Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 25-26

"Good luck @BenAffleck and #Argo at the Oscars. Nice seeing @StateDept & our Foreign Service on the big screen.-JK"

--Secretary of State John Kerry on Twitter;  image from, with caption: good luck Pakistani cricket team


(a) Syria Propaganda Looking a Lot Like Iraq Propaganda - prisonplanet.com

(b) West’s anti-Iran nuclear claims, false propaganda: Analyst - presstv.com: "A political activist tells Press TV that the US-led Western allegations against Iran’s nuclear energy program are 'false propaganda' and 'lies.'”

(c) 3D printer could make live body parts -  USA Today


'Time Is Ripe' For U.S. To Support Syrian Opposition - Michele Kelemen, NPR: "As John Kerry undertakes his first foreign trip as Secretary of State, the challenges before him are great — especially the war in Syria. He holds a town hall meeting

Tuesday in Berlin, which will give us a look at his style and public-diplomacy skills — areas where his predecessor Hillary Clinton excelled." Image from

Department of State Public Schedule Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - posted at rockycoastnews.blogspot.com: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 11:15 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine is interviewed by Voice of America’s Press Conference USA radio program, at the Department of State. 12:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine delivers introductory remarks at Black History Month Public Forum, prior to a reading by Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the Library of Congress Natasha Trethewey, at the Department of State. 2:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine meets with Ambassador of India to the U.S. Nirupama Rao, at the Embassy of India."

Panel With Stars and Producer of Oscar-Nominated Afghan Short Film "Buzkashi Boys" - Notice to the Press, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC, February 26, 2013, U.S. Department of State: "The U.S. Department of State will host a screening and roundtable discussion with the producer and stars of the Oscar-nominated short film Buzkashi Boys on February 28 at 12:30 p.m. in the Marshall Center Auditorium. The making of Buzkashi Boys was supported through a grant from U.S. Embassy Kabul to the Afghan Film Project. The goal of this project is to help revitalize the Afghan film industry, which was once a vibrant part of Afghanistan’s cultural life. During the filming of Buzkashi Boys thirteen Afghan interns were trained in all aspects of film production. Afghan media organizations, which until recently were forced to rely on foreign expertise, will benefit from this training for years to come.

Almost all of the trainees continue to work in the local media or television industry. Some are making their own films, strengthening national identity by telling their own stories. This event will be open for press coverage. Pre-set time for cameras: 11:45 a.m. from the 21st Street Entrance Lobby. Final access time for writers and still photographers: 12:15 p.m. from the 21st Street Entrance Lobby. Media representatives may attend this event upon presentation of one of the following: (1) A U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification card (driver's license, passport). For further information, please contact Meg Young, Press Officer, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at YoungMA@state.gov or 202-647-3532." Image from

Service members, Kuwaiti students kick language barrier - dvidshub.net: "Service members and U.S. embassy employees took part in a sports day event at the U.S. embassy in Kuwait on Feb. 16 as a part of the English Access Micro-scholarship Program. The program is a U.S. State Department-funded, two-year English-language program for Kuwaiti youth to not only learn the English language but to learn about American culture as well. ... As the teams played, the Kuwaiti students

were able to assess their newly learned language in a fun way by having to speak to their American teammates. ... 'These sports days are important for a couple of reasons,' said Grace Choi, the public diplomacy officer for the embassy and event coordinator. 'It encourages these young people to participate in some of the core values we have at the embassy, like being healthy and maintaining healthy habits. And, because they're doing it in English, it helps reinforce some of the things that they have been learning in class.'" Image from article, with caption: Service members and Kuwaiti students play soccer during a sports day event at the American embassy in Kuwait Feb. 16, as a part of the English Access Micro-scholarship Program.

Nigeria: Badagry Unveils World Tallest Drum - Rebeca Ejifoma, allafrica.com: "Badagry the land of history, civilisation, designation for tourism and a one-time slave port, made history on Saturday, February 16, when it unveiled the world's tallest drum, measuring 11 feet in height and six feet wide. This was at the Badagry Heritage Museum, during the celebration of the Black History month in the historical littoral city for the first time. ... According to the Public Diplomacy Officer, United States Consular-General Office, Mrs. Rhonda Watson, the focus on black history stems from the fact that for too many years the contributions and accomplishment of African Americans were never recorded in the history books. 'It was as if we did not exist and that we didn't even matter,' she lamented. 'Our children were growing up ignorant of the achievements of black people and consequently had a distorted view of their own potential in life and could grow up with low aspirations in life.'"

