Thursday, April 11, 2013

April 10-11

"There is the silence of mystery evoking awe, the silence of attention or respect, the silence of desolation, the silence of what is forgotten, the silence of what is concealed: silence good, bad, and indifferent."

--Lucy Beckett, author of In the Light of Christ: Writings in the Western Tradition, reviewing Diarmaid MacCulloch's Silence in Christian History (The Times Literary Supplement, March 29, 2013), p. 10; image from


UT grad injured in Afghanistan bombing - "Another person with local ties was involved in a deadly bombing over the weekend in Afghanistan. The University of Tennessee reported Tuesday that Kelly Hunt was injured in a suicide bombing on Saturday. Hunt received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at the University of Tennessee. Staff Sgt. Christopher Ward, an Oak Ridge High School graduate, was killed in an attack in Afghanistan over the weekend.

The U.S. Department of Defense has not released official information about the weekend attacks, so it is unclear if Hunt and Ward were affected by the same attack. According to Hunt's LinkedIn profile, she works as a public diplomacy officer for the State Department. The University of Tennessee quotes a post that Hunt's mother made on Kelly's Facebook page about her condition: 'She had suffered a complex skull fracture and was being monitored for bleeding and pressure,' the post said. 'She's not out of the woods yet, so please continue to keep her in your prayers." A later post by Hunt's mother says she underwent surgery to remove shrapnel from her body and was being transported to an American base in Germany.'" Hunt image from article

Diplomat with ET ties remains critical after blast; State Dept. confirms her ID - News Sentinel: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered his sympathy to the parents of a former News Sentinel staffer-turned-diplomat seriously wounded in an Afghan suicide blast over the weekend. Kelly Hunt, 33, remained in critical condition after a series of surgeries at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, her mother, Dinah Hunt, said in a Facebook posting Wednesday. Dinah Hunt has been with her daughter at the hospital since Monday. The public diplomacy officer was among four State Department staffers wounded by the blast in Qalat, Afghanistan, that also killed three soldiers, including one with East Tennessee ties, and two civilians. Hunt suffered brain injuries and fragmentation wounds throughout her body.

Image from article, with caption: Kelly Hunt, University of Tennessee graduate wounded when her convoy was attacked by a suicide car bomber in Qalat, Afghanistan, on April 6, 2013. The attacked also killed Foreign Service official Anne Smedinghoff. Hunt is a former copy editor at the Knoxville News Sentinel. The party was part of a goodwill mission to deliver books to a school.

US Mission Afghanistan: Public Diplomacy Officer for Kandahar, Kelly Hunt Wounded in Zabul - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "On April 8, reported that two casualties from the April 6, 2012 attack in Zabul, Afghanistan came from East Tennessee. The news site sourcing family members confirmed the identities of Army Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Ward of Oak Ridge who was killed during the attack and Kelly Hunt, a 33-year-old public diplomacy officer assigned in Kandahar for the State Department, who was wounded in the same incident. ... We should note that Ms. Smedinghoff who was killed in the same attack was a public diplomacy officer working as the Assistant Press Attache at U.S. Embassy Kabul since last year. It appears right now that there were five State Department personnel delivering textbooks to a school in Qalat? We have more questions than answers right now."

Zabul Attack: Were They Walking in a Red Zone? - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "In the early morning this past Sunday, a day after Anne Smedinghoff [committed to public diplomacy – JB] and four others were killed in ZabulAfghanistan, I received an untraceable anonymous note that she was walking, and was not in a vehicle when she was killed. The four-sentence tip alleged that she was with Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, the American Senior Civilian Representative (RC-South) in Kandahar and asked a rhetorical question, 'Will anyone be held accountable?  doubtful.' Ambassador Addelton was formerly the U.S. ambassador to Mongolia.  The Senior Civilian Representative, in the embassy’s view is  'the co-equal of the military commander of that region rather than a member of his staff' (for more of that, see this). So, what do you do with something like that? Do you ignore it or chase it down the rabbit hole? Does it really matter whether they were walking in a red zone or were inside a vehicle?  They’re still dead. But it’s been bugging me quite a bit."

