Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 19-20

"Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,
Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,
Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,
Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,
Loin d'eux. ..."

--Baudelaire (translations provided); this great poem, of course, does not pertain to inauguration "extravaganzas" in Washington D.C.; image from

DOCUMENT (via Bill Kiehl)

One Hundred Twelfth Congress of the United States of America AT THE SECOND SESSION Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday, the third day of January, two thousand and twelve An Act To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2013 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes [JB – including Public Diplomacy].


Jazz, the sound of soft power in the desert sands - BBC News: "For some traditionalists, jazz music is one of those vices. Nevertheless, Doha has recently opened a jazz venue in partnership with legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Bill Law, BBC Middle East analyst, met jazz drummer Alvester Garnett in Doha to discuss jazz, faith and music."


Art in Embassies Makes a Splash for 50th Anniversary - Joe Corcoran, "For the past 50 years, Art in Embassies has been speaking the universal language of cultural diplomacy. The program, a public-private partnership established by John F. Kennedy in 1963, has been sending artists and their works to U.S. missions across the globe as part of an initiative to foster U.S. public diplomacy through art. According to the State Department, more than 10,000 pieces have been placed in over 200 ambassador residences, embassies and consulates overseas — from Bucharest to Beijing to Bamako. Professional curators create and ship about 60 exhibitions abroad each year, and since 2003, more than 58 permanent collections have been installed in the department’s diplomatic facilities throughout the world. To coincide with the program’s golden anniversary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented five artists — Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems — with the first-ever Medal of Art, awarding them for their contributions to a continued cross-cultural, artistic dialogue throughout the years.

The medal ceremony luncheon, held Nov. 30 in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department, was part of a jam-packed celebration that included a discussion with the artists at the Ronald Reagan Building as well as an elaborate party at the Smithsonian’s Kogod Courtyard next to the National Portrait Gallery organized by Art in Embassies Director Beth Dozoretz, a longtime Clinton supporter." Image from article, with caption: From left, Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons (pictured on the front), Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith and Carrie Mae Weems were presented with the State Department’s first-ever Medal of Art by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their contributions to the Art in Embassies program, which for the past 50 years has used art to boost public diplomacy abroad.

Well-Trod Path: Political Donor to Ambassador - Nicholas Confessore and Sherry Gay Stolber, New York Times: "Ellen Susman, a Texas philanthropist who contributed $100,000 to the 'super PAC' supporting Mr. Obama, has alerted people involved in the decision-making of her interest in serving as director of the State Department’s Art in Embassies program, responsible for managing the art collection that hangs in American embassies around the world. (Ms. Susman declined to comment)."

A More Perfect Union - Contributed by Sara ButlerPublic Diplomacy Assistant, Le blog officiel de l'Ambassade des Etats-Unis d'Amérique: "One of my favorite programs at Embassy Paris is the embassy speaker program which is designed to engage youth audiences on a variety of topics such as the U.S. government and presidential elections. Of the French classrooms that I have visited so far, I am impressed by students’ knowledge and interest in American politics and culture and enjoy discussing our nations’ similarities and differences. Speaking with students, I’m often reminded of a favorite movie quote from the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: 'Liberty is too precious of a thing to be buried in books. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say “I’m free to think and speak.' For me, our elections and inaugurations demonstrate the continuity of democratic ideals even against a backdrop of political change—a symbol of hope that future generations will continue to build a more perfect union."

"Truth, Justice and the American Way"  [includes video] - Donna Oglesby, "I remember as Counselor of USIA, fighting off the State Department's first grab for the Agency early in the Clinton Administration. We won that round, in part, by arguing that public diplomacy believes that information is power when you share it; use it to connect, inform and influence if you can. While the State Department at the time saw information as power if you controlled it; if you had information that others did not have. We believed in the public use of information; State held its information privately. Our incompatible opperating [sic] philosophies, we argued, would not be conducive to a merger. As Nick Cull documents in his new history of The Decline and Fall of USIA, we finally lost the argument on the last day of September 1999. The consolidation of USIA into State was muffling America's official information outreach just as the new age of open information was loudly dawning. Then fourteen year old Aaron Swartz [who 'took his own life at the age of twenty-six']

