Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7

"Nana Addo did not urinate on or near any mosque when he visited Damango."

--Curtis Perry Kwabla Okudzeto, Deputy Director of Communications, Communications Directorate, New Patriotic Party (Ghana). On Nana Addo, see. Image from


U.S. Launches Virtual Embassy Tehran - DipNote: U.S. Department of State Official Blog: "Today [December 6] the United States announced the online opening of the Virtual U.S. Embassy Tehran as an opportunity for engagement between the peoples of Iran and the United States. Virtual Embassy Tehran is not a formal diplomatic mission, nor does it represent or describe

a real U.S. Embassy accredited to the Iranian Government. But, in the absence of direct contact, it can work as a bridge between the American and Iranian people. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noted in her welcome video posted to the site, 'This is a platform for us to communicate with each other -- openly and without fear -- about the United States, about our policies, our culture, and the American people.' State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, 'Outreach efforts like these are essential to bringing information and alternative viewpoints to the Iranian people, especially as the Iranian regime continues its efforts to control the flow of information to and from the Iranian people. This Virtual Embassy is just the first of many ways in which we will seek to challenge the Iranian regime's efforts to place an electronic curtain of surveillance, satellite jamming and online filtering around its people, and I look forward to enhancing our communication efforts directly to the Iranian people.' You can view the Virtual Embassy site ... in English at: and; and in Persian at Please also visit the USAdarFarsi Facebook and Twitter pages." Image from article

FACT SHEET: Working to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Persons Globally - Office of the Press Secretary, The White House: "Around the world, the State Department is: ... Promoting human rights worldwide. U.S. embassies are declaring the United States’ support for the human rights of

LGBT people through innovative public diplomacy. Ambassadors and embassies have hosted public discussions and private roundtables, published op-eds and supported Pride events." Image from

Unclear future for US airbase in Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan's new President Atambayev may be bluffing about closing the unpopular US military base, says the author - Joshua Kucera, "Kyrgyzstan's new President Almazbek Atambayev, who was sworn in on December 1, has promised to close the American airbase that the United States has operated there since 2001. The closure of the Manas airbase would be a significant blow to US operations in Afghanistan: It provides crucial refuelling services to coalition fighter jets flying in Afghanistan, and serves as a stopover point for US troops entering and leaving the war. ... The US was always operating in a somewhat difficult environment in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic where most Kyrgyzstanis continue

to have positive views of Russia. According to recent opinion polls, 96 per cent of Kyrgyzstanis see relations with Russia as 'good', as compared to 45 per cent who feel the same about ties with the US. Russia also maintains an airbase in Kyrgyzstan that is a vestige of the Soviet era . ... Thus, the irony of the current airbase situation in Kyrgyzstan is that Russia - a country not known for its concern for public diplomacy or promoting democracy - operates an airbase with the broad support of the population. And the US, ostensibly engaged in an effort to shore up a democratic government in Afghanistan, appears to rely on paying off presidential family members to ensure continued access to its air base. Now, compounding the irony, Kyrgyzstan's fragile but real progress towards a truly representative government has threatened the US' position in Kyrgyzstan." Image from article, with caption: Closing [the US military base at] Manas was a key component of new Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev's campaign platform.

Iraq and the Arab Spring (and Iran) - "[T]he invasion [of Iraq] ... prompted a wave of anti-Americanism that at least temporarily increased sympathy for radical movements such as al Qaeda. And it could every easily have moved public opinion in other directions. The lesson, I think is that manipulating public perceptions is a very dicey proposition. And the answer is not better 'public diplomacy.' Dynamics of public opinion are very, very hard to manage."

US and A - Britsener, The Murmur: "There is no doubt that U.S. political apparatus unremittingly works on the analysis of international affairs and develops various geostrategies to spread its influence to volatile corners of the world. Besides, the U.S. is known for its ongoing engagement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as globalization where it occupies a significant chunk, primarily as an inventor of the concept. Subsequently, the U.S.’s national branding, public diplomacy and 'Soft Power' cruises together with globalization across the globe and tend to represent itself as panacea that strives to look as idealistically universal. Meanwhile, the popularity of the U.S. is not only limited on these values, but also on its economic stability, various social/economic programs and international aid, migration opportunities for foreigners, its contribution to cinematography/music industries and most importantly its lousy voice over ‘democracy/freedom’ that it comprehensively propagates via its ‘Soft Power’. Joseph S. Nye, an inventor of this concept, views

