Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24

"I honestly didn't pay attention to it. You know what I mean?"

--Actress Angelina Jolie, explaining her crazy Oscar pose; image from


Department of State Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Smithsonian Institution - Imperial Valley News: "Washington, DC - On Thursday, the Department of State signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Smithsonian Institution to define future collaboration between the two organizations. This partnership brings the world-renowned content of the Smithsonian to audiences around the world via the international reach of the Department. At the ceremony, Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Kathleen Stephens and Under Secretary of History, Art and Culture for the Smithsonian Institution Richard Kurin highlighted key upcoming activities including sending the 'Picturing the Promise: The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington' exhibit to embassies and the recent launch of the 'Amazing Ocean' mobile app, based on content from the Sant Ocean Hall of the National Museum of Natural History.

[JB note: At least part of the below appears to have been said by Ms. Stephens or Mr. Kurin although the article does not so indicate] The worlds of diplomacy and science and technology, of government-to-government relations and people to people exchanges, are more intertwined and interdependent than ever. By working together, we can expand our horizons by sharing resources, networks, people and program content. Though the Smithsonian hosts almost 30 million visitors annually--a fraction of them international--to its museums in Washington, the Smithsonian, in this digital age, can reach billions around the planet. This partnership enables the Smithsonian and the Department of State to reach new audiences together. Priority areas for collaboration include strengthening cultural and scientific exchanges, sharing Smithsonian collections and expertise with international audiences, consulting on international educational efforts, and developing effective responses to international cultural issues." Image from

State, Smithsonian Promote Ocean Health with Mobile App - Ross Gianfortune, "Conservationists -- and even NOAA -- have often cited the ocean and its inhabitants as indicators for the global envi[ro]nment. The State Department is now getting in on that idea with the release of a software application highlighting the ocean's import to the world. Former ambassador to Korea and Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Kathleen Stephens blogged about the Amazing Ocean Mobile App, a joint venture between the department and the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of Natural History. Stephens says the Web and mobile app has been downloaded in 52 countries after pilot programs in China, India, and Indonesia. The app features stories and photos from agencies, including NOAA, the Smithsonian and the Interior Department, as well as aggregatied links and information from National Geographic, Discovery Communications and other places around the Web. The app's purpose is to engages viewers on matters of conservation, Stephens said. The app is available for download for iOS and Android devices and is viewable on PCs. The app is the first in a series of joint educational projects State is pursuing, according to Stephens."

His Excellency, Ambassador Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Patt Morrison, "To find the earliest stories the Los Angeles Times wrote about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I had to search for his birth name -– Lewis Alcindor Jr. He was a New York high school student being courted by UCLA and other powerhouse basketball schools. ... Life after basketball has meant some TV and movie roles (he was hilarious in 'Airplane!'), writing and co-writing a slew of books, and now as a U.S. global cultural ambassador. Check him out with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the event in January, where he says, 'I remember when Louis Armstrong first did it back for President Kennedy, one of my heroes.
So it’s nice to be following in his footsteps.' He’s made his first trip abroad in that new iteration, to Brazil, and I asked him about the job description, and his visit to Brazil. 'They want me to speak to disadvantaged kids about their future with an emphasis on education, and answer questions  about Americans and democracy and what it’s like here in this place we call America.' I wondered whether Brazilian kids knew who he was. 'Yes, I was surprised! They have three or four [Brazilian] guys in the NBA, so the kids there now play the game. They have courts in some of the slum neighborhoods.' And what did they want to know about the U.S.? 'They were very taken with President Obama. They [also] have a history of slavery there. To see President Obama become president, it really gives them a different idea about the potential of democracy. That was something they all wanted to ask about, [whether] this democracy stuff can work for [them].'" Image from article

Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports: U.S. Department of State Teams Up With U.S. Women's National Soccer Team To Build on the TOMODACHI Initiative - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, State Department: "As part of the 'Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative,' the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and U.S. Soccer announced today that the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will take to the soccer field and lead a event for Japanese youth in Sendai, Japan on Tuesday, March 27. Members of the U.S. Women’s National Team will emphasize how young women can accomplish their goals through dedication and hard work. Through the Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative, the Department is mobilizing all of its international sports programming to increase the number of women and girls worldwide who are involved in sports. Click here to learn more. ... TOMODACHI is a public-private partnership led by the U.S. Government, the Japanese Government and the U.S.-Japan Council, and supported by corporations, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. This event also builds on Hall-of-Famer and Public Diplomacy Envoy Cal Ripken, Jr.’s trip to Japan in November 2011, when he met with scores of Japanese youth in the Tohoku region. Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary Clinton’s vision of 'smart power.' It embraces the full range of diplomatic tools, including soccer, to bring people together for greater understanding. Through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Division, the U.S. Department of State conducts sports exchange programs to engage youth worldwide. Sports Visitors are young athletes and coaches who travel to the United States for an exchange. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought more than 900 athletes from 58 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 200 U.S. athletes to 50 countries to participate in Sport Envoy programs."

