Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14

"Patrick Henry was ... convinced that the power over the various state militias given the federal government in the new Constitution could be used to strip the slave states of their slave-patrol militias."

--Thom Hartmann, "The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery," Truthout

"Give me Liberty or Give Me Death."

--Patrick Henry; image from


Daily Press Briefing - Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson, Washington, DC, February 13, 2013, U.S. Department of State: "MS. NULAND: As the Secretary said at length today [re Syria], we are continuing to look at everything that we can do to change the calculation, to change the situation in terms of getting to that peaceful political transition. We’ll just have to see where this goes. James. QUESTION: As a practical matter of diplomacy in which you have direct, real world experience, does the act of announcing to the world at large that you plan to change someone’s calculus make it harder, in fact, for you to do so?

MS. NULAND: There is private diplomacy, there’s public diplomacy. Obviously, I don’t think there’s any secret among the countries that have been working to increase the pressure on Assad that he’s living in his own fantasy world about his staying power. But clearly his own way of thinking about this needs to be changed if we stand any chance of him cooperating in a peaceful transition, which would obviously be the fastest way. So I think what you heard the Secretary saying there was saying publicly something that many countries have been saying privately, including the United States, that he should feel less comfortable." Nuland image from

Once Thriving, Afghan Media Now Endangered - Bob Dietz,  
“Several countries have made a point of investing heavily in Afghan media over the years, but the United States has made the largest contribution. ‘We're working with the most viable media organizations, trying to help them become self-sustaining,’ Masha Hamilton, director of communications and public diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, told CPJ. Hamilton said the United States supports about 10 media organizations in one fashion or another, but the money, which comes from a wide number of sources, is rapidly disappearing. ‘The rebirth of Afghan media is a success story,’ she said. ‘But we know the funding that supported that growth is in a drawdown stage. The media in Afghanistan are on a glide path, and they must find a way to become sustainable.’ Sustainability has become the byword for the Afghans running those news organizations as well as the funders who have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars into them over the past decade. A scramble is on to replace the rapidly evaporating international donor support with a viable commercial model relying on advertisers and, where appropriate, subscribers. But in an already shrinking economy, that pool of advertisers, never large to begin with, will not be enough to keep all the media houses alive.”

American Music Abroad: Hip Hop Group Audiopharmacy to Tour Southeast Asia - Tabitha Berg, "Today, The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced that San Francisco-based hip hop group 'Audiopharmacy' will tour Southeast Asia and the Pacific as part of the American Music Abroad program. With roots in hip hop, Audiopharmacy fuses live instrumentation and global musical styles, making for an eclectic and evolving sound. The quartet will tour Indonesia (February 14-26), Fiji (February 27-March 4), New Zealand (March 5-7), Samoa (March 8-11) and the Solomon Islands (March 12-16). Tour activities will include public concerts, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, media outreach, and collaborations with local traditional and popular musicians.

The American Music Abroad program, a partnership with American Voices, sends American musical groups overseas to engage with audiences and communities, especially underserved youth. American Music Abroad is part of the Department of State’s cultural diplomacy efforts, which support people-to-people connections and foster mutual understanding through the arts. This season’s 12 participating American Music Abroad groups were selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants to travel to more than 40 countries. For more information, please visit." Image from

Alhurra turns nine, claims editorial progress, larger audience - Adam Clayton Powell III, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy:  "Alhurra television celebrates its ninth anniversary on Feb. 14, with a larger audience and claims of editorial progress. The network’s diet of news programming for audiences in the Middle East was widely criticized as editorially weak, lacking credibility and – with its programming originating from studios in northern Virginia – disconnected from people in the Arab world. The criticism was detailed in an evaluation by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy that gained considerable attention. Nine years later, Alhurra’s audience has grown, programs originate from new studios in Cairo, Jerusalem, Beirut and Dubai, and its live news coverage of the Egyptian revolution two years ago has been recognized by major awards. It was that event in Cairo in 2011 that was cited as a turning point by Brian T. Conniff, President of Middle East Broadcasting, Alhurra's parent company. ... Now, a nightly three-hour magazine program originates live from all four Alhurra anchor studios in the region, in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and the Emirates. The entire program is repeated, so it makes up 25% of the network’s schedule. ... Alhurra also features debates that Conniff claimed are not on other networks – for example, Israelis in policy discussions with Arab leaders. And he said it is also important for the channel to include voices that may be unpopular in the U.S. ... For nine years, Alhurra has run two television networks – one for the entire Mideast region, and Alhurra Iraq, also begun in 2004, which focuses on news from Iraq. But there may be expansion in Alhurra’s tenth year . ... Still in the discussion stages, the new network would be aimed at Francophone Africa, featuring Alhurra’s Arabic-speaking journalists and Voice of America’s team that serves French-speaking African countries.”

Russian Soft Power under Construction - Oleg Shakirov, In general, Russia’s slow mastering of contemporary approaches to soft power was due to the conservatism of Russian diplomacy, attempting to operate in what [Joseph] Nye called a third dimension of power (the first two being military and economic) by means of state-centric tools. ... Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, prospects for a fully-fledged, globally-oriented Russian soft power strategy are promising. Foremost, in recent years, during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency, Russia has progressed in improving the institutional basis for a smart foreign policy. ... In 2010 President Medvedev ordered the establishment of two new institutions with foreign policy goals: the Gorchakov Fund for Public Diplomacy Support and Russian International Affairs Council.

