Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27

"Tuches aufn tish: Buttocks on the table."

--Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder Ira Chernus, about "the colorful way my Yiddish-speaking ancestors said, 'Let’s cut the BS and talk about honest truth.'” Image from, with caption: Found in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan


Statement of Gary Locke, Ambassador-Designate to China - "As Secretary of Commerce, I focused on delivering more effective and efficient services to American businesses and workers in a way that reduced costs and simplified the bureaucratic process. If confirmed, I will approach the U.S. Mission in China in much the same way, looking for ways to engage in public diplomacy that work best to get our message across to the Chinese government and out to the Chinese people."

Confirmation panel has few questions for Locke - Kyung M. Song, Seattle Times: "Locke, whose parents ran a grocery store in Seattle, said his father, Jimmy, a World War II veteran and a native of Taishan in southern China, would have been proud to see his son become the first Chinese American named as ambassador to his ancestral country. Locke's appointment has drawn much attention in China. Chinese journalists nearly outnumbered their American counterparts among the three dozen reporters and photographers at the hearing. Locke's wife, Mona, and three children sat behind him during the testimony.

Thirty minutes into it, as Lugar pondered what he earlier called the 'incongruent reality of our public diplomacy in China,' an aide ushered a fidgety Madeline, 6, out of the room. Emily, 14, and Dylan, 12, bolted after their sister." Image, with caption: Gary Locke testifies on Capitol Hill on Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination.

The Voice of America: Silenced in China - Public Diplomacy and International Communications: Thoughts and comments about public diplomacy, soft power and international communications by Gary Rawnsley: "At a time when China's political, geostrategic and economic power is expanding, and when Beijing is investing resources into public diplomacy and soft power that would shame other major powers,

it is necessary to use all means necessary to engage with the people there. VoA does have an audience in China. By focusing only on the internet, Washington puts at risk the availability of alternative information for millions of Chinese. This is especially worrying at a time when the Communist Party's grip on the media and communications - especially the internet - is becoming tighter." Image from

Curious, Strange, Whatever - "Victoria Nuland is Officially Announced as New State Dept Spokesperson: The Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs is the head of the Bureau of Public Affairs within the United States Department of State. Typically,

the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs is also the official spokesperson of the State Department. The Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs reports to the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs ('R'). On May 26, 2011, the State Department announced the appointment of Ambassador Victoria Nuland as State Department spokesperson. She takes over PJ Crowley's old gig at the podium but unlike PJ, she will not be dual-hatted as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs." Nuland image from article

Public Diplomacy? Whatever - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "For most countries the big public diplomacy problem is not that other people disagree with you it’s that they don’t pay attention to you. This is not a problem that the US has often."

Prague 1970: Music in Spring - Martin Bresnick, York Times: "[I]n the autumn of 1969, after a politically and musically complicated second year as a graduate student at Stanford University,

I left America on a Fulbright Fellowship, with plans to study with Gyorgy Ligeti in Vienna." Bresnick image from article

The African-Indian Axis - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "I’ve been busy with marking (grading for the American readers) this week and I may have missed it but beyond the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’s Twitter feed I haven’t seen any coverage of the Second Africa India Forum Summit being held in Abbis Ababa this week. The India-Africa axis certainly seems like an interesting area for exploring current public diplomacy practice. The Indians are concerned that their trade with Africa is only $45Bn a year compared with China’s $115Bn but these still seem like sizeable numbers. The Times of India provides this summary of new Indian aid:"

Image from article

Rwanda-Japan legislative association launched - "The Rwanda-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Association was formally launched recently at the parliamentary premises in Tokyo, Japan. The association is made up of 15 founding members from both the House of Representatives (Congressmen/women) and the House of Councillors (Senators). ... The Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda to Japan, Benedicto Nshimiyimana, lauded members of the association for accepting and owning the idea of the Parliamentary friendship association. He reiterated his optimism that the association would strengthen the already existing excellent bilateral relations between Rwanda and Japan. 'It will be a tool for effective public diplomacy to reach beyond the normal government-to-government hierarchies to grassroots level,' Nshimiyimana noted."

Holding of the Completion Ceremony of the 30th Japanese language programs for Foreign Service Officers and the 14th Japanese language programs for Public Officials - "At the presentation ceremony, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Chiaki Takahashi will deliver a congratulatory address, after which the Director-General of the Public Diplomacy Department Naoki Murata will present the certificates."

