Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18

"Now, they are gone."

--Virginia Heffernan, New York Times writer on digital and pop culture, regarding "the battalions of fulltime copy editors and proofreaders" once employed by publishers to filter out an author’s mistakes; image from


North Korean Department store; via JB


Matters of mutual interest - Syed Talat "[T]here have always been two sides to Pakistan’s policy towards the US — private and public. These two realms have completely different tracks, with different moods, different tones and different attitudes. Far from the bravado that forms the centre of the military’s public diplomacy on matters pertaining to Washington, lies the privately acknowledged reality that the army’s doors, though slightly narrower than before, are still open to the US.

This in itself is not a bad thing. Even the most powerful countries that are completely self-reliant avoid diplomatic rows. Pakistan should do the same — particularly in the realm of military matters — where its compulsions at this point are pressing. If engagement can defuse mounting tensions with Washington and puncture anti-Pakistan propaganda, then why not? However, the problem is that there is no indication that Washington is willing to give Pakistan any space in which to breathe easy." Image from

3. Peace Process Gaps Too Wide for Quartet Diplomacy - Capitol Hill "Daily Brief": "The Mideast Quartet-consisting of the US, European Union, Russia and the United Nations-was unable to present a public statement on the Israel-Palestinian following a dinner meeting of Quartet representatives on Monday [July 11], with a US senior administration official saying afterwards that the gaps between the Israelis and Palestinians are still too large for public diplomacy by the Quartet. Speaking to reporters in comments posted on the US State Department Web site, the US official nonetheless attempted to sound optimistic about the meeting. However, the lack of a statement following the meeting implies possible disagreement between the different Quartet members as to how the international community should move forward."

Beijing lashes out as Obama meets Dalai Lama [The Age/AFP] - Wandering China: "Every meeting the U.S. has with the Dalai Lama urks the Chinese as it takes up significant mindshare in popular imagination. As China grows in its use of public diplomacy, this act of the U.S. meeting and giving ‘face’ to Tibet, no matter how significant in its application,

is taken as the U.S. not giving face to China." Image from entry, with caption: The Dalai Lama speaks to the media after his first meeting with US President Barack Obama in February last year.

BBG official briefs PD commission on efforts to repeal ban on domestic dissemination - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "First, the internet does not make the domestic dissemination prohibition unenforceable. On the contrary, it makes it, after all these years, enforceable, because US international broadcasting and public diplomacy entities can use IP geoblocking to prevent US internet from accessing their content. By not imposing such IP blocks, US agencies are flouting Smith-Mundt. Second, the Advisory Commission did not 'act' to dismantle the domestic dissemination provision. Unlike the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which has decision making authority, the Advisory Commission can only, as its name indicates, advise. Third, the domestic dissemination prohibition is a nuisance. Repealing it, however, it not so simple. It must provide a means to stop the process halfway down a slippery slope. Yes, a Somali-language program on a Minnesota AM radio station should be able to use VOA content if it wants to. But, no, future administrations must not purloin the resources of US international broadcasting and public diplomacy to rally domestic support for their policy goals. No money should be spent on domestic dissemination other than very small amounts for the administrative costs of handling domestic redistribution requests."

Public Schedule for July 18, 2011 - U.S. Department of State: "ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS ANN STOCK: Assistant Secretary Stock

meets with Ambassador-designate to Bahrain Thomas Krajeski, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)" Image: Ms. Stock with Secretary Clinton from.

Smith-Mundt - Still Crazy after all these years - Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog: Playing Devil's Advocate in the Orchestra of Change!: "The US Broadcasting Board of Governors is clearly taking action to try and get the so-called Smith-Mundt Act changed. Viewed from this side of the Atlantic, the Smith-Mundt bill seems to be an archaic piece of law that is no longer relevant in an age of Internet and satellite. ... Executive Director of the BBG Jeff Trimble briefed the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy on July 12th about the Board's position on Smith-Mundt, particularly seeking to repeal the ban on domestic dissemination of BBG broadcast material. Trimble argued that in a global media environment where U.S. international broadcasting stories go viral, are picked up by media competitors and aggregators, and often are played back to the U.S. public, a new examination of Smith-Mundt is very much in order. ... I wonder whether the BBG will encourage US international broadcasting to build international bridges between stations in the US and stations in other parts of the world?"

