Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16

"Journalism and public diplomacy are very different, indeed adversarial, endeavors."

-- Kim Andrew Elliott, who reports on US International Broadcasting; image from


Propaganda's founding father, Edward Bernays -


Mali Tuareg rebels Declare State of Azawad - Roxanne Bauer, "Mali is breaking up… with itself. The northern half of the country declared independence from the southern portion and would like to be recognized as Azawad from now on. ... From a public diplomacy standpoint, much can be done in the area to ensure that US interests are not lost in the region. Public diplomacy initiatives can reinforce

US relations; aid in the state-building process, if it is undertaken; and support emerging leaders once they are elected in Mali and Azawad. These leaders will need help, not manipulation, to support the development and construction of democratic institutions. Public diplomacy should work to prepare new and groundbreaking regimes for change and the slow process of stabilization." Image from article

Public Schedule for April 16, 2012 - U.S. Department of State: "ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS ANN STOCK - Assistant Secretary Stock and Minister George Torquato Firmeza, Brazil’s Director of the Cultural Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lead the U.S-Brazil Global Partnership Dialogue’s Working Group on Education, in Brasilia, Brazil."

Lifetime chance to become pro dancer or actor - Daily Express, Independent National Newspaper of East Malaysia: "Sabahan youths who aspire to become a professional dancer, actor or musician are invited to take part in a five-day free expert training and class sessions, courtesy of the America-based YES (Youth Excellence on Stage) Academy. This opportunity of a lifetime, provided under the Kota Kinabalu programme called YES Hip Hop, KK, which is sponsored by the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and Association of American Voices, is only open to 75 youths aged 15 and above from Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

The YES Hip Hop KK's free daily intensive expert training is scheduled to be held here from June 1-5 this year. ... John Ferguon of the YES Academy, together with Izzie Zainal of ME and Peter Chua, who is the President of Malaysia Suzuki Association (MSA) which is an official partner of the programme, were at the Daily Express recently to share about this programme. According to Ferguson, YES Academy is the educational wing of Association of American Voices, a non-governmental organisation based in San Louis, United States, which works all over the world to provide professional training to aspiring dancers, actors and musicians. He said some of the countries involved in this programme are Malaysia, Thailand, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on, which typically has a lot of social exchanges with the US."

American Voices Youth Excellence on Stage (YES) Academy Iraq - "THE IDEA[:] American Voices’ YES Academy conducts cultural education for countries emerging from conflict. AV returns for its 6th summer YES Iraq Academy. YES Iraq reaches over 300 participants in a 16-day program. YES Iraq offers free intensive study in jazz, hip hop, youth theater & dance to Iraqi youth.

THE SPECIFICS [:] The GOOD funding would sponsor 5 additional students to attend the YES Iraq Academy. The funds would sponsor one additional student to participate in the areas of hip hop, breakdancing, jazz, theater and classical performance. The additional students would take part of the YES Iraq Academy as "GOOD Scholarship Students." These "GOOD Scholarship Students" would each be drawn from the 5 areas across Iraq that participate in YES Iraq (Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Basra and Kurdistan)." Image from article

Grammy-Nominated Recording Artist Maiysha Joins US Embassy and ShareTheMic to Support Women's Rights in Egypt - “Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Maiysha ( has returned to the US after traveling to Egypt to advocate for women's rights. Through a cultural diplomacy program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, she helped some of Northern Africa’s most talented vocalists take a brave and historic step: singing in public. In some parts of the region, women are not only discouraged from singing; it’s considered blasphemy.  Through a widely publicized competition called 'Sing Egyptian Women,' dozens of talented vocalists have fearlessly raised their voices in song. The cultural diplomacy program was created by ShareTheMic™  (, a New York-based non-profit organization that provides performers to advocate for causes around the world. For this women's rights program, Impact Branding connected them with Maiysha. On Thursday, April 5, Minneapolis native Maiysha conducted a roundtable discussion with the finalists of the groundbreaking women’s vocal competition. She applauded them for courageously asserting their right to be heard as artists and for inspiring women throughout the region.”

