Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14

"What is the answer?...[Silence]...In that case, what is the question?"

--Last words of writer Gertrude Stein; Stein image from


New US Virtual Embassy Tehran panned by Tehran regime and by Washington thinktankery - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Waste of Dollars: Persian broadcasting service in its present form - Mehdi Khalaji, "Whatever policy the United States adopts toward Iran, it will need to communicate it to the Iranian people. This will not be easy. Iranians are subject to heavy anti-American propaganda from the Islamic government. Not only are there no diplomatic relations, Tehran even creates many problems for people-to-people exchanges like student scholarship programs.

The main tool of U.S. public diplomacy toward Iran is generous government funding of Voice of America's Persian TV (Persian News Network, or PNN) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian program (Radio Farda). While radio is a useful complement, TV is the best medium to reach ordinary people in Iran, so PNN is the more important of the two. Along with a few Iran experts with backgrounds in journalism, I monitored PNN for a year. We found that PNN was consistently ignoring the professional rules of TV production. Its programs are generally poor both in format and content. The problem is that PNN is run like a government agency, not like a news organization." Image from article

Sanctions On Burma Must Be Maintained – Kanbawza Win, "By whatever barometer it measured, be it a capitalist or a communist, the DNA of the Burmese regime is fundamentally brutal and one should mot reward such a capricious regime just for making some superficial changes as releasing just a mere one tenth of the political prisoners and continue to lie the very concept of truth by uttering that there is no political prisoners. ... Surely the new US engagement policy in the Southeast Asia in general, and Burma in particular, is based on a smart public diplomacy and must be calculated a policy of fairness that support the existing foundation to win the hearts and minds of the people to utilize its role in the region.

The US should be highly sensitive to the development of a wider East Asian community, and its policy should not only deal with governments only but the people in the region. It must be people-centered, people-driven and people-oriented that sends an important message to the world that people in the region have the right to freedom and the right to respond and interpret what is understood as fair and unfair as appropriate to them. The people of Burma will surely agree with the WikiLeaks of how US Charge d’Affaires Larry Dinger sent a cable to Washington, 'The most senior generals are looking for an escape strategy, they are getting old and want an assurances that, they and their families will retain their assets and will not be prosecuted'. ... For now, the Burmese must continue to 'live like free people in an un-free nation,” and perhaps wait for a new generation to achieve liberty. Then and only then, America should think of releasing sanctions.'"  Image from, with caption: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi hug after a meeting at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma.

"A Discussion on American Innovation, Trade, and the Next 10 Million Jobs" - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will join PBS NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer for 'Innovation and the Global Marketplace: A Discussion on American Innovation, Trade, and the Next 10 Million Jobs,' at 11:00 a.m. on December 14 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The live discussion will be part of a panel event featuring conversations between PBS NewsHour correspondents and leaders from across the private and public sectors, exploring the critical connections between American jobs, economic growth and U.S. relationships around the world. These conversations will explore issues like trade agreements, public diplomacy, global innovation patterns and policies, the impact of technology on international relationships and geopolitics, and the rapidly changing global marketplace."

Public Schedule for December 14, 2011 - U.S. Department of State: "ASSISTANT SECRETARY ANN STOCK (R) 4:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Stock meets with Russian Minister of Education and Science Andrey Fursenko as part of the education sub-working group of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)"

Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Ann Stock in India -

Image with caption: At the Institute of Social Sciences and RELO India’s Madrassa Teacher Training Program, November 29, 2011

Public Schedule for December 14, 2011 - U.S. Department of State: "COORDINATOR FOR INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION PROGRAMS DAWN MCCALL Coordinator McCall is on foreign travel in Toronto, Canada to meet with Canadian digital media industry experts."

Mobile English: at StateDept Pilots Language Learning Program in Tunisia - Ethiopian Review: "On November 17, 2011, the Department of State launched our first mobile-based English language learning program in Tunisia. The project was developed in partnership with U.S. Embassy Tunis, Tunisiana (the largest mobile network operator in Tunisia) and Tunisian education partner, Edupartage. Over the course of the 90 day pilot, millions of Tunisian mobile subscribers can learn English phrases and expressions for free on their cell phone by dialing *136# to access Najja7ni mobile English. ... English language programs are a critical element of our public diplomacy toolkit.