Only good duplication between VOA and surrogate broadcasters, Secretary Sonenshine told - BBGWatcher, usgbroadcasts.com: "During the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) meeting last Friday, February 22, 2013, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine, who represents Secretary of State John Kerry at BBG meetings, had asked two astute questions: 1. Whether placement of Alhurra programs on an Egyptian TV channel in a way competes with Alhurra brand? 2. Whether there is unnecessary duplication

between the Voice of America (VOA) and the surrogate broadcaster Radio Free Asia? The two question are extremely important for the future of U.S. international broadcasting (USIB), and indirectly also for U.S. public diplomacy and U.S. national security. Secretary Sonenshine should be applauded for asking them. ... Surrogate broadcasters are particularly threatened by IBB’s centralization plans, which would destroy their ability to specialize and serve populations in closed societies. But the Voice of America would also lose its special role of representing the United States to foreign audiences if the bureaucracy succeeds in merging VOA programs with programs of surrogate broadcasters and in changing VOA’s unique mission as defined in the VOA Charter. ... Secretary Sonenshine’s questions have produced good responses from surrogate entity heads, Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) President Brian Conniff and Radio Free Asia President (RFA) Libby Liu, and to some degree from VOA Director David Ensor. BBG member Victor Ashe summarized the discussion by concluding that some duplication in news coverage by VOA and surrogate broadcasters is necessary, but it is not necessarily bad duplication. Without it, neither VOA nor surrogate broadcasters could specialize and still attract an audience." Image from

"Radio Gessen" cannot do the job of VOA, and VOA cannot do the job of "Radio Gessen" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "... BBG Watch, 22 Feb 2013: "'At the end of today’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) open meeting in Washington, D.C., Ann Noonan, Executive Director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org), made a short statement as a member of the public, in which she praised the BBG for addressing the Radio Liberty crisis in Russia, welcomed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty new acting president Kevin Klose and called for the reinstatement of fired Radio Liberty Russian Service journalists. ... 'In response to the GAO Report, CUSIB remains determined to defend surrogate broadcasters and the VOA at the same time. Both were clearly designed by Congress for very good reasons. Surrogate broadcasters have a special role to play as an alternative to suppressed internal media and they can’t do the job of the Voice of America. By the same token, Congress created surrogate broadcasters because VOA has a different role. CUSIB strongly believes that we need them both.'  See also video of the BBG meeting.' [Elliott comment:] Alhurra is obviously in violation of the CUSIB's vision of US international broadcasting. As described in a previous post, Alhurra "provides context and analysis to give viewers a broader understanding of the actions impacting the region [and] also provides the comprehensive coverage from the United States drawing on dedicated correspondents at the White House, State Department, Congress, and Pentagon." Because Alhurra is doing both jobs when, according to CUSIB, it can only do one job, then Alhurra should be split into two channels, one reporting on the target region, and the other reporting on the United States and the rest of the world. Audiences would have to tune to two US channels to get all the news. Audiences will not put up with such inconvenience, and will tune elsewhere, but a boondoggle is a boondoggle. And what about VOA's reporting about Africa broadcast to Africa? Doesn't VOA realize it can't do that job? BBG Watch, 24 Feb 2013: 'Even though they are not the official Radio Liberty, Radio Liberty in Exile was the first to post on the web materials marking the station’s 60th anniversary. Many in Russia see fired journalists who last September formed Radio Liberty in Exile as the real Radio Liberty upholding the traditions of the station and refer derisively to the official Radio Liberty as 'Radio Gessen.' Since October 2012, Masha Gessen has been the controversial new director of the Radio Liberty Russian Service, which is now being boycotted by many Russian opposition leaders, intellectuals, artists and journalists. Radio Liberty in Exile is planning a major event in Moscow on March 1 to mark the 60th anniversary of the first Radio Liberty Russian broadcast to the Soviet Union. It is expected to bring together many former and current Radio Liberty personalities, other independent Russian journalists, intellectuals, human rights activists and anti-Putin politicians.' --  [Elliott comment:] 'Independent Russian journalists' and 'anti-Putin politicians' perhaps do not comfortably co-exist in the same sentence.'"

US stands to lose ability to connect with citizens in closed societies if bureaucrats have their way - BBGWatcher, usgbroadcasts.com: "The Washington bureaucrats in charge of U.S. international broadcasting (USIB) have not increased their audience in the Middle East or globally since 2008 despite getting larger budgets each year to accomplish their mission of informing the world about America and countering censorship in closed societies — a critical US national security objective. Their weekly global audience was 175 million in 2008, as it is today, even though the world’s population, which now stands at over 7 billion, has grown by about 300 million during that time, with especially high rates of population growth in some of the countries of the Muslim world. Every day, the number of people in the world increases by about 200,000. The number of people with access to the Internet has also grown tremendously in the last 5 years.