Jason R. Levine In Tunisia - "'English Language Specialist Jason Levine will be in Tunisia from April the 18th to May the 1st. Jason R. Levine is currently the Academic Director of CAMPUS Education, an English language school with multiple centers in the U.S. and overseas. Endowed with fourteen years of experience as a teacher, trainer, and creator of educational materials, Jason has worked with teachers and young learners of English in many parts of the world.'

Jason was our special guest for the 6th issue of The Tunisian EFL Forum. You can read the interview here: Interview with Jason R. Levine. You can also check Jason's Facebook page, FluencyMC. For more information about Jason's workshops in Tunisia, please contact Public Diplomacy Assistant Hafedh Zanina at" Image (evidently of Levine) from entry

Public Diplomacy, Saved BY A Smile - CMDC News: "Hello, Hello,,,,,,,Public Diplomacy as an important factor of the Develoment of the Russian- American Cooperation….Now ,I know why we often see diplomats nodding out at such conferences….Actually ,for us this was a day we will not soon f0rget. We arrived at our destination at 4pm and the conference began with the Chairperson for the Association for International Cooperation,The English Spesking Unoin, Mrs. Margarita Mudrak, a very robust dark hair English speaking Russian women with voice like a drill sergeant ………One moment she spoke in Russain ,the next, in English. She appeared to be enjoying herself with her mastery of both languages……………. 45 mins. later Prof. Boris Shiryaev,Head of the Department of Americans Studies School of International Relations,St. Petersburg State University,and this mans title goes on, and on ,and on, spoke for 25 mins., followed by the Consul General of the USA in St. Petersburg, Mr.Bruce Turner,who introduced Mr. Mitchell……….It was just about then when she caught my eye,,,the stare contest on,… it is on…ok,. , ,,,She won,,Pretty as she could be…Actually,I don,t remember hearing much of Mr.M,s speech because ,by this time the long steady looks had turn to smiles. The next speaker that came to the podium spoke Russian only, my eye to eye combatant , was told by Mrs.Mudrak.( who was her Boss ),to go and sit next to the 'handsome black man' and translate…to my surprise……..,Well, there you go, Diplomacy saved. …or at leas,t I did not nodd out……Eight speakers later ,I had made a friend by the name ,,,of Olga,Russian born with family somewhere in Boston,thank you for keeping me awake. This was close to a 5 hour conference with a reception afterwards….After each speaker three or more people would leave the room,they knew just how long these things drag on….Tomorrow, we are at the Mariinsky Theater, The Kriov……It will be nothing but smiles…smiles…. and more smiles ……….From St.Petersburg….Russia,with love….Mr. Homer,s……Odyssey"

Much ado about SRK's 75 minute delay - "For the second time in quick succession, South Block has rushed in where angels fear to tread leaving egg on the face of the ministry of external affairs. By summoning Donald Lu, America’s deputy chief of mission in New Delhi, to South Block over a mere 75-minute delay — as it now turns out — in clearing actor Shah Rukh Khan at White Plains airport in New York on Thursday, India brought down its much-touted strategic relationship with the US to the level of trivia. ... The US embassy in New Delhi is ... very keen that the controversy should die down very quickly before its new ambassador arrives to take charge of the mission on Thursday. The mission plans to celebrate the arrival of its first woman ambassador, who has rare experience spread across South Asia, to infuse new life into relations with India. A lingering controversy about a celebrity like