Witness: Anne Smedinghoff, other Americans killed in Afghan bombing were on foot, lost - Jay Price and Rezwan Natiq, "A promising young U.S. Foreign Service officer, three American soldiers and a civilian government contractor who were killed Saturday in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan probably wouldn’t have been close to the blast if they hadn’t gotten lost while walking to the school where they were to participate in a book-donation ceremony, according to an Afghan television reporter who was with them and was wounded in the attack." Via LJB

Colleagues Recall Steady Rise of a Young Diplomat Killed in Afghanistan - Graham Bowley and Monica Davey, New York Times: "She was an unassuming young diplomat, only 25, who greeted journalists at the heavily fortified American Embassy gates in Kabul, escorting them to interviews and impressing them with her organization and her studied wish to build bridges between Afghan and American cultures. Anne Smedinghoff arrived in Afghanistan in the middle of the summer heat last July. Tentative, even nervous about her relative inexperience in the war, she was nevertheless ambitious and eager to impress as a public diplomacy officer during her long hours fielding inquiries from journalists, chatting at parties around the city, and in trips to regions beyond Kabul. ... Her death has deeply shaken her colleagues, a diplomatic corps already kept in pressure-cooker conditions in the tightly secured embassy in Kabul. ... She did not have formal training in Dari, the language of the Afghan government, said Solmaz Sharifi, another colleague, but 'in the bullpen she frequently wrote and defined impromptu Dari vocab words on the whiteboard. Anne’s favorite phrase was ‘salam watandar,’ or ‘hello, countrymen.’' ... She organized the visit to Kabul of the former Olympic soccer player Lorrie Fair, and played right forward for the embassy women’s team — on the rough grass soccer field in the international military coalition’s compound in the summer, or in the gym there during colder weather.

She was helping to organize the annual Kabul marathon this month. ... In Afghanistan, she went on regular official trips — to Herat, with Ambassador Cunningham last year for an art exhibition opening, for example, and this month on the day visit, accompanying Afghan journalists in Zabul to present a set of translated books to Afghan children, meant especially for girls, part of a program that has already delivered 1.9 million books around the country. Advancing Afghan women’s rights was one of her passions, journalists said." Smedinghoff image from

U.S. embassy learns a hard lesson about Twitter - Cynthia Schneider, CNN: "Old and new diplomacy clashed in the flare-up between Egypt and the United States over the arrest and interrogation of Bassem Youssef -- considered the 'Jon Stewart of Egypt' -- who skewers politicians of all stripes on his popular TV show, El Bernameg. In the world of traditional diplomacy, governments had more control over what was said about them and by whom. As the Egyptian and U.S. governments discovered the hard way, that control is long gone in the world of 21st century diplomacy with its 24/7 social media and powerful nongovernmental voices. When Youssef, accused of insulting President Mohamed Morsy and Islam, was summoned for questioning by the Morsy-appointed prosecutor general, this latest repressive action by the Muslim Brotherhood government sparked an international outcry.

The response from the United States came in two forms. First, the State Department expressed "concern" about Youssef's detention, citing it as "evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of expression" in Egypt. Then, Jon Stewart mounted an eloquent -- and humorous -- defense of Bassem Youssef and freedom of expression through that well-known diplomatic channel, 'The Daily Show.' Failing to see the humor in the situation, the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood struck back. The presidential office tweeted a stern reprimand to the U.S. Embassy: 'It's inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda.' Faced with the choice of appeasing the Egyptian government or defending freedom of speech and dissent -- as practiced by Bassem Youssef and Jon Stewart -- the U.S. Embassy in Cairo chose the former, and shut down its Twitter feed. This decision, reportedly made by Ambassador Anne Patterson, not only violated what the United States allegedly stands for -- the rights of citizens to criticize and hold their governments accountable -- but also displayed a stunning ignorance of how Twitter and, well, the Internet work. Once something is out on Twitter, it's out. Shutting it down will not expunge it, and will only blow up into a negative story. ... The United States cannot present itself as the defender of free speech when it suppresses free speech. In removing the tweets about Bassem Youssef and Jon Stewart, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo undercut its own soft power. Who in Egypt will listen the next time an embassy official talks about the importance of free speech or free media?" Image from

