Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 11

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Science and Diplomacy. Via AK

MORE ON "KONY 2012" (from a propaganda perspective; see your PDPBR compiler's view on this issue at)

African Weeks in Review 24 Feb – 9 March - The African File: "The current uproar surrounds this video: Kony 2012 which is now at over 60 million hits in just four days. It is made by the organization Invisible Children, which has been working for many years in advocacy on the cause of child soldiers in Uganda.

Their most recent video is the cause of significant interest and the controversy is over the way the video depicts the conflict, the LRA, Joseph Kony, the ways they say people in the West can help, and how they’re using social media in an attempt to make Kony famous. #Kony2012 is their campaign to bring notoriety to the fact that Kony tops many most wanted lists, yet remains in the bush, but not in Uganda. There are many critiques of the campaign, and instead of summarizing them, the best posts and stories that I have found are listed below:
Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (Foreign Policy)
The #Kony2012 Show (Africa Is  A Country)
Joseph Kony 2012 Video: ‘Stop Kony’ Campaign Draws Criticism (Huffington Post)
Fact Checking The ‘Kony 2012′ Viral Video (NPR)
Background: Obama Takes on the LRA (Foreign Affairs)
It’s a classic example of the white man’s burden, but that aside, the fact that the film’s primary actionable directive is to put pressure on the US government to keep their military ‘advisors’ in Uganda is perplexing. This seems to be a bit of a straw man fallacy because there doesn’t seem to be any movement to withdraw the ‘advisors’ from Uganda, thus why the need to concentrate support on a prescription that the American government has already initiated? In fact the US State Department has said there is no intention to remove US troops.The stories above raise many good points, but from a communications perspective this is an interesting look at how advocacy can be done in 2012, and what kind of precedent this sets for non-governmental organizations to call for military interventions." Image from article, with caption: Example of Campaign Branding for Kony 2012 from Invisible Children

For a new kind of online propaganda, a massive viewership not only receives the message: it is the message - Sarah Kendzior, "Less than 24 hours after the Russian online election drew to its close, a video was uploaded to YouTube that attempted to shift the dynamics of political intervention. Kony2012, the outrageously popular viral campaign to capture Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony, succeeded by eschewing any pretense of transparency: its slickness was the source of its success, and of its controversy. The half-hour production has been criticised for falsely representing the conflict in Central Africa, dangerously simplifying a complex narrative and promoting Invisible Children and its representative, Jason Russell, above the Africans they claim to help, in a way many have deemed borderline racist. As political propaganda, the Kony2012 campaign is the antithesis of the grainy verite vote of the Russian camera stream. It is a Hollywood-style production aimed at snagging Hollywood targets, who will 'make Kony famous' by circulating the video, promoting the cause, and, somehow, spurring

Kony's capture. Invisible Children has no shame in developing a campaign around the idea that Justin Bieber carries more diplomatic weight than Ugandan policy advocates, because for its audience - Americans, and judging by its YouTube demographics, many under 17 years old - this is probably true. Yet the impact of the video has spread far beyond its targeted youth constituency. Viewed by over 65 million people, the video has been praised for stimulating discourse and dismissed for spreading lies, but no one denies that it represents a pivotal moment in the use of online video for activism." Kony image from article, with caption: The Lord's Resistance Army leader believes he is a prophet and has led a brutal insurgency for more than 20 years. (15-Oct-2011)

Baloney 2012: Imperialist Propaganda Film Making Waves on YouTube - Sean Fenley, "The ostensible end of the viral YouTube picture, would appear to be pressing for yet another 'humanitarian' intervention. After all AFRICOM is still based in Stuttgart, Germany, so the US and its partners, are undoubtedly pining away for another place to base their banefulness and multifarious tools of mass destruction. The US/Western-backed dictator Yoweri Museveni is somehow never mentioned in the film. A man’s whose iron fist, and human rights violations, have given rise to a monstrous opposition movement like the Kony-led Lord’s Resistance Army. And, Museveni has been involved in numerous atrocities, and crimes against humanity himself; and about 40% of the Ugandan people live in immense poverty under Museveni’s authority. ... US militarism being promoted as a solution or panacea, is never an answer. American military advisers going into a nation is exceedingly rarely — if ever — good; and certainly not for the ostensible end of humanitarianism."