Khan would be an inauspicious start to Nancy Powell’s tenure. That was one of the considerations behind the embassy’s speedy apology for the White Plains episode. But that apart, the apology was a masterpiece in diplomatic engagement and crisis management in public diplomacy, from which India’s public diplomacy division in the capital’s Shastri Bhavan could learn. The US embassy did not simply issue a press release and leave its use to availability of space in the media and the discretion of news editors. At very short notice, the mission called the media to the embassy on Friday. There, Peter Vrooman, spokesperson for the embassy, began with a personal touch, referring to his daughter’s fascination for Khan’s Chammak Chalo video song. He then proceeded to apologise, not for what immigration officials in White Plains did to the actor, but 'if Mr. Shah Rukh Khan experienced an inconvenience or delay… on his way to Yale University'." Khan image from article

of Ascend to the top of the tower., And you can see the horizon - "the past, the impression diplomatic mostly met, talks, consultations, negotiations, signed an agreement, why now starting to focus on the exchange of Internet users? this, The atmosphere is very formal and serious, because they belong to the exchanges between countries, between the government, official strongly evocative of some. In recent years, our public diplomacy more and more attention, the purpose is to narrow the distance between diplomacy and the people, to uncover the mystery of the Foreign Affairs, domestic and international public to

learn more about our foreign policy. According to Gong Yufeng, Department of State to do a lot of attempts, for example, held a public open day, inviting representatives from the public to visit the Department of State, communicate and interact with diplomats; the sector, the international community, the communication of people from all walks of life to build a new platform; radio program, diplomats broadcast diplomatic information to connect to a bridge erected over the airwaves." Image from

Libya: Final report of the Libyan (12-14/04/2012) - alfatah69, "A public relations agency closely linked to the U.S. Group the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who worked for the mercenaries of the NTC during the conspiracy, has been awarded a contract for $ 15,000 a month for the Libyan Embassy in Washington to continue his work. These scoundrels have welcomed the opportunity to support public diplomacy of the Libyan Embassy in the U.S. in 2012 for $15,000 a month plus expenses. His work will include the speeches that occur, press releases and presentations, 'extension' of the media, experts and think tanks, the contents of the website and the development of social media platforms and organizational meetings, visits and trips the delegation of ambassadors and conferences."

Description of VOA as "a propaganda tool" is a Montreal Gazette quote of the week - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Montreal Gazette, 14 Apr 2012, '7 Quotes -- Things they said in Montreal this week': 'It was never a propaganda tool, like the Voice of America.' - Sheldon Harvey, president of the Canadian International DX Club, about impending demise of Radio-Canada International's shortwave radio service." See previous post about same subject.

[Elliott comment:] During its 70 years, VOA has not been perfect, but, especially in the post-Cold War years, it has taken seriously its statutory requirement to provide accurate and objective news. As an experienced shortwave listener, Sheldon is familiar with other international radio stations, past and present, that would much more fittingly be called 'propaganda tool.' This does demonstrate that 'propaganda' is the worst thing an international broadcasting effort can be called. It reminds international broadcasters of the need to commit to credibility, both in in stated mission and in actual practice. Note that Sky News Arabia says that it is headed for its launch on 6 May 'with an independent editorial mandate at the heart of everything we do.' Whether the channel lives up to that mandate, it at least made the effort to proclaim that independence as its guiding principle." Image from

BBG Strategy makes its case for less shortwave in US international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The role of the U.S. Congress must take precedence over any self-serving machinations by the executives of the BBG
- Edite Lynch, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "The role of the U.S. Congress must take precedence over any self-serving machinations by the executives of the BBG.

The elected representatives, not Presidential appointees being repaid for favours, should take serious hold of the reins and issue a directive that they will decide how America’s Public Diplomacy will be presented to the world, especially to the countries who need America’s voice the most, that being China and Tibet, as well as many others who rely on uncensored news from the Voice of America (VOA). Given the bonuses, the international and domestic travel and substantial increases in positions and spending self-granted to executives of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and its International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), Congress needs to seriously question the strategic vision that seem decidedly lacking with this bunch of wonks." Image from

USAID-supported Salam Watandar radio network in Afghanistan becomes an NGO - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The Palestinians say that the fly-in and other actions [sic- JB] - "Israel denied entry and deported several dozen pro-Palestinian activists who arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday, as fears of a mass confrontation at the country’s main international gateway prompted a deployment of hundreds of police and security personnel. ... The prime minister’s office on Saturday said it planned to send a letter sarcastically thanking activists for 'choosing' Israel as the focus of their humanitarian concerns. Many in Israel criticized the government for overreacting and devoting too much attention to the protestors.

Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University, said the government’s muscular security presence and its sharp tongued public diplomacy is an understandable reaction to criticism that it was ill-prepared to deal with public relations blows such as the Gaza flotilla, in which nine activists were killed by naval commandos, some of whom were attacked at first. The Palestinians say that the fly-in and other actions of civil disobedience are intended to shift attention back to accusations of injustice in the West Bank and Gaza." Image from, with caption:Police Deploy At Ben Gurion Airport Against Welcome To Palestine Fly-In.

Dear Activist - "This letter was published by Netanyahu’s office has been circulated with mixed responses. After the flytilla came through the Public Diplomacy page summarized: ‘The Israel Police Implemented security measures today at Israels international airport in order to prevent any disruptions and and disturbances. 78 activists were denied entry into Israel. 18 flew back to the countries they came from and others will fly back within 24 hours. 9 Israelis were detained for causing public disturbances at the Arrival Terminal and where questioned by Police.’ Overall it went by pretty quietly and doesn’t seem to be a real success. That mostly depends on your political position though…for or against…."

Deputy PM: Turkey Does Not Open Border With Armenia Due To Azerbaijani Territory Occupation - "Turkey does not open its border with Armenia because of the occupation of Azerbaijani territory, Turkish Deputy

Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said in his speech at the Conference 'Foreign policy and public diplomacy of Turkey' at the Uludag University, the Beyazqazete agency reported on Saturday. Thanks to its 'zero problems' policy with its neighbors, Ankara plans to improve relations with the region's countries, Arinc said." Arinc image from article

@IndianDiplomacy posts on Twitter - Madhurjya, "India's Ministry of External Affairs' (MEA) is known to be quite active on Twitter compared to other ministries. The ministry also used Twitter quite productively for the evacuation of Indian nationals from Libya during the NATO led war. @IndianDiplomacy currently has 26, 774 followers with 1,855 tweets posted till date. Indian diplomats and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), as well, routinely tweet on foreign policy matters now. As one of the followers, I  receive regular updates from the ministry on my Twitter feed. One can't help but notice that most tweets remain in the form of notifications or announcements and are primarily in the 'broadcast mode'. While this is not bad in itself, in order to leverage Twitter, or for that matter any digital platform, it helps to switch to the 'engagement mode' where an action or a response is sought to a post and more and more two way communications happen. It may be a good idea to personalize it a little bit and not make it look like an information window of the government.  ... I personally think former Foreign Secretary and current Ambassador to United States, Ms Nirupama Rao is doing a fabulous job on Twitter. Not only her posts have a personality but the tone and overall nature of tweets are very engaging. Her Twitter handle is @NMenonRao. How do we add personality to a Ministry? That is another interesting challenge altogether."

The Greek Image - newblogger2012, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 1: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "The Greek ‘brand’ has been hijacked by one single issue – that of the Euro – and current perceptions seem to be wholly refracted through that issue. Diplomacy itself seems to have been also hijacked by it, through the media and the ratings agencies such as Standard and Poors. Set against this, are efforts

by business and community leaders in Greece, launched in December 2011 by The Athens Chamber of Commerce, through a newly formed organization ‘Repower Greece’. Adopting a multilayered programme of grassroots campaigns, public relations and public diplomacy, it undertakes what is described as ‘Our duty to redefine the role and advance the prospects of Greece through results oriented perceptions’, (IRDS 2011). There is a clarion call to members of the public in many walks of life to engage in a personal and organizational diplomacy." Image from entry

French complex - jtothelo, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 2: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "France public diplomacy has been wrapped in its international identity and personality of that being the 'purveyor of universalist values and of culture through the medium of the French language' (Keiger; 2001; 21)."

Terministic Compulsion - Craig Hayden, Intermap: "When US State Department technology advisor Alec Ross pointedly distinguishes 'public diplomacy' from his own policies and programs, this signals a host of assumptions about the significance of US public diplomacy. The US has launched numerous online diplomacy initiatives, predicated on communication with publics, but yet it’s not 'public diplomacy.' What does this mean for bigger questions about public diplomacy’s role in the relation between global politics and global communication?

