Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16

“Imagine the horror and terror. People would have to actually have conversations in person.”

--Micho Rutare, the director and co-writer of the 2010 movie “Meteor Apocalypse,” who imagined a satire in which an asteroid has an electromagnetic effect that knocks out cellphones; image from


A Diverse and Socially Inclusive America Needs to Share Its Story - Tara D. Sonenshine [Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs], DipNote: "Working through our Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), we offer a wide array of programs that support diversity and social inclusion. And those efforts are supported by the overall messages of inclusion shared by our Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) and our embassies."

Al Jazeera News Expands in U.S., Could Become the Answer to America's PR Problem - Sabith Khan, "The recent acquisition of Current TV by Al Jazeera network in a $500 million deal has sparked a fresh controversy around the Qatar-based media network’s growing clout in the U.S. While the U.S struggles to win 'hearts and minds' in the Middle East, I think letting Al Jazeera operate freely and with little interference will boost American credibility more than setting up failed propaganda machines such as Alhurra TV. I believe Al Jazeera’s recent expansion is a positive move and will do America a lot of good, both politically and in terms of increasing the diversity of perspectives. It would also perhaps help many Americans learn the value of questioning authority – something that seems to be absent in the media landscape here. ... While there are no laws restricting foreign ownership of a cable channel, this expansion of Al Jazeera and the resulting push back can be seen as a negative consequence of globalization in reverse – something that American businessmen and politicians are not appreciating very much. While American firms are present around the world and CNN and Alhurra TV (the propaganda network set by the American administration in the Middle East) post-Iraq War continue to operate with relative little interference, the same freedom has not been given to Al Jazeera. This is rather unfortunate. ... Additionally, the dichotomy between propaganda and actual news is becoming blurred by the day and those in power realize this.

Given this, I believe Al Jazeera offers a more credible 'framing' narrative, which is seen as more sincere and credit-worthy, at least by those who follow media critically. While the playing field for businesses is (arguably) almost equal, in the U.S. and Middle East, it is about time this is made the same for media outlets too. Perhaps Al Jazeera is the answer to America’s public relations problem in the Arab world. It is by promoting it, and not through blocking the network, that the U.S. will be able to win more hearts and minds." Via; see also; image from

Maximus Hubris/Reasonable Doubt, Part IV by AFGE Local 1812 - BBGWatcher, "The employee union at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812, continues a series of articles dealing with the senior executive staff’s plan to gut the Voice of America (VOA). In the newest article on its website, AFGE Local 1812 writes that 'the plan involves cutting the heart out of the organization which would allow for the possibility of either splitting off or eliminating its multiple services. If this plan is implemented it will be a disaster for the VOA.'”

Christopher Burke goes to Washington - Austin College, North Texas e-News: "Austin College sophomore Christopher Burke of Denton, Texas, will travel to Washington, D.C., in March to participate in a nationwide conference and final essay competition hosted by the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. He is completing a major in political science and a minor in German.

The conference and finals competitions are the culmination of the 2012-2013 interdisciplinary campaign 'Think Transatlantic: United States and Germany in the 21st Century,' sponsored by the embassy and involving partnerships with 30 colleges and universities around the U.S. ... Initiated by the German Information Center USA—the center for public diplomacy at the German Embassy—the Think Transatlantic campaign was designed to stimulate discussion about the historic importance and stability of the German-American partnership and its relevance for the future, as well as the importance of transatlantic partnership, strategic alliance, and mutual values between Germany, Europe, and the United States The campaign aims to promote dialogue and to exchange ideas of how to build upon past transatlantic successes with new initiatives. The campaign also highlights cultural aspects of German life." Image from

Time to build Chinese-style public diplomacy - "Amid growing global unease at China's rise, the role of public diplomacy is becoming more important. How is China's public diplomacy developing? How can a Chinese style of public diplomacy be formed? Several scholars discussed these questions at a recent round-table symposium held at the Charhar Institute, a Hebei-based independent think tank on diplomatic policy. Wang Yiwei, professor at Renmin University of China and director of the China-Europe Academic Network [:] China did not realize the importance of public diplomacy or make efforts to promote its development until the 9/11 attack. Beijing should think about its strategy on public diplomacy so as to answer the question of how China's rise can be accepted by others. China's public diplomacy comes from the current reality of the international structure in which China is an undisputed rising power. We should show the world that China will integrate into the international community by peaceful methods instead of by challenging the current international order. Public diplomacy will play an important role here, especially in helping with China's image-building. How should we build a Chinese style of public diplomacy? We must pay attention to cultural communication. For instance, the Confucius Institutes and Chinese media have done a lot to establish a new image for China and help increase communication in many different ways with people from other countries. Shen Xin, secretary-general of the China Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development [:] When people talk about public diplomacy, there's often confusion of the concept. We always mix the good image of a country and the good image of its government together. But they are two different ideas. That's why even though we have put great efforts into promoting public diplomacy, the achievements are overshadowed by political events, such as territorial disputes. The good images of governments are actually very fragile and unstable. As a result, the goal of our public diplomacy should be improving the image of the whole country. Also, when it comes to culture, we should explore the meaning of this concept and possible methods to present the whole culture. The country should pay attention to projecting an integrated image.