Kony 2012, Propaganda? - "The Lord’s Resistance Army was originally formed in 1987 in northwestern Uganda by members of the Acholi ethnic group, who were historically exploited as forced laborers by the British colonialists and later relegated by the nation’s dominant ethic groups following independence. Together with the Holy Spirit Movement, the LRA represented the armed wing of a resistance faction aiming to overthrow the government of current Ugandan President and staunch US military ally, Yoweri Museveni.The LRA was originally formed to combat ethnic marginalization, but soon became dominated by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed spiritual messenger of the (Christian) Holy Spirit. Kony utilized his messianic persona to lead a syncretic spiritual movement based on Acholi tribal beliefs’ and extremist Christian dogma. It is claimed that LRA seeks to establish a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments, however its inner ideological mythology is largely unknown. In an effort to mobilize a large scale armed resistance, the LRA routinely recruited child soldiers and forced them to commit heinous acts such as cannibalism and mutilation on others who resisted to join the rebel group during their extensive twenty-five year campaign. The film was produced by an organization called Invisible Children, Inc., who have been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide necessary information in the Bureau’s standards assessment. Invisible Children, Inc. has failed to disclose a list of sponsors (beyond the donations of American high school students), and has also earned a low rating in accountability from Charity Navigator because they won’t let their financials be independently audited. In a 2011 financial statement, the organization disclosed that only 31% of all the funds they receive are used for charitable purposes, with the majority allocated toward travel expenses and employee salaries. Invisible Children has also been accused of fraud and voter manipulation in a recent charity contest sponsored by Chase Bank and Facebook. The group’s Co-Founder and President, Laren Poole addressed the International Criminal Court in 2009 alongside Aryeh Neier, President of George Soros’ pro-war Open Society Institute."

KONY 2012 is a Pro-War Propaganda film... [video] - Wayne's Earth

A More Accurate KONY 2012 Campaign Poster… - "Featured here is Cecil Rhodes who helped the British Empire literally conquer a massive swath of Africa from the north all the way to the south, the portion over which Rhodes is spanning in the illustration. In memory of his megalomania, the British would name what is now modern day Zimbabwe after him, calling it 'Rhodesia.' Today, US Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, is spreading across Africa in the footsteps of Cecil Rhodes.

As reported by, Vice Admiral Moeller at an AFRICOM meeting held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008 would declare that protecting 'the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market' was one of AFRICOM’s guiding principles. Of course by 'global market,' the admiral means the Fortune 500 corporations of Wall Street and London. ... Ironically, ploys like KONY 2012 have liberal youth clamoring for what is perhaps the next dark chapter in large scale racist imperial enslavement, plundering, and exploitation. For excellent analysis on the KONY 2012 scam, please read Nile Bowie’s 'Youth Movement Promotes US Military Presence in Central Africa,' and’s 'KONY 2012, Invisible Children’s Pro-AFRICOM and Museveni Propaganda.'” Image from article


ACCESS to a Better Life in Taguatinga - John Matel, "It is always an honor to meet kids that are so hard-working and a pleasure to share in their aspirations. This is what I [a US Foreign Service officer] got to do yesterday at the Casa Thomas Jefferson branch in Taguatinga, a satellite city near Brasília, when I met this year’s English ACCESS students and presented them with their scholarship certificates. Fifty-four new students got ACCESS scholarships, which gives them two years of English study at our BNC (We cover the cost of fifty; CTJ adds in four more.) The kids are all low income and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

English will give them a big boost and will help boost their communities. Being involved is also good public diplomacy for us. It helps build and maintain the web of relationships on which our good relations ultimately depend." Image from article

INFLUENCING THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE END OF 2006 06DAMASCUS5399 Viewing [US Embassy] cable 06DAMASCUS5399, INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006 - Uprooted Palestinians: From the telegram:  "We believe Bashar's weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as a the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising. These proposals will need to be fleshed out and converted into real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities. Many of our suggestions underline using Public Diplomacy and more indirect means to send messages that influence the inner circle."

