Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28

“When trying to ‘capture’ a small piece of food onto a utensil, it is acceptable to use another utensil for aiding it aboard. Never use your fingers.”

--From a selection of rules from the Buffalo Jills cheerleaders' handbook, as published on Deadspin; it includes an entire section titled “General hygiene and lady body maintenance”; cited in Catherine Rampell, "Pity the cheerleaders. Really," Washington Post;  see also James Staas, "Buffalo Jills suspend all activities," The Buffalo News; Jills image from


Joe Biden emerges as Obama's trusty sidekick - Susan Crabtree, "Vice President Joe Biden has become the public face of the administration's handling of Ukraine, working to reassure Kiev and trying to talk tough with Russia. During a whirlwind two-day visit to Ukraine, Biden met with the country's leaders and announced an additional $50 million in aid. At a press conference, he delivered a lecture to Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling him to 'stop talking and start acting' to defuse the crisis. ... [A]fter Biden left Ukraine, it seemed that nothing had changed. Tensions with Moscow remain high, and Russian militants show no signs of backing down in eastern Ukraine. But Biden's raising of the American flag in Kiev wasn't without benefit for President Obama, who was able to carry on with a week-long trip to Asia. And Biden's public diplomacy revealed Obama's new trust in his No. 2. 'So Biden talks a lot -- so what?' said James Goldgeier, dean of American University's School of International Service and a veteran of the Clinton White House's national security team. “The vice president has been extremely valuable to Obama --he's done everything the president could have asked for and more.”

Smart diplomacy vs. dumb diplomacy: Column - Lionel Beehner, "Our dependence on covert forms of public diplomacy can feel like an admission that our normal diplomacy has failed (see the past five decades of U.S.-Cuban relations). It also implies we can do diplomacy on the cheap and painless. There is this dogma within the U.S. government that throwing a few million dollars at social media programs can topple nasty regimes - just look at Tunisia or Egypt. That the new undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, Richard Stengel, was the managing editor of Time when the magazine declared its 2006 Person of the Year was ‘You’ - implying the tweeting masses - does not bode well for reform. ‘The State Department's fascination with social media reflects a view that its job is to speak over the heads of governments, or under their heads, or something,’ as Laurence Pope, a former ambassador, put it in a recent interview. ‘That is a dangerous illusion.’ ... With a new kind of Cold War with Russia, there are renewed calls for revitalizing public diplomacy.

One ambassador, Brian Carlson, proposed grants for Ukrainians to study politics here and call them ‘Putin Scholarships.’ Instead the U.S. government has busied itself with online trolling and tweeting Buzzfeed-like listicles such as ‘President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine.’ It's not that we should do away with public diplomacy or even that we should do away with covert public diplomacy, but rather we should do away with dumb public diplomacy, especially one enraptured by the magic of tweeting ambassadors and other quick technological fixes. Image from entry, with caption: It's true we need to think outside the box when it comes to diplomacy. But funding a Twitter-like service in Cuba?

‘#Hashtag for our time’: Merciless mockery of State Department’s impotent hashtag diplomacy [Photoshops] - Sample satirical images and twitter messages, among them:

The #PromiseofHashtag Ignites the Net, and the State Dept Spox Gets Roasted – Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "Maybe State is willing to be mocked online as long as it gets people

View image on Twitter

*archivephoto* RT @jbarro: It's like Theodore Roosevelt said: Speak softly and carry a big hashtag.

talking about #UnitedforUkraine?" Image from entry

Major reform of U.S. international broadcasting and public diplomacy to be proposed in Congress - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: "BBG Watch has learned that a draft bill originating in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) as Chairman and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) as Ranking Member, would, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, radically reform the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an agency currently in charge of U.S. international media outreach. The United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.; title III of Public Law 103–236) would be repealed under this draft bill if it were to become law. The draft bill appears to be a bipartisan effort to address problems in how the part-time Broadcasting Board of Governors manages U.S. international media outreach through its large, expanding and highly dysfunctional International Broadcasting (IBB) bureaucracy. Lawmakers also appear to want to address serious management issues at the Voice of America (VOA). They also want to improve U.S. public diplomacy. To be known as he the 'United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014,' the draft bill calls for the creation of the United States International Communications Agency within the executive branch of Government as an independent establishment. It also calls for creating the Advisory Board of the United States International Communications Agency. According to the proposed legislation, current BBG members would serve out their terms of office on the new board, which in contrast to the current board would have mostly advisory functions. The draft bill also calls for having a Chief Executive Officer of the United States International Communications Agency, appointed for a five-year term and renewable at the Board’s discretion. The CEO would exercise broad executive powers. The draft bill also calls for the creation of the Consolidated Grantee Organization, for the non-federal grantees of the BBG: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). RFE/RL, RFA, and MBN would be consolidated and reconstituted under a single organizational structure and management framework."

