Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 22-23

"We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."

--Malcolm Moore, "Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating: What should have been a hushed scene of 800 Chinese students diligently sitting their university entrance exams erupted into siege warfare after invigilators tried to stop them from cheating,"; via PR in his PD blog; image from


(a) Public Diplomacy in the Age of Social Media -

(b) Jon Stewart Appears On Egyptian TV, Talks Movie, Political Satire, And Fox News With Bassem Youssef - Josh Feldman, "Daily Show host Jon Stewart is on a hiatus from anchoring the late night comedy program to direct a feature film, but two months after 'Egypt’s Jon Stewart' Bassem Youssef appeared on Comedy Central, Stewart returned the favor with an appearance on Youssef’s program Albernamegtoday.

The two comedians bantered about everything from Egyptian traffic to 'which pit of hell' Fox News is reporting from. They also talked a lot about political satire, with Stewart remarking, “If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you don’t have a regime.” Image from entry


Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine Travel to India - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC, June 21, 2013: "Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine will travel to New Delhi June 22-25, 2013. On June 25 Under Secretary Sonenshine will chair the U.S. delegation to the second annual U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue, at which Secretary of State John Kerry will deliver opening remarks. During the Higher Education Dialogue the delegations will hold discussions on enhancing opportunities for student and scholar mobility and collaboration, technology-enabled learning, and the community college model. The delegations will also announce the second round of eight collaborative projects between U.S. and Indian higher education institutions receiving Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative awards. During her travel Under Secretary Sonenshine will participate in the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue and hold bilateral meetings with Government of India officials to discuss U.S.-India education collaboration. Under Secretary Sonenshine will also meet with scholars and faculty at Lady Sri Ram College to affirm U.S. support for expanding educational opportunities for women and girls around the world. For Twitter updates during Under Secretary Sonenshine’s travel please follow @TSonenshine."

How to build a modern workforce - Tara D Sonenshine and Martha Kanter,
"The Obama Administration has made a historic investment in community colleges through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant programme. This programme provides US community colleges with additional resources to build and expand short-term career training programmes, in partnership with employers. The US and India are both looking closely at emerging industries as target sectors in which to train our youth or provide new skills for professionals so that they can advance their lives and seek secure futures for themselves and their families.

The upcoming US-India Higher Education Dialogue will provide an opportunity for our two countries to deepen our partnerships and consider ways to advance the prosperity of our nations.
Offering opportunities for affordable higher education that prepare students for the modern workforce is an ambitious, achievable goal. Tara D Sonenshine is US under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and Martha Kanter is US under-secretary of education [.] The views expressed by the authors are personal [.]" See also. Image from

US diplomat lays out vision for East Asia - Chen Weihua in Washington and Zhang Yunbi, China Daily: "Daniel Russel, US President Barack Obama's pick as top diplomat for East Asia, believes that the US strategy of rebalancing toward Asia needs to be rebalanced. In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday afternoon, Russel proposed that diversification of the rebalance strategy is of 'first and foremost' importance. The security element underpinning the Asia strategy is hugely important, he said. It will not go away and it must not go away, he added. 'We must strengthen that,' he said. 'But there is more to America than hard power. In fact, it is the economic agenda, the energy agenda, the education agenda, the values agenda, the people-to-people connection, the public diplomacy, that I think in the long run will have the most significant and enduring impact in this young, thriving and dynamic region.' Russel was nominated by Obama on May 15 as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs to replace Kurt Campbell, who resigned in February. The 59-year-old career diplomat is currently a special assistant to Obama and senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council. His confirmation is expected to be swift." See also.

Atmosphere of secrecy’ pervades State Dept. office, audit finds - Guy Taylor, The Washington Times: "A key State Department bureau that manages the official face presented by the U.S. to the rest of the world is rife with management problems that have left 'an atmosphere of secrecy, suspicion and uncertainty,' according to a department watchdog review released Thursday. A 2011 reorganization of the Bureau of International Information Programs, which oversees several of the State Department's official Facebook pages, didn't solve the problem and actually 'caused new organizational difficulties,' the State Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a report based on a recent inspection of the bureau. The bureau's coordinator, Dawn L. McCall, 'resigned' effective April 12, though it was not immediately clear whether the OIG report was the reason. Another top official from the bureau was recently promoted, despite the scathing review. The report concludes that 'morale is low' at the bureau, which plays a little known, but vital role in overseeing what the State Department officials describe as the infrastructure needed for sustained conversations with foreign audiences abroad.