VOA launches Café DC, a "relaxed" discussion show for Pakistan, in both English and Urdu - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

RFE/RL says its Azerbaijan reporter is targeted by blackmail campaign - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Critics Worry About Influence of Chinese Institutes on U.S. Campuses - D.D. Guttenplan, New York Times: "Stanford University welcomed one with open arms. The University of Pennsylvania took a look and passed. Columbia University has one, and so does the London School of Economics. But last month, Dickinson State College in North Dakota became the most recent university to turn down a Confucius Institute — a cultural outpost of the Chinese government that already has 350 branches on campuses around the world, from Paris Diderot University to Penn State University, and from Argentina to Zimbabwe. To proponents, the institutes offer a chance for greater engagement with one of the oldest civilizations in the world — and the fastest-rising power of the new millennium. For cash-strapped university administrators, the institutes can seem like a godsend, bringing not just Beijing-trained and -financed language teachers and textbooks but also money for a director’s salary and a program of public events. ... Critics worry that such largess comes with strings attached. “There is a whole list of proscribed topics,” said June Teufel Dreyer, who teaches Chinese government and foreign policy at the University of Miami. 'You’re told not to discuss the Dalai Lama — or to invite the Dalai Lama to campus. Tibet, Taiwan, China’s military buildup, factional fights inside the Chinese leadership — these are all off limits.' Ms. Dreyer said that Miami did not have a Confucius Institute but added that their rapid growth and potential influence was a frequent topic of discussion among China specialists. ... There are now 70 institutes in the United States, 14 in France, 11 in Germany, 13 in Britain, and others in Eastern Europe and Asia. ... Martin Davidson, chief executive of the British Council, says that the comparison, often made by Confucius Institute defenders, between his organization, which promotes British culture, and the Chinese effort, only goes so far. 'We are a stand-alone organization operating out of our own premises. They are being embedded in university campuses,' he said in an interview. 'The real question has to be one of independence. Are we seen as simply representing the views of the government? Or is there a degree of separation?' ... 'The Chinese are very clear on what they are trying to achieve,' said Mr. Davidson. 'They want to change the perception of China — to combat negative propaganda with positive propaganda. And they use the word ‘propaganda’ in Chinese. But I doubt they have to say, ‘We’ll only give you this money if you never criticize China.' The danger is more of self-censorship — which is a very subtle thing,' Mr. Davidson said.” Via

Qatar Foundation, Rice University student-led colloquium inspires science diplomacy dialogue - "His Excellency Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al Thani, President of Hamad Bin Khalifa University and Vice President of Education at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), welcomed students from Education City, Qatar University and Rice University to the 2012 Doha Colloquium at the Qatar National Convention Centre. He was joined by the founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and former US Ambassador, Edward P. Djerejian, who delivered the opening address. ... In 2010, the student-led Public Diplomacy and Global Policymaking Program was developed by students from Texas' Rice University, with the aim of building bridges with the Middle East.