Why I declined President Jonathan’s invitation - "Over the years, I have developed an habit for studying Leaders, in my over 25 years of living, I have had the privilege of sharing a table and speaking directly with over 70 Heads of States and President including Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. ... Earlier in the year, I had also been invited by President Obama to the White House Forum for Young African Leaders in my capacity as YTI/YGA Special Reps to the United Nations alongside 120 other Young African leaders including 3 delegates from Nigeria led by another

dynamic Young Nigerian Taiwo Adewole. The meeting hosted by the White House afforded us the opportunity to dialogue with President Obama and Senior White House Officials especially the SSA to President Obama – Ambassador Mary Yates and Judith McHale – the US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. The Nigerian at the Forum (Myself, Bako Kantiok, Jennifer Ehidiamen, Ruth Audu and MKO’s Daughter Sarat Abiola) alongside our other African counterpart maximised the opportunity to highlight our concerns on the State of Africa and AFRICA-US Cooperation. President Goodluck Jonathan image from


Cuba under the lens at the Getty Museum: 'A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now' invites viewers to contemplate the country's many contradictions through a wide array of photographs - Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times: The Getty's show, which runs through Oct. 2, is one of L.A.'s opening salvos in a months-long cultural salute to the island nation that's taking place on both U.S. coasts this year. Upcoming happenings include a display of Cuban film posters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, performances by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba in Costa Mesa and Los Angeles, a spotlight

on contemporary Cuban cinema at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and an Aug. 24 Hollywood Bowl concert headlined by the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club. A recent easing of travel restrictions between the countries may permit more such cultural exchanges. That could broaden perceptions of Cuba on this side of the Florida Straits, beyond postcard images of white-sand beaches or bleak impressions of tattered buildings and empty store shelves. Image from article, with caption: Ernesto "Che" Guevara in "Hombre Nuevo" is one of the dominant figures in Virginia Beahan's photographs of Cuba's landscape on view at the Getty Museum.

For the U.S., it's time to get out of Afghanistan: We should set an end date for the U.S. deployment in Afghanistan - Barbara Boxer, According to CIA Director Leon Panetta, there may be as few as 50 members of Al Qaeda residing in Afghanistan. Although we must remain vigilant in our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and must continue our support for the Afghan people, there is simply no justification for the continued deployment of 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan. We are spending an estimated $10 billion a month there, and our total so far is almost half a trillion dollars. We have trained 125,000 members of the Afghan police and 159,000 members of the Afghan army, and spent an estimated $26 billion equipping them.

What Obama did to Israel - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: Obama’s response to relentless Palestinian intransigence? To reward it.

The Mideast Peace Process: Washington Makes Things Worse - Editorial, New York Times: Pandering on Israel in the hopes of winning Jewish support

is hardly a new phenomenon in American politics, but there is something unusually dishonest about this fusillade. Image from

Israel and the Palestinians Through the Looking Glass: The Myths That Underpin the Failure of American Policy in the Middle East - Ira Chernus, TomDispatch: There’s one last point that Obama and American public discourse get absolutely backwards: the idea that being a friend of Israel’s means endorsing its popular narrative, which offers no more truth than Alice’s looking-glass. Real friends don’t enable their friends to engage in self-destructive behavior.

To the Weary Good People of Israel and Palestine: Bring a Ladder and No Weapons - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: The U.S. is little more than a territory of Israel.

Washington's War on Chavez - Stephen Lendman, Since George Bush took office in January 2001, efforts to oust Chavez failed three times. Nonetheless, disruptive activities continue, including malicious propaganda, CIA subversion, funding opposition forces, sanctions, and militarizing the region, notably in Colombia as well as gunboat diplomacy by reactivating the Latin American/Caribbean Fourth Fleet for the first time since 1950 despite no regional threat.

Iran's Press TV Runs Into Trouble In Britain‎ - Walker Morrow, The Propagandist - Based in Tehran, Press TV takes, in its own words, "revolutionary steps as the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis." If it were a private media outlet, it might be congratulated: broadcasting news and opinion in Iran is a risky business, after all.

Alas, Press TV is essentially a government-funded propaganda arm for the Iranian regime. Being a media stooge for an inhuman, brutal government undoubtedly has its perks, if you're willing to occasionally ignore the stench of evil, but Press TV seems to have run up against a wall in Britain. Image from website

Opening Doors to Belarusian Art - Politics, propaganda, tradition, culture and the state of Belarusian society are among the main topics of a collective exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, entitled Opening Doors? New Belarusian Art.

As one of its objectives, the exhibition aims to help Belarusians look at their own art from the outside and without any taboos. Most of the displayed works deal in one way or another with problems Belarusians encounter on a daily basis, but only a few of the works boldly tackle issues which hardly anyone discusses publicly. Uncaptioned Image from article, presumably of an object at the exhibition.


ATM repairman who worked for Diebold accused of swapping $200K in fake bills for cash - Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing: 64-year-old Samuel Kioskl of San Francisco, who services ATMs for Bank of America as an employee of Diebold, has been charged with swapping $200,000 in

fake bills for real cash at machines. Last July, Kioskli went to six BofA branches in San Francisco and one in Daly City, and made off with about $200,000 by swapping out the cash in the machine trays with counterfeit or photocopied $20 bills, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Kioskl image from article

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