An official description posted on the State Department's website says the bureau 'supports supports both physical and virtual places, including approximately 820 American Spaces around the world, as well as a growing social media community that numbers over 22 million followers.' The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the OIG's findings Thursday. ... The report says the bureau did make 'a significant contribution to the Department of State's digital diplomacy outreach effort' during recent years. The report also says the bureau 'increased the reach' of department publications overseas, and 'expanded the use of video in public diplomacy (PD) work.' But it slams the bureau's leadership, saying broadly that leaders 'failed to convey [the bureau's] strategic vision to staff members' and that 'there has been limited outreach by top leadership to counterparts in the [State] Department or at sister foreign affairs agencies.'" Image from

The Eye of OIG is upon IIP - Craig Hayden, InterMap: "The Office of Inspector General for the US Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors just released a report on the State Department’s International Information Programs Bureau (IIP). The report was remarkable in the range of criticism it aimed at one of the pivotal organizations in the US government dedicated to public diplomacy. The report was revealing on a number of levels, and I believe raises some important questions about the relationship between public diplomacy strategy and implementation. ... Much of the criticism is leveled at management . ...  Suffice to say that the report depicts IIP as a less than pleasant place to work. This is a shame, as I believe IIP can and should have a significant role to play in the conduct of public diplomacy. ... Outside of managerial concerns – what’s the problem? ... First and foremost is the question of strategy. The report highlights a pretty stark disconnect between the practice of public diplomacy and its connection to a broader strategic framework (for both public diplomacy and indeed, diplomacy). ... The report also takes some pretty big swipes at IIP’s efforts to collect and measure data about its effectiveness. ... On IIP’s social media activity, the report ... rightly questioned the so-called '20/100' strategy to improve Embassy social media profile through essentially buying 'likes,' rather than other possible routes to using social media as a public diplomacy tool. While there may be latent benefits to a large network of 'likes,' these are not necessarily obvious given the strategic imperatives of public diplomacy to build relations or drive attention to particular subjects, information, or events. ... The report also weighs in on the qualitative dimension of interaction through social media. It raises questions about the nature of comments or discussions found in social media. ... IIP is doing some things right. And importantly, it has the potential to become a more high-profile and strategically integrated aspect of the nexus between more traditional diplomacy and public diplomacy. It needs good people with talent and energy, and I hope that this report can catalyze the kind of change needed to revitalize its mission."

Global Game Changers in Panama - "From June 6-18, Global Game Changers participated in a cultural exchange program operating under the auspices of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which allocated funding to FHI 360 (Family Health International) to organize and implement a trip to Panama. Barrios, (Neighborhood in Spanish) is a unique program designed in three parts to maintain a positive relationship between the United States and Panama.

The first stage of the program is to bring civil society practitioners and community organizers to Washington, DC for an educational visit with Sport-For-Development experts, non-profit executives, and community center leaders. The second part of the program then sends a delegation down to Panama to present workshops and to consult and assist in the development of new potential programs. Finally, small grants are given to the participants in Panama to implement their projects. The American delegation to Panama consisted of five experts on Sport-For-Development, inner-city community service, women's empowerment and sport psychology. Each of the presenters had unique experiences and perspectives, providing a wealth of collective knowledge that served as a foundation for the trip. Global Game Changers co-founder Josh Simon represented the GGC team on the delegation to Panama." Image from entry