A few isolated performances cannot really improve the image of the whole culture. But once the culture has been accepted, its activities will be accepted too. Moreover, person-to-person diplomacy does not mean public diplomacy, but it has many aspects that public diplomacy can learn from. Public diplomacy is mainly guided by the government in China, while civil diplomacy attaches more attention to non-governmental groups which use person-to-person methods to promote communication. For instance, in recent years, despite the tensions caused by the Diaoyu Islands dispute, civil diplomacy has done a lot to promote the relationship between China and Japan. Zhang Ping, vice president of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs [:] Although public diplomacy has received great attention in recent years and a lot of progress has been made, the development of China's public diplomacy is still at a low stage and there's still a long way to go. The concept of public diplomacy was developed by the US years ago, and Washington has already established strong diplomatic networks. Compared with China, the US has many advantages in public diplomacy. Its efforts are better organized, and the budget for related endeavors can be well planned. Also, the differences between Eastern and Western cultures mean the US can better communicate with Westerners than China. It would be better if we made efforts to learn more about Western style and use their language. Moreover, the US makes better use of the media to promote its public diplomacy. Western media has long occupied a dominant position in the world, while Chinese media's ways of reporting still need improvement. We have to learn from US advantages. With the rise of China, to maintain peace and promote communication, we have to further develop public diplomacy, which will in the long term promote the relationship with other countries. In this process, we have to try to tell others that the goal of China's public diplomacy is not to undermine the image of the US. Instead, both countries can benefit." Image from article

Book Excerpt: 'China Goes Global' by David Shambaugh - "[From the book:]  [D]uring 2011–12, China .... recalibrated its diplomacy somewhat.

It undertook a campaign of diplomatic reassurance toward ... and launched a multifaceted soft-power and public-diplomacy drive aimed at improving China's image worldwide. Yet, embedded in these events and personal vignettes lie the complexities of China's 'rise.'" Image from entry

City Digest, February 16, 2013 - South China Morning Post, HongKong: "Former home affairs minister Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping is the first Chinese person to attend and address the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. He said the event, held in New York, aimed to promote peace, a core value of Confucian teachings. Ho was invited to attend the gathering in his capacity as the deputy chairman and secretary of the China Energy Fund Committee, a non-government think-tank concerned with public diplomacy. The committee headquarters is in Hong Kong, with offices in Beijing and Shanghai."

Foreign Experts Indicate Warming Trend In Difficult Russian-Polish Relations – Analysis - Penza News: "[D]espite ... difficulties, Russian and foreign analysts indicate a warming trend in uneasy relations between Russia and Poland. ... Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Political Science at the Financial University of the Russian government Alexander Shatilov also believes that the simplification of visa regime should be one of the priorities of the two states’ cooperation.

'We should welcome any agreement to facilitate travel between Russia and Poland, because such public diplomacy makes a far greater contribution to understanding, rather than the activity of the officials,' he said, stressing that it is beneficial for both the Polish and the Russian side." Image from

MEA parliamentary panel talks cultural diplomacy - "The parliamentary consultative committee of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday held its first meeting this year at Rajgir, near Nalanda University, on the topic of cultural diplomacy. The choice of venue seems to symbolise its continuous stress on the ‘Look East Policy’. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid chaired his first meeting of the committee, after taking over his current post. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also met the committee members. 'The meeting was held in Rajgir to provide a first-hand experience of modern Nalanda and a better appreciation of its contribution to reviving the country’s links with the East and South Asian countries and an innovative combination of parliamentary and public diplomacy interface,' said an MEA communiqué. The committee members visited the ancient site of Nalanda University, descried as the ‘centre piece’ of India’s cultural diplomacy, as well as the site of the proposed modern university, which is being set up with contributions from South-East Asian countries. The meeting deliberated upon India’s cultural diplomacy and the role envisaged in this regard from Nalanda and South Asian universities. The Ministry’s public outreach programmes, through its public diplomacy initiatives, to create general awareness on the country’s diplomatic efforts were also discussed at the meeting."