State’s English language programs offer both foreign teachers and students tangible educational and professional opportunities by improving their English speaking, reading, writing and teaching skills. From our perspective, connecting with individuals globally via the English language offers us an incredible way to build mutual understanding between the American people and people of other nations. One popular example of our in-person English language training is the Access Microscholarship Program. Through Access, U.S. Embassies around the world connect with around 80,000 youth, enabling talented 14 to 18 year old kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to learn English and leadership skills during after school classes and summer programs." Image from article

American Music Abroad Vid - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The Educational and Cultural Bureau of the U.S. State Dept just put out an excellent video on the American Music Abroad program." Entry includes video.

Analysis: "The Role Of New Media And Communication Technologies In Arab Transitions" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting. Mention of Al-Hurra.

Voice of America during the martial law in Poland - "Shortly after the imposition of martial law, VOA Polish broadcasts were expanded from two and a half to seven hours daily. A few weeks later, Voice of America aired the audio for the special television program 'Let Poland Be Poland,' which was produced by the United States International Communications Agency (USICA).

The agency, ran by President Reagan’s close friend Charles Z. Wick, was earlier known as the United Information Agency (USIA). Later, its name was changed back to USIA. At that time, the Voice of America was one of the elements of USICA. The 90-minute program included statements of support from Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston, Glenda Jackson, Kirk Douglas, Paul McCarthney, Bob Hope, President Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, who performed the Polish folk song, 'Ever Homeward' in both English and Polish, Czeslaw Milosz, Helmut Schmidt, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and others famous political leaders and artists. In total, 16 heads of state and government leaders made statements in support of Poland and of Solidarity." Includes videos of Frank Sinatra singing in Polish. Image from, with caption: Henryk Tomaszewski  "Zeby Polska byla Polska" ("Let Poland be Poland!") is the title of a song that became the unofficial anthem of Solidarnosc. In this 1989 election poster, Tomaszewski goes a step further, pleading "If Poland has to be Poland, 2+2 must ALWAYS equal four."

The Soft Power of Online Diplomacy - "Abstract. The age of the state is not over. Though some have written about the power of web 2.0 to topple regimes and destroy state sovereignty, the picture is a little more complicated. The Republic of Korea in the last two decades has taken on a major cultural export campaign, led by television dramas and pop music. The 'Korean Wave' as it’s called, has strengthened the ROK’s position as a regional power. More recently, ROK started a comprehensive online public diplomacy campaign targeted specifically outside Korea’s ordinary sphere of influence with the goal of developing soft power abroad. The results, though not immediately obvious, provide an early model for a state successfully taking on the new challenges posed by information and communication technologies."

Microblogs become crucial state tool - Priscilla Jiao, China News Watch: Mainland government agencies and officials have caught microblog fever, with the number of governmentrelated

accounts rising threefold since the beginning of this year. ... Zhu Huaxin, secretary general of the Public Opinion Monitoring Office, said microblogs could bypass party mouthpieces and the mainstream media to interact with people. ... Gong Yufeng , deputy director of the public diplomacy office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' news department, said government officials should be careful when using microblogs. 'Sometimes weibo has a negative impact as it spreads rumours and malicious speculation,' Gong said. He manages the ministry's Waijiao Xiaolingtong (diplomacy source) microblog." Image from article

2012 Melbourne Conference on China: Global media and public diplomacy in Sino-Western relations - Jen Tsen Kwok, "The conference is designed to be inclusive and interdisciplinary. Topics will include: Challenges faced by international media, particularly international broadcasting. The role of global media in public diplomacy, and how global media is shaping international politics. The changing nature of media in China and the West. The role of journalists and editors in public diplomacy, and how this relates to editorial independence. Innovative scholarship on global media and public diplomacy, and the differences between Chinese and Western perspectives."

How Do You Say ‘Yasher Koach’ in Spanish? - Joy Galam and Julie Wyler, "If we had two words to describe the 43 Latin American Jews, hailing from 15 different countries, that we met during the ROI Ibero-American Gathering in Buenos Aires, it would have to be humor and diversity. ... Indeed, from Mexico down to Argentina via Brazil, we realized that there really is no such thing as a 'typical Latin American Jewish community'. The diverse ideas discussed reflected the complexities of Jewish communities across South America. Ronit (Costa Rica) and Denise (Uruguay)

identified intermarriage as a central challenge in their communities and thus focus their efforts towards creating a framework for Jewish singles to mingle and increase their sense of belonging to the community. Whereas Maximiliano (Chile) channels his efforts towards public diplomacy and Hasbara for university students to counter the de-legitimization activities, frequent in Chile, a country in which the largest population of Palestinians reside (outside of the territories), Loren and Orly, both from Mexico, work towards increasing Jewish involvement in non-Jewish causes and bettering the overall image of the Jewish community in Mexico. But it’s not always easy to have a broad impact." On ROI, see. Uncaptioned image from article

