 1972. ... The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 deserves and requires an honest appraisal of its merits and demerits, as viewed by each person. The taxpayer and the public diplomats deserve as much. Or perhaps we should ask China's CCTV, Russia Today, or Wikileaks to provide oversight over our public diplomacy?"

When do we start the honest debate over the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act? "[B]e sure to see Josh Rogin’s Much ado about State Department ‘propaganda’. If you are attending the event at the Heritage Foundation today, 'Understanding the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act,' at 3p ET (apparently it will be webcast), and you’re on the fence or opposed to the availability of State Department public diplomacy material domestically, would you be so kind as to provide examples from the field of what Americans should not know about? And, if you are attending that Heritage event today, do read my post at the Public Diplomacy Council website, particularly the paragraph about the difference between access and dissemination, existing language in the law to promote the free flow of information outside Government control, and whether State should have separate coverage from the BBG."

Letter to the State Department - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: "The following is [an excerpt of -- JB] a letter I sent to the Director General of the Department of State, the head Human Resources person and the individual who will likely be firing me sometime soon. It refers to a State Department message ('cable') she sent out reminding staff of the protections they have available to them as whistleblowers. ... As for retaliatory personnel practices, as you are aware the Department terminated me, defacto, in October 2011. By that time I had had my security clearance 'temporarily' suspended (despite three DS interrogations, a computer forensic analysis and a second, full field investigation, my clearance status is still 'temporary'


and no decision has been issued some eight months later), was thrown out of my assigned job after a year of successful work, never given an EER for that work and then involuntarily curtailed without my knowledge or participation, and was physically banned from the building for several months with HR unlawfully retaining physical possession of my ID card (no reason given). A Fax from a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in Public Diplomacy to my publisher falsely accused me of a Federal crime of publishing classified information. Along the way I was placed on US Secret Service and Diplomatic Security watch lists as a potential danger to the Secretary of State. Later, I was made to sign an unprecedented and likely illegal Compliance Letter as a requirement just to continue work and forcibly assigned to a meaningless telework slot that in no way meets the acceptable standard for a Foreign Service Officer with 24 years of experience." Image from entry

CUSIB’s Ann Noonan speaks on importance of US radio for women in China - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – www.cusib.org) Executive Director Ann Noonan said that women and their families in China who are victims of human rights abuses need Voice of America (VOA) radio


and Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasts. She made that comment Tuesday at a conference on family planning policy and population development in the People’s Republic of China. Women’s Rights in China and Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, headed by the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting members Jing Zhang and Reggie Littlejohn sponsored the conference, which was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Flushing, NY." Image from entry

Broadcasting Board of Governors a Critical review - viva81, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 1 A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "The Broadcasting Board Of Governors (BBG) is an U.S led initiative, which aims to disseminate unbiased information through the means of radio and more recently other mediums of technology to enhance US relations with countries who have little democracy, highlighting the importance of freedom of press in geographical areas where totalitarian governments heavily censor all media that enables dialog between the masses. The goal of the BBG is to ensure that there is free and independent news flows thus allowing citizens to engaging in dialogue, sharing legitimate stories of issues affecting their societies and thus combatting censorship. Some of the radio stations founded by the organisation are Voice of America (VOC), Radio Sawa and Radio Free Asia (RFA). When reading through the BBG 2011 report, one can clearly see the good works that have been produced by this organisation who have been very instrumental in various part of the world such as the Middle East, Cuba and Burma and Africa but to name a few, and thus have now created a large following."

Soft power and the Creative Industries: China and Britain - CMC, chinamediacentre.org: "Palace of Westminster Wednesday, 25 April 2012[.] The Chinese Government has just committed itself to using ‘culture’ and ‘public diplomacy’ as a driver to increase global understanding about China. This reflects concern that China must do better in promoting its culture at home and abroad; recognition of the part that the creative industries will play in boosting domestic demand; determination that ‘made in China’ be replaced by ‘created in China’. To demonstrate that commitment, Vice-President Xi Jinping recently attended the signing of a major creative industry deal between Shanghai Media Group and the famous USA Dreamworks Group. Vice-President Xi’s attendance was a sign of the grasp of the importance of the creative industries at the highest level.


The implications for Britain of these culture industry initiatives by China: The British Government wants many more business links between the UK and Chinese creative industries. The UK is recognised as being one of the most advanced creative industry centres in the world and Chinese companies know this. The UK has been a global leader in cultural industries and public diplomacy since the foundation of the British Council and the BBC in the 1930s. The government of both countries are determined to increase cooperation. The Forum was opened by Minister Zhao Qizheng, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the CPPCC, and spokesperson for the CPPCC. Until recently head of the State Council’s Information Office, he is acknowledged as the pioneer of China’s public diplomacy. The Forum on April 25 at the Palace of Westminster drew UK attention to the recent policy changes in China, extrapolated on the implications for Britain, and provided a valuable occasion for our creative businesses to identify opportunities, and for ministers and parliamentarians to understand the potential of China partnerships." Image from article

Ingrid d'Hooghe -  Facebook: "After a few weeks of conferences, seminars, interviews and writing about China's public diplomacy I am now preparing for some Dutch public diplomacy: teaching 40 Chinese school children about The Netherlands. Tulips, bikes and Dutch Design will be part of the story."

Romania as a leading soft power state? - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Ap[p]arently, Ernst and Young has released a Soft Power survey.index which ranks Romania as #15. While I like Romania, and found it to be a fascinating place with wonderful hospitality and great food, THERE IS NO WAY it is the slightest bit that influential in global affairs or carries that much soft power. What a joke! Sorry Romania, but no way.


You do scant little public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy or nationbranding. I couldn't name a cause you are involved in, or anything that would be cause for Romanian soft power, save perhaps Dracula. So I went to find the survey. Turns out Romania is ranked #15 as an emerging market soft power in the survey. Dracula is in the details...Sorry Romania and E and Y but soft power is more ephemeral than quantifiable. I question the survey itself and any particular relevance it has." Image from

Past Event: Public Diplomacy in Northeast Asia: A Comparative Perspective - Brookings.edu: "On May 30, the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies (CNAPS) at Brookings hosted a discussion examining the use of public diplomacy in Northeast Asia. Leading experts discussed the objectives, practices, opportunities and challenges in public diplomacy for China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Panelists addressed the history of public diplomacy in each country, how it is defined and the societal and governmental structures under which public diplomacy is practiced. They also discussed the public diplomacy goals and practices of each nation, offering suggestions for the enhancement of public diplomacy. After the program, speakers took audience questions."

Reflection - Layal Sulieman, layalsulieman.wordpress.com:  "The article 'Uploading dissonance: YouTube and the US occupation of Iraq' has many similar aspects that deals with Syria’s stance in the public eye, globally. The purpose of this article is 'to reconsider the nature of propaganda in an era of online media, open-access video-sharing and simplified production and distribution.' (Christensen, ‘Media, War and Conflict’, 2008).

Key ideas explored in this article include opposing viewpoints on YouTube (by the Syrian government, as well as other governments involved, the Syrian population and the public), propaganda vs. Public diplomacy." Image from

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism for Prospective Students - virtualblackswanmarketing.biz: "sbw1956 on May 31, 2012 at 7:58 am said: And don’t forget that Public Diplomacy is another area to explore at Annenberg!"

RELATED ITEMS

Anne-Marie Slaughter on 21st Century Foreign Policy [interview] - thebrowser.com: Slaughter "Secretary Clinton ... has embraced government-to-society diplomacy and society-to-society diplomacy, which basically means connecting governments with people and connecting people with people. That is a far more complex challenge because there are billions of people.