Putin: Russia's influence in the world to grow - Russia Today: "Russia will make an active use of economic diplomacy and the so-called 'soft power practices' in its foreign policy, the Russian leader said. Soft power, a concept developed by the US scholar Joseph Nye, promotes the ability to attract and co-opt people rather than resort to force in order to obtain the results that are acceptable for both sides. It is through these techniques that Russia will continue pursuing an active and constructive policy in international affairs, the President pledged."

It’s no use - Robyn Rotberg, Letter to the Editor, Jerusalem Post: "Sir, – "Your February 12 Comment and Features section included two columns decrying the lack of adequate hasbara (public diplomacy) to state Israel’s case ('The Jewish Billy Graham, the Israeli Martin Luther King,' No Holds Barred; 'How not to win friends and influence people,' Original Thinking).

Ever since I made aliya 38 years ago I have heard criticism of our lack of hasbara. While I accept the criticism, I am very doubtful if any efforts to improve it will succeed. While Christian authorities have withdrawn the claim that the Jews killed Christ, millions of Christians throughout the world do not accept this disclaimer. In addition, the influence of Muhammad on the Muslim world by decrying the Jews as infidels is responsible for the hatred of Jews by adherents of that religion. And the claim that we are the chosen people makes the situation even worse." Image from

Muhammad Ali Center Athletes and Social Change Forum - "On March 29th, I'll have the pleasure of presenting for Doc Wayne ( A Bio-Psycho-Social Assessment of an Adjunctive Intervention for Youth in Residential Treatment at the Muhammad Ali Center Athletes and Social Change Forum. The Forum will be held at the Muhammad Ali Center ( in Louisville, Kentucky on March 29th and 30th. ... Saturday March 30 ... Ms. Natasha Everheart, USC, Celebrity Athletes as Ambassadors for the Global Good: Public Diplomacy and the NBA [,] Mr. Jonathan Jensen, Ms. Kristy McCray."

Deputy Communications and Digital Media Officer United Kingdom Joint Delegation to NATO - "Initial roles and responsibilities will include: ... Support and, in their absence, deputise for the Communications and Media Officer: attend NATO’s Committee for Public Diplomacy; field media enquiries; contribute to, co-ordinate and

disseminate talking points, press lines, narratives, and communications strategies; co-ordinate the Delegation’s Public Diplomacy calendar; monitor the media and summarise as required." Image from


From bindaas to badass - Shrabonti Bagchi and Asha Rai, In the past couple of years in India, the elites' fascination with all things American has graduated to its sub-cultures. It's not just soaps and sitcoms, even American sports like American football, basketball and baseball have been getting Indian eyeballs. This year, on February 3, when Americans celebrated one of their biggest annual spectacles, Super Bowl Sunday, many Indians tuned in too.

Drone strikes: What's the law? It can't be what the Justice Department's 'white paper' said it was - Vicki Divoll, If the executive cannot act alone when an American's liberty is at stake in the post-9/11 war on terrorism, the Supreme Court would be at least as concerned when an American's life is on the line.

Eight of nine Supreme Court justices ruled that the executive branch may not take away our liberty on its own say-so, and merely cites the requirement of a balancing test — individual rights against the need to fight a war — and concludes that the balance tips for the executive to act on his own in targeted killings. The Obama administration continues to fight to keep the specific issue of targeted killing from reaching a court for review and decision. Image from article, with caption: The Justice Department "white paper" leaked last week raises many troubling legal, ethical and policy questions, but none is more fundamental to our democracy than the way it deals with the 5th Amendment's admonition: No American citizen shall "be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."

Pentagon uproar over Panetta’s hero medals for drone operators, cyber sleuths - Rowan Scarborough, Some warriors inside the Pentagon are reacting with amusement and anger over outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta's decision to create a prestigious heroism medal for cyber and drone combatants who sit inside stations outside a war zone. Mr. Panetta is exiting the building as a man generally admired by the Pentagon population, including hundreds of those tested in battle, for his hawkish views on killing Islamic terrorists and his devotion to the troops. But he is now also the brunt of jokes for his announcement Wednesday that he had created the Distinguished Warfare Medal and placed it high on the medal prestige list. "I suppose now they will award Purple Hearts for carpal tunnel syndrome," said a retired Green Beret who does contract work for the Pentagon.

U.S. Military Faces Fire as It Pulls Out of Afghanistan - Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times: Some of the withdrawal will happen under fire in areas of the Taliban heartland where the idea of Afghan-led security remains an abstraction. With the start of the annual fighting season just weeks away, some of the hardest-won gains of the war are at risk of being lost.