Polad Bulbuloglu: Despite protests we will continue visiting Nagorno Karabakh - “All are aware of Karabakh problem, one must not forget the bloody pages of our history. The young generation will solve this problem. Before I was appointed as ambassador, I thought this problem could be solved only in a military way. But there is a notion of 'public diplomacy'. I visited Nagorno Karabakh. It was not so easy for me to see my house in Karabakh. But I understood that we can achieve something only through this way,' Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu said addressing the forum entitled 'CIS youth – future of public diplomacy' in Moscow, APA reports quoting He said he can not forget the day when the symphony orchestra of the CIS countries performed in Baku and Yerevan. See also.

Harnessing Digital & Social Media with DR4WARD at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University #video #NewhouseSM4 #NewhouseSM6 #NewhouseGLDSM -

"Guest Speakers: ... Guy Golan, Associate Professor, Public Relations and Public Diplomacy, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University." Ward image from blog


U.S. plans major shift to advisory role in Afghanistan - David S. Cloud and Laura King, The top commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday that U.S. forces would begin a major shift next year to an advisory role, in hopes of building up the Afghan army’s fighting skills and gradually extricating American and allied units from a combat role. Gen. John Allen

told reporters in Kabul that small teams of U.S. advisers would be sent to Afghanistan to live and fight with Afghan army units starting in 2012, in hopes that large U.S. combat units will be able to gradually step back from the lead role in providing security and to withdraw completely by the end of 2014. Image from

The Iraq withdrawal and the continuing eruption of US militarism - Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site: The White House has used the imminent withdrawal of all but a handful of US troops from Iraq to promote Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. The president’s strategists are conducting a cynical propaganda operation aimed at simultaneously identifying him with the military and pushing the claim that the pullout is a fulfillment of his 2008 campaign promises.

The US withdrawal from Iraq does not represent a turn away from militarism. Rather, it is part of the tactical preparations for far more devastating wars to come. The explosive development of US militarism, which gave rise to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is driven by the decline of American capitalism and the crisis of the world capitalist system, which have deepened immensely over the past decade. Image from

Islamists in tweet offensive - David Smith, In an improbable twist to the conflict in Somalia, while their fighters wage war with bombs and bullets, al-Shabab, the Islamist militant group linked to al-Qaeda, is locked in an online propaganda

war with Kenya, using weapons of 140 characters each. Since launching less than a week ago, al-Shabab's Twitter feed, @HSMPress, has posted more than 80 times and attracted nearly 3000 followers. Image from article, with caption: Kenyan soldiers in Somalia

Missteps in the Syrian Opposition's Propaganda Effort [subscription] - Syria's multipolar opposition appears more coherent than it was three months ago, but its efforts to shape the narrative emerging from Syria reveal its continued struggles.

The Russian Spring Has Begun: The Putin regime will never recover legitimacy, but financial interests mean it will hang on as long as it can - Andrei Piontkovsky, Wall Street Journal: What is happening in Russia today is similar to the rejection of authoritarianism the world witnessed in what is now called the Arab Spring. As with the Mubarak regime in Egypt earlier this year, the Putin regime has lost the battle for the hearts and minds of its own people. The regime's last resort

is to inflate outside threats from Russia's eternal enemies—NATO, the West and the United States. Mr. Putin recently claimed that Russians demanding his resignation receive instructions directly from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and are funded by U.S. sponsors. Mr. Medvedev has said that the U.S. intends to strip Russia of its nuclear capabilities. Putin image from

Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: "I’d never claim to speak for American Jews, but I’m certain there are many out there like me, who strongly believe in the right of the Jewish people to a state, who understand that Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood yet remains a democracy, but who are deeply worried about where Israel is going today. My guess is we’re the minority when it comes to secular American Jews. We still care. Many other Jews are just drifting away. I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused. It confuses them to read that Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia last Wednesday, was quoted as saying that the recent Russian elections were “absolutely fair, free and democratic.”