The Pain and Glory of Cultural Exchanges - Sarah Dilworth, "May 1st and 2nd were recognized as 'Cultural Exchange and J-1 Visa Advocacy Days' by The Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange. During these two days, as well as throughout the year, The Alliance advocates for, lobbies for, and supports international exchanges. This got me thinking about my own experience working for a cultural exchange organization, specifically, bringing international high school students to live with a family in the US for an academic school year. This past year, the State Department’s Exchange Visitor Program brought approximately 26,000 international high school students to the US on a J-1 visa.These students apply through various sponsoring organizations and these organizations handle finding host families, viable communities with local volunteers, and public schools willing to accept a student (or ten if you’re very lucky!). During the course of working in this capacity, some things led me to question the sustainability of the program and the quality of the participants’ experiences. ... 'Governments cannot substitute for the bonds that develop between individuals of different countries when, through mutual endeavor, they experience the joy and intellectual satisfaction of learning about one another and working with each other,' said former Senator Richard Lugar (co-founder of Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, a partnership founded in the wake of 9/11 to foster relationships with countries with a predominantly Muslim population). This type of interpersonal, public diplomacy changes lives, community outlooks, and even policy. This is why, despite all of its problems, cultural exchange programs need to be promoted, supported, and cultivated. "

Immigration bill: Will Shore workers go by the board? - Jason Nark, "Thousands of foreign college students enrolled in the State Department's J-1 visa program work in New Jersey every year. They fluff hotel pillows, dole out free samples of vanilla-nut fudge and scrutinize the height of every little runt looking to ride an upside-down roller coaster, and their unusual accents are as much a part of Shore lore as seagulls and outdoor showers. But now tourism officials and business owners - not just in the Garden State but across the nation - are worried that provisions in the U.S. Senate's immigration-reform bill aimed at securing the border with Mexico could wind up sinking or shrinking the tourist season nationwide. For those who employ students from overseas, the key issue in the bill is the addition of a $500 fee, to be paid to the State Department, for each student coming to the United States for work or travel. Last year, about 91,000 students came to the U.S. through the J-1 program, about 6,000 of whom came to New Jersey.

The students, mainly from Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East, are the key to the Jersey Shore's 'shoulder' seasons in the spring and fall, a Cape May County official said - the reason that piers, amusement parks and, in turn, local shops and restaurants can open during that time. ... Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., one of the Senate's so-called Gang of Eight who first worked on the bill, is aware of the concerns in New Jersey, a spokesman said last week, and he will discuss them further when a final version is hammered out. The Senate advanced the bill last week and Menendez has said he hoped to see it passed by July 4. ... The proposed $500 fee would help finance an $8.3 billion 'Southern Border Security Strategy.' Michael McCarry, executive director of the Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange in Washington, D.C., said the students could not take on that extra expense because most already are paying between $1,200 and $1,500 to come to the U.S. Most sponsor agencies are nonprofits, McCarry said, and they help connect students with employers, gauge their English skills and find housing. Those agencies, along with the New Jersey Travel Industry Association, and even elected officials in Ireland, have contacted the Senate and recently visited the U.S. Capitol to discuss the J-1 fees. ... The $500 fee most likely would have to be paid by the employer." Image from article, with caption: Morey’s Piers in Wildwood employs hundreds every summer and is very concerned about the State Department’s J-1 student worker program. J-1 students who are lifeguards at the waterpark on the pier, from top left: Sandra Rapimbergaite from Joniskis, Lithuania; Semyon Misiura from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine; Shan Li of Mianyang,China; and in the float, Masha Lushkova of Moscow, Russia.

The Role of International Exchange in the Trilateral Partnership of Japan, Korea, and the United States June 18, 2013 \- Mallory Meiser, "Japan and South Korea hold top 10 spots for the number of students they have studying in the United States. However, when it comes to the number of U.S. students studying in Japan and South Korea, they take 14th and 23rd place respectively. As the United States increasingly turns its focus toward East Asia, how does international exchange affect the developing relationships? The International Student Council (ISC) brought the Korea-American Student Conference (KASC) and the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) earlier this month in Washington, DC, for a thoughtful conversation on 'Fostering U.S. – Korea – Japan Partnership for the Future.' KASC and JASC are student-led academic and cultural exchange programs that provide a foundation for cultural sensitivity and global awareness. More than 100 attendees, largely university students and government representatives, attended the symposium for an open discussion of bilateral and global concerns of the world’s young leaders. Among those present were Thomas Hubbard and Kathleen Stephens, former U.S. ambassadors to the Republic of Korea, and U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy Susan Stevenson."

Incoming U.S. Consul General To Curacao And Chief Of Mission To Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, And Sint Maarten James R. Moore - "The United States Consulate General in Curacao is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. James R. Moore as the U.S. Consul General to Curacao and Chief of Mission to Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. ... Mr. Moore is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with nearly 30 years of experience as a U.S. diplomat.