As I contend, the rhetoric of policy itself is a crucial part of understanding the limits and possibilities of public diplomacy. What states do is just as important as how they explain, defend, and justify what they do. This attention to the language of PD is admittedly one small slice of the many questions that drive research in this field, but I think it alerts us to the contentious nature of definition that inevitably haunts the practice of public diplomacy and its integration into the larger, evolving institution of diplomacy." Image from

Qué es la Public Diplomacy? - Ignacio Muñoz Delaunoy, "En junio del 2010 Wilton Park, el centro de conferencias Foreign and Commonwealth Office, invitó a un grupo de expertos a discutir sobre el estado actual de la Diplomacia Pública. Esta jornada, inaugurada por Jeremy Browne, UK Minister of State for Public Diplomacy, se inició con la formulación de una pregunta muy sencilla, que los participantes debieron contestar en pocos segundos: ¿Qué podemos entender como Diplomacia Pública hoy en día? Los concurrentes a este evento nos ofrecen sus respuestas a esta interpelación en el presente video."

Influence grows faster with business than politics and diplomacy - evidencesx: "Here it goes, here it is. The power of business is so important now, that the way we drive 'relations' is no really efficient confronted with private efforts, taking markets, shares and business stakes. Long is sometimes the road for public diplomacy but the real angels now are more blue boss than politic icons. When you stare for example at Indian area and the crossroad to complicated relations with Pakistan, Russia and China in the same zone, we saw the importance of the last first trade exposition, focused with the influence of business private sector in the tough situation in stranger policy. More and more, economy and trade lead the diplomatic relationship in this area, and drive the international scene."

What My Friends Think I Do – Public Diplomacy Edition - Candace Ren, Ren's Micro Diplomacy~ a public diplomacy and soft power blog: "My local efforts at cultural exchange often involve taking friends to Spanish restaurants to experience tapas and flamenco. To borrow my favorite, if tired, PD strain, while Public Diplomacy speaks to my mind, flamenco drives my heart. I don’t normally expect the two to overlap, but on one such visit to a favorite tapas bar, my friend, a musician, said to me: 'Candace, you have to read A Visit from the Goon Squad? There’s a character that does what you do – she does public diplomacy.' I knew PD had increased in visibility, but major literary work visibility? This I had to check out. Since our office book club rotates British and American lit, and US was up that month, I suggested Goon squad for the month’s selection. The book is an exhausting read, but I was excited to finally meet Dolly, the publicist character my friend mentioned. Her client is a genocidal dictator who '[wants] rehabilitation, American sympathy, an end to the CIA’s assassination attempts. If Qaddafi could do it, why not he?' Dolly’s first project to revamp the general’s image is to give him a fuzzy, robin-egg-blue hat for photo ops. She was convinced that by softening his appearance, the American public would conveniently forget about the general’s past atrocities: 'He looked sweet in the hat. How could a man in a fuzzy blue hat have used human bones to pave his roads?' ... It’s obvious the author has no grasp of publicity, PR or PD – or the fine lines that separate these topics, but this chapter can serve as a lesson for those who work in public diplomacy.  Dolly could have created a public diplomacy initiative targeting US audiences, but to do so she should have started by understanding American opinion toward the general.  She might have learned that Americans hated the general’s brutal policies and, to paraphrase Dr. Nick Cull, 'Public diplomacy cannot save bad policy.'  Even so, she may have created a campaign that attempted to explain or frame the policies for her audience. ... So was Dolly doing PD as my friend noted? No! At best, her efforts were tepid attempts at propaganda.  She put the same, despised contents in a prettier box and hoped her audience would 'get it.' ... My friend’s perception of my work, however, brings up larger topics for a discussion  we should be having as a PD community – are we doing enough to educate the public about what PD is and isn’t?  Is there enough