When you start focusing on people rather than states you start focusing on all the complexities of their interactions, you think about how to build networks and you think about how to relate to different segments of society, like women and young people and entrepreneurs and scientists. It’s really a different vision of diplomacy." Via WM. Slaughter image from

Lost in America: Why "likability" isn't enough in a president - James Taranto, Wall Street Journal: "Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a member of the Polish resistance in World War II. The honor was well-deserved. Karski--who later came to America, naturalized, and taught at Georgetown University--crossed enemy lines in 1942 and reported back to the West on the atrocities in the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi death camps. Only in the president's remarks yesterday, he referred to them as 'Polish death camps.' That expression is neuralgic for Poles, who quite understandably do not wish to shoulder blame for horrors that an occupying power carried out on their soil. The White House website now carries a correction over the Obama transcript: '* Note--the language in asterisks below is historically inaccurate.


It should instead have been: 'Nazi death camps in German occupied Poland.' We regret the error.' Poland's leaders want to make sure of that. 'The White House will apologize for this outrageous mistake,' Bloomberg quotes Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski as having tweeted. 'It's a shame that such a momentous ceremony has been overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.' Prime Minister Donald Tusk added: 'We can't accept such words in Poland, even if they are spoken by a leader of an allied country. Saying Polish concentration camps is as if there was no German responsibility, no Hitler.' U.S.-Polish relations had already been strained, in part because of Obama's 2009 decision to scrap plans for a missile-defense site in Poland--a decision announced on the 70th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which led to the invasion of Poland by the Nazis from the west and the Soviets from the east." Image from article, with caption: Prime Minister Tusk

Too Much Power for a President – Editorial, New York Times: It has been clear for years that the Obama administration believes the shadow war on terrorism gives it the power to choose targets for assassination, including Americans, without any oversight. On Tuesday, The New York Times revealed who was actually making the final decision on the biggest killings and drone strikes: President Obama himself. And that is very troubling. Mr. Obama has demonstrated that he can be thoughtful and farsighted, but, like all occupants of the Oval Office, he is a politician, subject to the pressures of re-election. No one in that position should be able to unilaterally order the killing of American citizens or foreigners located far from a battlefield — depriving Americans of their due-process rights — without the consent of someone outside his political inner circle. President Obama should publish clear guidelines for targeting to be carried out by nonpoliticians, making assassination truly a last resort, and allow an outside court to review the evidence before placing Americans on a kill list. And it should release the legal briefs upon which the targeted killing was based.

“Militants”: media propaganda: To avoid counting civilian deaths, Obama re-defined "militant" to mean "all military-agemales in a strike zone" – Glenn Greenwald, Salon:  Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims, American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were ”militants” – even though those media outlets


literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed.

National Security and International Exchange - Elizabeth Redden, insidehighered.com: Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates delivered a rousing oration in favor of international education and exchange Tuesday. Addressing the thousands gathered for the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference, Gates described foreign language education, study abroad, and the recruitment of foreign students to U.S. campuses as key strategies in promoting America’s national security and economic interests.

Pakistan's Dangerous Anti-American Game: It's unwise to needle a superpower that you need for resources and global credibility - Sadanand Dhume, Wall Street Journal: Pakistan's dismal favorability rating in America means there's no real political cost to bringing Islamabad to heel by stepping up drone strikes, giving it a diplomatic cold shoulder and withholding financial support—all at the same time. Washington may even choose to add targeted sanctions against top ISI officials directly implicated in supporting terrorism. Pakistan is playing a game of chicken without fully grasping the consequences of losing.

What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe? A confidential survey of activists inside the country shows limited support for Islamists but high admiration for the U.S. and Turkey - David Pollock, Wall Street Journal: The core of the Syrian opposition inside the country is not made up of the Muslim Brotherhood or other fundamentalist forces, and certainly not of al Qaeda or other jihadi organizations. To be sure, a revolution started by secularists could pave the way for Islamists to win elections, as has occurred in Egypt. But the Syrian opposition is solidly favorable to the U.S. and overwhelmingly negative toward both Hezbollah and Iran.

With Plan X, Pentagon seeks to spread U.S. military might tocyberspace – Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post:  The Pentagon is turning to the private sector, universities and even computer-game companies as part of an ambitious effort to develop technologies to improve its cyberwarfare capabilities, launch effective attacks and withstand the likely retaliation. The previously unreported effort, which its authors have dubbed Plan X, marks a new phase in the nation’s fledgling military operations in cyberspace, which have focused more on protecting the Defense Department’s computer systems than on disrupting or destroying those of enemies.

U.S. techcompanies warn of threat to Internet from foreign governments – Ceclia Kang,  Washington Post: U.S. officials and high-tech business giants have launched an assault against what they view as a massive threat to the Internet and to Silicon Valley’s bottom lines: foreign governments. In a congressional hearing Thursday, they will warn lawmakers of a growing movement led by China, Russia and some Arab states to hand more control of the Web to the United Nations and place rules on the Internet that the U.S. companies say would empower governments to clamp down on civil rights and free speech. That could mean the Web might look drastically different in other countries than it does in the United States, opponents of the proposals say.

Trojan targets Iranian and Syrian dissidents via proxy tool: Web users in Iran and Syria aiming to circumvent censorship controls are being targeted with spyware, according to security researchers - BBC News. Via YO on Facebook.

Women in Islam -Ahsan Abbas, pakobserver.net: Western propaganda has been very successful in portraying the misinterpreted image of women in Islam. They consider women as weak, oppressed and second class citizen in the eyes of Islam. But the reality is not what is shown in the news, movies and stories. One of these propagandas is that Islam has restricted the woman to house only and there are no such rights been given to women which may be a part of happy life. The woman has no status of her own and is regarded as a slave of man. They totally ignore that it was Islam which stopped the burying of the daughters and gave her a high status in the society, it was Islamic law which gave the women the right to vote 1400 years ago as oppose to the west which allowed her a right to vote only few decades ago. It is Islam which make it obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman to ge teducation. Muslim women got fair amount of rights and respect in society, Islam is the most revolutionary liberalization of women’s rights the civilized world has ever seen.

NAM envoys criticize western propaganda against Iran's nuclear activities - irna.ir: Non Aligned Movement representatives


to the IAEA criticized western propaganda machine's lies about Iran's nuclear activities in this county's Parchin site.

Ombudsman: “Tolerant attitude does not mean that your child will become a representative of a sexual minority” - armenianow.com: In an interview with Russian REGNUM news agency Armenian Ombudsman Karen Andreasyan spoke about the recent scandals around sexual minorities, saying that Armenian nationalist groups do not realize that discrediting the sphere of human rights in the fight against homosexuality may lead to future limitations to their own rights. “Under the protection of human rights we understand the protection of the rights of both nationalists and members of gay pride parades. So, I think tolerance, civility and demonstration to the world that violence in our society is condemned proceed from our very national interest,” said Andreasyan.