Digital Diplomacy’s Reach and Risk [includes video segment about Youssef’s arrest by Jon Stewart] - P.J. Crowley, "The recent Twitter row between the United States and Egypt triggered a number of issues – freedom of expression; the role of media in modern societies; the balance between diplomacy and public diplomacy; between interests and values, both ours and theirs; and the ability to communicate not just governments but populations using traditional channels and social media. It represents a great teachable moment, for students (and professors) of public diplomacy and practitioners as well. ... In the past, such conversations would occur in quiet settings involving mostly government officials and policy elites. Now exchanges are out in the open, with newly empowered citizens offering their views and hoping for a genuine dialogue. If this is the future of public diplomacy, Embassy Cairo is a trendsetter. Its recent experience demonstrates both the potential and the risk regarding how it is employed. Social media have greatly expanded public diplomacy’s reach, where actions and reactions can quickly take on broader political and social significance. Embassy Cairo knows this better than anyone. ... That said, it was probably inappropriate for the Embassy to link to the segment on its Twitter feed.

Stewart calls Morsi a 'crazy guy.' It’s inevitable that many would view it as official agreement. While edgy works, this went too far, an 'in your face' action at a sensitive time when the new Egyptian government was likely to overreact to any perceived slight. But once the tweet was out there, connecting to publicly available content, the Embassy compounded its first mistake by removing the link. The Ambassador’s private apology with a pledge to avoid a repeat in the future was all that was needed. ... The retreat also sends the wrong message to the State Department’s global communicators. Ambassadors and public diplomats should be fully engaged in the vigorous debate about the critical issues of the day, not on the sidelines where it’s safe. They should be pushing the envelope, even if it means going over the line once in a while. While integrating transformational technology into U.S. public diplomacy programs, mistakes inevitably will be made. How organizations react says a lot about what lessons will be learned." Bassem Youssef image from entry

Diplomacy on Twitter: Tweet the American Embassy in Cairo and Washington displeases [Google translation from the German] - Andrea Jonjic: "Tweet [:] This is not an easy task for diplomats. On the one hand they are to act as the official voice and disseminate information. But with social media, the direct link to citizens of the world comes, and use services such as Twitter purely as a presentation platform, runs counter to the idea of social media. The Tweet therefore runs along a thin line - will cross this, spread the 'breakdown' rapidly and leads, as in the Tweet to Daily Show, to serious consequences. But that diplomats will have to arrange, because the digital diplomacy is loud Arturo Sarukhan [says], a Mexican diplomat, and more important, and a complementary part of traditional diplomacy.There may actually even be a war for social events."

Our Man in Seoul: Ever So Inconvenienced by North Korea - Peter Van Buren: "Add another to the State Department’s social media fail pile: America’s ambassador in Seoul blogs about how his vacation was disrupted by those naughty nats in North KoreaU.S. ambassador to Korea Sung Kim has wowed us via social media before, with his just-behind-the-meme video of his embassy interns dancing Gangnam Style. His latest stumble into social media details on his official Embassy blog his spring break trip with his daughters, all of which was just bothered by the constant threat of World War III.

How we lost North Korea - Ben Barber, "Foreign investors in South Korea apparently also are worried about Northern threats by Kim the younger — they have trimmed workforce plans until they see how far things will go. I propose that we consider all these twists and turns and learn from them how to proceed. Here are some ideas [among them]: • Bring together Albright, former Arizona governor Bill Richardson, Bob Gallucci and even Denis Rodman — any prominent American who has dealt with the North and may have friendships there. Create a non-official, Track II public diplomacy council to discuss with the North how to defuse tension in the region and improve living standards in the North."

North Korea's violation of UNSC resolutions is unacceptable -- Lavrov - Konstantin Garibov, The Voice of Russia: "Refuting allegations of Russia’s passive stance on the Korean issue, the [Russian foreign] minister [Lavrov] pointed out that Moscow

had never actually stopped promoting normalization on the peninsula, but preferred 'calm' and non-public diplomacy, working close contact with all parties involved, including North Korea, the United States, Japan and South Korea, and coordinating its efforts with China."