Image from article, with caption: Afghanistan Army soldiers, left, and their American counterparts on Thursday destroyed a Taliban firing position in a village in Kandahar Province.

Federal salary freeze passes House - Stephen Dinan, Congresspersons with large constituencies of federal workers in their districts, said the pay freeze amounted to punishing civil servants who often give their lives for their work. Lawmakers pointed to the four Americans killed in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, last year. “Shame on us,” said Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, New Jersey Republican.

On Iran, there's time: A take-it-or-leave-it deal by the U.S. on the nuclear issue is the wrong strategy - Ray Takeyh, As the United States again contemplates its Iran conundrum, it should eschew calls for a take-it-or-leave-it deal. The history of Iran's confrontation with the international community suggests that keeping it a crisis situation benefits the Islamic Republic. Ironically, it is the Western powers that have generated alarmist conditions. And then to escape the predicament of their own making, they offer Iran more concessions and further incentives. To avoid a repeat of that outcome, it would be prudent to have a sense of proportionality and appreciate that, in the end, time works best for the United States and not the economically beleaguered theocracy.

Meteorite fall in the Urals - Space Attack? [Google translation, slightly edited] - Vladimir Zhirinovsky, We can not exclude that what happened in the Chelyabinsk region - not a natural phenomenon. There may be a link to human activity. Obama just said the other day in his address to Congress that it is nowhere more American infantry will not send enough troops to die. Therefore, the U.S. will seek to keep a tight rein on the planet through a new, modern weapons. Suppose meteoweapons - tornadoes and hurricanes - are dangerous in that they can, and for America to strike. Now, send a tornado to Europe, and it takes place in the ocean and hit the eastern coast of the United States. Space weapons - the most true: split the content that some will fall into place. Why did you choose the Urals? There's a lot of military installations, factories, where you can work out a scheme of destruction of a chemical plant, hydropower station. That is artificially cause material and moral damages. For now all the Urals in distress! John Kerry, the new U.S. Secretary of State, on Monday sought Lavrov. May warn the Kremlin do not try to press the nuclear war. Obama wants to put on notice that such projects he has - and in China it will be done, and Tehran. They are afraid: what we perceive as a direct nuclear attack.

Putin Warns Against Foreign 'Interference' at FSB Meeting - Alexander Winning, Moscow Times: President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called on security service officers to shield Russians from an array of threats, including extremist groups, foreign-funded organizations and cyberattacks. Last year, the State Duma passed a law as part that obliges NGOs engaged in "political activities" to register as "foreign agents."

Putin said FSB employees' salaries were increased on Jan. 1 by an average of 40 percent. Image from article, with caption: A meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Federal Security Service officials.

Judge suggests Xinhua is a propaganda arm of Chinese government - A Federal Court of Canada ruling by Justice Richard Mosley last month suggesting that a well-known Chinese news agency is disseminating propaganda.

Mosley wrote: "I am not persuaded that the Court should instruct Immigration Officers to, as a general principle, treat as suspect any information disseminated by a government owned and controlled news agency such as Xinhua. It may be propaganda in the sense that its publication is intended to present the government in a positive light. That is a phenomenon not unique to China." Image from article

Beijing ramps up propaganda war to bolster Diaoyus claim - Beijing has stepped up its propaganda efforts to show its sovereignty over disputed islands in the East China Sea as tensions between China and Japan linger.

British propaganda leaflet at outbreak of WII - "Without wanting to get into the controversy as to whether Britain and France met its treaty obligations with Poland at the outbreak of war with Germany by dropping propaganda leaflets over Germany rather than bombing its cities, I thought I would post a copy of the 'DARUM KRIEG' leaflet that was dropped.

The photo montage and text was supposed to suggest the military might of both Great Britain and France and the futility of the Germans to oppose such mighty forces."


"A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

--Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor


Via RB on Facebook


United States of America (USA) Population clock -

Obama: I wish I had a father around growing up [Video] -

DIA Parking Lots Consider Measures To Stop Bunnies From Attacking Cars - It’s a problem that plagues passengers who park at Denver International Airport- bunnies are causing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in damage to cars. The rabbits eat the wires under the hood.

The USDA Wildlife Service is removing at least 100 bunnies every month but the problem persists. Image from article, with caption: Bunnies are causing thousands of dollars in damage to cars parked at DIA.


Pope Benedict XVI's sartorial flare: Pope Benedict XVI didn't bring back the tiara, but he has revived many other traditional papal garments and accessories - Among the images:



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