pubilc [sic] discourse on PD?  Should we explain PD in the context of media literacy (which covers propaganda, but not PD, specifically)? The Department of State’s Bureau of Public Affairs works to educate Americans about the importance of its PD initiatives, but if budget cuts are an indicator, the bureau’s work hasn’t been successful. Perhaps this lack of success is because the bureau explains the contents of its initiatives, but not the strategy driving them. Would Americans have a greater respect for these projects if they understood why State does them and what it hopes to accomplish?  I don’t know. Could this risk showing State’s hand to its foreign audience? Perhaps. But increased transparency may be what State and other PD practitioners need to demonstrate to Americans and foreign audiences that PD isn’t as simple as 'perception management' and is different than what most would characterize as propaganda." Ren image from entry, with caption: Diplomat-at-large. **Disclaimer: I do not claim to represent anyone but myself.**

High Profile - High Impact Public Relations - K2 Global Communications LLC: "This past weekend that included Divine Mercy Sunday (Feast of Mercy), I was completing several ghostwriting projects for international relations/public diplomacy clients, celebrity personalities as well as press releases for musicians/bands when the old marketing phrase 'What is in a name is important' began to provide me with a bad case of writers block hindering the creative process. Then this morning I read a poetry excerpt a friend posted her Facebook page that resolved the noisome issue. The answer is that in marketing it is ‘Who’ not ‘What’ is behind a name!"

IABC 2012 World Conference - "Brown Lloyd James ( is a boutique international strategic communications firm headquartered in New York, London and Doha. BLJ specializes in public relations, public good and public diplomacy campaigns for clients ranging from foreign governments to domestic non-profits, and everything in between."


Despite Obama charm, Americas summit boosts U.S. isolation - Brian Ellsworth, Reuters: President Barack Obama patiently sat through diatribes, interruptions and even the occasional eye-ball roll at the weekend Summit of the Americas in an effort to win over Latin American leaders fed up with U.S. policies. He failed. The United States instead emerged from the summit in Colombia increasingly isolated as nearly 30 regional heads of state refused to sign a joint declaration in protest against the continued exclusion of communist-led Cuba from the event. The rare show of unity highlights the steady decline of Washington's influence in a region that has become less dependent

on U.S. trade and investment thanks economic growth rates that are the envy of the developed world and new opportunities with China. It also signals a further weakening of the already strained hemispheric system of diplomacy, built around the Organization of American States (OAS) which has struggled to remain relevant during a time of rapid change for its members. Image from article, with caption: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos after their meeting at Casa de Huespedes during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena April 15, 2012.

Events do not wait as Obama plays a delay defense - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post: Barack Obama’s foreign policy strategy in this election year might be best summed up by William F. Buckley’s famous promise: to “stand athwart history, yelling stop.” Wherever war rages, crisis looms, or a truculent strongman glowers, the message from the White House has been the same: “Give me space.”

Crocker to Taliban: Youse Guys are Wimps - Peter Van Buren, We Mean Well: Ryan Crocker (seen dropping some killa ninja hand gestures on ‘ya at left), America’s Ambassador to Afghanistan is a dude, dude. He don’t take no shit from nobody. Check this smackdown: The Taliban, see, launched a wave of assaults on Kabul and three other provinces Sunday.

Fighting in the Kabul district that houses allied embassies lasted into Sunday night. Bombs, suicide vests, AKs, the whole MFer. So what does America’s bad boy Ambassador have to say to ‘dem Taliban bitches: “The Taliban are very good at issuing statements, less good at fighting.” Image from entry

Taliban Propaganda Watch: More Taliban storyline on Kabul attacks - NOTE: Do NOT click on a link to the Taliban’s or other terrorist web pages if you don’t want the webmasters to see your computer’s IP number. This material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof. Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content – it is shared for information only. When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original – this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