4 steps proposed to fight relig. persecution - "Congress could take ... steps that would work rather quickly to combat religious persecution worldwide, a Southern Baptist public policy specialist said at a July 13 conference. ... [Among them:] Promote the spread of Internet firewall-breaching technology to enable people in such countries as China, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Vietnam to have access to online information. ... The firewall-breaching initiative would spread current technology that enables people to 'circumvent those firewalls' established by repressive regimes in a way that protects their identities, Duke said. The technology 'will actually enable people in closed societies to be able to have free access to uncensored information and the ability to communicate freely with one another,' Duke told participants. 'Right now, as you know, hundreds of millions of people in the world are restricted from having full access to the Internet..., including people of faith simply wanting to communicate with each other....' The effort needs greater resources that could come by transferring the prime responsibility for the effort from the State Department to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Duke said. The BBG is responsible for civilian broadcasting overseas, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia.

The State Department now has the responsibility, Duke said, 'and quite frankly, folks, they're falling down on the job.' Congress moved $10 million from the State Department to the BBG in this year's spending but should transfer at least $5 to $10 million more, he said. In introducing his legislative proposals, Duke referred to religious freedom as a right granted by God, not mankind or government." Via. Image from article, with caption: Southern Baptist ethicist Barrett Duke proposed July 13 four steps Congress could take that would make a huge contribution to fighting religious persecution worldwide.

WikiCable: Ambassador calls Chavez an ‘enemy’ - "Our cable today, a SECRET/NOFORN 18 June 2007 dispatch from Ambassador Craig Kelly in Santiago, Chile, contains the harshest description we’ve seen from a State Department official of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The cable lays out State Department strategy for countering Chavez through a combination of propaganda efforts [including preaching a doctrine of 'corporate social responsibility' we’d love to see practiced here], 'free trade' agreements, espionage, and military programs. An excerpt: ... From posts’ perspectives, there are six main areas of action for the USG as it seeks to limit Chavez’s influence: [among them:] ... –Get the message out: Public diplomacy is key; this is a battle of ideas and visions."

VOA thanks South Korean weather agency for help in providing forecasts to North Korean listeners - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Egypt's Soft Power - press release, Egypt State Information Service: "Egypt's a soft power is a relative advantage it possesses over most countries of the region. Soft power is generated by what the government does through its policies and public diplomacy; its components can be summed up in a country's economic, political, intellectual, scientific and creative potentials. The presence of soft power does by no means imply the absence of hard power. While soft power works interchangeably with hard power, the decline of the latter leads

necessarily to the loss of the former. Egypt possesses all the requirements of soft power; namely a long history; a unique geographic location at the heart of the Arab nation; al-Azhar al-Sharif as an Islamic beacon of enlightened religious education and the Coptic Church, with its great influence in Africa, especially in Nile-Basin countries. With the success of its democratic experiment, Egypt is likely to become an inspiration for civil freedoms and political change especially after the January Revolution." Image from article

David Mamet’s Tragic Vision - Lou Marano, "Mamet’s insights as a dramatist illuminate [a] puzzle. Why have Israel’s efforts at public diplomacy been so ineffective? Mamet explains how mob psychology nullifies any presentation of the facts in Israel’s endeavors to defend itself in the court of public opinion. 'Love of the Victim is an attempt at a non-deist recreation of religious feeling,' Mamet

writes. News organizations sell the Middle East conflict as entertainment, and 'there is something of the sadomasochistic' in the Left’s love of the Palestinians, whom audiences are conditioned to see in the role of Woman in Jeopardy (e.g., 'The Rape of Jenin'). The price of admission to the extravaganza is indictment of the State of Israel, which is condemned and scorned regardless of the facts of history, the exercise of reason, or the recognition of cultural affinity. In the West’s abandonment of Israel, Mamet charges, the audience does not care that Palestinian claims are insoluble, exaggerated, unjust, or skewed. To care would require audience members to do something, which would end their enjoyable position as viewers." Image from article