‘Soft Power’ as an ability to get what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your goals. At the same time agreeing with Mr. Nye both hard power and soft power is indispensable in armed conflicts, but attraction is definitely more effective and beneficial that coercion."  Image from

American Radio Free Europe Fights in Courts Against Armenian Journalist. and Scores against America - "Czech TV channel CT-1 has a popular sports rubric called 'Desperate Fighter'. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Prague is a weighty contender to be featured there. It keeps fighting after defeating itself. RFE/RL is the largest civil American institution abroad financed by American Congress. The Radio is subordinate to the Federal agency BBG (Broadcasting Board of Governors) in Washington. ... Recently, an American NGO FreeMediaOnLine published on its web-portal an article, 'Two Women Fighting to Uphold America's Principles at America's Freedom Radio.' Quote: 'A human-rights lawsuit brought in Prague by Armenian journalist Anna Karapetian

against American Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is again before the Czech Supreme Court. ... She charges that the Czech Republic tolerates discrimination based on national origin by RFE/RL, an American employer.' ... American image abroad should be not in foreign courts but in foreign public opinion. Comprehension of this simple fact is, again, the matter of common sense. But also of a moral compass and political responsibility to American taxpayer whose money is used to finance the peculiar brand of 'public diplomacy' performed by RFE/RL - BBG. ... In fact, RFE/RL, a highly visible overseas institution of American public diplomacy, has lost the court battlefrom the outset, just by entering the courtroom -- on moral and political grounds." Karapetian image from

Comparative analysis of federal agencies' tweets about Occupy shows why VOA is not like the others - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "'Wired, Epicenter, 29 Nov 2011, Andy Biao. Since the Occupy protests started in mid-September, nearly 15,000 [Twitter] messages [about Occupy] were posted by the 126 federal Twitter accounts. Of those accounts, only three have mentioned the Occupy protests in any way — Voice of America, the Smithsonian, and the White House. For those unfamiliar with it, VOA is a radio and television news network broadcasting in 100 countries in 59 languages, but banned from airing in the United States because of propaganda laws. As part of their daily news coverage, they’ve tweeted about Occupy nine times since the protests began. (Here’s the most recent.)' [Elliott comment:] Within one sentence, 'VOA,' 'news,' and 'propaganda' are mentioned. This is a demonstration of VOA's identi[t]y problem. And it shows why, as a news organization, VOA should be defederalized. The other federal agencies have no need to report about Occupy, and their tweets properly stayed out of the Occupy public debate."

Pan-Arab survey shows internet gaining on TV as main source of international news - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Brookings Institution, 21 Nov 2011: "'On Monday, November 21, Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and nonresident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, released the 2011 Arab Public Opinion Poll, which is produced each year in conjunction with Zogby International. This year’s poll surveyed 3,000 people in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates in October 2011... . Aljazeera Television continues to be identified as the number one source of international news among those polled (53%) followed by Al-Arabiya (14%) and MBC (12%). There is a marked increase in the percentage of Arabs who identify the Internet as their main source of international news, with 20% saying that the Internet is their primary source of international news, in contrast to 8% in 2009.'

[Elliott comment:] In the accompanying survey presentation, it is interesting to note that 14% state that Al Arabiya is the network watched most often for news, compared to 3% in 2010. Al Jazeera's gain from 2010 to 2011 is less dramatic: 38% to 43%. Professor Telhami's 'watch most often' question is unhelpful to, and is often used to advocate the elimination of, non-Arab Arabic news channels such as Alhurra and BBC Arabic. International broadcasters are typically used by audiences as a supplement to domestic broadcasting, and thus usually do not do well in a "watch most often" question. (Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are effectively domestic channels within the Arab 'nation.')" Image from

Radio Free Asia potluck, "one of the hottest multicultural tickets in town," includes hot yak butter tea - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

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Low profile in Durban relegates Canada to margins of climate debate - Geoffrey York, "Wander through the underground parking garage where dozens of countries have their offices at the Durban climate summit, and you’ll find the doors open and the delegates friendly – except when you reach the Canadian government office. There the door is closed and a sign says: 'Authorized personnel only.' ... Unlike the United States and other countries, Canada is making no effort at 'public diplomacy' here. It has a much more visible presence at African mining conferences than it does at the Durban summit, even though Canada has a plethora of the green-technology companies that could be promoted at the summit. Canada’s invisibility at the summit suggests that it is ashamed of its climate stand, critics say. ... While Canada remains low profile, its reputation is taking a beating. ... Canada was subjected to more bad publicity on Tuesday in the latest index of climate-change performance, released by a German environmental group. It showed that Canada is ranked 54th out of 61 countries in the index on carbon emissions and climate policies."