But audience numbers are not even the worst of the story. Even assuming that because of the tremendous growth of competition on the Internet, USIB cannot reach the same large audience it had several years ago, nothing can excuse IBB bureaucrats’ proposals to eliminate critical radio and television broadcasts to countries which are ruled by some of the most authoritarian and repressive regimes and/or are strategically important for the US–countries like Russia, China and Tibet. ... Surrogate broadcasters and the Voice of America could not expand their audiences because they were literally forced to accept self-defeating strategies developed by BBG bureaucrats working for the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). The IBB bureaucracy has devised a plan to eliminate radio and television broadcasts at VOA and surrogate broadcasters by making false claims that U.S. international broadcasting could be competitive in many countries through the Internet. ... Today the IBB has the largest budget within the Broadcasting Board of Governors agency even though IBB does not produce a single program with any kind of audience." Image from entry

BBG’s Victor Ashe Welcomes Kevin Klose, Notes 60 Years of Radio Liberty [video] - BBGWatcher, usgbroadcasts.com

Video of CUSIB’s Ann Noonan at BBG meeting defending fired Radio Liberty journalists - BBGWatcher, usgbroadcasts.com. Noonan image from entry

What a Defense Secretary Does - keepamericasafe.com: "Myriad concerns have been raised about Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, including his voting record, impolitic statements, two unremarkable Senate terms, scant management experience, and embarrassing performance at his confirmation hearing last month. Yet Hagel’s defenders dismiss these concerns because, they argue, the important decisions are made at the White House, by the president and his team…. This view wildly understates the role of America’s most important cabinet officer. Much of a defense secretary’s work is at his own discretion.

He is responsible for military budgets and procurement, personnel promotions, public diplomacy, the Pentagon’s relations with defense ministries and militaries around the world, tactical military movements, and most force deployments. ... (Weekly Standard, Posted 25 Feb 13)."  Image from entry

Tom Hayden on The CIA in Hollywood: The CIA Goes To Hollywood: How America’s Spy Agency Infiltrated the Big Screen (and Our Minds) [review of below book] - "[L]aws going back to the 1950s prohibit government agencies from using appropriated funds for covert and self-aggrandizing communications that amount in puffery or propaganda (those are the literal terms used). The author of the law, the late Senator Harry Bird [sic], demanded 'more news and less bull from the federal publicity mill.' The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has defined a covert communication as one that is false or misleading about its source. According to Jenkins, no one has ever asked the GAO’s expert on propaganda to investigate the CIA’s or Pentagon’s entertainment liaison programs. But Jenkins notes a 1987 case in which the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy, then controlled by the fiercely right-winger Otto Reich, was investigated by the GAO for paying consultants to write op-ed pieces in support of Central American policy.

The Reagan administration was found guilty of using appropriated funds to influence public opinion in the US without newspaper readers knowing that the content was shaped by the State Department. Jenkins is under no illusion that these proposals are going anywhere soon. The 'war on terrorism' provides a claustrophobic climate in which an expanding arsenal of national security laws will offer script material for years to come. This previous deference towards the CIA in Hollywood did fray during the years 1965–1975, which culminated in the congressional Senate’s Church hearings led by Senator Frank Church into CIA assassinations and other wrongdoing. But the tides ebb and flow. The US failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the secret drone attacks on Pakistan, revelations of black sites, kill lists, and domestic spying have prodded the conscience of many an artist. The evidence in Jenkins’s book that CIA liaisons serve as production advisors is sure to start candid and searching conversations in the creative community. One can only hope so. While these movies may bring relief and a surge of self-congratulation to the American audience, they do little, if anything, to prevent the festering causes of terror and war. Meanwhile they help shield secret agencies from the sharpest possible scrutiny. The question raised by Jenkins’s book is an unsettling one: should the CIA be authorized to target American public opinion? If our artists don’t confront it more directly, and soon, the Agency will only continue to infiltrate our vulnerable film and television screens — and our minds." Image from entry

Amerikanische Wohltätigkeit im 20. Jahrhundert - Katharina Rietzle, hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de: "Parmar, Inderjeet: Foundations of the American Century. The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power. New York: Columbia University Press 2012. ISBN 978-0-231-14628-9; € 33,11. "Parmar charts the influence of the so-called Big Three, the foundations created by the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie families. He begins his story with short biographies of the founders, followed by a sociological analysis of the elite socio-economic background of foundation trustees. These foundation leaders tended to be recruited from the professions or government service, and were part of the American foreign policy establishment. Parmar describes their world view as one marked by 'religiosity, scientism, racism and elitism' (p. 59). From the 1930s onwards, the Big Three sought to convince ordinary Americans that the United States should play an active role in world affairs, and built up a fairly sophisticated propaganda infrastructure by supporting organisations such as the Foreign Policy Association. During the Second World War, the foundations put their resources at the disposal of the American state by funding studies which were drawn on by the State Department. This partnership with official US foreign policy continued after 1945 when the foundations became major players in an intellectual Cold War, waged first in Europe and then the Global South. Parmar analyses foundation-sponsored programmes in public diplomacy, such as the Salzburg Seminar, aimed at persuading Europeans that the United States’ cultural and intellectual life was worthy of study. To that end, the foundations also supported American Studies programmes at European universities in the 1950s and 1960s, in cooperation with American state agencies such as the US Information Agency. Working with institutions of higher learning also formed a cornerstone of foundation policies in the Third World. ... Parmar is openly critical of the foundations, and, to some readers, his account may seem overly polemical. Yet, his findings confirm recent tendencies in the historical literature on American philanthropic foundations, not least an acknowledgment of the close connection between foundation programmes and official US foreign policy in the Cold War."