The first interactions under the program were between Rice students and students from the American University in Cairo in 2010. As a continuation of the program mission, Rice and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy organized the 2012 Doha Colloquium, which took place parallel to the 2012 Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy. ... The colloquium illustrated that the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy is not only engaging renowned experts in science but also encourages the participation of younger generations in open discussions on the importance of science and research for public diplomacy." Image from article, with caption: At the 2012 Doha Colloquium at the Qatar National Convention Centre

Former basketball star hopes to score with musical ode: Eliezar ‘Lay Z’ Gordon sings jazzy gospel song about the "Holy Land" to attract Christian visitors - David Brinn, Jerusalem Post: "If navigating the tricky world of Israeli public diplomacy was as easy as sinking a three-pointer, former Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball player Eliezar 'Lay Z' Gordon would be our tourism minister. The athlete-turned-musician thinks he’s in possession of a slam dunk to woo Christian tourists to Israel – a jazzy gospel song he wrote called 'Oh My Holy Land.' But the transition from the parquet court to the public diplomacy (hasbara) arena is proving to be as complex as a zone defense for the 47-yearold Ra’anana resident. However, the determination developed during a decade-long basketball career is coming in handy for the charismatic coach and motivational speaker as he tries to use his musical talents and his personal charisma to promote Christian tourism to the country. ... Gordon ... is impatient to embark on his chosen path as a goodwill ambassador for Israel. ... 'Here I am, a

Jewish guy but my soul is black,' said Gordon.” Image from

Lemon, Lavender, Lardons and Leadership - "Starting next week, I will be a 2012 Fellow in the 'Leadership L.A.' program at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. This is an opportunity to refine one’s leadership skills under the rubric of civic engagement. ... My area of emphasis is food diplomacy. ... In any recipe or food narrative, you can achieve success in the mechanics, individual spices, ingredients, preparations, but you will never have a complete and enjoyable experience if it does not come together and is shared with others. Leaders do not work in isolation. The innovative and creative ones assemble the best teams that cover all skills, and bringing diverse and unique voices to the table.Effective public diplomacy does the same. There are no solitary actors who can effect change, they need to be part of a strong team where governments, international actors, corporations and practitioners can contribute their intellectual and compassionate capital to the issue."


US professor sees cultural diplomacy as peace solution - Amar Guriro, "The use of violence to curb violence is a dangerous trend and through such means violence can’t be curbed, as only people-to-people contact and cultural diplomacy can bring long-lasting peace, said renowned American professor and teacher of digital video production Dr Brian Bailey. The researcher and his wife, Heather Layton, are on a visit to Karachi on the invitation of two Pakistani members of the International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) – one of US State Department’s professional exchange programmes. Layton is also a multimedia, interdisciplinary artist and a senior arts lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, US, where she teaches courses in painting, mixed media, performance art and social intervention. She wants the world to use arts to resolve conflicts. ... Bailey’s research focuses on the intersection of school-based curriculum and contemporary youth culture, particularly when adolescents use digital media art to create short films, music videos, animation, documentaries, etc in school. The American professor is the co-founder and co-director of The Rochester Teen Film Festival and Summer Camp, both of which grew out of his research on Youth Digital Media Production and Literacy."

Iranian, Indonesian Ministers Stress Closer Cultural Ties between Tehran, Jakarta -"Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyed Mohammad Hosseini and Indonesian Minister of Education and Culture Mohammad Nuh underlined the necessity for closer cultural ties between the two Muslim states. Addressing a special ceremony marking Iran's cultural week in Jakarta on Friday, Hosseini said Iran attaches importance to promotion of cultural relations and cooperation with Indonesia. Enemies of Muslims seek to sow seeds of discords among them and in order to thwart their plot, cultural affinities among Muslims should be further consolidated, the Iranian minister said. Hosseini also voiced Iran's readiness to host Indonesian cultural week in Iran.

The Indonesian minister, said that deeply rooted cultural affinity and commonality between Iran and Indonesia prepares grounds for upholding relations and cooperation between the two countries. In cultural diplomacy, all parties should look forward to commonalties and try to change differences to opportunities, he said." Image from article


Official: U.S. soldier opened fire on Afghan civilians - AP, USA Today: A U.S. service member walked out of his base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday and started shooting Afghan civilians, Afghan and NATO officials said. An Associated Press photographer reported seeing 15 bodies of Afghans allegedly killed in the shooting. The photographer saw the bodies -- some of them burned and some covered with blankets -- in the villages of Alkozai and Balandi in Kandahar province's Panjwai district. The villages are about 500 yards from a U.S. base.