Turning to the question that many in Armenia are not acting against homosexuality but against the promotion of homosexuality through gay clubs or gay parades, Andreasyan said he did not view gay parades as propaganda. (Armenia has not, in fact, held any “gay parades”, however a recent “diversity” parade was viewed by some as endorsing the gay lifestyle and was disrupted by anti-homosexual extremists.) “If a dozen people meet in a house or a room it does not yet constitute propaganda. Everyone within the framework of their morality can be free, regardless of what others’ attitude towards it may be. As for propaganda, such as holding rallies, the distribution of booklets, then a selective attitude in this matter is necessary, as it should be found out what this propaganda aims at. The question is what message is sent to society. If you show pornographic materials to a child, I am against it. But if the matter concerns the protection of freedoms, then I am for (protection),” emphasized the human rights defender. Andreasyan image from article

Zimbabwe: UNWTO Speaks Against Sanctions - Sydney Kawadza, allafrica.com: THE 20th Session of the United Nations World Tourism Authority set for Victoria Falls in August next year will provide the final ammunition in the war against negative propaganda against Zimbabwe. Speaking during the signing of the Trilateral Host Country and Golden Book on Tourism on Tuesday, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi said there was need for aggressive marketing of the event to the intended delegates. "The success of any conference, mega-event, and or exhibition, is a function of delegate turnout and participation. An absolute turnout will be a global endorsement of our destination with far wider implications on our geo-politics, international relations and diplomacy, notwithstanding the economic benefits. "Equally a 75 percent turnout will be very good, 50 percent fair and 30 percent an indictment! So both governments should invest in a major outreach, promotion and marketing of the event, and continuously benchmark against previous hosts." He said Zimbabwe had over the years suffered negative Western publicity.

The Techniques of Propaganda - tigerpapers.wordpress.com: It can be difficult to differentiate what defines propaganda as opposed to other forms of persuasion. Propaganda tends to have a level of subjectivity or lack of partiality that allows for its sympathetic interpretation of merely ‘education’ or ‘information’ if it is ‘our side’ who does it, while carrying the negative connotations of the word ‘propaganda’ if it is ‘the other side’ that does it; basically, we understand it depending on whether it comes from Us or Them. In a book by Garth Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell, propaganda is defined as “the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.” In general, it is safe to say that propaganda can be considered a one-sided and biased informational message that appeals to the emotions rather than the intellect. Traditionally, most forms of propaganda have appeared as some form of print media, such as posters, pamphlets, newspapers, etc, while the growth of technology has facilitated its use into radio broadcasts, television, film, and internet. Another aspect to keep in mind is the similarity between propaganda and advertising. There are a number of problems with propaganda prima facie, but I will contend that its right to exist is not one of them. Since propaganda is subjective, it cannot legally or practically be separated from the right to engage in free and open speech. Problems arise only when propaganda incites violence or hatred, or when the means of propaganda becomes concentrated in too few hands, so that free speech and discussion is subverted. Both of these characteristics lead inexorably towards a totalitarian state, as can be seen in Communism/Stalinism and Fascism/Corporatism (according to Mussolini, “Fascism should more properly be called Corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power”). Therefore, all speech inciting hatred/violence/intolerance must not be tolerated.

RUSSICA

30 Catastrophic Russian Wedding Photos: When bad taste and bad Photoshop meet eternal love - Mathieu S., Buzzfeed. Among them:


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 29-30



"Do you want VOA advertisements on the DC Metro?"

--A comment during a discussion on amending the Smith-Mundt Act;  image from

VIDEO

American Voices YES Academy Iraq. Via PR

DISCUSSIONS

a) Public Diplomacy in Northeast Asia: A Comparative Perspective - brookings.edu: "On May 30, the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies (CNAPS) at Brookings will host a discussion examining the use of public diplomacy in Northeast Asia. Leading experts will discuss the objectives, practices, opportunities and challenges in public diplomacy for China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Panelists will address the history of public diplomacy in each country, how it is defined and the societal and governmental structures under which public diplomacy is practiced. They will also discuss the public diplomacy goals and practices of each nation, offering suggestions for the enhancement of public diplomacy."

b) Understanding the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, Washington, D.C. (3:00 PM, Thurs 31 May) -  Heritage Foundation: "Description: Controversy has swirled around the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act since it passed mark-up as an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act on May 18. The bill is now before the Senate. The Smith-Mundt Act, which established public diplomacy and international broadcasting as activities of the U.S. government, has been in force since 1948. One of its provisions prohibits U.S. citizens from accessing the public diplomacy products of the U.S. government, whether in print or on the airwaves. The purpose of this provision was to prevent domestic government propagandizing. Yet, in an age when global news and information flows are available 24/7 in print, on the airwaves, and online, this prohibition has become an anachronism. Critics on the left and right alike have charged that modernizing the Smith-Mundt Act will lift the floodgates for U.S. government propaganda aimed at U.S. citizens. Not so. Rather, the amended act will force greater government transparency and accountability and it will allow Americans insights into what Washington is communicating to audiences around the world. Join us as our panel examines these and other aspects of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act. Participants: Juliana Geran Pilan, Director, Center for Culture and Security and professor, Politics and Culture, Institute of World Politics; The Honorable Joseph Duffey, former director, United States Information Service; Helle Dale, Moderator, Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy, Heritage Foundation. Location: Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC 20002-4999"

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN THE NEWS

Ted Lipien - Facebook : "Public diplomacy blunders of major proportions. Was his speech cleared by State Department and NSC? Poles Demand Obama Apology For 'Polish Death Camps' [The president referred to 'Polish death camps' while awarding a posthumous Medal of Freedom to Polish professor Jan Karski, a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance]


.www.buzzfeed.com" Image from. See also.

'Gafa Obamy': A presidential faux pas mangles World War II history and insults Poland
- Matthew Kaminsky, Wall Street Journal: "Sometimes the best-intentioned gesture can backfire on the unwitting politician. This is the story of President Obama and the Poles. ... at the White House celebration [cited above] ... [Obama] read off the teleprompter, that Jews were being murdered. On second reference, Mr. Obama noted it was a Nazi camp. Too late. The damage was done. 'Gafa Obamy,' declared Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's leading daily newspaper, in a story about 'Obama's gaffe' on its website. The linguistic faux pas went viral. In another day this would have been ridiculed as a 'Bushism,' before we got a president with a Harvard Law degree who claimed to practice 'smart diplomacy.'"

NA speaker’s rulings must be respected: Fehmida Mirza - dawn.com: "Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza on Wednesday said the speaker is custodian of the house whose rulings should be respected as has been provided in Rules of the Procure and Conduct of Business. ... In her inaugural address, the speaker National Assembly thanked the US government and the USAID, for their support for construction and provision of a fully equipped and furnished PIPS new campus at a cost of $11.5 million. 'This is, indeed, a valuable gift from the people of United States to the developing democracy of Pakistan,' she said adding the parliamentarians are required to be well-versed with all legal, social and strategic developments, taking place in the society.



She said the executive and the judiciary had long established their respective training institutes but the parliament was kept deprived of any such supportive mechanism. She said it was through strict belt tightening by the National Assembly that purchased this piece of land for PIPS at the cost of Rs. 34 million from our own budget and the operations would be funded by in the ratio of one-third and two-third by the Senate and National Assembly respectively. 'This building is a gift from the American people,' said the US Ambassador Cameron Munter in his remarks at the ceremony that was also attended by the US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine. He said the building was envisaged in 2005 and has been turned into reality after seven-year untiring efforts of the speaker NA and PIPS team, adding the institute would held the legislative branch of the parliament in legislation to help strengthen democracy. Deputy Chairman Senate Sabir Baloch said the PIPS campus is not only model for the country but also the Asian region that would help strengthen parliamentary performance having ultimate positive impacts on democratic system. Later, the speaker along with US dignitaries unveiled the plaques of the four-floor new PIPS campus featuring offices, seminar halls, a library, and a hi-tech auditorium. The electricity for the building is generated, in part, by the first and largest solar power station installed on the building in Pakistan and the solar power is synchronised with the grid-supplied electricity. The building, designed by prominent architect Nayyar Ali Dada, has been equipped with highest level of quake resistance." Image from article, with caption: Speaker National Assembly Dr Fahmida Mirza shakes hand with US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs after inaugurating Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) on Tuesday

Mirza, Sonenshine Inaugurated US funded PRI - pakistantoday.com.pk: "Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza and the visiting US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine joined by US Ambassador Cameron Munter Wednesday. inaugurated the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Service (PIPS) here.