In his previous position, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia from 2010-2013, Mr. Moore was responsible for U.S. public diplomacy and public affairs initiatives in that region, to which he travelled frequently from Washington. ... Mr. Moore has served twice in South America. As Public Affairs Officer and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador from 1999 to 2002, he was extensively involved in counter-narcotics efforts in the region. Prior to that Mr. Moore served for four years as the cultural attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mr. Moore held the position of Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey from 2003 to 2006." Uncaptioned image from article

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts - "Dan Clune, Nominee for Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Department of State [:] Dan Clune, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is an Assessor on the Board of Examiners in the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State. ... [F]rom 2002 to 2005, he was Director of the Department of State Office of Economic Policy and Public Diplomacy."

Herbert Romerstein - "Herbert Romerstein (1931 – May 7, 2013) "As a young man, he joined the Communist Youth League and then joined the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). During the Korean War, he left the Party and fought in that war. In 1951, he testified before the Senate Sub-Committee on Internal Security on communist youth organizations and before the Subversive Activities Control Board. He became a research analyst and investigator for American Business Consultants, publishers of the anti-Communist newsletter Counterattack as well as for Bookmailer, which published his first book, Communism and Your Child in 1962. According to a later employer, the Education and Research Institute: ‘From 1965 to 1983, he was a Professional Staff Member for the U.S. House of Representatives. This service included tours of duty as investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, minority chief investigator for the House Committee on Internal Security and professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.’  His government service spanned a quarter of a century. By the 1980s, he had joined the Reagan Administration full-time as a director of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation at the U.S. Information Agency. ...  Romerstein was essentially a propagandist–more specifically a counterpropagandist of Anti-Communism. He defined counterpropaganda as ‘carefully prepared answers to false propaganda with the purpose of refuting the disinformation and undermining the propagandist.’ He attacked President Barack Obama for being a communist.”

New Report on how soft power wins friends and influences nations - Tim Rivera, : "'The British Council creates international opportunities for the people other UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We call this cultural relations.'  Why is what we do – ‘cultural relations’ – so important? A new report recently published by the British Council, 'Influence and attraction: Culture and the race for soft power in the 21st century', makes the case for cultural relations not just for the UK, but for countries around the world. Culture encompasses more than just the arts – in its broadest definition it includes language, education, sport, food, religion, and identity. In a globalized world in which technology, economics, and geopolitics intertwine individuals, organizations, and countries, all of these diverse cultural aspects are coming more frequently into contact with each other. These encounters offer both opportunities for collaboration and the dangers of conflict.

So what can cultural relations achieve in the 21st century? Culture can build trust, a key ingredient for prosperity and security. The education and creative sectors are important parts of a country’s economy. In the US, in a recent speech by Undersecretary of State Tara Sonenshine, she said that international students contribute $22.7 billion to the economy annually. Similarly, the British creative sector represents 6% of the country’s GDP! In the British Council’s earlier report Trust Pays, we found that cultural relations activities increased people’s trust in the UK, and that trust is the foundation for increased exchange of ideas, investment, and trade. That same foundation of trust is necessary to resolve conflicts, help rebuild fractured societies, and create meaningful mutual connections between individuals across geopolitical divides." Image from entry [JB: On cultural relations "vs" cultural diplomacy, see].

UN's Sina Weibo Account Welcomes 4 Millionth Follower - Zhang Yuan, "The official account of the United Nations (UN) on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like social media service, welcomed its four millionth follower on June 19, 2013, marking another success in its social media push. The lucky follower was Gao Xuan, whose Weibo account is @Grace能量无限大. She is a junior college student in Beijing. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Gao at the Diaoyutai State Guest Hotel in Beijing on June 20, and presented her with a certificate of recognition, encouraging her to study hard and continue interacting with the UN. Ban is the first UN Secretary-General to communicate with global netizens through Weibo.