was a member of the working group that created RSS 1.0 to open the flood gates of information online. In some respects, Aaron Swartz had the soul and the operating philosophy of a public diplomacy officer. ... Swartz' act of civil disobediance [sic] in liberating the JSTOR database while using guest access privleges [sic] at MIT was a far cry from the treasonous behavior alleged against Pfc. Manning whose trial is now set for June 3, 2013. ... Perhaps he would have been willing to pay a price proportional to the alleged crime. We will never know because the Department of Justice -- seeing his kinship with Bradley Manning, rather than Hillary Clinton -- charged him on 13 counts, including wire fraud and theft of information carrying the potential penalty of up to 35 years of jail. With a trial ironically schedlued [sic] for April 1, 2013 and a plea bargin [sic] effort dead, Aaron Swartz chose death." Image from article, with caption: "R.I. P. Aaron Swartz November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013" On USIA see.

The death of a public diplomat - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Donna Oglesby has a phenomenally poignant and heartbreaking piece on Aaron Swartz as public diplomat."

Subdued by the tube - Martha Bayles, Boston Globe: "Over the years, the US government-backed media organization Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE-RL) has done a good job of pushing back against authoritarian regimes that use the appearance of media freedom to cover the reality of political repression. RFE-RL dates back to the Cold War, when its various language services provided local and regional news to countries under Soviet domination. In the 1990s RFE-RL relocated to Prague and began reinventing itself for the post-Cold War era. It now uses many different media platforms, and the audience has changed: instead of Eastern Europe, RFE now focuses on Central Asia and the Middle East. (Disclosure: Two years ago, I served briefly as an unpaid consultant on music programming for the Persian-language service.) For RL, which serves Russia, reinvention has meant refusing to play the Kremlin’s game. Recently, though, RFE-RL has come under attack, not only by authoritarian adversaries but also by supervisors in Washington. In June, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the nine-member bipartisan body overseeing all of the government’s non-military media, appointed a new management team led by a former CNN executive.

Out went over 40 Russian-language journalists, including some of the country’s most respected political reporters, and in came proposals for soft news and infotainment that one Russian commentator likened to 'in-flight magazines.' This provoked an outcry loud enough to be heard in Washington, and a new interim president, Kevin Klose, was appointed this week. A veteran of RFE-RL and NPR, Klose promises to repair some of the damage. But what’s really needed is a major shift in the way Americans think about free speech and democracy. During the Cold War, American popular culture played a key role in alienating Soviet youth from stodgy communist regimes, so it made sense for RFE-RL and its sister organization, the Voice of America, to include jazz, rock, and other pop culture in their programming. But today, the authoritarians are onto us. To varying degrees, Russia, China, Iran, and others now do their best to keep their own media amusing. And while American pop culture retains its appeal, the people in these countries don’t need more entertainment from America. What they need is the kind of news and public-affairs programming that their rulers don’t want them to have." Image from

Board running Voice of America, Radio Free Europe is condemned in hard-hitting probe: EXCLUSIVE: Board of Broadcast Governors member Victor H. Ashe, a friend of George W. Bush, is criticized - "The White House-appointed board overseeing government-funded broadcasts to 100 countries is a dysfunctional mess beset by 'acute internal dissension' revolving around a longtime friend of former President George W. Bush, according to a new inspector general’s report obtained by the Daily News. The damning investigation skewers the Board of Broadcast Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and other broadcast entities that together employ 3,500 people and reach 190 million people worldwide each week at a cost to taxpayers of $750 million a year. The inspector general says the board is hobbled by chronic absenteeism, vacancies that have gone unfilled, outright conflicts of interest and 'a degree of hostility that renders its deliberative process ineffectual.' Though it names no names, the report characterizes board meetings as 'dominated by one member whose tactics and personal attacks on colleagues and staff have created an unprofessional and unproductive atmosphere.'  It concurs with accusations that he impedes free board discussion and uses 'outside media to support his views and attack colleagues and staff who disagree.' Several board sources confirmed that the controversial and powerful member is Victor H. Ashe, who roomed with Bush at Yale and served under him as U.S. Ambassador to Poland from 2004-2005. He was previously mayor of Knoxville, Tenn. ... The nine-member, part-time, bipartisan board is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