PIPS will be housed in a $11.5 million facility built and furnished by the US government and will serve as an independent research and training center for all of Pakistan’s legislative bodies. 'This building is a gift from the American people,' said Ambassador Munter in remarks at the ceremony. 'It is an expression of our deep partnership and commitment to democracy and the people of Pakistan.' The four-floor, 55,000 sq. ft. facility houses state-of-the-art computer systems, offices, seminar rooms, a library, and an auditorium. The institute will support professional development and orientation programs for parliamentarians and staff and will provide data collection and research tools to help parliamentarians better serve the people with effective public policy." Image, presumably of Mirzha, from article

Revise Smith-Mundt? - John H. Trattner, publicdiplomacycouncil.org: "What to make of the renewed discussion of Smith-Mundt? A bill to revise this ancient law is part of the version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, which the House of Representatives will pass sometime in the summer. It would reverse a central intent of the old law by making motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials prepared for dissemination abroad or disseminated abroad---material designed primarily for foreign audiences---available in the United States. The modernized law would apply to the Department of State as a whole (not just its PD operations) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Is the revision of Smith-Mundt necessary? Many experienced observers think so. The bill, they say, would bring key, overdue improvements to the original 1948 legislation. First, and arguably most important, would be the lifting of the veil that supposedly shields U.S. public diplomacy programs from the knowledge of taxpaying Americans who are financing them. In 1967, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information said it best: 'The American taxpayer should no longer be prohibited from seeing and studying the product a government agency produces with public funds for overseas audiences. Students in schools and colleges all over this country who are interested in government, foreign affairs and international relations should not be denied access to what the U.S. government is saying about itself and the rest of the world.' Second, in the era of the Internet and speed-of-light communications, the revised law would acknowledge the reality that Americans, like everyone else, can get just about any message on any topic from anywhere in the world, including reflected-back versions of what U.S. public diplomacy generates. Third, the revision would remove the time-consuming requirement that public diplomacy plans pass the original Smith-Mundt litmus test. As Steven Corman wrote recently in ComOps Journal, it would "...prevent our strategic communication agencies from spending time/resources trying to stop the inevitable. Not only is this a waste of resources but it inhibits our ability to respond to events in a timely manner when communication plans have to be reviewed by teams of lawyers in an effort to comply with an archaic law.' Okay. All this seems fact-based and reasonable. But critics of the House bill suggest that the revised law could be used with malign intent by those who manage it in years to come. They fear the day when wrong-minded administrations of the future wield it to further their domestic goals and political fortunes, or to hurt their opponents, or both. And that, of course, is possible. More than once in the last 40 years we have seen the damage done by leaders who tried to twist or evade American law for political or ideological reasons. Still, the proposed law seems well hedged in by explicit anti-propaganda language and financial strictures. Among other limitations, these would make any attempted misuse of it clearly and directly challengeable. On balance, it's indeed time to revise Smith-Mundt. But with two words to keep in mind: En garde."

Broadcasting Board of Governors – Thoughts on Smith-Mundt And More - The Federalist, USC Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Repealing Smith-Mundt is a bad idea – a very bad idea. The repealing legislation is HR 5736, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. It would 'authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences, and for other purposes.' Burying the amendment in a Defense Department appropriations bill makes it look worse – as if the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) are trying to sneak something through – thinking no one would catch it. Deviousness – a trademark behavior of the bureaucrats of this agency. Americans like to be free thinkers. ... But more than likely, one unifying sentiment among all of them may very well be that they don’t want the government telling them what to think – or to parse 'news and information' in such a way as to turn it into propaganda directed at them. One thing that makes people particularly wary is this agency’s reputation for spinning information about itself. Some people worry most that if Smith-Mundt is repealed that the primary target audience won’t be foreign. It will be domestic: the American people. Did you notice that phrase, “…and for other purposes?” Do you know what that means? Anything the IBB careerists/bonus mongers want it to mean – up to and including trying to sell the bogus 'flim flam strategic plan' and the equally bogus claims of agency successes to the American people. It’s all baloney, to put it mildly. ... Know too that this agency is doing everything it possibly can to disguise the fact that it is an agency of the Federal government. Part of the deception is with its attempts to create and then hide behind a 'Global News Network' moniker, likely modeled along the lines of the Cable News Network (CNN) whose former executives now hold senior positions with the agency. Know also that it is attempting to de-Federalize its workforce – the last line of defense that the American people have in knowing just how far gone this agency has become. The “Global News Network” would likely be at the forefront to propagandize American citizens – something not even remotely recognizable like the 'Voice of America.' ... In a desperate attempt to survive, this agency’s bureaucrats – trying to keep their six-figure salaries and bonus-hoarding gravy train rolling – now seek to target the American people as a primary audience."

Congress, the State Department, and “communistic, fascistic, and other alien influences” - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: "An honest appraisal of the [Smith-Mundt] Modernization Act requires an honest representation of the original Smith-Mundt Act, especially it’s [sic] so-called 'firewall.' ... It is true that Nazi propaganda and President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee for Public Information, also known as the Creel Commission [sic], were fresh on the minds of the Congress. As with so much about Smith-Mundt, ironically, these memories had a very substantial in [sic] role in creating the demand for the Voice of America. Too often ignored, however, was the effort to protect the Government from a State Department that enjoyed little trust and confidence from the Congress. From the information activities to the programs for the 'interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills,' the Congress made its clear its concerns that the State Department may intentionally, or inadvertently, undermine the American way of life for reasons ranging from the 'New Dealers' to the liberal culture of the Department itself."

Smith-Mundt Modernization Proposed For Department of State - Lawrence Dietz: psyopregiment.blogspot.com: " HR 5736, Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 was introduced in the house by Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA). (See http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.5736: for the official text). According to the Mountain Runner Blog (http://mountainrunner.us/2012/05/smith-mundt-modernization-ac/#.T7_vMcX4KcA), a respected Blog in the area of Public Diplomacy, the proposed change would apply on to the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The intent of the change is to remove the restriction on domestic access to public diplomacy (and other Department of State) materials to foster domestic awareness concerning public diplomacy messages and activities. Section 208 of the bill includes: '(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure. Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated, when appropriate, pursuant to sections 502 and 1005 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1462 and 1437), except that nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors to disseminate within the United States any program material prepared for dissemination abroad on or before the effective date of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012.' Proponents argue that the American taxpayer has a right to know and see for themselves what their State Department is doing abroad with their money. The law is clear that it will only be prospective, that it will apply only to material produced after the law is effective. The proposed law is also intended to insure that the Department of State can engage globally without the legal impediment of a restriction against access to the information by domestic audiences.


