Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17

“We evolved on the savannahs of Africa. We now live in Candyland.”

--Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin in their book, “The Evolution of Obesity.”


American Propaganda Films – Good Eating Habits (1951)



Hearts, minds and tongues in Cambodia - Julie Masis, Asia Times: The United States Embassy in Cambodia is financing the publication of new textbooks for minority Cham Muslims, a public diplomacy initiative that will revive a forgotten traditional writing system and attempt to discourage the use of Arabic as a language of instruction in this predominantly Buddhist Southeast Asian nation. The textbooks, the first to be printed in the Cham script since the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 reign of terror, will initially teach more than 200 Cham Muslim children to read and write in a script derived from Sanskrit, according to the US Embassy, which is also financing the production and publication of the first Cham language dictionary. ... A US Embassy spokeswoman in Phnom Penh would not confirm that teaching Cambodia's Cham Muslims how to read and write in their own script - rather than Arabic - was related to US counter-terrorism efforts in the region. She referred to the Cham textbooks as 'a cultural heritage preservation project'."

Public Schedule for April 17, 2012 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE [:] 10:15 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine addresses new U.S. Ambassadors participating in the Ambassadorial Seminar at the Foreign Service Institute, in Arlington, VA. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 11:30 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine addresses new Foreign Service Officers of the 166th A-100 class, at the Foreign Service Institute, in Arlington, VA. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 12:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends the Swearing-In ceremony for U.S. Ambassador-Designate to India Nancy Powell, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) ... ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS ANN STOCK [:] Assistant Secretary Stock accompanies Secretary Clinton on foreign travel in Brasilia, Brazil to participate in the U.S.-Brazil Global Partnership Dialogue. Please click here for more information."

Fresno businessman will visit Malaysia - the Fresno Bee: "Fresno businessman Harry G. Harris will visit Malaysia next week at the request of the U.S. State Department for an entrepreneurial networking and globalization tour. Harris is the founder of HealthCare California, a Fresno-based home-health agency.

His visit to Malaysia is part of the State Department's Public Diplomacy Program. The tour will include visits to Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, where Harris and other participants will meet with business leaders, government officials and scholars. Harris has participated in other State Department programs in Asia and around the world over the past 25 years."  Image from

130 Thousand Students go to the United States Every Year - Himfr Mary, dailyfresharticles.net: "According to feb. 15 issue of global times reported, AFP 13 reported, the United States senate foreign relations committee 15th will be released a report that America should send more foreign students to study in China, and to bid for 2020 expo. Report says, China now every year who go to number of nearly 13 million, it is the United States to 10 times of the number of Chinese students, reports on Obama over the next four years, will be to China increased to international students each year 25,000 appeal of welcome. 'If we want to have enough commercial, academic and policy experts to deal with a constant powerful China, increase the number of students in beauty is critical.' Report, Chinese in the United States has about

70 Confucius college professor Chinese and Chinese culture in China, but the U.S. offer open library organization only five. In addition, the report also criticized the United States in public diplomacy domain lack of funds. Last year, the report says the Shanghai world expo, the museum quality hard to satisfactory -- just by private funding, at the last moment pieced together, played simple American promo just. Although many americans not to global qualitative expo interested, but there are about 70 million people visit to Shanghai world expo, among which there are 700 million people visit the American museum. Considering that Chinese tourists every year to less than 100 million, 'expo is simply a once-in-a-lifetime, maximum impact of bilateral ties a chance.' The report recommends us to revise the law, allowing the government to support the international exposition, including for 2012 Korea expo American library provide assistance, and bid for 2020 expo." Image from

US embassy cable - 09BEIJING1134 MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-CHINA-JAPAN RELATIONS, U.S. POLICY, CHINA'S GOLD RESERVES - occupythebanks.com: "Origin: Embassy Beijing Created: 2009-04-28 08:23:00 Classification: UNCLASSIFIED ... DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/CM, EAP/PA, EAP/PD, C HQ PACOM FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR (J007)"

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues - apuntesinternacionales.cl: "Documento elaborado Kennon H. Nakamura y Matthew C. Weed, publicado en diciembre del

2009, que ofrece al lector un análisis de las distintas iniciativas, en el ámbito de la Diplomacia Pública, que han sido impulsadas por el Congreso de los Estados Unidos, desde la crisis producida en Estados Unidos, como resultado del ataque terrorista a las Torres Gemelas."