Oscar hopefuls point a frank lens at Israel - Editorial, New Jersey Jewish News: "At a discussion on Israel at last weekend’s Limmud NY conference in East Brunswick, an audience member criticized Israel’s hasbara — or public diplomacy — efforts, pointing especially to the state funding of two films that will vie for an Academy Award in the best documentary feature category Sunday night. The Gatekeepers features interviews with six former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet security service. The aging veterans speak of the difficult decisions they had to make in the name of defending Israel, and nearly all come to the conclusion that Israel must take more risks to achieve peace with the Palestinians. When director Dror Moreh asks Avraham Shalom, who headed the agency in the 1980s, with whom Israel should be negotiating, Shalom answers, 'Anyone,' including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In 5 Broken Cameras, a Palestinian-Israeli-French coproduction that also received funding from the government-funded Israel Film Council, a Palestinian farmer videotapes the encroachment of his village by the nearby Jewish settlement of Modi’in Illit. According to the film, a fence that protects the settlement also cuts off the village farmers from much of their land and olive groves. The films offer a challenging and at times painful view of the conflict, bound to make American-Jewish audiences more uncomfortable than those in Israel, where this kind of self-examination is a fixture in the Israeli media. The audience member made a fair point in asking if Israel is doing itself any favors by exporting the kinds of discussions that may be useful at home but damaging abroad. But that’s not the only fair point. The other is that such films, and the courage of the country that helps fund them, is a testament to the seriousness with which Israel regards the responsibility of being a free society. It is also a testament to a country whose warriors seem eager to lay down their swords and fight for peace. In truth, the audience for these kinds of films is relatively small, but the message they send to the world about Israeli democracy is epic."

Young Palestinians fight for equal right to higher education - jfjfp.com: "According to the Academic Watch report, the militarization of [Israeli] universities has become so prevalent that 'student soldiers' carry weapons on campus. These 'student soldiers' are the pride of Israeli academia. Along with students who join 'public diplomacy' programs — known as hasbara programs in Hebrew — they are groomed to be ambassadors for Israel. They will be the ones who seek to justify and excuse Israel’s numerous violations of human rights; the university is there to teach them how to diplomatically tiptoe around war crimes and how to find loopholes in international law."

Globalization and Migration Grand Opening: Sweden’s Year-Long Public Diplomacy Program - Calie Hill, diplomaticourier.com: "Globalization and migration are intricately linked in the current international economy and multicultural world. Goods, services, information and capital interchange across borders more freely than ever before. And individuals--pursuing jobs, education, and other opportunities--are relocating, often across borders. In the process, they are extending families and spreading traditions.

Tradition and culture hung from coat hangers and sizzled from a colorful array of dishware at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC on February 18th. The occasion for such splendid exhibitions was the grand opening of the Swedish Embassy's year-long public diplomacy program, themed Globalization and Migration. Sweden has been an active member of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, established in 2007, and will serve as acting chairman from 2013 until 2014." Image from article

Rohingya: Testing democracy in Myanmar - Jose Ramos-Horta and Prof. Muhammad Yunus, thedailystar.net: "One of the fundamental challenges of a democracy is how to ensure the voice of the majority does not trample the essential rights of the minority. In the founding of the United States this was addressed by the Bill of Rights, some form of which is integrated into most democracies today. Even as we applaud and rejoice in the new freedoms enjoyed by the Myanmar people, the country's newly elected government must face this challenge as they evolve from autocratic rule into a democratic state.

The tragedy of the Rohingya people, continuing to unfold in Rakhine State in the country's western corner, on the border of Bangladesh, will be its proving ground. ... We humbly add our voices to the simple demand of the Rohingya people: that their rights as our fellow human beings be respected, that they be granted the right to live peacefully and without fear in the land of their parents, and without persecution for their ethnicity or their form of worship. We ask the world to not look away, but to raise its collective voice in support of the Rohingya. In these days of public diplomacy the citizens, civil societies, NGOs, private investors and the business community have a vital role to play in the context of democratic reforms, human rights and development around the globe. We must use this voice." Uncaptioned image from article

Modern migrant's loyalty is an asset to the world - Kim Rubenstein and Danny Ben Moshe, The Sydney Morning Herald: "Once upon a time migrants left their old countries and severed ties with their homelands, but today with cheaper and more frequent travel and communication that facilitates and defines what we have come to know as globalisation, migrants maintain ties with the countries they came from. This is also part of a process known as transnationalism. It is not the preserve of the Jewish community in Australia; it is something governments such as Australia and organisations like the World Bank and United Nations encourage because it facilitates bilateral trade, investment, cultural exchange and public diplomacy. We need look no further than the Australian diaspora to work this out."