Everything you wanted to know about the novelties in the MFF - "This week, we’ll focus on everything you wanted to know about the novelties of the proposals put forward by the European Commission for the Multiannual Financial Framework. ... The Commission proposes to discontinue funding of programmes in industrialised and emerging countries and instead to create a new Partnership Instrument to support public diplomacy, common approaches and the promotion of trade and regulatory convergence in those cases where funding can contribute to strengthening the EU’s partnerships around the world. This reflects international changes now underway."

Taiwan Tries to Slow Shark-finning - Jens Kastner, Asia Sentinel: "Taiwan next year is set to become the first Asian country to seek to slow the annual slaughter of millions of sharks for shark’s fin soup. It is hardly a perfect measure. After years of pressure from environmental groups, on July 10 Taiwan's Fishery Agency says it will ban fishermen from bringing dismembered sharks into port. ... 'It is quite possible that the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou was thinking about soft power,' said Gary D. Rawnsley, a professor of Asian International Communications at the University of Leeds. 'Several months ago, Taiwan was featured in a TV program in the UK about shark fishing, a topic normally confined to China and Japan. The fact that Taiwan was featured is quite significant; named as shamed, as we say in the UK.' Ma frequently emphasizes his commitment to strengthening Taiwan's soft power. With the country constantly being shoved from the international stage by Beijing, support from other countries can mainly be attracted by soft power. TV footage shown to international audiences depicting Taiwanese fishermen engaging in a bloody shark-finning orgy

hardly helps President Ma in his quest to enable Taiwan making friends. Rawnsley nonetheless emphasized that any consequences that the new law will have in soft power terms depends on the public diplomacy process that is implemented to publicize it. 'There is no point passing a law for international opinion if international opinion never hears about it. Now it is extremely important for Taiwan to concentrate on selling the message. Will the next step be the banning of shark fishing altogether? This would have a very dramatic soft power impact'” Image from article, with caption: Emptying the oceans of shark

The Xinhua news agency: The Yao Ming lets the world re-know China, he is like a civil ambassador - "'As the outlet of demonstration 'soft real strenght [sic]', Chinese head department the national image publicity slice create and broadcast, be thought by the public opinion to is 'national public relations', 'a huge threatening force public diplomacy'. Compared with the traditional diplomacy, the public diplomacy no longer limits at the diplomacy relation of of government, but extends native government outward citizen many and native people outward country the people’s publicity exchanges. Many experts think that the public diplomacy should much carry on from the civil outlet."

Mean Christians? - AllntheJeans World MediThoughts and Observations: "Mean Christians. Full of public diplomacy, but talking out of both sides of their mouths, breaking commitments because better ones come along (especially money motivated ones),

betraying the confidence of those we call friends as though we own the rights to their private stories, and disclosing their identities in the telling as well. What’s up with that? Gossiping Christians are mean Christians."  Image from

Peace Corps App Close to the Finish! - "To conquer my boredom, I have pretty much completed my Peace Corps application essays. One asks about how you embody the core expectations of a Peace Corps volunteer and how the Peace Corps relates to your future plans and why you want to serve. I pretty much wrote about the whole 'objectivity of journalism has been holding me back from making a difference' deal and basically how it’s been a part of my life plan for a couple of years now, so I will give it my all. Also, hinting on my tattoo I got about a month ago (but not mentioning the tattoo part… we can save that for later), that I will always 'hold fast to my dreams' and hold up high expectations for myself. And then, of course, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer would help me contribute to the academic study of public diplomacy, which is what I want to study in graduate school."