It has operated without a chairman since the resignation a year ago of Walter Isaacson, former managing editor of Time magazine and former chief executive of CNN. Only six of nine board slots are filled and those include one for outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is represented by Tara Sonenshine, the undersecretary for state for public diplomacy and public affairs. The inspector general made eight recommendations for change. They include instituting a chief executive officer position, barring board members from also sitting on the separate boards of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and both the Asian and Middle East outlets, and penalizing board members for missing meetings. Contacted by The News, Ashe defended his record, saying he's pushed for greater transparency and asked 'the inconvenient questions for the two-and-a- half years I have served on the board.' ... He said he's the only board member who has attended every meeting since June, 2010 and who has challenged the effectiveness of operations in Moscow (what he calls the 'meltdown of the Radio Free Europe office' there) and the wisdom of certain contracts. Asked for comment, the board said it, 'We take their findings seriously and have enacted some of the recommended actions.' " Ashe image from article, with caption: Victor Ashe, who roomed with George W. Bush, is under fire.

Broadcasting Board of Governors – Information War Lost: “One Particular Governor” - The Federalist, "This month, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) issued a report titled: 'Inspection of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.' One of our sources provided us with a copy. We’ve seen our share of OIG reports. We went to the report’s executive summary, under the heading 'Key Judgments.' The report didn’t waste any time getting our interest. There are a number of things which distinguish this OIG report from others and not in a positive way. The one thing that dominates throughout is predicated on this 'judgment:' 'Board dynamics are characterized by a degree of hostility that renders its deliberative process ineffectual.

Board meetings are dominated by one member whose tactics and personal attacks on colleagues and staff have created an unprofessional and unproductive atmosphere.' The first thing – and perhaps the most important thing – is that this report targets one member of the BBG. That member is Ambassador Victor Ashe. He is not mentioned by name. However, anyone remotely familiar with the antics of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) senior staff knows that Ashe is their 'Public Enemy Number One.' So – Ambassador Ashe has enemies on the IBB. Why are we not surprised? What is surprising is the boldness, the rashness of the IBB (because this report is really all about them) in going after Ashe in a very public way. Memo to the White House, the State Department and the Congress: with regard to Ambassador Ashe – You cannot spare this man. He fights!" Image from

Bringing The Presidential Inauguration To The World - Press Release, BBG: "As the public swearing-in of U.S. President Barack Obama for his second term takes place, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) journalists will be there to provide complete coverage of the day’s events along with expert commentary on U.S. policy, the 44th President and the road ahead. Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa, Radio and TV Martí and Radio Free Asia (RFA) will all cover the January 21 historic event, capturing the U.S.’s role as a model of democracy, for their audiences around the globe."

The future of US international broadcasting: "Be sure that you have clean metadata" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Reporter takes issue with VOA story on DR Congo conflict - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Gem TV and its soap operas are missing. And other items about broadcasting to and from Iran - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Advocating a Liberal World Order: A Strategy for Aligning the World's Like-Minded and Capable Democracies - Council on Foreign Relations. "Speaker: Ash Jain, Nonresident Fellow, German Marshall Fund, and Consultant, Eurasia Group ... [Jain:] Well, what about NATO? NATO has served for a long while to promote cooperation among like-minded allies, and its new strategic concept has recently expanded in scope.

But the problem with NATO is that its mandate remains limited to defense and security cooperation, whereas today's threats and challenges often require a much wider set of foreign policy actions, such as those related to sanctions, foreign assistance and public diplomacy. Other important political objectives as well, such as democracy promotion, human rights and transnational justice remain largely outside of NATO's purview. Image from

Defining times - Waqas Aslam Rana, "Looking outward, there are challenges on the foreign policy front. The big test this year will be whether a re-calibration can be achieved in our two key relationships – with the United States and India. Regarding the former, it is high time both Islamabad and Washington admit that their strategic interests in the region are increasingly divergent. This realisation should lead to a more realistic relationship, minus the ridiculously-contrived public diplomacy."

Israeli-born candidates struggle to connect with immigrant voters: Dressing informally, fiddling with the phone and forgetting the relevant English word are features of get-to-know-you sessions geared toward English-speaking voters - Andrew Esensten, "Earlier last week, at a debate hosted by the Tel Aviv International Salon, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Labor candidate Merav Michaeli blanked on a few English words and appealed to the audience for help. 'It was very Israeli,' said Tal Schneider, a local political blogger. 'You saw that they didn’t feel embarrassed by their lack of knowledge.' ... 'Is she texting during the debate?' an American man whispered to a friend as Hotovely tapped away on her smart phone while Michaeli answered a question. 'I definitely thought that was weird,' he said later. ... Michaeli, the Labor candidate who has been a regular op-ed contributor to Haaretz, said in an interview that Knesset members don't need to speak fluent English in order to do their jobs. ... After the debate, Schneider said she asked Hotovely how she felt about her performance. She said Hotovely told her: 'Well, it was exhausting to speak in English but I have to get used to it because I want to be public diplomacy minister.'"