Dubious vision of our land - Christian Kerr, The Australian: "The Australia Network is the key platform for Australia's public diplomacy. 'We have a very small public diplomacy budget and the Australia Network now forms almost the entire part of that,' Alex Oliver from the Lowy Institute for International Policy explains. ... 'There's been a sense (that) a fairly low priority has been given to some of the programming on the Australia Network,' [an] insider, who asked not to be named, told The Australian. 'Re-runs of soapies and sporting events might be of interest to expats but not the audience you're trying to target with a public diplomacy effort.' ... Some Australia Network programming seems bizarre if it is meant to be Australian public diplomacy. Last night, for example, viewers were treated to Monster Salmon and Monster Butterflies, a documentary on the potential dangers of genetically engineered fish made by a production house based in Munich, Germany." Below image from

When is it OK to ignore a police investigation? Why, when it's appropriate of course - Cut and Paste, "What private sector powerhouse? [Mark] Scott, August 2010 speech: The Lowy Institute for International Policy recently conducted some research into international broadcasting. Looking at 10 different services, it found most major government-funded international broadcasters have similar public diplomacy obligations to the ABC in their legislation. The research also noted, and this is significant, that no matter how different their political, ideological or cultural foundations, no international broadcasting services were outsourced by their governments."

Israel’s minister for the Diaspora: J Street is anti-Israel - Uriel Heilman, JTA: "When Yuli Edelstein, Israel's minister for public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, dropped by the JTA offices the other day, he made clear there is one Diaspora Jewish group about which he has no interest in being diplomatic: J Street. 'They're not pro-Israel, they're not liberally Jewish. They're anti-Israel,' the minister, Yuli Edelstein, said."

Recognizing the Need of 'The Other' - Corey Smith, International Exchanges: Students at American University blog about international communications: "I'd like to build upon the brief mentioning of 'Postcolonial Approaches to Communication' and Edward Said's Orientalism

and perhaps extend it to the more recent discussions on public diplomacy and strategic communication. As Said noted, there has been a historical recognition of the West as a colonial and postcolonial power, including in academic thought. This has created an unbalanced view of Eastern thought by both West and East alike. Up until very recently, strategic thinking involved putting the Western ideals at the forefront of economics, politics, communication, science and other fields. Only with Said's insight has their been existential pondering of how this thought process affects both Western and Eastern societies." Image from

IC Full Circle - Do you See What IC?: "Public diplomacy was essentially a very large part of the creation of radio. Not only that, but it is still extremely important today. Although public diplomacy is increasingly using new technology (Facebook, SMS, Twitter) and seeing amazing results, it is really important that they continue radio broadcasts for those without

access to these technologies. This obviously leads to a discussion on communication and development. Specifically, how mobile phones are starting to shape the lives of people in developing countries." Image from article

Why the Consulate is Important for the Traveler - "For the foreign traveler, it is the consulate that will provide most useful services. Only in times of emergency or natural disaster will an embassy be able to help the civilian traveler. The role of the consulate includes, but is not limited to, protecting the interests of their civilians with citizenship of the home country. These fellow nationals may be travelers, temporary or permanent residents of the host country. Their staff may issue passports or visas, as well as engaging in public diplomacy."

UM-Shmoom - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Life can be kind of funny. About a week after I started my present job, I got a letter from the UN inviting me to take a test for its Young Professionals Program in the area of public information. If you had asked me what I wanted to do after I got my Master's, my

standard answer was 'to work for the UN.' Here was my chance to do public diplomacy for the UN; yet here I am invited to take a test to allow me into the UN and I am not taking it. ... Ultimately, I did enough homework into the background of the test and found out it was really for an entry-level position. Thanks UN, but I am not starting at the bottom of your byzantine labyrinth." Image from


A Cuban conundrum: If Alan P. Gross were an American spy instead of a subcontractor, the U.S. would have secured his freedom from Cuban prison by now. Here's how it still could — and why it should - William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, Gross did not work for the CIA. He worked — in his words, as a "trusting fool" — for a USAID contractor participating in a U.S. government-funded democracy-building program. He traveled several times to Cuba on a tourist visa carrying computers, cellphones and satellite communications technology for independent nongovernmental organizations and individuals in Cuba's Jewish community.