Russian and Foreign Experts Indicate Warming Trend in Difficult Russian-Polish Relations - neweasterneurope.eu: "Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Political Science at the Financial University of the Russian government, Alexander Shatilov, ... 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."

Former consul blesses Catalan referendum, Geoff Cowling (UK) - Laura Pous, rcatintl.blogspot.com: "'Enormous' and 'extraordinary' are the adjectives Geoff Cowling, former UK general consul in Barcelona from 2002 to 2005, gave to the march for independence that took place on the 11th September, Catalonia’s National Day, which he witnessed himself. Interviewed in London, Cowling makes clear he supports the

Catalan referendum for independence which will allow Catalonia to decide its future. ... To prevent the rest of European countries from describing the Catalan situation as an 'internal affair of Spain', Cowling has a solution: internationalising the conflict. ... Before this happens Catalonia should really use its tools, through delegations, the Foreign Affairs Council, the Diplocat (Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia) to convey their message particularly throughout Europe, he argues." Image from article

Indian Diplomacy Live Updates BCIM Car Rally 2013 On Social Media - Vinaya Naidu, business2community.com: "The first edition of the BCIM Car Rally from Kolkata to Kunming in China, set up to establish peace in the Southeast Asian countries of Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar is being live updated through Twitter and FacebookThe rally – flagged off by West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata – will traverse 3028 km through mountainous terrains, dense jungles, vast fertile plains to deep valleys, wild streams and expansive rivers, all with 20 cars and 80 participants from the four nations through 22 February and 5 March 2013.

The rally is being live tweeted by the Twitter account of the Public Diplomacy Division of Ministry of External Affairs. One can follow the rally progress by following the hashtag #BCIM2013. Tweets are regular and what’s best – they share pictures too. At the moment the rally is being welcomed by the local residents, after having arrived at the Assam-Manipur border 2 hours ago." Image from article

BBC "strongly condemns" new Chinese jamming of World Service English shortwave broadcasts - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Water, Terrorism, and Public Diplomacy - Philip Seib, PD News–CPD Blog Center on Public Diplomacy: "Public diplomacy, which puts a government directly in touch with people of other nations, should more thoroughly incorporate water diplomacy as part of its repertoire of programs. This is more than a matter of doing the right thing; it will affect global security. People will fight to protect water. They will throw aside government and the rule of law if need be to ensure that they can get water. They will listen more attentively to terrorists’ promises if they believe their lives are being ruined by lack of water."

First Ladies To Brainstorm At The WETATi International Women’s Conference 2013 - spyghana.com: "Mrs. Obioma Liyel Imoke, First Lady of Cross Rivers State, Nigeria and Hajiya Fatima Ibrahim Shema, First Lady of Katsina State, Nigeria are amongst the distinguished participants who will speak at the annual WETATi International Women’s Conference in Linthicum Maryland. WETATi which means Women Empowered To Achieve The Impossible, is a women empowerment organization dedicated to bridging the gender gap and advancing the interests of women everywhere. ... Some of the issues to be discussed include women and broadcasting, role of female legislators in Congress, doing business with U.S. government agencies, investments in Africa and the Caribbean, women and HIV/Aids, funding for women and minority owned businesses, the role of technology in women’s lives, and micro credit. Members of the African Female Diplomatic Corps will have a special forum to discuss the role of women in public diplomacy. It is interesting to note that the African female ambassadors in Washington constitute a large bloc of the diplomatic representation in Washington, DC. Experiences of U.S. Companies doing business in Africa and the Caribbean will also be discussed. 'This is a conference whose time has come', says Dr. Mercy Obamogie, a physician and President of the Princess Ejemen Foundation. 'It will be an effective platform for networking and articulating issues of importance to women'."

Exchange students from France get the Leon High experience, tour Tallahassee - Jordan Culver, rattlernews.tallahassee.com: "[English professor Colette] Clarke has been bringing French students to Leon High School for the past five years. This year she has 18 students and two chaperones and is in the midst of her attempt to give them the best 'American experience' she can offer.

The students get to travel throughout Tallahassee and get an American high school experience for two weeks with the help of host families. A highlight of the students’ American experience happened Thursday when the group went to the Florida Capitol to get acquainted with Tallahassee’s intricate political structure." Image from article, with caption: French students tour the Florida Capitol

Dennis Rodman worms his way into North Korea - AP, usatoday.com: "Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills and flamboyant style — neon-bleached hair, tattoos, nose studs and all — on Tuesday to the isolated Communist country with possibly the world's drabbest dress code: North Korea. Arriving in Pyongyang, the American athlete and showman known as 'The Worm' became an unlikely ambassador for sports diplomacy at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Or maybe not so unlikely: Young leader Kim Jong Un is said to have been a fan of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when Rodman won three championships with the club.