Israeli Election Debate at Jerusalem Great Synagogue, Jan 9 2013 - "Israel's Public Diplomacy (I'm not quite sure what that means, isn't that the Foreign Minister's job?)"

Iran’s Broadcasting Feud - Farahmand Alipour, "Tehran’s media machine is pulling out all the stops to broadcast beyond Iran’s borders, mainly succeeding in upsetting regional competitors and neglecting a domestic audience."

Image from article, with caption: Former Speaker of the Iranian Parliament and reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (L) and Iranian hardline President and presidential candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) prepare for their live debate on state TV in Tehran in 2009. Via

The eleven session of the two meeting of the CPPCC opened in February 25th three session of the eleven National People’s Congress opened on February 26th - "It is reported, last year, Huizhou City Political Consultative Conference in the province set up a 'Huizhou City People’s Political Consultative ConferenceLaw The Advisory Committee 'and' Huizhou Public Diplomacy Association', creatively set up the 29 CPPCC spokesman, and the CPPCC National Committee system to develop the implementation' Huizhou city CPPCC spokesman system (for Trial Implementation)'. In addition, in 2012, Huizhou city CPPCC members

from all walks of life to contribute more than 30000000 yuan, of which the Hongkong province CPPCC members on the '[to be benevolent, happy home theme charity auction site to raise 15980000 yuan.Members of the CPPCC will interact face-to-face with the leadership of the city The reporter understands, eleven CPPCC meeting agenda includes two to listen to and report on the work of the Standing Committee, committee of the Eleventh CPPCC National Committee, listen to and the Standing Committee for deliberation Eleventh CPPCC Committee on since the eleven Conference on the first proposal work reports, to attend the three meeting of the eleven national people’s Congress, heard and discussed the report on the work of the people’s Government of the city and the related report, 2012 in recognition of the city CPPCC proposals and undertake the excellent proposal advanced units, participated in the election and other related matter." Image from

Two Looks at America's Other Army [review of America’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy by Nicholas Kralev] - Michael W. Cotter and by David C. Litt, American Diplomacy: [Litt:] "Kralev argues that diplomacy has changed since 9/11. Risk aversion has given way to creativity and innovation. The Foreign Service has become more operational, shifting focus from reporting and analysis to 'making things happen.' He asserts the new dual mission of the Foreign Service is to 'deal with the world as it is, and to reshape it in a more secure and prosperous place, so the United States can be secure and prosperous.'

He devotes two parts of the book to these two issues. In the first he catalogues four of the five core functions of the State Department: political and economic affairs, consular affairs, and public diplomacy. He chronicles how Foreign Service officers operate with the cards they are dealt, and argues the value of each of those functions — though seemingly mundane — to American citizens, institutions and the national interest." Image from article

Rhetoric and Public Diplomacy: v.7: The Stanton Report Revisited (Vol 7) - "Author: Kenneth W. Thompson Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield (1987) Page as PDF: Rhetoric and Public Diplomacy: v.7: The Stanton Report Revisited (Vol 7) PDF [.]"

Political Advocacy and Cultural Communication: Organizing the Nations Public Diplomacy - "Author: Gifford Malone Publisher: University Press of America (1988) Page as PDF: Political Advocacy and Cultural Communication: Organizing the Nations Public Diplomacy PDF [.]"

Olympian Michelle Kwan Marries Clay Pell - "Skating champion Michelle Kwan who has won several medals for her country wed her politico beau Clay Pell Saturday, Jan. 19 at the First Unitarian Church of Providence, R. I. Kwan has won two Olympic medals, nine U.S. national wins and five world championships.

The 32-year-old now works as a senior advisor for public diplomacy and public affairs. Pell is the director for strategic planning on the National Security staff at the White House. The couple is said to have met while applying for a prestigious White House fellowship, which only Pell managed to get. However, Kwan won herself the man of her dreams." Image from article, with caption:  Michelle Kwan wed Clay Pell Saturday.