Security Fears Lead Groups to Rethink Work in Afghanistan - Matthew Rosenberg and Graham Bowley, New York Times: The management at a company that does aid and development work for the American government knows that some of its employees in Afghanistan are keeping weapons in their rooms — and is choosing to look the other way. At another company in the same business, lawyers are examining whether the company can sue the United States Agency for International Development for material breach of contract, citing the deteriorating security in Afghanistan. An Afghan government plan to abolish private security companies at the end of this month, along with the outbreak of anti-American demonstrations and attacks in the past month, has left the private groups that carry out most of the American-financed development work in Afghanistan scrambling to sort out their operations, imperiling billions of dollars in projects, officials say. That, in turn, threatens a vital part of the Obama administration’s plans for Afghanistan, which envision a continuing development mission after the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014.

Skeptics doubt U.S. can be certain about Iran's nuclear progress: Iran's record of deceit fuels worry over President Obama's assurances that he'll know if Tehran starts trying to build a nuclear weapon - Ken Dilanian, Despite President Obama's assurances that the United States will know if Tehran begins to secretly build a nuclear bomb, some senior officials familiar with U.S. intelligence and spying capabilities in Iran are doubtful. The issue is a crucial one because the White House has suggested that U.S. satellites, sensors and spies, as well as United Nations inspections, provide a reliable tripwire to decide whether diplomacy has failed and military action is needed to stop Iran from assembling a nuclear device.

The officials' doubts stem, in part, from Iran's record of deceit.Image from article, with caption: Iranian students form a chain near a uranium conversion facility in Esfahan to show their support for Iran's nuclear program in November. One holds a portrait of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

How to sink Iran’s regime? Sanctions, not bombs - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Now that the squeeze on Iran has begun, there’s a potential risk if it stops too quickly, leaving a damaged but still potent Iran seething for vengeance. That early termination could happen through a quick U.N. cease-fire after a unilateral Israeli strike or because the West calls off sanctions prematurely, leaving Iran’s nuclear toolkit still largely intact. The West has an additional hidden capability in this crisis, between sanctions and open military conflict. It’s a way of increasing the cost of Iran’s actions, short of war. Officials don’t usually talk about this terrain of “covert action,” for obvious reasons, but it’s easy to imagine what might be possible: Defense-related research facilities could be disrupted; financial and other commercial records could be scrambled. These may sound like extreme options, but they’re just the non-lethal ones.

Israel fears second Holocaust - Andrew Sullivan, The Australian: Perhaps the most revealing thing in Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington last week was the gift the Israeli Prime Minister gave the US President. It was a copy of the Book of Esther, which is at the heart of the Jewish festival of Purim and recounts an ancient attack on Jews living under Persian rule. According to Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, Netanyahu explained the significance of his gift thus: "Then, too, they wanted to wipe us out."

Israel's envoy blasts German media's opposition to attacking Iran - Israel’s new ambassador to Germany has lashed out at the German media for voicing opposition to a military strike against Iran, suggesting that the

European country should emulate the Tel Aviv regime in its propaganda campaign against the Islamic Republic. Image from article, with caption: Israel’s new Ambassador to Germany Yaakov Hadas-Handelsman

Obama’s passivity dooms the Syrian people - Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: Even if some in the White House comprehend the strategic importance of Assad’s political demise, the human rights atrocities underway and the degree to which U.S air power could positively affect the outcome, it’s clear the president does not have his heart in this. His impulse, if not his obsession, is to exit the United States from military engagements (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan), avoid military action even at the risk of significant strategic losses (Syria, Iran) and label those who disagree as engaging in irresponsible bluster or “beating the drums of war.”

