Monday, November 4, 2013

November 1-3

Abbreviated edition

"And though 43% of Americans could correctly pick out James Clapper as the director of national intelligence, 74% could correctly identify Miley Cyrus as the person who twerked at the MTV Video Music Awards."

--Amy Zegart, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution; Cyrus image from


Strictly for Russophiles. Via SL


NSA affair: charm offensive in Berlin -- 31.10.2013 America's ambassador to Germany, John Emerson, invites you to call. He does not want to talk about the fourth floor of his workplace at Pariser Platz [Google "translation'] - Majid Sattar, "John B. Emerson has to weigh his words. The American ambassador, who moved into his job at the Pariser Platz in Berlin two months ago, has loaded this Thursday morning at his official residence, operates on a specific occasion

for an hour 'public diplomacy', that political public relations, and scatters brave one or the other joke in his remarks. ... Such charm offensives starts the State Department in Washington, whenever America's standing has suffered badly once again in the world. Ten years ago, after the transatlantic rift over the Iraq war, it was a time. And now, once again, there is cause to burnish the reputation of superpower." Emerson image from entry

US Embassy defends promotion of controversial film - "The US State Department has been forced to defend the promotion by its embassy in Canberra of the controversial documentary Dirty Wars. Dirty Wars, about covert US counter-terrorism operations including targeted killings carried out under the Obama administration, is being screened at the Canberra International Film Festival. US media commentators have called out the embassy for touting free tickets to the documentary, but a State Department spokeswoman said the US supported freedom of speech. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked at Wednesday's press briefing in Washington DC why the embassy was giving away tickets to a film 'highly critical of the administration'. Ms Psaki said the embassy had received tickets to a number of films, including Dirty Wars, as part of its support for the film festival. 'As you know, we have public diplomacy and outreach programs around the world, including in Canberra, Ms Psaki told reporters. 'Many of those programs around the world promote independent films, promote Hollywood films. That's something we're doing here. There’s a film festival going on where they’re showing, as I understand it, dozens of movies, including 16 US films.

We’ve provided some funding for that. We believe in freedom of speech. We’re not judging or advocating or endorsing any of the movies, but we are just simply encouraging people to participate in the film festival. A spokeswoman for the embassy in Canberra said the tickets have already been given away, and no further comment would be made as Ms Psaki spoke for the embassy." Image from

State Department Taking Part in Global Online Course Network - "Coursera, an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free, announced Coursera Learning Hubs that the company says will offer people around the world physical spaces where they can access the Internet to take a Coursera course, with other students in an interactive, facilitated setting. In a company blog post, Coursera says State Department is 'a major Learning Hubs partner,' which with other institutions will open learning hubs in 30 locations worldwide, including embassies and American Spaces. Learning hubs are classrooms that provide the online Coursera content with in-person facilitators to groups of students. In the blog post Meghann Curtis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, says the collaboration with Coursera could have longer-term benefits.  '[W]e hope that we can identify new models for blended online and in-person learning, offer students new skills and knowledge, and help connect them to U.S. higher education institutions.'” See also.

VOA and IBB heads preach about social media while Voice of America news and social media outreach collapses - BBG Watcher, "[T]he Voice of America completely misses major news stories."

S. Ashour, [video]: "We appreciate the support of Russia" [video] - "As part of a mission of public diplomacy an Egyptian public delegation visited Moscow. Representatives of various circles of Egyptian society, social, religious, academic and business organizations arrived in the capital to acquaint the Russian public with the real situation in Egypt, which is going through difficult times.

Chairman of the Egyptian Trade Union Association Samih Ashour commented on Russia's position on the issue." Uncaptioned image from entry. See also (1)

China needs to develop closer ties with neighbours: Xi Jinping - "President of China Xi Jinping said China needs to develop closer ties with neighbouring countries, with more friendly political relations, stronger economic bonds, deeper security cooperation and closer people-to-people contacts. ... He said China should adhere to the new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, advocate the concept of comprehensive security, common security, and cooperative security, promote security cooperation with neighbouring countries, actively participate in regional and sub-regional security cooperation, deepen relevant cooperation mechanisms, and enhance strategic mutual trust.

'We should strive to strengthen publicity work, public diplomacy, cultural and people-to-people exchanges with the neighbouring countries, and consolidate and expand social and public opinion foundations of the long-term development of relations between China and its neighboring countries. We should comprehensively promote cultural and people-to- people exchanges, deepen friendly exchanges on tourism, science and education, regional cooperation and others, and make a lot of good friends.' He said China should well introduce China's domestic and foreign policies to the outside world, clearly tell China's story, spread China's voice, and integrate the Chinese dream with the desire of the people of the neighbouring countries for a good life." Xi Jinping image from entry

Over 300 experts to attend intl friendship forum - "Around 300 experts, officials and delegates from more than 80 institutions and some 20 countries are expected to attend the 2013 Beijing International Forum on People to People Friendship, which will be held on Nov 14. The forum, held biennially, aims to promote non-governmental exchanges on urban construction and management, education and folk culture. Hosted by the Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Xicheng district government, the forum focuses on urban planning, transportation, community construction, culture, tourism and arts. It was started in 2011, when 50 international organizations from 28 countries shared their experiences on the influence of public diplomacy on international exchanges and world city construction."