Dave Brubeck: Our friend and neighbor - "He composed the first jazz album to sell a million copies, was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, received seven honorary doctorates, was featured on the cover of Time magazine and earned the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy for offering 'an American vision of hope, opportunity and freedom' through his music. The list of Dave Brubeck’s accomplishments is as immense as his musical talent. But as his wife, Iola, revealed Saturday night during a moving tribute concert at

Wilton High School’s Clune Center for the Arts, no decoration pleased him more than the one offered by his local library, which in June 2006, named a 150-seat community meeting room in his honor. ... Raised in a bucolic setting in Concord, Calif., Mr. Brubeck moved his family to the quite town of Wilton [Connecticut] in 1960." Image from


Russia Responds to U.S. Blacklist With ‘Guantanamo List - Stepan Kravchenko, Bloomberg: Dozens of U.S. citizens are now barred from entering Russia under the “Guantanamo list,” a retaliatory measure for U.S. sanctions on Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of an anti-corruption lawyer, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “We made a decision to get the usual list wider, and called it ‘The Guantanamo list’ for convenience,” Ryabkov said today by phone. “It’s a label. Like Johnnie Walker.” The U.S. Congress last month imposed a visa ban and asset freeze on Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other human-rights abuses.

Lawmakers in Moscow responded by banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children in a bill that Putin signed into law on Dec. 28. Some 71 U.S. nationals are now barred from entering Russia, an increase from 11 previously, Sergei Pushkov, a senior lawmaker, said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published today. A former head of the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was denied entry, Ryabkov said, without elaborating. U.S citizen accused of kidnapping Russian nationals and committing crimes against Russian children are on the blacklist, as well as Guantanamo managers, he said. Image from

Our tangled foreign-policy problems - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post: The taking of U.S. and other hostages by Islamic extremists in Algeria in the wake of France’s intervention in Mali underscores how complex and tangled our “foreign” problems have become. The best chances of countering the atomization of foreign policy begin with a U.S. leadership that enunciates and pursues a clear national purpose uniting American actions abroad. Pursuing liberation in Libya and then standing aside or waffling when NATO allies such as France and Turkey are the targets of hostile actions disrupts badly needed alliance cohesion.

The Party Faithful: The settlers move to annex the West Ban-and Israeli politics - David Remnick, New Yorker: Israel’s hard-liners harden further. The Palestinians grow more frustrated. Talk of a binational state increases. All parties wait for the White House, but why would an American President think that he could present his own initiative and muster enough support on all sides to succeed? Why, he asks himself, should he spend the political capital? Courage is discouraged. Via PR

China's Massive Propaganda Team Has Been Ordered To Spread 'Positive Energy' Online - Tom Phillips, The Telegraph: Chinese spin-doctors have been instructed to step-up their online activities and tap into the social-media revolution to spread "positive energy" across the internet. Lu Wei, Beijing's propaganda chief, gave the order at a meeting on Thursday, according to a report in the Beijing News. Beijing's "2.06 million" propaganda workers "should make more efforts in opinion guiding on hot topics", Mr Lu said in an apparent reference to 60,000 directly employed propaganda officials and 2 million informal collaborators, likely including students and Party members.

China's me-first foreign policy: The nation's behavior as a modern superpower is reminiscent of its imperial past - Odd Arne Westad, Will Beijing find a way to improve its handling of foreign affairs? One inspiration could be the generation of Chinese foreign policy experts who came out of the late 19th and early 20th century. Given a raw deal to begin with because of Western and Japanese aggression, they still managed to advance China's interests considerably. They were able to do so, in the main, because they could report back to Beijing expressing their own views, without always having to reflect official dogma. China needs to learn from its past that a good foreign policy must be more than only seeking what is best for one's country to the detriment of others. It is rather to seek to create a region, and eventually a world, where as many as possible believe that China's rise can also be to their own advantage.

Chinese Party Censor Posts List of Propaganda Guidelines Online - Li Ping, Epoch Times: Chinese communist propagandists like working in secret, cloaking their decisions to block, delete, censor, and redact in an air of official mystery. That act just got harder, however, after a proofreader with the Central Propaganda Department published a list of propaganda and censorship guidelines online, and provided a personal narrative of what it’s like to enforce media control.