Rodman is joining three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team for a Vice Media production to air on HBO in early April, Vice founder Shane Smith told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview before the group's departure from Beijing. Smith said the Americans hope to engage in a little 'basketball diplomacy' by running a basketball camp for children and playing pickup games with locals, and by competing alongside top athletes of North Korea — formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea." Image from

Drivers to make overland trek to Germany - Chen Xiaoru, Global Times: "About 30 people driving 14 cars will embark on a two-month trek from Shanghai to Hamburg, Germany, in an effort to strengthen ties between the two cities, the Hamburg Liaison Office in Shanghai announced Monday. The caravan will depart on May 27 and travel through 11 countries and regions before reaching Hamburg, said Pan Hua, the office's vice director. The group will travel through central Asia and make stops in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before moving on to Europe, said Sun Weimin, vice secretary general of the Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association, which organized the event with the Hamburg liaison office and a travel agency based in Germany. The trip was organized in response to an event in 2006, when more than 50 vehicles drove from Hamburg to Shanghai to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of friendly relations between the two cities, Sun said."

Under Secretary of State Sonenshine Travels To Boston - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara D. Sonenshine will travel to Boston on February 27 to speak to students and professors at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She will discuss public diplomacy and how the public spaces around the world operated by the State Department support our foreign policies, strengthen our national security, and help to unlock bright futures for young people, including women and girls. While in Boston Under Secretary Sonenshine will also have a roundtable discussion with Tisch College Scholars and students at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she will engage them on the practice of public diplomacy. More information regarding the Under Secretary’s public remarks at Harvard University can be found at: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/events/5973/public_diplomacy.html

Anne Hathaway Oscar Words Lift ‘Girl Rising’: D.C. Scene - Stephanie Green, bloomberg.com: "Last night was one big sister act at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The center’s first female leader, Jane Harman, jokingly referred to Anita McBride, the former chief of staff to Laura Bush, as her 'little sister.' McBride is now executive in residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs. Harman is the center’s director, chief executive and president. She welcomed 'many women and a few good men' to a screening of 'Girl Rising,' a documentary produced by10X10, a global advocacy organization for girls’ education, and backed by Intel Corp. ... After the screening of the first 30 minutes of 'Girl Rising,' guests gathered for a panel discussion featuring Gordon and Rangita de Silva de Alwis, director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Wilson Center, Tara D. Sonenshine, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department, and Shradha Basnyat, a student activist from Wellesley College.

Sonenshine praised former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for creating the position of ambassador at large for women’s issues in the State Department. Sonenshine said the status of girls around the world must be 'interwoven into the fabric of American foreign policy.'” Image from article, with caption: Rangita de Silva de Alwis, director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative at the Wilson Center, Shradha Basnyat, a student at Wellesley College, and Tara D. Sonenshine, under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

SUxSW mixtape showcases Syracuse University music at SXSW - Chris Baker, syracuse.com: "Hondo Mesa ... [is] the stage name of Dennis Kinsey, director of the public diplomacy program at SU's Newhouse School."


Former hostages seize Argo publicity, call for diplomacy with Iran - Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy: Two top officials who were held hostage in Tehran in 1979 called Monday for expanded diplomatic outreach to the Iranian government. The 2012 Academy Award for Best Picture was awarded Sunday evening to the film Argo, which focused on the plight of six Americans who escaped as the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun by supporters of the Iranian revolution and sought refuge in the Canadian ambassador's residence.

Fifty-two of their State Department colleagues did not escape the embassy and were held hostage by the Iranian revolutionaries for 444 days. Two of those hostages spoke at an event on Capitol Hill Monday and urged the Obama administration to do more to engage Iran. Image from

Iran dismisses ‘Argo’ as ‘advertisement for the CIA’ - Cheryl K. Chumley, washingtontimes.com: Iran’s state-run media dismissed the award-winning “Argo” as little more than propaganda, calling it an “advertisement for the CIA” and characterizing it as offensive to Muslims. Iranian Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini, meanwhile, said Hollywood was guilty of “distort[ing] history” with the film, according to a report in The Times of Israel.

Anti-Iran Propaganda? The Shortsighted History of Oscar Winning Film ‘Argo’ - Robert Parry, globalresearch.ca: The Oscar for Best Picture went to Ben Affleck’s Argo, an escape-thriller set in post-revolutionary Iran. It hyped the drama and edged into propaganda.