The Fund for Public Diplomacy Support was named after Alexander Gorchakov – a prominent and highly respected Russian diplomat of the 19th century and schoolmate of one of the greatest Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin. Overall, this initiative was welcomed by experts, with one Russian official even calling it a “revolutionary” step aimed to improve the country’s image abroad. ... On the one hand, Russia’s intention to develop its soft power signifies that the government will make considerable investments to establish an institutional framework for it, fund certain projects and gradually adopt some of its features at the official level. On the other hand, the limitation of a government-centered approach is that, by delegating soft power implementation to state-controlled agencies, it may overlook the importance of nongovernmental activities as a source of the country’s attractiveness. Further, whether the Russian government or nongovernmental organizations would have sufficient capacity and globally-oriented goals depends upon the wider socio-economic context. Therefore, while recent steps to shape Russian soft power are promising, it is only through modernization that the country’s attractiveness will increase domestically and internationally." Image from

Encountering Peace: Netanyahu, the peace maker - By Gershon Baskin, Jerusalem Post: "Suddenly Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is speaking about renewing negotiations with the Palestinians. ... So, Mr. Netanyahu – time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Just one more additional note – it will not be possible to achieve the agreement with the Palestinians in a process of public diplomacy – you must negotiate with them, not with your own political party, so go ahead and do it via a secret back channel. Conclude the agreement and bring it to the people – you will be more than surprised at the massive support you will get." Netanyahu image from article

APN's daily news review from Israel - "Ben-Gurion University in the Negev is starting a program next monthwhose goal is to instill Zionist values and prepare students to act as PR people abroad in order to justify Israel's policies in regards to the Palestinians. The new academic program in public diplomacy was initiated by students, who founded an organization called 'Whatisrael,' and it was given full financing by university President Rivka Carmi. It comes in the wake of the threat to close the politics department  at Ben-Gurion University, which was found too 'leftist.' That program was adjusted and this week the threat of closure was removed. The students in the new 'Zionist' program will tour Hebron and Sheik Jarrah and learn to defend Israeli policies there, Maariv wrote. The students will go to Europe for Apartheid Week and the university will pay for the flights."

The Urban Chance: Promoting Democracy ‘From the Middle’ - Michele Acuto, "Much of the rhetoric on foreign affairs and diplomacy that populated the lead-up to the re-election of President Obama, as per consuetude, focused on grand strategic plans, major international shifts and large-scale confrontations with enemies, elements, and unknowns. Indeed, this has been the general tone of the discussions around questions of democracy promotion and the transition challenges for closed regimes such as those in the Middle East. Alongside these, the traditional precepts of bottom-up revolutions and liberal internationalist means for public diplomacy with oppressed populations have continued to capture the attention of the U.S. policy establishment.

Little attention, on the other hand, seems to be offered to the role of those mundane realities and relations that constitute the daily socio-political texture of these closed contexts. Yet, the ‘everyday’ and the local do not only matter for foreign policy: rather, they are strategic gateways into the visceral structures that uphold these regimes and can prompt long-term revolutionary changes. Contemporary cities, in particular, can offer a unique vantage point capable of producing critical knowledge not only about the urbanized condition of humanity. ... With building, many forget, comes negotiation, hybridization and, in the contemporary scenario, transnational networks of key strategic importance. Here, democratization could take another route from international diplomacy: strategic urban planning (SUP) as an avenue for para-diplomatic engagements and public diplomacy." Image from article

13. Challenges of cultural diplomacy - "Under the development of so-called public diplomacy, 'cultural diplomacy' now has the challenge of properly projecting the nation’s image, prestige and trust in the international arena. It is a valuable tool in the field of foreign affairs, whose purpose is increasingly explicitly articulated as having economic and business goals and also development cooperation. This new strategy of cultural diplomacy basically uses the cultural potential of the nation for the benefit of its external relations, counting for that purpose, in the framework outlined, with the creation, development and promotion of a 'country brand project."

US Embassy Internal/External Communications Specialist Job Vacancy in Tanzania - "MAJOR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES ... [include:]  Work with Public Affairs colleagues and the Office of the PEPFAR Coordinator to leverage interagency opportunities such as the new PEPFAR Tanzania Voluntary Visitor Program, Ambassador’s Small Grants Programs, U.S. Guest Speaker program, the Performing Arts Initiative and the sports Envoy Program. ... Attend Public Affairs/Public Diplomacy weekly staff meetings and participate in other interagency processes involving communication issues." Image from


NRA Ad: Obama Wants To Ban High-Capacity Magazines You Need To Fend Off Marauding 'Madmen' [Video] - Huffington Post


"I am the bullet in the chamber."

--An advertisement for Nike, a major sponsor of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, who will spend the night in jail Thursday after he was charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend at his house, prosecutors said. Reeva Steenkamp, a 30-year-old model, died after being shot several times in the head and arm in Pistorius’ house in an upscale suburb in Pretoria.


“Will you marry me? Whoops. I forgot you did that 49 years ago today."

--President George H. W. Bush to his wife Barbara Bush, 2011; image from

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