The Cuban government regards USAID's democracy-promotion program as subversive, geared to foment regime change. Obama administration officials have declared that relations with Cuba will remain frozen until Gross is released, but the administration has not been willing to take the aggressive steps necessary to win his freedom. Image from article, with caption: Religious groups and family members hold a vigil outside the Cuban interests Section in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14 in support of Alan P. Gross, the U.S. subcontractor who has been imprisoned in Cuba for two years.

Spot the differences: New York Times on Russia and Occupy - Jérôme E. Roos, Consider this rather dramatic contrast: when 300 liberals are arrested during an anti-Putin protest in faraway Moscow, the New York Times splashes the news onto its front page. But when 700 radicals are arrested in an anti-Wall Street rally in New York itself, the Times virtually ignores them, pushing the news onto its obscure "City Room Blog." The difference in framing between these two items is particularly remarkable.

First of all, there’s the title: “Moscow Moves to Quell Second Day of Anti-Putin Protests.” Compare the laden term “to quell”, which implies an authoritarian type of crackdown, with the following matter-of-fact statement: “Police Arrest More Than 700 Protesters on Brooklyn Bridge.” Then compare the introductory paragraphs of the two articles: “Russian authorities acted decisively to quash a second day of anti-government protests,” versus “In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.” Image from article

Golos vs. Goliath - Andrew Roth, By the 84th and final time that Golos deputy head Grigory Melkonyants tells a young, thuggish NTV reporter “NTV is Surkovian Propaganda” in a span of six and a half minutes, you’re surprised that he hasn’t been hit in the face yet. But somehow, by luck and a little ingenuity, the Golos election watchdog dodged an obvious provocation by NTV. The United Russia machine will likely roll on, though without its constitutional majority. There still remains no viable opposition, and whether YouTube hits will translate into opposition votes remains a doubtful proposition. Yet after years of watching glossy shots of Putin with Siberian tigers and Medvedev with iPads, it’s nice to see someone with a different opinion develop a PR machine for once.

Russia's deputy prime minister backs ban on LGBT "propaganda" - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak

has publicly backed an effort in St. Petersburg to impose fines on those convicted of public acts "promoting homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgender identity to minors." Kozak said the Russian Parliament should consider passing a similar national law. Kozak image from

Syria: U.S. Ambassador back to Damascus and persistent propaganda - Jerry Dandridge, Syria News: "It is no question for the United States that they want to overthrow the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government in Damascus, no matter by what this means and above all, no matter at what this will cost. The main thing for Americans is that the Syrian government will be history so that they can put a wedge between the so-called “Axis of Evil” and are able to 'settle down' there finally. The new statement of the partly dubious leaders of the Syrian opposition abroad seem to confirm this and also makes clear that this not legitimate council in Turkey is used as puppets of American interests." Below image from

Syria – Human Remains Scattered in the Street After Attack on Civilians by Terrorists
- The propaganda we are fed on a daily basis via the corporate-media and the foreign ministers of the western countries portrays Syrian violence as one sided, making it look as though Alawites are gunning down peaceful, unarmed protesters. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Academic Study Finds Reuters Middle East Coverage Tainted by Propaganda, Violates Company Principles: Roosevelt University academic study documents systematic use of propaganda by world's largest news agency - Researcher Henry Silverman of Roosevelt University analyzed a sample of fifty news-oriented articles published on the websites for

the use of classic propaganda techniques, logical fallacies and violations of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism, a manual of guiding ethical principles for the company’s journalists. Across the articles, over 1,100 occurrences of propaganda, fallacies and handbook violations in 41 categories were identified and classified. Silverman image from article

How to Write about the Middle East - Always use the word "Sand" or "Darkness" or "Whispers" in your title. Subtitles may include the words "Islam," "Jihad," "Desert," "Dawn," "Struggle," "Oil," "Orient," "Arabia," "Calling," "Veil," "Allah" or "Anger." Also useful are words such as "Terrorists," "Timeless," "Fundamentalism" and "Tribal." Note that you must always refer to Arab people as the “Arab Street”. Readers will be put off if you don’t mention the markets in Arabia. They are always loud and dirty. There is always someone who is spitting phlegm. Small, winding alleys and bazaars are critical—Arabia is the Land of Mystery and Exoticism.

