Monday, February 8, 2010

February 7-8

"The job of the 2029 diplomat may well involve the daily programming of a virtual ambassador or spokesperson – speechwriting will be done automatically – and in some cases diplomats may be encouraged to have small brain implants fitted to increase their skills or knowledge."

--Philip Fiske de Gouveia, “Technomatic: Diplomacy 20 Years On,” Diplomat; image from


--How writer Paddy Hoey describes himself


US under-secy speaks highly of steps on development - The Daily Star: "Visiting US Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A McHale highly praised the present government's development initiatives and assured of providing all necessary cooperation in implementing development programmes, projects and plans. McHale came up with the appreciation and assurance when she met

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Jamuna yesterday morning. ... Among other issues, bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the USA and Madrasah education in Bangladesh also came up for discussion. The premier and the under-secretary of state stressed the need for increasing people-to-people contact as one of the ways to further strengthen the existing bilateral relations between the two countries." Image from

20000 Bangladeshi students to get scope for edn in US a year - The Daily Star: "The US will provide education opportunities to 20,000 Bangladeshi students in its colleges and universities every year, US Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Judith A Mchale said yesterday. 'We encourage Bangladeshi students to come to the US and the US students to Bangladesh. Such exchange programmes are aimed at better understanding of culture and people,' she told reporters after a lecture at the Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University. According to the American Centre in Dhaka, only 2,700 Bangladeshi students are currently studying in the US colleges and universities." See also (1) (2)

US welcomes madrassa students - Bangladesh News 24 hours: "Visiting US official Judith A McHale on Monday said US scholarships were open to madrassa students in Bangladesh.

Her invitation to students of the religious schools came during her visit to Uttar Badda Islamia Alia Madrassa, where a student told her that the madrassa students were seldom given a chance to go for study in the United States. 'Our doors are open for you and you are welcome to the United States.' ... The US government, through some non governmental organisations, provides the madrassa teachers with training in English language, information and communication technology, human rights, democracy and other issues to sensitise the madrassa pupils." Image from

Through the hole in the firewall, President Obama nominates Richard M. Lobo to be director of the IBB - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Despite the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 placing US international broadcasting under the 'firewall' of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a major defect in that Act is that the president still appoints (with Senate consent) the director of the International Broadcasting Bureau. On paper, the IBB is the parent entity of VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí.) So the president does an end-run around the BBG by appointing the director of the IBB, and the BBG does an end-run around the IBB by appointing the director of VOA. Customarily, the IBB confines itself to engineering and administrative functions. It is generally not involved in content (although the IBB Office of Performance Review very much is). In theory, however, the president, if displeased by VOA content, could, though his/her IBB director, constrain services vital to VOA. Given Mr. Lobo's background in broadcasting, his instincts will likely be more journalistic than political. Nevertheless, his nomination is a reminder that US international broadcasting is badly in need of reform. Consolidation of US international broadcasting would eliminate the need for the IBB as a separate layer of bureaucracy."

The Willis Conover Facebook Page - Doug Ramsey, ArtsJournal: "What three administrations in the White House have refused to do, the people have done. They have recognized Willis Conover, the Voice of America broadcaster who may have been America's greatest cultural diplomat of the Cold War. He now has his own Facebook page, The Willis Conover Club.

Will that lead to his getting a long overdue posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom? Possibly not, but his page, up only a day or two, is rapidly accumulating fans. ... Politicians and bureaucrats have downgraded the VOA to a remnant of its former power to objectively inform the world about the United States. Much of what Conover accomplished lingers in the good will he created toward his country with the music and dispassionate commmentary he disseminated for years by way of his Music USA program. In these daunting times, with the US so in need of good will, perhaps a swell of recognition from the bottom up will persuade the administration in Washington that cultural diplomacy is a potent tool. If you are a Facebook member, enter Willis Conover in the Facebook search box. If you are not, you can go here to sign up." Via MC.

Report: VOA Deewa Radio MW relay in Pakistan ended because of Taliban threats - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Democracy is not an answer to everything - A K Phua, letter to the editor, The Temasek Review (blog) - "I refer to recent reports on US Ambassador-Designate to Singapore Mr Daniel Adelman’s 'promise' to use 'public diplomacy' to promote multi-party politics in Singapore. We don’t need the west to impose their values on us. Their idea of democracy is worthless.

They export democracy to create chaos and stifle/impede developments in these countries. Just look at the countries they have exported democracy to, South American countries are just as pathetically poor and in Philipines , even India where development could have been as fast as China if not for democracy." Image from

S-2's E-mails With Ms. Farhat Taj – World Affairs Board: "Ms. Farhat Taj is a pashtu researcher working at the University of Oslo. She's also engaged with a non-profit organization known as the AIRRA Institute. Ms. Taj has been conducting a very interesting campaign to battle Pakistani public perceptions about the use of drones throughout Waziristan. ... [Taj:] The Americans have badly failed in public diplomacy across the Muslim world as can be seen in the rising anti-Americanism there. One reason, of course of this is that there is one-sided anti-US propaganda every single day. Human beings are human being- they get affected with one sided propaganda, especially when there is no systematic US efforts to counter the propaganda- I do not see any in Pakistan. By chance there is an opportunity in Waziristan where the Muslim society is looking favorably at the US. If the US disappoints the people of Waziristan (for whatever reason, human limitations or whatever) it wont help US anything in terms of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world."

On September 11, 2001 rewrites history – HotSport, Webmaster: [scroll down link for item]

"The EU and member states have likewise strengthened their legislation (adoption of the European arrest warrant in June 2002, increase the time police custody and stricter penalties for terrorist crimes) while integrating the fight against terrorism in their policies and public diplomacy." Image from

Turkish lobbyists in Brussels assisting Turkey in its EU bid - Sunday's Zaman: ‎ "The representatives of Turkish interest groups in Brussels who are carrying out numerous projects and activities with the aim of lobbying for Turkey’s European Union bid have played an important role in Turkey’s public diplomacy in its attempts to convince the European business world on Turkey’s EU membership."

Guest Blog: Frank Gerits on the Belgian View of the Atlantic Reflex - The Holland Bureau: "Frank Gerits studied history at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the University of Illinois. He is currently setting up a research project on US and Belgian public diplomacy during the Cold War."


Obama's retreat from the global stage - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post:

Obama's personal popularity in many parts of the world remains strong. But in his first year the new president did not make the same connection with the leaders of America's principal allies. Image from

Berlin film fest looks back at 60 years of scandal- Deborah Cole, AFP: The Berlin Film Festival, now in its 60th year, was a child of the Cold War, a propaganda tool of the Allies, and a frequent political battleground that reached far beyond the cinema doors. West Germans were unemployed and tens of thousands of homeless Berliners still lived in makeshift camps, according to the new book "The Berlinale - The Festival" by British film historian Peter Cowie. US officials saw an international film festival as an opportunity to indoctrinate Germans, with still-fresh memories of the Nazis and their powerful propaganda machine, and create a "showcase for the free world." The aim was also to establish a cultural beachhead in then West Berlin while the divided city marked the front line of the conflict with the Soviets.


The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this true-color image on February 7, 2010, showing part of the region affected by heavy snowfall. Snow blankets the area hundreds of kilometers inland from the Atlantic coastline. Along the latitude of New York City, however, snow cover thins considerably. Credit: NASA. Via JM.

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