But Americans would have learned a lot more if Affleck had chosen the CIA coup in 1953 or the Republican chicanery in 1980. Image from article

Iranian news agency adds sleeves to Michelle Obama’s Oscar dress - Jessica Chasmar, washingtontimes.com: An Iranian government-controlled media agency has digitally altered first lady Michelle Obama’s dress in photos of her Sunday night appearance at the Oscars. Fars News Agency added a high neckline and sleeves to Mrs. Obama’s sleeveless dress she wore to announce the Oscar for Best Picture. Mrs. Obama presented the award to Ben Affleck for his film “Argo” remotely from the Diplomatic Room of the White House.

Hollywood selects leftist propaganda movie “Argo” for “Best Picture” Oscar - winteryknight.wordpress.com: It’s a fake movie, and that’s what we expect from uneducated artists who play make-believe for a living. The real Best Picture of 2012 was Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016″, but they’ll never pick that, because it told the truth. It was not even included as a nominee for Best Documentary.

Hollywood Rolls Out Propaganda on Oscar Night - activistpost.com: Just as Oscar night was winding down with the most prestigious awards being handed out, something strange happened that should have alarmed every viewer; something that should have triggered a warning in the minds of every American who cares about America, freedom and the Constitution. With no apologies and much to the chagrin of some independent thinkers, artists and movie watchers; sadly much to the delight of the Obamanite Zombies, yet simultaneously to no surprise to those who are fully awakened, the Emperor's wife popped up in the screen. Yes, the wife of the man who has trashed the Constitution, murdered American citizens without proof of guilt, trial or a jury.

The was the wife of the same man whose administration has expanded the police state, the administration who is now occupying countries all of Africa and the Middle East, has launched countless wars without any moral or legal basis and the same administration which has done nothing about the Bush administration war crimes. There she was, presenting the award for ‘Best Picture’ telling the audience about the importance of overcoming obstacles and conveying a positive message to the audience hoping that, (consistent with her husband’s administrations policy of ‘Do as I say not as I do’) the audience would just emotionally attach themselves to the messenger, and judge her and her husband strictly by her words. This may be very difficult for supporters of the current administration to wrap their heads around, but this was a classic display of Hitler-style propaganda. This is exactly the tactic dictators of the past have used to manipulate public opinion about the leader by appealing to their emotions. Once again Hollywood is fully exposed for being one of the prime mouthpieces of the U.S. Government. For anyone even mildly awake, this was no coincidence; this was classic real-time garbage propaganda for your mind.

Coming to a Theater near You: Palestinian Propaganda - Andrew E. Harrod, American Thinker: The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development (JF), a Palestinian-American non-profit organization, screened the film Where Should the Birds Fly on February 14, 2013, at the JF's Palestine Center across from the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Filmed by Gaza Strip native Fida Qishta, who was present for the screening (Qishta appears here with hijab, although she was unveiled at the screening), the movie website describes the film as a "visual documentation of the Goldstone Report" concerning the month-long Israeli military operation Cast Lead against Hamas begun on December 27, 2008.  Like its discredited print counterpart, Where Should the Birds Fly is a biased document showing an innocent Palestinian population victimized by an aggressive Israel.  Promotional material available before the film screening sets the tone.  The plight of Gaza's residents is part of the "bitter history of man's inhumanity to man," including the "fierce resistance of the Warsaw Ghetto" mounted by Jews in April 1943 facing Nazi extermination.  Gaza is the "world's largest prison camp, sealed off on all sides by Israeli and Egyptian walls, barbed wire, and military." The film ultimately amounts to a series of vignettes of Palestinians wanting to go about their lives who are attacked by Israel for no apparent reason. This movie's propaganda should raise concerns among objective observers of the Middle East. Such concerns should include questions about how accurate can be any film produced under the totalitarian control of Palestinian groups like Hamas with a history of distorting media coverage (e.g.,Pallywood).

Anti-Americanism: Who's to Blame - Curt Jones, American Diplomacy: For the Israeli leadership, traumatized by the Holocaust, the preservation of the Jewish sanctuary is an existential necessity. For the American leadership, operating in a special-interest democracy, the defense of the Jewish state is a political necessity. Both governments are oblivious to geopolitical reality: The Zionist system is incompatible with its environment. Six million Jews cannot determine the future of 350 million non-Jews. Zionist Israel is not a viable state; it survives in a permanent condition of war. “Power projection” is impotent against the dictates of geopolitical law. Washington needs to moderate its militarism. Israel needs fundamental reform, adaptive to its environment.

The 5 Most Baffling Tactics in the War on Terror - Scott Pearson, cracked.com: #5. Hiring Science Fiction Writers as Consultants #4. Creating Bomb-Sniffing Plants #3.

Combing Nursery Schools for Burgeoning Extremists #2. Trading Viagra for Cooperation with the CIA #1. Trolling Terrorist Message Boards. Image from article

Diplomacy by Distortion: Azeri propaganda shifts to Khojalu in wake of two publicity failures - armenianow.com: Traditionally in February, Azerbaijan is using its diplomatic and propaganda machine to invite the world attention to the Armenian “atrocities” during the 1992-1994 war in Karabakh.