The bill is clear that it concerns only State Department information and does not pertain to the Department of Defense. In previous posts I’ve argued that MISO personnel and equipment would very likely be pressed into service in major domestic incidents where there is a need to communicate/inform the local population and where there aren’t enough commercial or local resources can’t do the job. Normally this ‘voice of the CDR’ role would be undertaken by the PAO, but PAO lacks the means to do so. Assuming Smith-Mundt adequately addresses the Department of State, then it would seem that other legislation that would address the Homeland Security aspects of MISO utilization. In some respects this would be analogous to an exemption under Posse Comitatus. Under Posse Commitatus military personnel can be employed for law enforcement – we need to exempt MISO from its domestic limitation so that it can be effectively employed in furtherance of Homeland Security." Dietz Image from blog, with following quotation: "If you were a cannibal, what would you wear to dinner? you don't"

The domestic dissemination ban probably won't be relaxed. Now will it be enforced? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: “Americans can know 'whether the content of VOA is in fact truthful or propagandistic,' because VOA content is available at the VOA websites. The real question is, now that the domestic dissemination ban will not be relaxed, will it be enforced? It would be a simple matter to prevent VOA and other USIB websites from reaching US IP addresses. The BBC prevents its video archives and other content from being accessed outside the UK, and its commercial international websites from being accessed inside the UK.The internet and satellite finally make the domestic dissemination ban enforceable. Geoblocking can do it with the internet. The satellite footprints of USIB can cover every part of the world except the United States. Ironically, the old and derided shortwave radio was the only medium that could not be stopped from propagating back into the United States, even if the signal was nominally beamed to some other part of the world. Key to salvaging any hope of relaxing the domestic dissemination ban is the need to convince people that VOA and USIB are in the news business, not the propaganda business. This endeavor is not helped by the fact that the BBG and it elements seem uncertain of the concept, and even uncertain of which concept they are uncertain of. Confusion could result from the BBG's ambiguous new mission statement. And note in a recent BBG press release that one person is described as a VOA journalist and ‘a tireless campaigner for human rights.’ Both are noble vocations, but can one actually simultaneously be both? In the same sentence? Future legislation might address specific problems. One bill could assist US ethnic media in their need for news about their audiences' home countries in the language of their home count[r]ies. US international broadcasting can perform a valuable public service here at no additional cost to the taxpayers. Another bill could guarantee the right of Americans to access any content (reimbursing for costs if there are any) of US international broadcasting. See previous post about same"

Via VOA, US forces deny report of US incursions into North Korea - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting [see below "Related  Items."]

China’s Public Diplomacy - acqualife1, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 2: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "China’s public diplomacy has four main purposes. First of all, China would like to be considered by foreign powers as a hard working country that aims to provide its citizens with the best possible future. The government further attempts to familiarize people with their governmental procedures and programs through newspapers and magazines, the Internet and with academic exchanges should be seriously taken into consideration. Secondly, China would like to be seen as an established and reliable country that even though it is economically flourishing there is nothing to be suspicious or frightened about. Thirdly, Chinese government would like to be considered as prepared, efficient and also to be a reliable member of the international community ready to cooperate in achieving world peace. Finally, the country would like to be recognized by its important cultural legacy. On the other hand, China’s policies are still doubtful with unresolved issues like the Tibet affair, the China’s and Taiwan unification or the big problems of human rights within the country."

The First Soft-Power Superpower - Philip Seib, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "If the United States and other nations persist in engaging with China within the realm of public diplomacy, China might be nudged toward increased openness. This could enable the newest superpower to continue to rely on soft power."

An interesting few days in Chinese soft power - Public Diplomacy and International Communications: Thoughts and comments about public diplomacy, soft power and international communications by Gary Rawnsley: “Phil Seib of the USC Centre on Public Diplomacy has published an interesting blog on Chinese soft power  http://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/index.php/newswire/cpdblog_detail/the_first_soft-power_superpower/). I share Phil's assessment of China's exercise of soft power and its public diplomacy strategy.  Phil's posting comes at the end of a very interesting week which I think clearly reveals a degree of confusion in Beijing about what soft power is, how it works and what the government would like to achieve by exercising it. We witnessed a minor victory for China in persuading the US State Department to reverse a ruling on accreditation that would have had serious consequences for the work of the Confucius Institutes. Needless to say the major Chinese newspapers were extremely vocal in protest (though the escape of Chen Guangcheng's brother, Chen Guangfu, received no coverage). It is interesting to consider whether this reversal (as it was described by the Chinese media) by the State Department represents the impact of hard power on soft power in that traditional diplomatic institutions are engaged in dispute about the architecture of their soft power strategies(?) There is clearly an interaction taking place here that deserves further consideration. I have not found much coverage of this event in the American media and would welcome from my State-side friends any comments on whether and how this has been reported.  At the same time, China was extremely critical of the publication in the US of the State Department's annual report on human rights which singled out human rights abuses in the PRC. China's State Council Information Office almost immediately hit back by publishing its own Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011. More information is available  here http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-05/26/content_15391823.htm. While of course China is both entitled and correct to point out the double standards in US discourse, to do so in response to the publication of the US's report reveals the PRC's insecurity and lack of confi[d]ence in its growing stature; the reactive and defensive nature of China's [...]public diplomacy; and perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates that China has still not learned that being able to tolerate (even if you cannot accept) international criticism is a major asset in soft power terms.  The final interesting development over the last week was the visit by 51 ambassadors and ministers from 49 countries to the Publicity Department. Not surprisingly the official Chinese media reported how the visitors had enjoyed their visit, had asked many interesting questions and learned a lot (see  http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-05/25/content_15383436.htm). Of course diplomats would not say anything else in fear of insulting their hosts. What is important here is that the visit took place at all: the Publicity Department is the English name for the Propaganda Bureau of the Communist Party which is located in an unmarked building next to the seat of power in Beijing, Zhongnanhai. This seems to be another step in China's determination to convert (at least for foreign audiences) propaganda into public diplomacy. By far the best description of the structure and inner working of the Propaganda Bureau/Publicity Department is Anne-Marie Brady's Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China (2009).” See also

Chinese police storm into the era of social media - David Bandurski, We’ve written a great deal in recent weeks and months about how Chinese of all stripes — from journalists and lawyers to academics and the curious hoi polloi — have used social media to share information and perspectives on human rights,international affairspropaganda and public diplomacy. But while we emphasize the importance of microblogs as a popular and personal means of communication, we should not forget that they are also important tools for organizations and agencies — including those with a vested interest in controlling and spinning information. On May 24, People’s Daily Online Public Opinion Monitoring Center released a list of China’s top influential microblogsoperated by public security offices at the provincial and sub-provincial level in China, determined on the basis of confirmed followers (认证粉丝数), follower activity levels (丝活跃率), original posts, average shares and comments and other criteria.

Image from article, with caption: An image shared by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau on its official Weibo account on May 29, 2012, showing Guangzhou police in action. A Sina Weibo button on the photo slideshow allows users to share photos on their own accounts with a click of the mouse.]

Nation branding complications for China and Israel - Madhurjya Kotoky, The Public Diplomacy Blog; "[T]he definition of a 'good product' and a 'bad product' is contentious. In addition, the standard of evaluation is distinctly different from the 'Political Brand DNA,' if I may use the term, of both China and Israel."

IDF documents Palestinian using human shield: Censored video shows terrorist use woman as human shield while planting explosives. Soldiers irked by ‘censorship’; IDF says not all footage taken by military is published - israelandstuff.com: "The IDF imposed an embargo on a video allegedly documenting a Palestinian terrorist using a Palestinian woman as a human shield, Ynet discovered Sunday. Footage taken by IDF cameras in the area clearly shows the terrorist holding the woman hostage, carrying her as a barrier between himself and IDF forces. The video documents an incident that took place two weeks ago, near the Gaza border: Seven Palestinians planting explosive devices north of Beit Lahia were intercepted by IDF soldiers. The soldiers opened fire, injuring some of the men. The footage shows the terrorists running toward a group of farmers. Then, one of them grabbed a woman and carried her until taking cover behind a building.