Engaging North Korea: time to rethink and retool - Caitlin Byrne, "For Australia, a nation now seeking to constructively engage within the Asian Century, the DPRK is of vital importance. ... It is time to rethink our own diplomatic engagement beyond sanctions and to more effectively utilize both traditional and more innovative measures. Building people-to-people linkages through public diplomacy initiatives such as academic or vocational exchanges is an important starting point. The experience of established organisations such as Choson Exchange and East West Coalition already operating exchange programs in and out of North Korea show that programs addressing specific areas of skill development, including business management, policy development, environmental management, organic farming or animal husbandry add significant and practical value to the people of North Korea. Two-way exchange initiatives are made somewhat difficult by Australia's bilateral sanctions regime. Of particular significance, the legislation specifically prevents North Koreans from entering Australia. However there may be some room for flexibility where humanitarian grounds exist. Two-way exchange opportunities might then be usefully promoted to provide North Koreans with an Australian experience, without compromising the overarching intent of the legislation. Such initiatives if managed effectively offer a framework for building understanding, confidence and trust at a people-to-people level, and can pave the way towards improved understanding, trust and political dialogue. Consideration should also be given to establishing a permanent Australian diplomatic presence in Pyongyang."

US Under Secretary Sonenshine to visit Kyiv on Thursday - Interfax-Ukraine: "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine is to visit Kyiv on Thursday." See also. Below Sonenshine image from article

Establishment of an Academic Partnership in Gender and Development Studies with the Lahore College for Women University in Lahore, Pakistan - "Estimated Total Program Funding: $1,000,000 ... CFDA Number(s): 19.501 -- Public Diplomacy Programs for Afghanistan and Pakistan ... The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore announces an open competition for a cooperative agreement to establish an Academic Partnership in Gender and Development Studies between a U.S. educational institution and the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) in Lahore, Pakistan. Accredited U.S. four-year colleges and universities meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3) may submit proposals to pursue institutional or departmental objectives in partnership with the Lahore College for Women University. Objectives detailed as priorities for this partnership include: collaborative research, curriculum development, long distance teaching via internet/DVC, professional development for faculty by US counterparts, abroad or locally, and faculty and student exchange. Faculty exchange programs ranging from a few weeks to a full semester, and shorter-term graduate student exchange programs, are preferred by the Lahore College for Women University. In addition, the university is interested in training and other assistance in developing multi-media awareness materials, conducting collaborative workshops, and leadership training for women."

Exchanges receive 6.6% cut in President’s FY14 budget request - Mark Overmann, "Released this morning after a 10-week delay, the President’s FY14 budget request cuts State Department international exchange programs by nearly $40 million.

The FY14 requested level for exchanges, $562.7 million, is a 6.6 per cent decrease from current FY13 funding of $602.5 million, and an 11 per cent decrease from the previous high water mark of $635 million in FY10." Via LJB; image from entruy

Highlights of the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development Budget - April D. Ryan, "Public Diplomacy and Education and Cultural Exchanges ($1.1 billion). Continues to counter violent extremism, expand and strengthen people-to-people relationships, inform policy making, and deploy resources in strategic alignment with foreign policy priorities; fosters support for academic programs, professional and cultural exchanges, and continued growth for strategic partnerships around the world."

U.S. Will Close Consulate In Thessaloniki - Christina Flora, "The U.S. has decided to permanently close its consular offices in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, as part of government budget cuts, the outgoing Consul-General Marsha Lance said during a meeting held in Katerini, at the Conference Centre of the municipality. ... The first recommendation for the closure was made by the Inspector General of the State Department in a report in March 2011. ... The Consulate is headed by the Consul General, an American Deputy Principal, who also serves as Political Officer and Consul, along with an American administrative assistant, and employs local hire individuals whose expertise includes administration, public diplomacy, IT systems, political affairs, maintenance, and security."