The Power to Kill - Editorial, New York Times: President Obama, who came to office promising transparency and adherence to the rule of law, has become the first president to claim the legal authority to order an American citizen killed without judicial involvement, real oversight or public accountability. That, regrettably, was the most lasting impression from a major address on national security delivered last week by Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. There were parts of the speech worth celebrating — starting with Mr. Holder’s powerful discussion of why trying most terrorists in civilian courts is best for punishing them and safeguarding America. But we are deeply concerned about his rejection of oversight and accountability when it comes to killing American citizens who are suspected of plotting terrorist acts.

EU propaganda video - Anya Topolski, A few days ago the EU Directorate General for Enlargement released, only to recall it three days later, this video clip, entitled Growing Together, aimed at young audiences with the intention of promoting EU policies. Costing a whopping €127,000 ($167,000), this video did much more than that. It made transparent the all-too-often implicit xenophobia that is constitutive of "the idea of Europe." The video not only taps into Europe’s foundational myth, it seems to justify the current existence of the European Union on the same grounds that once justified Europe’s imperialist adventures which led to its colonization of 85% of the globe. According to the relevant European Commission Director General, Stefano Sannino, the clip featured typical characters from the martial arts genre: kung fu, capoeira and kalaripayattu masters; it started with a demonstration of their skills and ended with all characters showing their mutual respect, concluding in a position of peace and harmony. In this clip Europe is symbolized as a white woman walking and wading through puddles of water in a warehouse. For those that know their Greek mythology, this cannot simply be a coincidence. Europa, the virgin daughter of an Asian king, was frolicking in the ocean when whisked away by the Greek God Zeus, disguised as a white bull, who then raped and abandoned her. The night before she was assaulted, Europa dreamt of being attacked by the continents of Asia and Libya (the Greek name for what is now Africa) and

finally being rescued by ‘civilization’. Just as in the myth, Europe – in the EU video – is attacked by three ‘barbaric’ men. First comes the attack from the East, an aggressive Asian looking kung-fu fighter. Next Europe is attacked from the Orient by a sultan with a massive blade that cannot but convey images of the Crusades and the fight against the infidels. Last but not least comes that half-naked African. Enough said. Europe, reminding the world of its superiority and its ability to put violence in the past in the name of Reason simply stares condescendingly at the barbarians. She multiplies herself – as a good woman ‘created’ to reproduce it implies ought to do – and encircles her enemies who relinquish their weapons. Each of the ‘identical’ women then becomes a star on the European flag and the three barbarians , that is the world in all its diversity, are erased – they vanish. While one can, and should, be shocked by this, what is even more appalling is that this was not obvious to those that filmed it – those same people who are currently constructing Europe. Image from, with caption: There are lots of paintings called "The Rape of Europa." They're filled with little Cupids and soft colors. This is problematic.


"лучшее - враг хорошего (Loose translation: "Much better is far worst than good enough")

--Comment by Лохтуров Вячеслав (Viacheslav Lokhturov) on facebook


"IU English professor Stephen Watt will receive the 2011 Tracy M. Sonneborn Award and deliver this year’s Sonneborn Lecture in a program from 4-6 p.m. Monday at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall. Watt’s topic will be 'Irish Schlemiels: The Performance of Ethnicity on the Nineteenth-Century Stage.' The topic comes from a book-length study

in the progress of Irish-Jewish interactions and cultural productions between 1850 and 1960. 'The lecture also outlines the genealogy, methodology and trajectory of this performance study of two immigrant people’s relationships with each other, relationships defined by both tension and, at times, an uncanny familiarity,' according to the event program. Also to be recognized are Colin Allen, provost professor of history and philosophy of science; Glenn Gass, provost professor of music; Olaf Sporns, provost professor of psychological and brain sciences;

and Richard Wilk, provost professor of anthropology."

--Mike Leonard, "IU English professor Stephen Watt giving Sonneborn Lecture today,"; images from (1), (2) and (3)

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