Can an Ancient Artifact Promote Contemporary Dialogue? - Naomi Leight, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "One of the core tenets of public diplomacy is to share values. It is clear from the global public interest in the

Cyrus Cylinder, and reverence shown by both Iranians and Israelis for Cyrus, that the Cylinder [Cyrus Cylinderis the commonality that public diplomacy practitioners seek out and utilize as a jumping-off point for dialogue about international relations." Image from


Spying for the sake of spying - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: Because of the NSA spying revelations/scandal, there is an element of post-Gestapo, post-Stasi historical memory at work in Berlin, as well as joy in the revival of anti-American rhetoric that hasn’t been heard in this city in years. The United States has been throwing money thoughtlessly at security for far too long. But NATO has also been pretending for far too long that “security” means tank warfare. We failed to update our alliance when the Cold War ended, and we failed again after 9/11. This scandal, the worst crisis in German-American relations in decades, is one of the results. Merkel image from

Why Spying on Merkel Is So Damaging: The White House leadership vacuum has made Europeans wary. The surveillance scandal strengthens their doubts - If the United States government wanted to collect intelligence on Germany’s leadership, it could not have picked a method more likely to stir wide outrage than tapping the personal phone of a politically popular democratic leader. America already is part of the decades-old “Five Eyes” pact with Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, agreeing to share intelligence and not to spy on each other. The U.S. should accede to recent requests from Germany and France to join the group.

Diplomacy is key to a deal with Iran - Paul R. Pillar, As they sit down for their next round of talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the United States and its negotiating partners have an opportunity to forge a relationship with an Iran that remains a non-nuclear-weapons state — not so much because of technical barriers they might raise, but because the relationship would be one in which the Iranians would not want a nuclear weapon.

Need for Syrian aid grows more urgent as winter approaches - António Guterres and David Miliband, There is a short window to help Syrians survive the coming season. They have suffered enough. We must do everything possible to keep them safe and warm.

Obama bundlers nominated for diplomatic posts in New Zealand, Iceland: Big-money fundraisers account for 30 percent of president's ambassador-nominees this year - Michael Beckelemail, President Barack Obama has named two more of his top campaign fundraisers for plum diplomatic posts, nominating Mark Gilbert to be U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Rob Barber to the same position in Iceland.

Via BC on FacebookWith the choices, Obama continues his aggressive push to elevate major bundlers and loyalists to top diplomatic jobs. White House spokesmen Eric Schultz has said that “being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.” Via PVB on Facebook; image via BC on Facebook


Lay's to roll out chocolate-covered potato chip - Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY: The chocolate-covered potato chip is going mainstream.

Lay's, the nation's largest salty snack maker, on Friday will announce plans to roll out next week Lay's Wavy Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate. Image from entry


Toddlers Killed More Americans Than Terrorists Did This Year - Stacie Borrello, "Preschoolers with guns have taken more lives so far this year than the single U.S. terrorist attack, which claimed four lives in Boston. Listed below are the 11 gun fatalities I found where a preschooler pulled the trigger (from Jan. 1 to June 9, 2013). Starting with a list of five toddler shooting deaths The Jewish Daily Forward published in early May, I unearthed six additional cases. This tragic, unthinkable event has happened every month, like clock-work. Jan. 10: 6-year-old playmate shoots and kills 4-year-old Trinity Ross, Kansas City, Kan. Feb. 11: 4-year-old Joshua Johnson shoots and kills himself, Memphis, Tenn. Feb. 24: 4-year-old Jaiden Pratt dies after shooting himself in the stomach while his father sleeps, HoustonMarch 30: 4-year-old Rahquel Carr shot and killed either by 6-year-old brother or another young playmate, MiamiApril 6: Josephine Fanning, 48, shot and killed by 4-year-old boy at a barbecue, Wilson County, Tenn. April 8: 4-year-old shoots and kills 6-year-old friend Brandon Holt, Toms River, N.J. April 9: 3-year-old is killed after he finds a pink gun that he thinks is a toy, Greenville, S.C. April 30: 2-year-old Caroline Sparks killed by her 5-year-old brother with his Cricket 'My First Rifle' marketed to kids, Cumberland County, Ky. May 1: 3-year-old Darrien Nez shoots himself in the face and dies after finding his grandmother’s gun, Yuma, Ariz. May 7: 3-year-old Jadarrius Speights fatally shoots himself with his uncle’s gun, Tampa, Fla. June 7: 4-year-old fatally shoots his father, Green Beret Justin Thomas, Prescott Valley, Ariz. At least 10 more toddlers have shot but not killed themselves or someone else this year (see hereherehereherehereherehereherehere and here). In the first three cases, the shooter was only 2 years old. I also found nine instances where children and teens 7 to 19 years old accidentally killed themselves, a family member or friend since January (see herehereherehereherehere,herehere and here). Of course, most if not all of the above deaths and injuries can be attributed to careless adult gun owners. While this analysis focuses on children, another equally accurate headline could read: 'U.S. Gun Culture Kills More Americans Than Terrorists Worldwide.' In 2010, 13,186 people died in terrorist attacks worldwide, while 31,672 people were killed with firearms in America alone, reports CNN’s Samuel Burke."


"I am here to listen."

--U.S. Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson, addressing German citizens at his residence in the wake of the NSA electronic surveillance scandal

"I don't do it because I love humanity. I do it because I hate humanity."

--A valued PDPBR subscriber, commenting on why she picks up plastic bottles/aluminum cans while jogging in Washington D.C.'s Rock Creek Park; image from

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