GW opens doors to China with Confucius Institute - Joshua Eferighe, Washington Times: "China’s growing diplomatic soft power was on display just a few city blocks from the White House, as George Washington University opened the District’s first Confucius Institute promoting the rising Asian giant’s language and culture Wednesday. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated building that will be the home of the institute on the university campus also drew a number of local officials. GW is now one of some 90 universities in the United States that have a Confucius Institute, an exercise in public diplomacy by Beijing designed to create a cultural footprint overseas to complement the country’s rising economic might. Just this week, China also opened a new institute at New York’s Columbia University, and Colorado State University and the University of Tennessee plan ribbon-cuttings later this week. While GW may be the first in the District to have one, other Confucius Institutes are located in the region, including programs at George Mason University and the University of Maryland. But Chinese officials said opening an institute inside the nation’s capital represented a milestone. 'We have almost 470 Confucius Institutes [worldwide], but the one here at George Washington is very key and important because of the potential,' said Xu Lin, director-general at the Office of Chinese Language Council International. GW President Steven Knapp said he’s had a long-standing partnership with some of the members of the Confucius Institute, so that formally establishing an institute was 'bound to happen.' The institute will be offering non-credit Chinese language and culture courses to students. ... One sign of China’s growing clout in U.S. academic circles is the sheer number of Chinese students now studying in American schools. University officials say that more than 1,200 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students attend the school some 40 percent of the total foreign student population. The Chinese student contingent has increased more than fourfold since Mr. Knapp came to the school just six years ago."

Kazakhstan - China: strong foundation of partnership - "During his official visit to China, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and addressed the XII session of the Boao Forum for Asia. ... The topic of the forum is consistent with the spirit of one of the world’s most important platforms of public diplomacy: 'Innovation, responsibility, search for common development in Asia.'

Speaking at the opening of the dialogue platform, Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that the relevance of the Forum is reinforced by the fact that Asia with its main industrial potential is the region of particular importance." Image from article

Co-assembled Belarusian-Chinese cars come into market - "Today it became known that Belarus will be manufacturing spare parts for cars. This was stated today on the air of radio 'Belarus' by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Belarus. According to the diplomat, the profiled enterprise will appear by 2015. Belarusian spare parts will be all-purpose and will not only supply the recently opened enterprise of Belarusian-Chinese cars, but will also be exported. Gong Jianwei, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Belarus: 'We plan to increase the productive capacity within 3 years.' The diplomat also shared his impressions about Belarusians and the country, spoke about cooperation plans and his family. The first international radio station now broadcasts in China. The exclusive interview with the Ambassador will air in the program 'Your Friend Belarus'. In Belarus the interview will air in the program 'Public Diplomacy' on international radio 'Belarus'."

Follow-up: Finland’s campaign for the UN Security Council - "Nordic small states ... can appear as 'good international players', with no evil agenda of their own, and get an easier satisfecit than bigger countries in their image diplomacy. This is one difference between small states’ and great powers’ public diplomacy: the perception that small states are more earnest than great powers."

From Emotional Detachment To Rational Realism: Turkish-Israeli Relations - "One could contend that Netanyahu’s phone call and apology to Prime Minister Erdoğan with regard to the Mavi Marmara tragedy, indicates the dawn of a new era in Turkish-Israeli relations. ... [T]he new process that will unfold following the apology should be interpreted as a return to a realist and rational perspective in terms of bilateral relations. ... One should not forget that it was the intense efforts of the United Stated of America which works closely with both countries and the proximity the Obama administration has established with the Turkish government that prevented the tensions between the two countries turning from a temporary crisis to an insoluble and chronic enmity.

The irreplaceable actors of public diplomacy such as civil society organizations, think-tanks and public intellectuals of both countries have unquestionably played an important role. In fact the determinant factor that has brought the relations to its current state is the presence of such lobbies and individuals who have conveyed their opinion that the cost of keeping relations unresolved had taken its toll on both countries." Uncaptioned image from entry

We Need Your Brains - YMedad, "'Sponge thinkers aren't helpful. A lot goes in but a bit of pressure (threats from faculty, anti-Zionist students, media fear, lack of confidence, etc.) and they lose it all:

We need brave, inquistive [sic], inquiring, comprehensive public diplomacy activists with independent-thinking qualities: Brains and bravery would do just fine." Image from entry