'Nuclear Zero' Offers Nothing Worth Having: The president not only wants to cut missiles, he also is neglecting a promised modernization program - Bob Corker and Jim Inhofe, Wall Street Journal: President Obama has repeatedly identified nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism as key dangers to the United States and its allies. His analysis is correct, but that cannot be said about the centerpiece of his response: declaring America's commitment to eliminate its own nuclear weapons on the way to a world of "nuclear zero."

Meanwhile, he has neglected to modernize the weapons that are essential to American security. Sen. Corker (R., Tenn.) is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Inhofe (R., Okla.) is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Image from article

Secretary of State Scorecard: Work Done Not Miles Flown, Please - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: We sincerely hope that no one would attempt to nudge Secretary Kerry to top Condi’s miles, or Hillary’s number of countries visited or number of embassy meet and greet. That would not be original or terribly helpful to an institution that is consistently underfunded and unappreciated not just by the Congress but also by the American public. The real challenges for the 68th secretary of state do not require an airplane ride. The sooner his Seventh Floor recognizes that, the sooner they can develop a strategy for achievable goals during Secretary Kerry’s tenure and imprint his legacy on the institution.

Africa: Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hatred - Paul Carlucci, posted at allafrica.com: Keith Somerville's analysis of radio propaganda answers a lot of questions about the 'what' hate propaganda is, but avoids many deeper and more interesting questions. What does hate sound like on the radio? It's not hard to intuit the answer. The notorious broadcasts of Rwanda's Radio-Télévision Libre de Milles Collines come quickly to mind, and although less toxic and deliberate, Kenya's vernacular stations aren't far behind, thanks to their much publicised role in that country's 2007 presidential election. BBC World Service veteran Keith Somerville delves into both case studies in his book Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hatred, which aims to form a definition of hate propaganda and broadcasting. To do that, Somerville first defines propaganda and traces its historical development. The birth of the word stems back to 1622, when Pope Gregory XV established the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which busied itself with counter-spinning Martin Luther's persuasive Reformist rhetoric. In the Thirty Years War, precipitated in part from these religious divisions, propagandistic accounts of the enemy's atrocities were used to compel people into combat. Because few people could read, images were also produced to broaden the influence, but verbal messages were also delivered with greater uniformity. Propaganda became increasingly ubiquitous, and those in power deployed it to shape popular opinion on major events like the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, the Boer War and the two World Wars. As newer technologies were introduced and literacy skills grew more common, the world's mental environment grew more cluttered with messaging. Radio, in particular, brought the whole concept of propaganda back to the preacher dynamic. Through radio, one speaker addressed an audience, regardless of its literacy skills, except now the audience had grown and the speaker could reach people in their homes, at work, or in the countryside.

He could convey his passion directly, with the electric charisma of his voice, and the audience could listen together, rather than as individuals reading a cumbersome text in solitude. Media continued to evolve and collide throughout our most recent history, but the most important distinction to note is that while some of the messages disseminated are benign, others are malignant, like the acid broadcasts of Nazi Germany. The constants of all propaganda are straightforward enough: The message has to be simple. It has to be repeated regularly. It can't be completely radical, but rather has to riff off some pre-existing sentiment. It works best when it's emotional, and it always intends to shape opinion and inspire action, even if that action is just the public's support for a government's policies. Hate propaganda involves all these tenets. The difference is in the type of incitement it inspires. A study like that might pose more compelling questions than simply what hate propaganda is. Questions such as: How does hate propaganda manifest in different historical contexts? How are hateful values absorbed by citizens who, once they become journalists, propagate them without overt guidance? And how does propaganda change shape when countries shift from repression to press freedom? We already know the 'what'. It's now the 'how' that needs more study. Image from

Arm Kids to Combat Propaganda: Teach Reason - the Fourth "R" - in the Classroom - Carmen Yarrusso, Truthout: Yarrusso proposes an essential new discipline: teaching children how to think, rather than what to think, so that they will be armed against the potentially deadly deluge of propaganda and deceit promulgated throughout society. At a bare minimum, our children must acquire skills in the "3 Rs" (reading, writing and 'rithmetic) to succeed in life.

Humanity is dangerously past due adding a fourth critical R to our children's curriculum - reason (actually something much broader than reason, which I call sound thinking, outlined below). Sound thinking skills are vital not only to the well-being of individuals, but also vital to the well-being (indeed, the very survival) of our species in this increasingly interdependent, complex and dangerous world. Our schools (and almost all of us) teach our children what to think instead of how to think - like giving them fish instead of teaching them how to fish. Image from article


"But that's what the English mean, isn't it, when they say, 'He was very philosophical about it'? They mean that someone stopped thinking about something."

--The American Anne Moore in St. Aubyn's Never Mind; cited in Jonathan Sachs, "Thin, but not too thin," The Times Literary Supplement (February 8, 2013), p. 7

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