During his visit to Beijing in July 2012, the first activity on schedule was to exchange views with followers of the UN social media accounts online, exploring a new way of public diplomacy. Over the past year, the UN account has featured regular updates as well as held a series of online activities on sustainable development and environmental protection, allowing the public a glimpse of the organization's peacekeeping missions and other global issues. The UN has also used its account to cooperate with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and several Chinese celebrities such as Yao Chen, Zhou Xun, Jet Li and Li Ning to raise public awareness on a variety of issues. Ban launched the organization's official WeChat account on June 14, 2013, in a bid to boost the UN's social media presence in China. WeChat is a mobile text messaging and voice communications service." Image from article, with caption: The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) presents a certificate of recognition to junior college student Gao Xuan, the 4 millionth follower of the UN account on Sina Weibo, at the Diaoyutai State Guest Hotel in Beijing on June 20, 2013.

Political Communication 2013 Abstracts - Association for Education in Journalism and Mass communications: "But How Does it Play in Peoria? China’s Public Diplomacy  and American Public Opinion • Emily Metzgar; Lars Willnat; Shuo Tang, Indiana University; Tunga Lodato, Indiana University • Using content analysis and original survey data we ask if China’s public diplomacy efforts in the United States have resulted in more positive media coverage in recent years and if so, whether this correlates with more positive attitudes toward China among the American public. We find no improvement in the tone of American coverage. Moreover, we find media coverage has only limited influence on American opinion of China. We discuss the implications of these findings."

The Chinese are looking for opportunities in France - "According to the Euro-Asian investment fund Capital A if state enterprises are the main actors in foreign investment, private Chinese companies are gaining ground. They accounted for 28% of transactions in 2011, against 17% the previous year. The other big trend is the diversification of investments. Having focused on natural resources, China will be increasingly in industry and services quick guaranteed personal loans. The proportion is now 50-50. And acquisitions outside resources, Europe is the most attractive. France is the third destination for Chinese investors, behind Germany and Britain. After Washington and London, it is up to the prestigious Paris Areopagus CEC visits. And this time, the chairman of the delegation and the club, Liu Chuanzhi, does not hide its operational dimension. 'Our first two trips were primarily for public diplomacy, he said. But then, if we want to better understand the French environment and raise awareness of the Chinese business environment, we also come with a real desire to look for opportunities.' France is the third destination for Chinese investors, behind Germany and Britain."

Hassan Rouhani: Why Iran's New President Won't Change His Country's Foreign Relations - Usman Butt, "The powers of the new president are hard to understand for the outside world. Foreign policy, defense, security, and nuclear decisions are under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei has been Iran’s supreme leader since Ayatollah Khomeini's death in 1989. Iran's military reports directly to him, bypassing the president altogether. However, Khamenei does not enjoy unlimited powers. His actions are checked and balanced by the Assembly of Experts, who have the power to impeach him. The assembly, is made-up of 86 clerics, who are democratically elected by the people every eight years. The next assembly election is in 2014.  Mr Rouhani is in charge of all other areas, including the economy. His ability to formulate foreign policy depends heavily on his public image. Public diplomacy is largely his responsibility, and the more positive his image is abroad, the more willing outside countries are to work with him.

The main difficulty for any new Iranian president is how to deal with the United States, as the consensus in Iranian foreign policy circles is that the United States cannot be trusted. Fears about U.S. intentions towards Iran are well-founded. The United States' closest ally in the region, Israel, makes constant threats of war against Iran, and on top of this, 125,000 U.S. troops surround Iran. The U.S. has bombed and invaded two of Iran’s neighbors, Afghanistan and Iraq.  Image from article, with caption: Hassan Rouhani: Why Iran's New President Won't Change His Country's Foreign Relations

Power of Logic and Logic of Power in Rohani's Diplomacy: Interview with Mohammad Farhad Koleini, Senior Expert on Strategic Issues - Koleini: "The recent magnificent presidential poll in which the main role was played by our people created a new wonder which can potentially change the international attitude to the power of the religious democracy in Iran and shape their calculations in a different way. It seems that foreign experts and officials are still in a state of shock. It goes without saying that despite all the negative propaganda against the country, the international image of Iran is undergoing change and the new election has provided Iran's public diplomacy with a new opportunity."