'We're not a country of snake charmers' - Dhamini Ratnam, India Future of Change initiative co-founder Sudhir Horo insists their nation branding exercise is not about jingoism, but solving serious issues through competition and collaboration. And the whole world's invited to participate. Via

Statement:Nana Akufo-Addo did not urinate on any Mosque - Curtis Perry Kwabla Okudzeto, "The NDC seems to have found a new propaganda story. This time, Nana Akufo-Addo is supposed to have urinated on the walls of a mosque at Damongo in the Northern Region. This story is not true, and must be treated with the contempt it deserves. Nana Addo did not urinate on or near any mosque when he visited Damango. The fact of the matter is that, Nana Addo paid a courtesy call on the Yagbon Wura at Damongo as part of his 'listening tour'. Whilst waiting to call on the Yagbon Wura, Nana Addo had to respond to nature’s call (urinate). He was offered the Yagbon Wura’s household’s urinal, but he decided to use a makeshift urinal behind the compound, which serves as the urinal for ordinary people in the community. He was met with clean water and

soap to wash his hands when he was done. This event has been twisted into a story of Nana Addo urinating on a mosque wall, by newspapers sympathetic to the Mills/Mahama administration for propaganda purposes. This is an obvious attempt to portray Nana Addo as being against Muslims. Clearly, the NDC is dazed by the massive disappointment of Ghanaians in their slow, incompetent, weak and visionless government. In their desperation, they have resorted to personal attacks and lies and the usual propaganda against our Flagbearer, a man of great stature who will never stoop that low to desecrate a Holy Mosque. The vile propaganda and wicked lies in the name of politics will never wash. In this so-called action year, the Ghanaian people do not know the whereabouts of the President, when the faith of our dear country has been left to faceless men who keep steering the nation towards failure." Image from

The Most Effective: Propaganda - Annie, "Propaganda within itself is an extremely effective means of swaying audiences to its message. Unlike the documentary or other such persuasive films, the propaganda is not bound by fact. The makers of propaganda are free to exaggerate, especially during war time propaganda. In times of war, a nation’s people are already rallied together against their enemies, and so are more susceptible to the messages of the propaganda. The enemy is portrayed as inferior and evil, no proof or citations needed. Propaganda is also completely one sided. The story of the enemy is never shown, so audiences are exposed to a very biased story. However, this bias and freedom from facts are precisely what makes propaganda films so effective as a means of persuasion. The maker’s viewpoint is clearly stated. Momotaro’s Sea Eagles is an exemplary propaganda film. Although the piece is about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there is none of the violence associated with such large scale military attacks. No living creature was hurt in the movie, not even the antagonists. Instead of Pearl Harbor, the animals in the film are attacking 'Demon Island', an obviously fiction place. This pull form reality helps to draw the audience in with a relatively relaxed atmosphere, rather than focusing on the gruesomeness and seriousness of war."

Art and film as Nazi Propaganda: The Discus Thrower and Leni Riefenstahl - Several minutes into the dramatic opening of Leni Reifenstahl’s film Olympia, an epic depiction of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the classical Discus Thrower statue turns and turns—becoming a living man, Nordic muscles bulging as he demonstrates bodily perfection against a stormy landscape*.

The imagery links the Greek classical legacy to modern athleticism and the strivings of the Third Reich, a linkage that Nazi leaders worked hard to make, in support of their Aryan ambitions for genetic purity and political domination.

In the Detour, young curator Ernst Vogler is sent to Rome to escort home the purchased statue, an object that had captured German interest since before the Olympia premiere. (In fact, efforts to acquire to the Discus Thrower statue date back to the reign of King Ludwig I, and Hitler sealed the deal in 1937.) Art was an essential tool in the Nazi propagandist toolbox, and film—still a young medium in those Third Reich days—proved exceptionally powerful in spreading images and ideas, often wordlessly. Few filmmakers succeeded at pleasing their fascist funders while collecting international accolades as handily as

Leni Riefenstahl. A close friend of Hitler, who became smitten with her as an actress in early alpinist films, Riefenstahl’s first big break behind the lens came with the filming of Triumph of the Will, a “documentary” (with Hitler as executive producer) of the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, attended by 700,000 Nazi supporters. Images from article


“Nothing has changed the nature of man so much as the loss of silence.”

--Swiss philosopher Max Picard

"The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."

--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

1 comment:

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