Renewed cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The double-game pattern for the CIA and ISI

(Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence) seems clear enough by now: Work together as if you are allies, but at the same time pursue independent operations as if you are enemies; protest loudly in public when the other side does something you don’t like, but keep working together in private because you have no choice — and because that’s what intelligence agencies do. Image from

Boycott propaganda war: Propaganda fed to both Palestinians, Israelis creates major obstacle to peace - Avi Yesawich, Daniel Nisman, Ynetnews: The robust propaganda war rages on within Israeli society and between Israelis and Palestinians alike. It is a perpetual component of our societal woes and the Israeli-Arab conflict as a whole. Most of us are so deeply entrenched in our political views that we tend to argue from our perspective as though it were the absolute truth, with no room for deviation. One truth should be strikingly obvious: We are all at least partially - if not completely - jaded in our views to the point where we are prevented from seeing the actual truth unfolding in the region. Everyone is guilty, whether admittedly or not, of harvesting these cognitive biases. The question is how can we open the eyes of those who are so disturbingly blind to the opposite side’s narrative.

Stolen narrative - Nermeen Murad, We are all Jordanians. We differ, we speak with different regional accents, we think differently, we pray differently or we don’t pray at all, we wear veils or miniskirts, long thoubs or shorts, love winter or summer, like Marouf Bakhit or hate him, want an Islamic system of governance or a capitalist one, or a socialist one, or even a corrupt one, but we are all Jordanians who belong to this country and want its continued stability. The subject should be closed and the propaganda tactics should be stopped at this critical time when we need to accept, respect and embrace our differences and plurality maturely for the sake of our country.

A 'Kim Jong Il-ian' Slip on Food Policy? - Evan Ramstad, Wall Street Journal: One of the most tedious jobs in South Korea, if not the world, must be listening to the broadcasts of North Korea’s state-run media and analyzing its steady stream of propaganda for differences and the occasional slip-up. Two weeks ago, North Korea’s authoritarian government staged a series of rallies in various cities that its media portrayed

as protests against South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his refusal to treat the North the same way that the South’s two previous presidents did, with few-questions-asked humanitarian aid and financial payoffs. Now, government analysts in the South say they noticed in a radio broadcast tied to one of those protests something could be called a glimpse of candor about the North’s drive for food. Image from article, with caption: North Korean soldiers look in at the UN Command Military Armistice Commission meeting room on the DMZ last week

Territorial rights and the Internet: "This Painting is Not Available in Your Country" - Boing Boing: Paul Mutant's "This Painting is Not Available in Your Country"

is a pretty snappy and trenchant commentary on the incoherent absurdity of territorial rights enforcement in the age of the Internet.

Antisocial - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog: "To be honest, I have absolutely no idea how Facebook 'works.' Really, I have no clue whatsoever, and have never been even vaguely tempted to find out.

It's not that I'm a Luddite, or unwilling to participate in the internets; it's just that it never seemed necessary to me. I mean, if somebody I went to high school with wants to find me, that's easy enough to do." Image from article

Creepy Russian Propaganda Posters - "I’ve been hanging out over at English Russia a lot recently, and I came across an archive of Russian propaganda posters. I’d wager that Russia has historically been the world’s most prolific producer of posters like this, so there’s lots to choose from and cherry-pick when looking for creepy stuff.

(Though not so creepy that I wouldn’t consider framing some of them, if I could find high-res versions.) The translations come from the editors of English Russia, and may or may not be complete — or completely accurate.

But what’s amazing about these isn’t the words!" Images, the English translation of captions: top: “The illiterate is blind, failures and misfortunes wait for him everywhere.” (This might be fun to post in American elementary school.), below: “Remember the starving.” This reminds me of lectures I used to get about not finishing my dinner. Only 100,000 times more depressing.


Rob Beschizza, "Bee-wearing competition," Boing Boing: Beekeeper Lv Kongjiang, 20, stands with bees covering his body on a weighing scale during a bee-wearing competition held last week in China.

Competing against fellow beekeeper Wang Dalin in Shaoyang, Hunan province, the two wore only shorts and bees; Wang won the competition after attracting 57 lbs of bees on his body in 60 minutes, while Lv had 50 lbs, local media reported.

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