Iran Leader Hassan Rowhani's Moderate Stance Poses Dilemma to Israel Backers: Maintaining Hard Line on Nuclear Program May Be Tricky - Nathan Guttman, Jewish Daily Forward: "During his election campaign, Rowhani focused on promises to save Iran’s economy from the brink of collapse that it reached because of international sanctions. He made general statements regarding human rights and political freedom, but these issues were kept vague and came second to his economic agenda. Still, his image as a reformer who could be more receptive to the calls of the Iranian masses poses another problem for Israel’s public diplomacy effort against Iran. Throughout the years, many of Israel’s supporters in the United States have used the regime’s dismal human rights record as a rallying cry to unite those who dislike the Iranian leadership because of its threat to annihilate Israel with those who oppose its treatment of the dissenters, of religious minorities, and of women and gay men and lesbians.

This bundling of Iran’s nuclear program with its human rights abuses could be harder to maintain if Rowhani succeeds in calming the opposition and appears to enjoy genuine, popular support." Image from article, with caption: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The surprising victory of Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rowhani may seem like a victory for those who would hope to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. It isn’t that simple.

Google goes all the way to Jerusalem to discuss its 'Palestine' policy: Israel's Foreign Ministry fails in its attempt to convince Google representatives to get 'Palestine' off the tech giant's products - Ido Kenan, "A Google representative from the company's global headquarters has discussed the decision to use 'Palestine,' not 'Palestinian Territories,' across the tech giant's products. At the Knesset committee meeting Wednesday, the Israelis didn't get very far in their attempts to change the American's mind. Last month, Google changed the way it refers to the territories, and earlier this week, Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin wrote Google CEO Larry Page urging him to reconsider. In his letter, Elkin wrote that Google's move in effect recognizes the existence of a Palestinian state. Such a decision is not only mistaken but could impair the government's efforts to restart direct talks with the Palestinian Authority. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor offered a slightly different view. Israel 'has no position vis-à-vis Google, which is neither a political nor a diplomatic entity with any authority to recognize states,' he told Haaretz.

In late May, Israel's consul general for the northwestern United States, Andy David, handed Google representatives a letter. The Foreign Ministry says the Google people promised that the company would now update Israel about similar changes, even though it might not consult with it. This is Israel's sole diplomatic gain in the battle so far. Meanwhile, MKs Nachman Shai (Labor) and Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) requested that the Knesset draw up 'an urgent proposal regarding Google and Israel.' They explained their grounds. 'Israel’s public diplomacy has suffered a serious setback .… In the war for public awareness of Israel’s situation and in the battle against the campaign against Israel’s delegitimization, the Palestinians have scored a major victory,' they said in a statement. 'Although Google is not a state, its decisions carry much weight in this global network we all use. The Knesset should carefully study how Israeli public diplomacy can deal with such challenges and why it has failed in this instance.'" Image from article, with caption: Google's Charlie Hale meeting with Israeli parliamentarians, June 19, 2013.

Bennett's 'shrapnel' comment may have been blunt, but his message was clear: No two-state solution: Economy minister sees himself as the only guardian of the Land of Israel in the government - Yossi Verter, "In the January election, the joint National Union-National Religious Party list of candidates won 12 seats [under the Habayit Hayehudi banner]. In 2006, the two parties won a combined total of nine seats. So it’s still a long road to the leadership of the right-wing constituency. To those who claimed that Bennett did harm to Israel’s public diplomacy − which is in any case lame − his confidants said, 'You will be amazed, but he is the responsible adult in this government. Every day he’s busy calming things down, putting out fires, preserving the problematic structure that’s known as the Netanyahu government.'"

Art unites India and T and T - "The High Commission of the Republic of T and T, in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), hosted an art exhibition entitled MILAP at the Azad Bhavan Art Gallery, New Delhi, India, from May 31 to June 5. The event was jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Planning and Sustainability, Government of T and T and ICCR, Government of India. The exhibition featured four artists—Tessa Alexander Sloane-Seale, who was invited to attend from Trinidad, Anita Chandradath Singh, BK Guru and Pankaj Guru who are resident in Delhi.