Pentagon defends millions to contractor - Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker, The tax problems of the military’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan would not have prevented the Pentagon from awarding it multimillion-dollar contracts, a top official said in a letter to U.S. senators. The owners of Leonie Industries, the contractor, owed at least $4 million in federal taxes when the contracts were awarded. Because the owners had entered into agreements to pay the overdue taxes with the Internal Revenue Service, they were not required to tell the Pentagon about their tax debt, acting Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall wrote in a letter to Sen. Tom Carper. Carper, D-Del., said he wants the IRS and Pentagon to work more closely to ensure that contractors with large tax debts receive more scrutiny. Carper and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., had urged the Pentagon to garnish federal payments made to contractors if they had overdue taxes. They had cited a Feb. 29 USA TODAY report about the growth in Pentagon spending on information operations or propaganda programs. The article detailed how two owners of Leonie Industries, the Pentagon’s largest such contractor in Afghanistan, owed more than $4 million in unpaid federal taxes.

Taliban attacks dismissed as propaganda - Max Blenkin, Defence analysts have dismissed a surge in Taliban violence as propaganda, and Foreign Minister Bob Carr

says it's distressing and discouraging but won't speed up plans for the withdrawal of Australian forces. Image from article

The Babylonian Captivity of Washington - Philip Giraldi, Washington is sacrificing a vital interest, control of nuclear proliferation through the establishment of a nuclear free zone, to protect Israel’s ability to remain a secret nuclear power and dominate its neighbors. It would seem clear that Washington is colluding with Israel to shield the latter’s nuclear program from any scrutiny, a successful Non-Proliferation conference being one in which Israel is not discussed at all. If the US is seriously interested in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons one would think that Israel’s program is part of the problem, but Israel is making clear that any such suggestion is unacceptable and the Obama Administration agrees without pushing any alternative policy. Via LB by email.

The Question - Peter Van Buren, We Mean Well: The crux of the State Department’s ongoing failures is that it is an island: it is a very inward looking and massively bureaucratic organization, which spends the majority of its time serving its own internal clients rather than talking to foreigners, Congress and other government partners. Clinton has not addressed this problem. Instead she has created yet more layers within State through the appointment of at least three dozen Special Advisors and Envoys to serve her political constituencies. State has some great talent but it’s being swallowed in the bureaucracy.

US Mission Iraq: No Iraqi Visas Issued to USG Security Personnel Since December? - Domani Spero, The Iraq Travel Warning dated January 19, 2012 saysthat “the ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.” Apparently the “extremely limited” response even includes the issuance of visas for USG security personnel in Iraq. In our mailbox is the following email:“No visas have been issued to security personnel since December and there is no straight answer coming from the Department of State or the Ministry of Interior.”

Making Visas-for-Dollars Work - Ann Lee, New York Times: Among the most popular tools for attracting foreign investment to the United States is the EB-5 program. It seems like the perfect win-win: any foreigner who invests between $500,000 and $1 million here, and creates at least 10 domestic jobs from that investment within two years, gets a green card. Given how many high-worth investors are clamoring to enter the United States, the program could have a significant effect on American unemployment. Indeed, it has brought in some $1 billion over the last fiscal year, and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has called for the program to be “radically” expanded over the next few years. Unfortunately, the program is so rife with fraud and corruption that it could actually have the opposite impact and deter investment. To regain its credibility, the program must make a number of changes to enable more transparency and demand more competence from its operators.

Many U.S. Immigrants’ Children Seek American Dream Abroad - Kirk Semple, New York Times: In growing numbers, experts say, highly educated children of immigrants to the United States are uprooting themselves and moving to their ancestral countries. They are embracing homelands that their parents once spurned but that are now economic powers. For generations, the world’s less-developed countries have suffered so-called brain drain — the flight of many of their best and brightest to the West. That has not stopped, but now a reverse flow has begun, particularly to countries like China and India and, to a lesser extent, Brazil and Russia.