Golani Brigade soldiers, who are currently deployed in the sector, and have had the opportunity to see the footage, said it was clear that the woman was forced to run with her assailant until he found cover. ‘Why don’t they give this video to the media? It should be shown to Goldstone,’ said one of the soldiers. The IDF spokesman’s unit said in response that,  ‘The IDF uses the various means in its disposal to document its operational activities for purpose of debriefing, public diplomacy and possible criminal action. Nevertheless, for security reasons not all documented events are released for publication.’” Image from article, with caption: One of the wounded men at a Gaza hospital

@AmbassadorOren on Why He Joined Twitter: The Israeli envoy discusses his job as diplomat to the public -tabletmag.com:  A little over one month ago, Jewish Twitter received a conspicuous new member: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren (@AmbassadorOren). On his feed (which, he told me, he mostly writes himself), Oren shies from controversy, instead thanking various U.S. dignitaries for visiting or hosting him, linking to op-eds he’s published or speeches he’s given, and wishing folks a happy new week on Saturday evenings. But Oren, who when not wearing an official hat is a respected historian, has elsewhere drawn attention to his role not only as emissary of the Israeli government to the U.S. government but as a public diplomat, advancing the agenda of those he serves to the U.S. people. Most prominently, he forcefully responded on-air to claims in 60 Minutes concerning Israel’s treatment of Christians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Whether or not the question of Israeli diplomacy ought to be a particularly touchy subject, it is. So Oren’s joining Twitter—an unusually unmediated medium, if that makes sense—seemed a good time to ask him about the extent to which he sees conducting public diplomacy as his job; he responded in part with a history of the shifting role of the ambassador over the past several centuries. Why did you join Twitter?



I’m interested in the public diplomacy aspect of your job
. I come to this job at a crucial juncture in the relationship between Israel and the United States. We face great challenges in getting our message across. Today there are few alternatives as far-reach[i]ng and effective, with very wide audiences and young audiences, as Twitter. Twitter is another tool that enables me to communicate with other diplomats and journalists, while also allowing me to add a personal touch. Most young people aren’t necessarily reading your standard newspapers or watching evening news. You can also link them to things that we are putting out. I recently had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the challenges facing Israel’s reputation over the last 40 years, and I was able to able put that link out through the Twitter account and greatly multiply the readers. It’s our messaging. It’s also about listening. It’s a way that I learn what’s out there. And I get feedback, and that’s important.” Image from article: Ambassador Oren in 2010.

Eurovision 2012: In between propaganda and... propaganda - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "The Eurovision final was held a couple of days ago, and since I had promised to write more on the subject, I tried to put together some materials and personal reflections on what happened.


There were two major issues of note about this year's Eurovision, held in Azerbaijan: the attempted, and yet unsuccessful, 'public diplomacy' by the regime, and Armenia's 'boycott'." Image from article

Social Media’s Role in Aid Delivery and Programs - mediabadger.com: "While there is much discussion regarding the use of social media for crowdsourcing during humanitarian crises, there are other relevant applications of social media analysis and engagement on an ongoing basis. But first, some assumptions need to be addressed – namely that there is little use of social media by non-elites in developing nations. Such an assumption has lead to some missed opportunities and more based on some of our research. Often, in developing nations, social media services are accessed through mobile phones, either by texting to a social network or accessing it directly through an app on the phone. Non-elites or general society often access the Internet and social media services through Internet cafe’s or buying from an individual who has set up a private ISP service from their home. In our research projects in Sudan, Haiti, Benin, DRC, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries we estimated Internet use by the general population (non-elites) was on average, 43% higher than official estimates taken from reporting ISP’s in the country. By researching and analysing social media usage by civil society (both non-state organisational actors and individuals) aid agencies, governments helping in reconstruction or aid and other organisations, can gain some key insights into topical issues. They may identify areas where aid isn’t reaching or be able to better define political atmospherics, new groups to engage with and more meaningful dialogue opportunities. These are but some of the benefits to researching and understanding the engagement of civil society in social media today. Others become apparent when research is undertaken and aid organisations or governments can enhance their digital and public diplomacy activities."

RELATED ITEMS

Obama’s ‘secret kill list’ shows president is final word on terrorist killing missions - Dylan Stableford, yahoo.com: When it comes to the "secret kill list"—a regularly updated chart showing the world's most wanted terrorists—President Barack Obama


is the "final moral calculation" in the kill or capture debate, according to the third in a series of  New York Times articles assessing his record. And despite his liberal background, Obama has taken an aggressive approach to counterterrorism. Image from article: The White House Situation Room, May 1, 2011



In Yemen, U.S. airstrikes breed anger, and sympathy for al-Qaeda
- Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post: Aden, Yemen — Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States.


After recent U.S. missile strikes, mostly from unmanned aircraft, the Yemeni government and the United States have reported that the attacks killed only suspected al-Qaeda members. But civilians have also died in the attacks, said tribal leaders, victims’ relatives and human rights activists. Top image from article; bottom mage from article, with caption: Protesters in Sanaa, Yemen, shout during a May 29 march marking an attack last year by security forces on an anti-government camp in the southern city of Taiz.

Taliban Dubs Haqqani's Alleged Death as ‘Government Propaganda’ - Naharnet: The Taliban on Wednesday denied reports of the death of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Pakistani-linked Haqqani network which is regularly blamed for major attacks in Afghanistan. "We strongly dismiss the reports that Jalaluddin Haqqani is dead. He's alive," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Agence France Presse, attributing the reports to "government propaganda.”


Uncaptioned image from article

"We strongly dismiss the reports that Jalaluddin Haqqani is dead. He's alive," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Agence France Presse, attributing the reports to "government propaganda.”

State Dept’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program Costs Approx $1,800/Student Per Day of Training - diplopundit.net.

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A Child’s Glossary for the War of Terror - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: Learning is fun! and knowing how to understand grownup language in the War of Terror is a duty for all children, just as it is important to brush your teeth each evening and report suspicious activity by your parents. Your Government wants you to do these things so it can protect you from scary terrorists. Bad men (many are gay– ask dad to explain) and women (most have had abortions) in the “media” will try and hurt your mind with words. You have to be strong to fight back against this “word terrorism.” We’ll help! People killed by US Drones = Militants or Terrorists (suspected terrorist is OK if liberal media, for now) People killed by Terrorists = Innocent Victims Innocent Victims Killed by US Drones = Accidents, Suspected Terrorist or Collateral Damage Innocent Victims Killed by Terrorists = Innocent Victims Bad Terrorists = Enemies, Mad Dogs Good Terrorists = Freedom Fighters (need help determining who is who? The State Department keeps a list of terrorist organizations. Check back frequently on the status of MEK.) Afghan Soldiers Who Kill American Soldiers = Terrorists wearing Afghan Army uniforms Iraqi Police Who Killed American Soldiers = Terrorists wearing Iraqi Police uniforms American Soldiers Who Sacrifice Themselves = Heroes Terrorists Who Sacrifice Themselves = Fanatics Powerful Belief in God = Righteous City on a Hill Powerful Belief in Allah = Fanatic People Who Touch Your


Private Parts in the Airport = TSA Patriots People Who Touch Your Private Parts at School = Pedophiles Empowering Women in America = Socialism Empowering Women in Afghanistan = Foreign Policy Killing People in Yemen = Defending America Killing People in US = Terrorism Massacre in Afghanistan = Random act of deranged individual soldier Massacre in Syria = Proof of whatever it is we think is wrong in Syria Weapons for One Side = Dangerous Escalation Weapons for the Other Side = Freedom Illegal Prisons, Wiretapping, Torture = Bush Illegal Prisons, Wiretapping, Torture = Obama And a few bonus items kids: Reasons Ambassadors and General Quit Early = Spend more time with family, health, give back to society “Militant” = all military-age males we kill America’s Most Important Foreign Policy Objective = Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, aw, just remember “We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia.” If you’re caught unaware of the right answer to a hard, hard question, just remember “If we do it, it is right and if they do it, it is wrong.” You’ll be right every time, just like America! BONUS: For those who think this is satire, much of Obama’s “success limiting civilian deaths in drone strikes is, in part, due to a disputed method for counting civilian casualties embraced by Obama. According to the New York Times, the White House considers ‘all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.’” Hah, because dead men tell no tales. We’ve come full circle now in America. The Obama policy is nearly identical to tying a suspected witch to a stone and throwing them in the river. If they drowned, then the old Salem inquisitors had their “posthumous proof” that they weren’t a witch. Image from article