Israeli TV shows are already a hit abroad, but producers believe the sky’s the limit: 'We’re not good at the Olympics or soccer, but we’re good at telling stories.' says Israeli producer Avi Armoza. 'It's possible to develop the high-tech model for the content industry too' [includes video, Homeland] - Nati Tucke, "Armoza Formats' Avi Armoza, 55, is one of the Israeli pioneers in the business of exporting programming concepts. These days there are many companies that export content from Israel, including the international division of Channel 2 franchisee Keshet, in partnership with the Reshet franchisee, Britain's ITV, Dori Media and others. One of Israel's major programming achievements is the success abroad of 'Homeland,' based on Keshet television's Israeli show 'Hatufim' ('Prisoners of War' ). Once dedicated to serving its tiny home market, Israel's program-content industry has become an export sector. In 2005, Armoza

began distributing Israeli program content to television networks abroad. Due to his efforts, 1,000 episodes have been aired around the world. ... Early in his career, Armoza worked as a public relations assistant at the Jewish Agency, where in the 1980s he began developing the organization's video production efforts. His work included documentary films on immigration, as well as a television show for the American market. In addition to being engaged in hasbara - public diplomacy on Israel's behalf - Armoza said, 'we gave our viewers human drama with strong stories.'" Image from article, with caption: Avi Armoza: 'We’re not good at the Olympics or soccer, but we’re good at telling stories.'

Winning the foreign policy battle begins at home - Aubrey Matshiqi, "Does South Africa have a foreign policy? And is South Africa’s African agenda Africa’s agenda? There is no prize for guessing that these questions arise . ... [D]emocracy is not a monastery. It is not a quiet place. It is more like a rock or hip-hop concert and governments are not at liberty to listen only to their choice of democratic noise. Instead of talking down to citizens, our government must improve its public diplomacy."

Seven ideas that explain the current situation in Catalonia - "The Catalan government, through the World Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) has created a document with some of the main ideas that explain the current situation in Catalonia. The Scotland’s Catalan Centre has been asked by the Catalan Government to disseminate them."

Uncaptioned image from entry Экипаж корабля OPEN 2013 уже на борту. Присоединяйся! [See Google translation if needed] - Состав Международного Жюри Фестиваля OPEN 2013: "Жуао Фрейре (Португалия) – директор по стратегии крупнейшего португальского брэндингового агентства Brandia Central, автор

ряда работ в сфере территориального маркетинга, журналист и редактор журнала Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. C 2012 года – Председатель Международного жюри Фестиваля территориального маркетинга и брэндинга OPEN." Freire image from entry

His Excellency Ambassador John Bernhard, B.Sc., M.Sc. - "Ambassador Bernhard is former Ambassador of Denmark and a Distinguished Fellow of New Westminster College. ... Ambassador Bernhard’s skills and expertise include: ... public diplomacy."


Stay Cool. Call North Korea’s Bluff - Andrei Lankov, New York Times: North Korea is a tiny dictatorship with a bankrupt economy, but its leaders are remarkably adept at manipulating global public opinion. In recent weeks, we have been exposed to yet another brilliant example of their skill. Scores of foreign journalists have been dispatched to Seoul to report on the growing tensions between the two Koreas and the possibility of war. Upon arrival, though, it is difficult for them to find any South Koreans who are panic-stricken. In other words, it is business as usual on the Korean Peninsula. Perhaps, when the atmosphere cools down, an argument can be made for giving North Korea’s leaders some of the assistance they want, if they are willing to make concessions of their own. But it does not make sense to credulously take their fake belligerence at face value and give them the attention they want now. It would be better if people in Washington and New York took a lesson from the people of Seoul.

Reforms inch along in Pakistan: The crisis-plagued country is poised for a true democratic future if it builds on the changes that have occurred in the last few years - Arif Rafiq, The U.S. should help Pakistan where it matters: building parliament's professional research and support capacity, boosting income tax collection, combating corruption and terrorism, and finding cheap sources of energy and markets for Pakistani exports. Finally, Washington cannot sanction military rule in Pakistan. Democracy and good governance are not mutually exclusive in Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan cannot continue to exist without both.

Powers on the Mend - Ian Bremmer, David Gordon - New York Times: Yes, China is rising; but, surprise, so is America — and given the deep economic interdependence that both governments acknowledge, that’s a recipe for a more constructive longer-term relationship. U.S.-China is no zero-sum game.

There is no new Berlin Wall separating the two countries’ fortunes — and both sides know it. Given the volumes of trade and investment between them, Washington and Beijing will rise or fall together, and neither side has much to gain from the other’s weakness and insecurity. Image from article, with caption: Direct engagement from Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping are needed to give U.S.-China relations the importance they deserve.