The information appeared on Zeng Li’s blog on Jan. 6, during the controversy over the censorship of Southern Weekly, a liberal newspaper in Guangdong Province whose journalists went on strike after Tuo Zhen, Guangdong’s propaganda chief, changed the content of the paper’s New Year edition. Image from article, with caption: Students for a Free Tibet protest below a new electronic billboard leased by Xinhua (2nd from top), the Chinese regime's propaganda agency, in 2011 in New York's Times Square. Recently a proofreader with the regime's Central Propaganda Department published a list of propaganda and censorship guidelines online.

Beijing orders its 2.06 million 'propaganda workers' to get microblogging - John Kennedy, According to the Beijing News, a meeting of propaganda department heads  held yesterday to unveil the city's latest plans to control online content, plans which place microblogs firmly at the centre of propaganda efforts. Those in attendance, the newspaper writes, were told by Beijing propaganda chief and deputy mayor Lu Wei to mobilise the city's combined force of over 2 million propaganda workers in opening accounts on microblog sites to spread "positive energy", a mission described in the report as the guidance of online discussions of sensitive topics in a "positive" direction. At the same time, officials were told to closely monitor sentiment on microblog sites involving any sensitive issues, starting with the city's upcoming mobile phone real-name registration policy. Other hot topics listed as in need of opinion guidance include social transition and economic fluctuation, food prices, unemployment, housing prices, and income distribution. Keeping in line with current internet regulation practices, those at the meeting were told to maintain efforts to "purify" the online environment through crackdowns on harmful and vulgar information.

Propaganda official fired after jilted lover’s lengthy account: Yi Junqing removed from post for ‘improper lifestyle'’ - Yi Junqing, a senior Chinese official, has lost his job, state media said on Thursday, after a jilted mistress detailed their alleged affair in an online essay topping 100,000 written characters. The fall of Yi Junqing, who had a rank equivalent to vice minister, comes as the ruling Communist Party’s new leaders have declared war on corruption and state media has exposed a raft of sex and other scandals.

Yi, who headed the party’s compilation and translation bureau and allegedly had an affair with a researcher, “has been removed from his post for ‘improper lifestyle’”, the Xinhua news agency said, citing unidentified authorities. Unlike in other cases, Xinhua did not provide details of the impropriety. The account by the alleged mistress Chang Yan could be seen on overseas websites but had been deleted from Chinese sites. An apology signed by her was posted instead on the domestic websites. Image from article, with caption: Yi Junqing has been sacked from his post as the party’s compilation and translation bureau.

Compromise reached in propaganda standoff - Sui-Lee Wee, Propaganda officials had come to see publisher Dai Zigeng and editor-in-chief Wang Yuechun to demand that the paper heed a government directive to publish an editorial by the nationalist Global Times, denouncing protests against censorship at another paper, the Southern Weekly. But the Beijing News was resisting. In a country where newspapers usually toe the government line, the defiance by the Beijing News was remarkable.

Not since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests had reporters banded together in such a dramatic way for the cause of press freedom. The challenge by both the Southern Weekly and the Beijing News highlighted a pivotal struggle between media increasingly pushing for independence and a Communist Party government that brooks no dissent to its rule. Image from article, with caption: Beijing News office in Beijing.

Violent Hollywood and the Death of Creativity: Alfred Hitchcock had a genius for horror scenes. None showed a bullet going through an eyeball - Charles Evered, Wall Street Journal: It used to take skill, even finesse, to create horror. It used to take serious consideration of how to present an act of terror, where it might lie structurally in the story, how much or how little to show, to what extent the event should be visited—or revisited. There were silences, pauses, teases and innuendos. Alfred Hitchcock was a master, but even less talented directors labored to get it right. Now there is not only little left to the imagination, there is nothing left to the imagination. Show the guts, the veins—show the bullet traveling through a victim's eyeball, show it all. Then, simply claim you're depicting life as it really is. Via ACP III on Facebook


Why do we still know so little about Adam Lanza? Because he lived in the cloud - Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post: It has been more than a month since Adam Lanza marched into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and massacred 20 children and six adult staff members before taking his own life. The only person who recalled dealing with him was the town hairstylist, who had trimmed Lanza’s hair. Think about that: Except for using the bathroom and eating his meals, getting a haircut was just about the only thing Lanza couldn’t do online. All the things he apparently enjoyed were accessible to him without leaving his room. He could find community among gamers. He could order computer parts. He could buy books without ever visiting a bookstore. That he smashed his hard drive before the shooting spree was telling — a digital suicide preceding his physical one.


--Via AS on Facebook

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