How Al-Qaeda Exploits Palestine Cause - middle-east-online.com:  When US Special Forces raided Osama bin Laden’s compound last year, they grabbed al-Qaeda documents describing internal debates, including how the terror group should continue exploiting Israel’s abuse of Palestinians as a crucial recruitment pitch, reports Robert Parry. The documents captured in last year’s raid that killed Osama bin Laden reveal al-Qaeda’s intent to keep its propaganda focus on Western double standards and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.One internal document, criticizing mistakes made in al-Qaeda’s public messaging, stated simply: “It was necessary to discuss Palestine first.” This emphasis on the plight of the Palestinians to rally support for an extreme Islamist agenda recurs throughout the documents, which were translated by West Point’s Center on Combating Terrorism and released this month.

U.S. denies parachuting spies into North Korea - Chico Harlan, Washington Post, posted at startribune.com: The U.S. military on Tuesday denied a report that it has been sending commandos into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities, a mission that would violate the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. A U.S. military statement said the Diplomat, an Asia-Pacific current affairs journal, had "taken great liberal license" with comments attributed to Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley, commander of special operations for U.S. Forces Korea. Tolley reportedly said at a conference last week that U.S. and South Korean commandos parachute into the North to conduct reconnaissance on underground tunnels. "Quotes have been made up and attributed to him," the U.S. statement said. "No U.S. or [South Korean] forces have parachuted into North Korea." But analysts warned that North Korea, despite the U.S. denial, could seize the initial report as evidence of American belligerence, a central theme of its propaganda and a key rationale for its military spending and provocations. 

BBC Wages Propaganda War on Syria - Stephen Lendman, indybay.org: Millions globally follow BBC reports regularly. Most perhaps don't know they get propaganda, not real news, commentary and opinion. Since established in October 1922, it's operated as a UK imperial tool.

The threat to global health from the hunt for bin Laden - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Recruit a Pakistani doctor to collect blood samples that could identify Osama bin Laden’s family, under cover of an ongoing vaccination program. But as an ethical matter, it was something else. The CIA’s vaccination gambit put at risk something very precious — the integrity of public health programs in Pakistan and around the globe. It also added to the dangers facing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a world that’s increasingly hostile to U.S. aid organizations.Intelligence operations, by definition, operate in a gray area where the normal legal and ethical rules get fuzzy. But some intelligence tactics, such as using health workers overseas, should be off-limits: If the operations are blown, the consequences will be too damaging, in unintended ways, to innocent people.

Defeating jihad: To finish the war against Islamist terrorism, the U.S. and its allies need different approaches to Afghanistan and Pakistan - Dilip Hiro, Los Angeles Times: Any resolution to the Afghan war must involve engagement with the Taliban and an attempt to draw them into a power-sharing deal in post-2014 Afghanistan. President Obama's recent signing of the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership with the Karzai government should give the two presidents greater confidence in negotiations with the Taliban if and when these are resumed. The challenge that the West faces in Pakistan requires a different approach. In Pakistan, Al Qaeda's leaders and their allies have established themselves in the semiautonomous tribal belt along the Afghan border, and they remain committed to pursuing global jihadism.


Pakistan must end its equivocation and combine a forceful move against violent jihadists with a vigorous campaign of education, information and propaganda through state-run electronic media and through mosques run by moderate clerics. Image from article, with caption: This undated file photo reportedly shows rarely photographed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Osama Bin Laden befriended Omar, which led to Omar adopting global jihad as his movement's ideological anchor.

At U.S.C., Media Training for Afghan Students - Michael Cieply, mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com: Before he became famous in the media world as the chief executive of MTV, and then its parent, Viacom, Tom Freston had a less glorious career as the proprietor of a clothing company based in Afghanistan. Things ended badly, by Mr. Freston’s account, when he had to leave the country in 1978 on the heels of a coup. “There was too much shooting in the streets,” he recalled. But his love affair with Afghanistan continued. And Mr. Freston, fired from his Viacom position by Sumner Redstone in 2006, has been quietly stealing time from his current career as a consultant and entrepreneur to connect the dots of his far-flung experiences — from untamed Afghanistan to the unruly media future — via a little-noticed program at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Kept under wraps until now because of security concerns, the program, entering its second year, enrolls two Afghan students annually for a crash course in the cinema school’s summer program.

National Security and International Exchange - Elizabeth Redden: "Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates delivered a rousing oration in favor of international education and exchange Tuesday. Addressing the thousands gathered for the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference, Gates described foreign language education, study abroad, and the recruitment of foreign students to U.S. campuses as key strategies in promoting America’s national security and economic interests. No policy has proven more successful in making friends for the United States than educating [international] students at our colleges and universities,” Gates said. Gates called the U.S. military “one of the most enthusiastic proponents” of international exchange, its officers having gained “a unique appreciation for the limits of what military power can do.”

The triumph of English - Gwynne Dyer, emcquinte.ca: Last week one of the most respected universities in Italy, the Politecnico di Milano, announced that from 2014 all of its courses would be taught in English. There was a predictable wave of outrage all across the country, but the university's rector, Giovanni Azzoni, simply replied: "We strongly believe our classes should be international classes, and the only way to have international classes is to use the English language. Universities are in a more competitive world. If you want to stay with the other global universities, you have no other choice." The university is not doing this to attract foreign students. It is doing it mainly for its own students who speak Italian as a first language, but must make their living in a global economy where the players come from everywhere and they all speak English as a lingua franca. Many other European universities, especially in Germany, the Low Countries and Scandinavia, have taken the same decision, and the phenomenon is now spreading to Asia. There is a huge shift under way, and it has become extremely rare to meet a scientific researcher or international businessperson who cannot speak fluent English. Via MC on Facebook

Russia's New Propaganda Minister - Michael Bohm, Moscow Times: With Monday's announcement that historian Vladimir Medinskywas appointed the culture minister, critics quickly labeled him the country's new propaganda minister. Considering his checkered past, this may not be far from the truth. At the top of Medinsky's patriotic agenda is his battle against what he believes to be widespread Russophobia — both from foreigners and Russians. He is the author of a series of books on the most common "myths" about Russia — above all, a belief that Russians are historically inclined toward alcoholism, laziness, corruption and strong leaders. In the preface to each book, he explains that the series was not written for foreigners, most of whom will probably always cling to these deeply ingrained stereotypes, but for Russians who have read and heard so much malicious anti-Russian propaganda that they have actually started to believe some of it.