Montanans in Russia are ambassadors for cowboy culture - "Don't look for a Russian translation for 'The Hutterite Boogie' anytime soon, but perhaps a ballad of a lonely Cossack on the steppe will be the result of Wylie Gustafson's upcoming trip to Russia. Gustafson said cowboy poetry and music is uniquely American, and like jazz and Bluegrass, it's a way to transcend cultural barriers. 'We are sent over to Russia as diplomats in a sense,' he said. 'We're sent over there to bolster the image of the United States and give people something real to look at, something that's not Hollywood.

America has so many styles of music and the world learns a lot about America and looks favorably on it because of its music.' The Conrad musician and quarter horse rancher as well as his band, Wylie and the Wild West, and Manchester poet Paul Zarzyski are headed to Russia this month as informal ambassadors for the country and the cowboy way. 'Wherever we go — Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Europe — there is that American cowboy icon,' Gustafson said. 'People know what a cowboy looks like but they don't necessarily know what we sound like, the music we sing,' he said. 'The cowboy is a huge American icon and it's amazing how our cowboy culture has appealed so much to the rest of the world.' The trip will be March 21-31 and is sanctioned by the American Folklife Center in Washington, D.C., with support from the U.S. Embassy in Russia.'" Via FB on Facebook. Image from article, with caption: Wylie Gustafson and his Wild West band head for Russia.  Pertaining to this article: Bozeman grad McFaul may be next ambassador to Russia  (June 4, 2011) - bozeman [Montana] "Michael McFaul, the 1981 Bozeman High School graduate who designed President Barack Obama's policy to 'reset' once rocky relations with Moscow, is reportedly the president's choice to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia. ...

McFaul's mother said she worked for Montana State University's Alumni office for 26 years and her husband, Kip McFaul, was a musician. Both are retired. If her son is posted to Moscow, she said, 'I guess I'll have to get my passport.'” Image from

VOA reports linked by RFE/RL, cited by Minnesota Public Radio, and loosely rewritten by Pakistan Press International - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China's Programming for U.S. Audiences: Is it News or Propaganda? - PBS Newshour: "Summary [:] China Central Television has opened a new broadcast bureau in Washington, D.C., and is now producing news programs in English for an American audience. Leaders at CCTV

America say they uphold traditional journalistic values, but critics say the programs may look like news, but they really are propaganda." Image from

Israel won’t cooperate with UN ‘fact-finding mission’ on settlements - Eli Leon, Mati Tuchfeld, Yori Yalon, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff, "The United Nations Human Rights Council is disconnected from reality and has an 'automatic' bias against Israel, Prime Minister Benjanmin Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday in response to a resolution adopted by the 47-member council to launch a probe into Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem. In a meeting earlier Thursday, the council condemned Israel’s planned construction of new housing units for Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem neighborhoods, saying they undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of a contiguous and

independent Palestinian state. ... Davidi Pearl, mayor of Gush Etzion, briefly said, 'First they should investigate human rights abuses in Syria.' In a rare occurrence, some activists on the Left echoed the opposition heard from the right to the HCR’s probe. Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the Peace Now organization, said that 'the issue of settlements and their impact on the region is an important issue. The members of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which lost its legitimacy as an objective and regional entity long ago, are the last that ones that should probe this issue. Its report against the settlements is likely only to help the settlers in their hasbara [public diplomacy] struggle.' Conversely, the Palestinian Authority welcomed the HCR’s decision." Image from article

Where is Europe’s Sports Diplomacy? - Molly Krasnodebska, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: This summer the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship will be jointly hosted by Ukraine and Poland: "An excellent opportunity for the European community to bond over its favorite sport, and for Ukraine, which for a long time has been aspiring EU membership, to promote its image. However, while the football community and its fans are happily preparing for the event, Ukraine’s former prime minister and leader of the democratic Orange Revolution of 2004, Yulia Tymoshenko is being imprisoned in a penal colony. ... Sports diplomacy has the potential to serve as a tool for advocacy and soft power. On the one hand, effective use of sports diplomacy can enhance the image of a country in the eyes of a foreign public, especially for a country that is hosting a prestigious sports event such as the UEFA Cup. ... The upcoming UEFA cup bringing Ukraine to the spotlight in European media provides an excellent opportunity to bring greater attention to the Tymoshenko case and for the public to express condemnation of Ukrainian government’s undemocratic actions."

Boratistan - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "At a medal ceremony in Kuwait, the gold-medal winning Kazakh was honored with the anthem from Borat! Kazakhstan never found humor in the movie, but I think it has been a nation-branding success for the country. People know Kazakhstan in ways that Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan could only pd dream.

Granted, for all the wrong and fictitious reasons, but the PT Barnum School of Public Diplomacy argues that as long as they spell your country's name right, it is good attention." Barat  image from

Lawrence Ampofo - "Lawrence is an academic and commercial expert in social media analysis and insight. He is the Founder and Director of Semantica Research, a social media intelligence consultancy that helps public and private sector make informed operational and strategic decisions based on cutting-edge social media intelligence approaches from both the academic and commercial sectors.