‘Django Unchained’ Pulled From China’s Theaters - Gerry Mullany, New York Times: The U.S. film ‘'Django Unchained'’ was abruptly pulled from theaters in China on its opening day Thursday, a surprising move that came after some scenes were reported to have been edited to conform to the wishes of Chinese censors. No reason was given for the decision to suspend the film’s opening. Workers at Beijing theaters said the film had been pulled because of unspecified technical problems with the movie. The film was to have made its debut Thursday after weeks of heavy promotion in China.

News reports have said that some of the film’s graphic violence was edited to make it acceptable to state censors, including altering the color of fake blood in violent scenes and limiting how far the blood splattered. Image from article, with caption: A woman looked at a poster for the film "Django Unchained" on Thursday outside a theater in Beijing.

The Arab Quarter Century - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: It’s best we now speak of the “Arab Decade” or the “Arab Quarter Century” — a long period of intrastate and intraregional instability, in which a struggle for both the future of Islam and the future of the individual Arab nations blend together into a “clash within a civilization.” The ending: TBD. Given all this, America’s least bad option is to use its economic clout to insist on democratic constitutional rules, regular elections and political openness, and to do all it can to encourage moderate opposition leaders to run for office.

The Terror Merger - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: If the Administration wants a good outcome in Syria, it might want to help the good (or the better) guys win. The alternative is the return of al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world.

Benghazi's Portent and the Decline of U.S. Military Strength: Ten more Marines per ship won't matter if there aren't ships in the Mediterranean Sea to deploy from - Mark Helprin, Wall Street Journal: Hillary Clinton, possibly the next president, had a record-air-mile tenure as secretary of state, in which restless ambition was the cause of unambitious restlessness, brought one of the most confused approaches

to the international system ever foisted upon the long suffering Republic, unless you think donating Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood was Napoleonic genius. Image from article, with caption: U.S. Marine soldiers exit an Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) during a joint landing operation at Pohang seashore in March last year.

Noonan: A Statesman's Friendly Advice: Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew on what makes America great—and what threatens its greatness - Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal: The calm, incisive wisdom of one of the few living statesmen in the world who can actually be called visionary is in a book, "Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States and the World," a gathering of Mr. Lee's interviews, speeches and writings, which says, inter alia, that what can destroy America is "multiculturalism," which he speaks of as not an appreciation of all cultures but a gradual surrendering of the essential culture that has sustained America since its beginning.

That culture—its creativity and hardiness, its political and economic traditions—is great, and it would be "sad for America to be changed even partially." Will waves of immigrants from the south assimilate, or will America become "more Latin American?" America must continue to invite in all the most gifted and hard-working people in the world, but it must not lose its culture, which is the secret of its success. And America goes the way of modern Europe at its peril: "If you follow the ideological direction of Europe, you are done for." There are always people who require help, but "addressing their needs must be done in a way that does not kill incentive." Image from article, with caption: former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

Communists, tyrants and rogues — and the stars who play to them: Stars’ curious travel plans include lands of despots - Ben Wolfgang, From Hanoi Jane to Havana Jay-Z, the celebrity culture’s coziness with communists, tyrants and rogues has been at odds with U.S. foreign policy for a half-century.

The most recent example came just days ago when rapper Jay-Z and his wife, Beyonce, spent their fifth wedding anniversary partying in Havana despite clear travel restrictions on Americans vacationing in communist-run Cuba. The jaunt has been rebuked by, among others, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a Cuban-American. One reason for the growing backlash, analysts say, is that these trips routinely send mixed messaged to the rest of the world about U.S. policy. In a worst-case scenario, they’re interpreted as de facto diplomacy. Image from article, with comment: U.S. singer Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, right, tour Old Havana


Tennessee politician arrested for habit of masturbating out car window at 90 mph - David Ferguson, Via MVB blog. Image of below 90 mph masturbator from article:

The Lazy Gene - Alexandra Petri, Washington Post: The More-Active Rats were waking up early and whipping up some delicious protein shakes in their home juicers before going on a brisk jog around the maze in matching sweatbands, and the Less-Active Rats had Cheetos dust in their whiskers and spent most of the morning hitting their snooze buttons, whimpering gently and really intending to pick up their dry cleaning.


"Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie."


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