Progress, DPRK-style: Admission of rocket launch failure rather than "news" of fantasy satellite in orbit - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from entry

Conflicting reports on how "clean" Iran's internet will be - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Ai Weiwei: China Will Never Beat Internet: Censorship only builds pressure in Internet age, warns famous artist - Mark Russell, Newser: Authoritarian societies are all about propaganda and control, but the Internet has destroyed both of those pillars, writes the famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in the Guardian. Unlike Russia's glasnost, China never really opened ideologically to the West, only practically. Then came the Internet, and thanks to blogs and microblogs—whether a silly post about breakfast or serious discussions of the news—people in China for the first time have gotten used to expressing themselves. "People have started to feel the breeze," writes Ai.  "The government computer has one button: delete," he says, but it does not really matter because "censorship by itself doesn't work." Ai says that censorship is like building a dam. "China may seem quite successful in its controls, but it has only raised the water level," he writes. All the water is still there, growing ever higher, building the pressure. The only way to relieve the pressure is to turn off the Internet, and that is not possible in today's economy. "The Internet is uncontrollable. And if the Internet is uncontrollable, freedom will win. It's as simple as that."

The whispering revolution: Beijing must understand it can't control the internet - freedom will eventually win - Ai Weiwei, Chairman Mao used to say: ''As communists we gain control with the power of the gun and maintain control with the power of the pen.'' You can see propaganda and the control of ideology as an authoritarian society's most important task. Before the internet, all the Chinese people could do

was watch television or read the People's Daily. They would carefully read between the lines to see what had happened. Now it is very different. The papers try to talk about things, but even before they appear everyone has talked about it on the internet. Openness and transparency are the only way to limit dark powers. Chinese citizens have never had the right to really express their opinions; the constitution says you can, but in the real world it is more dangerous. In the West, people think it's a right they're born with. In China, it's a right given by the government, and one that's not really practised. Image from article

Vietnam bloggers charged for 'anti-gov't propaganda' - Prosecutors in Vietnam have charged three well-known bloggers with spreading anti-government propaganda. Lawyer Ha Huy Son said Monday that his client Nguyen Van Hai and two others, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan, have been charged. The state-run newspaper Ho Chi Minh City Law said the three are accused of posting 421 articles on their blogs that “distorted and opposed the State.” The three bloggers are in custody awaiting trial, where they face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Kony 2012: State Propaganda for a New Generation - The overnight viral sensation KONY 2012 brought worldwide awareness to the African war criminal Joseph Kony. Beneath this commendable cause, lies however an elaborate agenda that is presented in the video in a very manipulative way.

We’ll look at the agenda behind KONY 2012 and how it uses reverse psychology to not only justify a military operation in Africa, but to actually have people demand it. Image from article, with captions: Those who want to "Stop Kony" are required to wear a bracelet bearing a unique code which needs to be registered at a website. Of course, personal information is requested.

Secretary of Partying Down: Hillary Clinton Caught On Camera Drinking Cerveza, Doing the Rumba in Cartagena - In Cartagena, Colombia, for the sixth Summit of the Americas, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was spotted late Saturday night taking a breather from running the world to down a few drinks and dance the diplomatic doldrums away with her staffers and security agents at Café Havana — the #1 nightlife spot in the city, according to TripAdvisor.

When asked to quantify the volume of fun had by the Secretary, an anonymous US State Department official who confirmed Clinton's visit to the Cuban-themed establishment responded, "a lot."

Soviet Propaganda Posters Warn against Evils of Alcohol - Screedler, Among the posters:

And They Say That We Are Pigs


"1,470 millionaires were among those who paid no federal income tax in 2009."

-- Andrea Coombes,"Taxes—Who Really Is Paying Up," Wall Street Journal




--“Lucas” is an example of an MDS robot (mobile, dextrous, and social) being built by the Human Systems Interface Laboratory at the Navy Research Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR) in Washington, D.C. This robot can actually respond to human inconsistencies, such as determining that the second person on the scene of a fire does not have the up-to-date information on the status of the fire. (Washington Times)

--A headless robot dubbed "Cheetah" has set a new world speed record, according to its owners. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said the four-legged machine achieved 18mph (29km/h) on a laboratory treadmill. The agency said the previous land speed record by a legged robot was 13.1mph. (Propaganda: Because the Choice is Yours)


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