The other aspect of Medinsky's patriotic agenda has been to battle historians, journalists and authors who purportedly distort and besmirch Russian history. From 2010 to 2012, he served as a member of the presidential commission against the falsification of history. Ever since the Soviet period, the Kremlin has always believed that it can manufacture and inculcate patriotism in Russians. As culture minister, Medinsky is highly qualified to continue this tradition. Russian ministry of culture site at. Via NI on Facebook. Image from article

Crackdown on Chinese Bloggers Who Fight the Censors With Puns - Michael Wines, New York Times: One of China’s largest hosts of Twitter-like microblogs decreed new punishments on Monday for users who post comments that its editors — and by extension, China’s government censors — deem inappropriate. The service, Sina Weibo, imposed “user contracts” that award each of its 300 million microbloggers a starting score of 80 points. Points can be deducted for online comments that are judged to be offensive. When a blogger reaches zero, the service stated, a user’s account will be canceled. Users who suffer lesser penalties can restore their 80 points by avoiding violations for two months. Deductions will cover a wide range of sins, including spreading rumors, calling for protests, promoting cults or superstitions and impugning China’s honor, the service stated. Via MC on Facebook

Young and Global Need Not Apply in Japan - Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times: Notoriously insular, corporate Japan has long been wary of embracing Western-educated compatriots who return home. But critics say the reluctance to tap the international experience of these young people is a growing problem for Japan as some of its major industries — like banking, consumer electronics and automobiles — lose ground in an increasingly global economy. Discouraged by their career prospects if they study abroad, even at elite universities, a shrinking portion of Japanese college students is seeking higher education in the West. At the same time, Japan’s regional rivals, including China, South Korea and India, are sending increasing numbers of students overseas — many of whom, upon graduation, are snapped up by companies back home for their skills, contacts and global outlooks. At American universities, 21,290 Japanese students were registered last year, fewer than half the number a decade ago — even though the overall number of Japanese enrolled in college has been constant, at around 3 million. American universities last year had 73,350 students from South Korea, which has less than half of Japan’s population. Via ACP III on Facebook

Ukraine attacks BBC Euro2012 propaganda - presstv.com: Ukraine Foreign Ministry has condemned the state-run BBC’s arrogance and xenophobia in portraying the people in UEFA’s Euro 2012 co-hosts, Ukraine and Poland, as racist and violent. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn described the BBC’s portrayal as “outrageous” saying his county “is one of the leaders in Europe in terms of religious and racial tolerance.” Voloshyn’s comments came after the BBC aired a documentary as part of its Panorama program which tried to paint a violent and racist image of the Ukrainian and polish nations by showing footage of such incidents during football matches in Ukraine and Poland. However, Voloshyn hit out at the BBC saying it is shameful for the British state broadcaster to misuse such lame proof to pretend the Euro 2012 hosts are not safe for travelers, just one week before the games begin. “Nazi symbols can be seen at ... any match in England, but does it mean that fans should not come to London for the Olympics?” he said.


This comes as UEFA’s Euro 2012 director in Ukraine Markian Lubkivsky also dismissed the BBC’s claims as irrelevant. “From UEFA’s point of view, I see no threats for citizens of various nationalities to stay in Ukraine,” Interfax News agency quoted Lubkivsky as saying. Meanwhile, Poland’s government body in charge of the games said the problems the BBC tried to pinpoint in the country is “specific to the whole of Europe.” “The problem of stadium pathologies, such as xenophobia or racism, is a problem specific to the whole of Europe and not only to Poland,” said Mikolaj Piotrowski, a spokesman for the body. “As in every European country, it affects a small minority of those present at the stadiums - unfortunately, a minority that is usually loud and visible in the media,” Piotrowski added. Image from article

North Korea's answer to K-Pop: You may have heard of the South Korean pop group Girls' Generation. Well, North Korea's home-grown equivalent just made its debut - Emily Lodish, globalpost.com: They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. Tell that to North KoreaNorth Korea recently debuted an all-female musical group meant to raise morale among the troops. The Korean-language Chosun Ibo called them "Goddesses," and put them on par with South Korea's enormously successful K-Pop band, Girls' Generation. K-Pop, or Korean pop music, has become enormously successful the world over, with a huge American debut at Madison Square Garden at the end of last year. Important to note are some key differences between the Goddesses and Girls' Generation, however. Both groups may have performed for their respective militaries, but  regular troupe" and the "special troupe," for work domestically and overseas respectively.


Chosun Ibo goes into more detail: The ‘regular troupe’ only possess costumes, with pleasantly simple outward appearances wearing no make-up and with moderately titillating roles, while on the other hand the ‘special troupe’, which is specifically selected for international propaganda, is equipped with outstanding beauty queens, colourful costumes make-up mastery. The ‘special troupe’ belongs to a privileged class of different social status from regular soldiers. Image from article, with caption: Those from North Korea's privileged class are selected to join the overseas propaganda troupe. (KoreaBang/Screengrab)

Notes From the Underground - Tom L. Freudenheim, Wall Street Journal: Norton Dodge (1927-2011) was an economist whose academic research took him to the Soviet Union, where he became engaged with the below-the-radar art and artists who were challenging the hegemony of so-called Soviet Realism. Turning into an obsessive collector, Dodge amassed a collection of more than 20,000 works by these artists—easily the world's largest such assemblage. In 1991, Dodge and his wife, Nancy Ruyle Dodge, donated the entire collection to the Zimmerli.


Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid remain the best-known bad boys of this large group. In "The Origins of Socialist Realism" (1982-83) they depict Stalin with a naked muse tracing his silhouette on a wall." Image from article, with caption: Komar and Melamid's 'The Origins of Socialist Realism' (1983)

The legends and propaganda surrounding Raphael's 500-year old masterpiece - The Voice of Russia: This year the Sistine Madonna, the work of Italian Renaissance genius artist Raphael, turns five centuries old. To celebrate the anniversary, a unique exhibition has opened in Dresden that tells the story of Raphael's masterpiece. During World War II, the Nazis moved the


Sistine Madonna along with many other masterpieces of the art world from the gallery and put it in a hiding place near Dresden. The story of the search and recovery of the Sistine Madonna is described in detail in Leonid Volynsky's book “Seven Days” which was quite popular in the Soviet era and reprinted several times. The recovered treasures – altogether over 1240 paintings – were sent to Moscow for restoration led by a leading Russian expert and painter Pavel Korin. A painting by Mikhail Kornetsky “Saving the Sistine Madonna” (1984) depicting the work of the restorers is also on display in Dresden now. In the notes to the painting, the exhibition organizers mention that this is just one of the legends born by “Soviet propaganda." Image from article

THE TRIUMPH OF, LIKE, AMERICANIZATION

The charge of the, like, brigade - Mark Teeter, themoscownews.com: Idioms can strike without warning, and the uglier ones sometimes cause serious injury. After two weeks at a U.S. high school in 1989, a 16-year-old Russian exchange student named Vanya complained to an American classmate, as the two stood in line for lunch, about his overprotective mother back in Moscow: “So I didn’t call home on Tuesday, big deal – but she was, like, angry!”


Overhearing this, I was, like, appalled. Because I’m, like, a teacher. My ears started, like, burning from this all-too-idiomatic use of like as an interjection. Like, ouch! Image from article

AMERICANA

Porn video shot on Coliseum grounds: It's unclear how the filmmaker got access to the taxpayer-owned stadium or permission to use its field lights - Paul Pringle and Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum field is the place where the USC Trojans play football, two Summer Olympics were staged, John F. Kennedy accepted the Democratic presidential nomination and Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass.


It was also a location for "The Gangbang Girl #32," a hard-core pornographic movie that featured 40 minutes of group sex on the gridiron turf, The Times has learned. "I was just in awe that we were at the Coliseum," said a star of the film, who goes by the name Mr. Marcus. "I've made movies for about 20 years and I've done a lot of things, but that one really stands out.… I mean, who gets to have sex on the Coliseum floor?" Image from article

IMAGE


Elena Galibina - Via OS on Facebook

ONE MORE IMAGE


Via OR of Facebook

ONE MORE QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"[C]licking on the 'like' button is not free speech after all."

--Ken Paulson, "Is 'liking' on Facebook a right?: USA Today, regarding a federal \federal court decision