Too embarrassing for Zionist propaganda - As'ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service: "Israeli Jewish hate rally against Africans in Tel Aviv caught on video as Haaretz deletes article about it". (thanks Electronic Ali)

As China Rises, A New U.S. Strategy: We should embrace Russia, Japan and South Korea as we seek to manage the rise of China - Zbigniew Brzezhinski, Wall Street Journal (subscription). Below image from

Chinese Public Opinion: Shaping China’s Foreign Policy, or Shaped by It? - Yun Sun, Brookings Insitution: In a country without free media, independent public opinion is certainly a myth. Since in China the information received by the general public―and the ensuing discussion about it―are decided, colored, and shaped by the authorities, it is extremely difficult to argue that the resulting public sentiment is not at least in part manufactured by the government.

Hackers Hit Website Of Group Targeting TLC's All-American Muslim - David Wharton, So, you might have seen the story yesterday that the home-improvement chain Lowes was getting all sorts of bad press for yanking their ads from TLC's new reality series, All-American Muslim. This was after the Florida Family Association claimed that the show was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

Because, you know, if you happen to show a well-adjusted Muslim family that is not at that moment attempting to blow something up, that is clearly propaganda. At any rate, Lowes pulled their ads off the show, which has set off a firestorm of negative publicity and online debate (the Facebook post where Lowes apologized currently has nearly 22,000 comments). Now the blowback has reached the Florida Family Association: the Tampa Bay Times reports that the organization's website has been infiltrated by a hacker claiming to be associated with the group Anonymous. As a result, the FFA has been forced to temporarily take down their website. Uncaptioned image from article

The Facebook Resisters - Jena Wortham, New York Times: As Facebook prepares for a much-anticipated public offering, the company is eager to show off its momentum by building on its huge membership: more than 800 million active users around the world, Facebook says, and roughly 200 million in the United States, or two-thirds of the population. But the company is running into a roadblock in this country. Some people, even on the younger end of the age spectrum, just refuse to participate, including people who have given it a try.

Soviet Socialist Realism in Rome - Dave Di Vito, Since re-opening in 2007, Rome’s Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, the city’s largest exhibition space, has increasingly played host to a number of traveling, internationally themed exhibitions, known in some parts of the world as blockbuster exhibitions.

It seems fitting that one of Rome’s most monumental public buildings has temporarily been given the role of custodian of a collection of often epic scale works from a variety of Russian collections in an attempt to showcase the twentieth century Socialist Realism movement of the former Soviet Republic. Socialist realism was the Soviet Union’s officially sanctioned form of art that dominated the country for much of the twentieth century, and was often used as a tool of propaganda to idealize the ‘real’, and to elevate the appreciation not only of the labour movement, but the Soviet Union’s objectives in relation to socialism, communism and progress. For many, Russia and Russian art are like icebergs, where so much of the integral nature of the culture and identity are not immediately visible beyond their most iconic and iconoclastic forms.

Realismi Socialisti: Grande Pittura Sovietica 1920-1970 tries to demystify this to some extent, taking on the challenge of chronicling the relentless change of a period of political, social and cultural upheaval by surveying the stylistic and thematic shifts in Russian painting during this time. The exhibition runs until January 8, 2012 and is also accompanied by a photographic retrospective of Aleksandr Rodcenko. Images from article, with captions: Above - Aleksandr Laktionov, Captain Judin, Hero of the Soviet Union Visits the Tank Corps-Komsomol, 1938; below: Dimitri Zhilinsky, Gymnasts of the USSR, 1965

25 Propaganda Posters For Everyday Annoyances - The propaganda poster is a lost art-form, having given way to manipulative political TV ads and the mind control chemicals they put in our drinking water. We asked readers to bring it back to help us win the war against minor annoyances. Below images from entry

by MinorShan

by wavedout


The New Full-Frontal: Has Pubic Hair in America Gone Extinct? - Ashley Fetters, There's one main driving force behind America's villainization of pubic hair: pornography.

Women aren't just striving for ways to attain that smooth, glossy, doll-like physique -- they're looking for ways to preserve it, too. The mother of Sohia Pinto, a 22-year old, 5-foot-5 Minnesota native, plans to give her daughter the $3,000 Laser hair removal procedure as a college graduation gift. Image from article

Married couples at a record low - Carol Morello, Washington Post: The proportion of adults who are married has plunged to record lows as more people decide to live together now and wed later, reflecting decades of evolving attitudes about the role of marriage in society. Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census statistics to be released Wednesday. That represents a steep drop from 57 percent who were married in 2000.

W. Bradford Wilcox, head of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, said marriage is fading fastest in communities with many residents with the least education. Image from

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