This was the initiative of T and T High Commissioner to India Chandradath Singh, who is an advocate of public diplomacy and the use of soft power through culture, art and music in international affairs, and was one in a series of major cultural programmes organised by the High Commission over the past two years. The main theme of the event was to celebrate the deep cultural ties between T&T and India and also T and T’s Indian Arrival Day." Image from article, with caption: Tessa Alexander, third from right, presents one of her artworks to Minister of Culture Smt Chandresh Kumari Katoch with High Commissioner Chandradath Singh, Anita Chandradath Singh, BK Guru and Pankaj Guru.

Roger Edwards's Motion For Adjournment Speech - The Hon Mr Roger Edwards, "Once elected you represent the whole of the Falkland Islands anyway. I have heard and I have been subject to criticism about our trips overseas carrying out public diplomacy. Yes. It is costly and time consuming but we have made a great progress against the continued Argentine aggression and lies told about these Islands. Small as we are, we really are making a substantial difference. But all this hard work will be as nothing if we do not continue these trips."

Interview: Google Ideas director Jared Cohen - Omar Shariff, "[Q:] You came to prominence during the presidential polls in Iran in 2009. You had Twitter postpone its shutdown for maintenance and the Obama administration was not necessarily supportive of your move. [A:] My boss Hillary Clinton was supportive of me. [Q:] It was at that time that you were the third most followed person on Twitter in the administration. [A:] Yes. But you have to understand that at that time people really didn’t understand the medium. So they didn’t necessarily know what Twitter, YouTube, Facebook were in the government. Obviously that has now changed. Yes, now it is an essential tool for governments. Yes, but the key is whether governments go beyond just using the technology to communicate and advocate policy. When people think of digital diplomacy, they think of government tweeting. It is not what it is. That is public diplomacy. The way to think about technology is to get to a point where we don’t talk separately about technology. Where we don’t talk about how can technology be used to counter violent extremism. We just talk about countering violent extremism. We accept how relevant technology is to everything. Name any issue in the world, I can tell you how technology is intertwined with it. I can tell you how technology will make it better. How it can make it worse. It needs to be part of everything that we do, whether you are a government or a company or a citizen. When I am speaking at universities, I always tell graduates that you are the first generation that’s being brought up with high prevalence of technology; your comparative advantage is you will know more about technology than the people you work for. Regardless of what fields you get into, that matters."

RELATED ITEMS (abbreviated due to technical infelicities)

Chance for a new approach on Iran: It's hard to know how much of a moderate new President Hassan Rowhani will be, but there are ways the U.S. could help him reach a nuclear accord - Doyle McManus, If the Obama administration wants to give Rowhani a chance to succeed, it doesn't need to lift sanctions prematurely or give away the store. But it does need to aim for a "win-win" outcome — even though, after decades of mistrust, that will be as difficult to sell in Washington as in Tehran.

Western hypocrisy: double standards, propaganda, cynicism - Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, International law states that it is illegal to get involved in the internal affairs and conflicts in a sovereign state. One thing is selling weapons to the legitimate government, another is arming terrorists. But what to expect from a government and a regime which labels terrorists as freedom fighters and openly sides with criminals, torturers, murderers, rapists, looters, arsonists and thieves?

Chinese Propaganda Agents Move into Every Tibetan Village - China has dispatched government agents into every village in Tibet as part of an unprecedented surveillance and 'political re-education' programme, according to a recent report.

An army of 21,000 officials scattered into small teams and set up in each of the country's 5,541 villages, with agents in some cases moving into the homes of Tibetans.
According to the report by charity Human Rights Watch (HRW), the "Solidify the Foundations, Benefit the Masses" campaign cost £150 million, or a quarter of Tibet's annual budget. Image  from article


(a) The soft sciences matter as much as ever: Without citizens whose reading, writing, speaking and analytical skills are top-notch, society as a whole falters. Cutting educational budgets in the arts and humanities is a mistake - James Cuno, Federal funding for helping American students include international training in their education has been cut 41% in four years.

(b) Document: Major resources needed for Obama Africa trip - Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura, Washington Post: When President Obama goes to sub-Saharan Africa this month, the federal agencies charged with keeping him safe won’t be taking any chances. Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency. Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet­proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close. The president and first lady had also planned to take a Tanzanian safari as part of the trip, which would have required the president’s special counterassault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat, according to the planning document. But officials said Thursday that the safari had been canceled in favor of a trip to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner.


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