U.S. Consulate General Mumbai Small Grants Program - "The U.S. Consulate General Mumbai is holding a small grants competition to fund programs that promote Indo-U.S. relations. The programs must occur in western India (the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and/or Maharashtra). Proposals can include, but are not limited to, projects, seminars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions and outreach campaigns. Proposals must focus on one of the following three priority areas of the U.S. Mission to India: Promote better Indo-U.S. bilateral relations, with an emphasis on business ties [;] Encourage regional and global roles for India [;] Enhance security cooperation ... This competition is open only to individuals, non-governmental organizations, public education institutions, and other legally-recognized non-profit institutions that meet Indian and/or U.S. technical and legal requirements to develop and implement public diplomacy programs."

Nixon, Kissinger and Bangladesh: Blood on Their Hands - "30 March 2014. A World to Win News Service. By Susannah York. The Blood Telegram – Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide (Alfred Knopf, 2013) by Princeton University professor Gary J. Bass unearths the sinister role played by then President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

in 1971 during Pakistan's nine-month slaughter of Bengali people in what was then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. ... When East Pakistani refugees fleeing the massacres started pouring over the Indian border, Indira Gandhi tried to seize the moral high ground. Her government spoke emotionally about the millions of refugees. But privately it worried that the exiles might be revolutionaries and might not return to their own country. Among many in her government there was a clamour for war. Publicly Gandhi claimed India had no intention to go to war, but began training those East Pakistanis who wanted to take up arms – the Mukti Bahini (Liberation Army), initially under Indian leadership but eventually breaking out of its clutches. When she asked her generals how long it would take for the Indian army to be ready for war, they replied six months and began preparations. Public diplomacy and much covert arm-twisting and threats took place between the U.S. and India. Both insisted that they were giving no support to the two sides in the war but behind the scenes they were not only preparing for all-out war between India and Pakistan but also trying to draw in China and the Soviet Union to take part on their respective sides." Image from

US, China must strengthen trust to tackle problems - "American and Chinese economies and societies have never been as closely joined as they are today, but strengthening trust between the two countries is essential to tackle big problems, said a report. The report entitled 'Building US-China Trust: Through Next Generation People, Platforms and Programmes' is a joint project by the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and the School of International Studies of Peking University, reported Xinhua. 'Major differences between the two countries dominate the headlines and polls show that people in the two countries have less respect for and trust in the other country,' said the report. ... The document said there is a need to adapt to changes associated with China's rapid economic rise, the different histories, values, and political systems of the US and China. There is 'much energy and attention focused on official Washington-Beijing based talks and too little financial support for and focus on people-to-people engagement,' it said. The report recommends that both countries encourage and support 'Next Generation Public Diplomacy' to strengthen their ties. Based on the findings that majorities of Americans and Chinese see the other country in a negative light while, half of those under age 30 have a favourable impression of the other country, it proposed encouraging and funding young students to go to the other country to study as one effective way. 'We are confident that involving more people in substantive exchanges and publicizing both the process and the outcomes of such collaborations will greatly enhance understanding and increase trust,' it said."

The lessons to be learnt from the London attacks - Ayesha Almazroui," Emirati society has been deeply shocked by the two recent attacks in London – first, when three Emirati sisters were attacked in their hotel room by a man with a hammer (one is still in a critical condition) and second, after an Emirati family was threatened at gunpoint in their flat by a seven-member gang, who also stole money, jewellery and credit cards. ...While we all agree that the two incidents are horrific and strenuous efforts should be exerted to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, there are, perhaps, a few lessons to be learnt here for Emiratis when they next travel overseas. Because of the relatively safe environment that is the UAE, we tend to forget to take appropriate precautions when we travel. A diplomat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke to a public diplomacy class I attended recently about the important role citizens play when travelling overseas. He told us that UAE embassies receive regular complaints from Emiratis who get robbed in countries around the world, especially in Europe.

This made me think about the way many people from the UAE or other Gulf countries dress when travelling abroad and how their clothes can attract attention. I’ve seen it in London and other places. People from this country and other Gulf states wearing high-end clothes, watches, shoes and bags that can make them an easy target for opportunistic thieves. Even so, these two recent incidents could have happened in any country, since no place in the world is absolutely safe. The lesson here is that we need to be street smart on our travels – know the neighbourhoods we’re staying in, dress to blend in and stay alert to potential trouble spots. We also need to make sure we follow police guidelines inside hotels. We need to avoid leaving valuables unattended in hotel rooms, and make sure doors are locked. We should also remember that hotel lobbies and reception areas are open to the public and avoid leaving bags or valuables unattended. Unfortunately, I know that not many Emiratis keep that in mind while travelling abroad." Image from, with caption: Dubai: Two Emirati women are set to make aeronautical history as they prepare to become the first female UAE national pilots to take to the skies.

Claims of Isolationism on Foreign Policy Is Only Rhetoric, Says Haşimi: Daily Sabah spoke to the head of the Public Diplomacy Coordination Office Cemalettin Haşimi about PM Erdoğan's statement offering condolences to Armenians and criticism that Turkey's foreign policy will isolate the country - Ali Ünal, "The international community did not anticipate Prime Minister Erdoğan's message of condolences regarding the Armenian deportations.