He holds a Ph.D that focused on international security, social media and online behaviour. His academic interests focus on the relationship of online behaviour to international security, international relations, political communication and public diplomacy." Ampofo image from entry

Vacancies: members of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK - "The Department for International Development (DFID) is currently seeking to appoint five members of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK. ... Applications are invited from a range of backgrounds, and in all cases knowledge of international development issues and higher education is desirable. A number of further skills are being especially sought to ensure that a balanced range of expertise remains available to the CSC. Candidates with backgrounds in public diplomacy or the private sector, or with extensive knowledge of Commonwealth issues are also particularly encouraged to apply."


Preventing a nuclear Iran - Michael O’Hanlon and Bruce Riedel, Washington Post: Under a constriction policy, we would continue to do our utmost to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. But we would recognize that even if Iran had a handful of bombs, the balance of power in the Middle East in both nuclear and conventional terms would still tilt overwhelmingly toward Israel.

“Ethnic cleansing of Christians in Syria” – facts and propaganda - The Christians in Syria, as well as the rest of the population, are in need of undivided support, backing, and funding.

They do not need divisive rumors and the propagation of inaccurate information. Image from blog

Spain needs a global strategy, not a branding exercise - Manuel Manrique, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is about to celebrate 100 days in office. Difficult months lie ahead.

What is needed is a broader longer-term strategy that strengthens Spain’s international profile in Europe and beyond, whilst avoiding an instrumentalisation of foreign policy. Rajoy image from article

Kazakh film industry hopes to erase ‘Borat’ image - Ruby Russell, The Washington Times: Fame is a hard thing to shake, especially fame as pervasive as the 2006 mockumentary “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” But Kazakh filmmakers are aiming to shake off the image of “Borat” and energize their country’s movie industry with a big budget historical epic, “Myn Bala,” which opens next month in theaters in the Central Asian nation. “‘Myn Bala’ is one of those projects which is important to give the country its identity,” says Anna Katchko, one of the film’s producers. “It’s also a coming-of-age story about falling in love, first fights, losing friends and gaining them again.” Telling the tale of 18th-century Kazakh warriors overthrowing Mongolian overlords, the movie is funded by Kazakhfilm — the former Soviet-era movie studio that now, as a partially state-owned enterprise, has been rebuilding Kazakhstan’s film industry over the past three years.

Bookshelf: Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945 - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog:

Comment to this entry by The Cat's Meow: We are continually fascinated by the response of popular culture to the war effort, and can't help but believe that there's a brilliant book/treatise/term paper that compares WWII domestic propaganda, which in our humble opinion was brilliant and two-edged, with post-9/11 pablum, which was, um not. Just our two cents. Image from entry


For about four years, close to the side of their white clapboard home, the gallery owners Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr displayed a Larry Rivers mixed-media construction of a pair of attenuated fiberglass legs, 16 feet tall, modeled on a 1969 work called “40 Feet of Fashion.” Rivers, the provocative painter, sculptor and filmmaker, died in 2002. By 2010, a Rivers painting had sold for $1,142,500; that year, Fred W. Thiele Jr., the Sag Harbor village attorney and a state assemblyman, decided that Rivers’ “Legs” — which had long been established and exhibited as a work of art — was, in fact, a “structure.” As such, it was not a “conforming use,” according to the village code. (Mr. Thiele dug in his heels and told a Times reporter, “It’s a structure, and a structure is a structure is a structure.”)

Gayle Pickering, chairwoman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, tried to deflect the issue by saying: “This is not a decision about art. It’s about setting a precedent for building structures.” Try to get your head around that bit of specious reasoning. Last month there was a public meeting to decide for or against removal. By this time, the board had received so many e-mails, letters and faxes from museum experts, art critics and members of the general public advocating that the Rivers sculpture was a proven work of art and not a so-called structure and should remain in place, that another meeting was scheduled for last Tuesday, when the board voted not to vote on the issue but to postpone a decision until April 17. The board also decreed an end to all public input.

--Barbara Goldsmith, "Art Has Legs," New York Times; image from Google


"[H]e was from everywhere and nowhere."

-- David Maraniss, referring to President Obama in his "Clinton and Obama: Presidential parallels," Washington Post

"The early Enlightenment was in no doubt that truth was accessible, and that humans had been endowed by God with rationality in order to lay hold of it, if only partially. Yet a preoccupation with social processes can quickly lead to downgrading the role of reason in human affairs. David Martin, for example, is quick to cast doubt about the role of reason in religious contributions to public debate. He says that 'politics is more about master narratives, power, and the motivating myths that sustain power, than reason and logic'.

Sociology can hope to demonstrate how this may be so, and it is understandable than this should be its focus. Yet this seems a good example of sawing off the branch one is sitting on. Sociology gains its plausibility from its own claim to rationality, rather than being another 'master narrative' or simply the exercise of power."

--Roger Trigg, "God and godless," a review of David Martin, The Future of Christianity: Reflections on violence and democracy, religion and secularization, The Times Literary Supplement (March 9, 2012), p. 26; image from


--From EM on Facebook

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