To discuss the next developments and the perception of Turkey to the outside world, Daily Sabah sat down with Cemalettin Haşimi." Uncaptioned image from entry

The 11th Annual Conference of European Association of Taiwan Studies - Conference Venue: University of Portsmouth, UK.

Conference Date: 30 April–2 May 2014 Conference Major Theme: ‘Taiwan: Self vs. Other’ Other themes: ... 4. Public diplomacy[.]"

Coming of Faith: Stories of Faith from Muslim American Women -  "Soraya Ahyaudin is on her journey for a second Masters in Public Diplomacy at University of Southern California.

She is a bookworm at heart, with a love for sci-fi and romance. She spends her days looking for the answer in understanding the million dollar question, why can’t we all just get along, through the world of culture where all our differences makes us connected." Ahyaudin image from entry


The War on Truth in Ukraine - Keith A. Darden, An absence of legitimate authority in eastern Ukraine has left an absence of transparent, agreed-upon facts -- a breeding ground for suspicion and manipulative diplomatic games on the margins of the truth that may yet carry the region to war. The elusiveness of truth

is a symptom and an accelerant of Ukraine’s descent into uncertainty. Legitimate authority -- governmental, factual, legal, moral -- is unrelentingly being effaced, and with it the chances of a peaceful outcome. Image from

Russia to Benefit From 'Gratuitous Propaganda' of Fresh US Sanctions - Lyudmila Chernova, A new round of sanctions announced by the White House will have unintended consequences and only benefit Russia, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts told RIA Novosti Monday. “The sanctions are nothing but gratuitous propaganda. Obama himself acknowledged that it is uncertain whether the additional sanctions will have any effect,” Roberts told RIA Novosti. “Besides, the sanctions will encourage and hasten Russia’s withdrawal from Washington’s exploitative system, and the BRICS countries are likely to follow.”

Putin’s Useful Idiots - Slawomir Sierakowski, New York Times: The irony is that by standing beside Russia and pointing fingers at fascist phantoms in Ukraine, Western intellectuals are aligning themselves not just with the autocrat in the Kremlin, but the legions of far-right parties across Europe that have come to Russia’s defense. Who says Russia needs propaganda? It already has its useful idiots.

Russian propaganda campaign finds fertile ground in Ukrainians’ mixed identity - Matthew Schofield, The Russian narrative, that Kiev is run by thugs and fascists, is

repeated often not only by Russian separatists who have seized government buildings and demanded a vote on whether eastern regions should secede and join Russia, but by many everyday citizens who have no interest in secession, but don’t believe they can trust their own government. The lack of trust was aggravated by the Ukrainian parliament’s quick approval of a bill that would downgrade Russian’s status as an official language. The bill hasn’t become law, but it is frequently mentioned by Russian critics of the interim government in Kiev. Image from

Noose tightening on Internet freedom in Russia - In Russia, authorities in Moscow are putting in place a number of measures that, if the Internet is currently a CIA project, seem destined to rest executive control eastwards, making Russian prosecutors and Russia’s latter-day KGB, the Federal Security Service, the ultimate arbiters of what Russians can and cannot read, write or say online. It’s been a bad week for Internet freedom in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin set the mood music when asked about the Internet at a media forum in St. Petersburg. Putin described the Internet as a "CIA project," developed in the US. The Russian president went on to say the Internet "is still developing as such." As a consequence, said Putin, Russia needs to "fight for its interests online." Via HS on Facebook.

How Wash. Post, NY Times inject Palestinian propaganda in 'news' dispatches - Readers of the Washington Post and New York Times beware when reading “news” dispatches from Jerusalem and Ramallah. Headlines and lead paragraphs reflect a decided Palestinian bent. Only if you dig deeper into such articles does it become apparent that messages conveyed at the top just ain’t so. All too often, subsequent qualifiers and outright corrections come too late, if at all.

Welcome to the Memory Hole: Disappearing Snowden - Peter van Buren, We Meant Well: What if every National Security Agency (NSA) document Snowden released, every interview he gave, every documented trace of a national security state careening out of control could be made to disappear in real-time? What if the very posting of such revelations could be turned into a fruitless, record-less endeavor? Am I suggesting the plot for a novel by some twenty-first century George Orwell?

Hardly. As we edge toward a fully digital world, such things may soon be possible, not in science fiction but in our world — and at the push of a button. In fact, the earliest prototypes of a new kind of “disappearance” are already being tested. We are closer to a shocking, dystopian reality that might once have been the stuff of futuristic novels than we imagine. Welcome to the memory hole. Image from

This Zombie Propaganda is the Best Thing I’ve Seen All Day - Adam Dodd, When the zombies inevitably come, we’ll need soldiers. And thanks to amazing artists like Ron Guyatt, who made this trio of fantastic zombie propaganda posters, I don’t think we’ll have much trouble finding volunteers.

One look at these posters and I’m dual wielding kitchen knives in each hand, ready to stab some ghouls in their stupid ugly faces. How about you?


--Via FW on Facebook

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