The news may be good... - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I got to partake in a fascinating tour about Voice of America. I ended up having a personal tour, as the tour group that was slated to join me never materialized. As I was waiting for the tour group that didn't show, I got to admire some of the beautiful WPA murals by Seymour Fogel and Ben Shahn.  See under: When Art Worked. I couldn't help but think how shocking it would be

today to try to re-institute such a program. ... On the whole, the tour was quite good and should be mandatory for any PD student passing through DC. I should hope that AU, GW and the Syracuse PD students stationed here in the city visit as part of class curriculum. I have a great deal of respect for the work VOA does, and I think it is unfortunate that more of the general public doesn't know about its work. I also think it is unfortunate that it is continually fighting rearguard actions to save itself.  I am reminded of a piece I previously penned for CPD on the need to use popular site like the Newseum to advocate on behalf of the field of public diplomacy. Given that VOA already has a museum exhibit, it seems like such an easy partnership and way to get the work of VOA on a more public radar." Image from entry

Broadcasting Board of Governors to Meet on April 20 – Press Release, BBG: “The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet on Friday, April 20 at the headquarters of Radio and TV Marti in Miami, Florida. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. The Board will discuss the status of the consolidation plan for BBG-sponsored grantees; the implementation of the Governors’ long-term strategy; and proposed amendments to BBG By-Laws, along with other matters from the Governance Committee’s March meeting.  In addition, the Board will receive a budget update and hear reports from the International Broadcasting Bureau Director and BBG broadcast executives regarding agency activities and programming coverage. The public may attend this meeting as seating capacity allows. Members of the public wishing to attend in person must register at http://bbg.eventbrite.com/ by 10:00 a.m. on April 19.  This meeting is also available for public observation via streamed webcast, both live and on-demand, on the BBG’s public website at www.bbg.gov."

Broadcasting Board of Governors – BBG Strategy: We’reAbandoning Our Mission and We Don’t Care! - The Federalist: USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: “The ‘BBG Strategy’ is a strategy of defeat. These internationalists/globalists are just that: defeatists. They are embarrassed by the American historical record of greatness and the inspiration that greatness gives to others. They are not up to the task. They have reduced US international broadcasting to something third rate. They are not creating, as they claim, a ‘global news network.’ They are getting out of the serious news business, as anyone in the VOA Central Newsroom knows all-too-well. In place of the solid program requirements of the VOA Charter, the BBG Strategy (their ‘flim flam strategic plan’), has reduced content of VOA programs: more superficial, less long form and in-depth, leaving audiences with something less than a complete or substantive treatment of major world issues. The broadcast staff is overextended. Expected to do ‘more with less,’ the actual result is ‘less with less,’ in terms of both quality and quantity.”

Australian traveling in Asia watches Australia Network and declares it to be "repetitive, pointless tosh" - Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting

No doubt BBC is disappointed that Julian Assange chose RT over it for his new chatshow
- Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting: [Elliott comment]: "Not all international broadcasting entities are mere mouthpieces of their sponsoring governments. The audience for international broadcasting is looking for a credible and reliable alternative to their state-controlled media. The government-funded international broadcaster that best

maintains independence from that government ultimately has the most success. Hence the great success of the BBC as an international broadcaster -- compared to the lesser success of Voice of Russia and RT. Furthermore, Mr. Assange contradicts himself by first saying RT is a 'voice of Russia,' then insisting that that RT has not interfered with his show." Assange image from

Turkish Islamic soft power expansion - Ioannis Michaletos, Modern Diplomacy, presscode.gr: "Turkey steadily since the rise of AKP party in 2002 in power, is investing considerable resources upon expanding its reach both in the Islamic and in the Western world, by the use

of Islamic organizations that are spread in dozens of countries and are mainly composed by Turkish-descent citizens. The web of relations and transactions between them and with Turkey are multitude and far-reaching. In the following article certain aspects of these networks are going to be outlined, so as to present the new era emerging regarding the use of Islamic soft power by Turkey in order to achieve dominance in world affairs and be able to influence political and social events." Via Es on Twitter; image from article

Israeli beating of activist causes uproar - unpromisedone.blogspot.com: "A senior Israeli military officer’s seemingly unprovoked assault against an unarmed pro-Palestinian activist drew sharp condemnations Monday, raising questions in Israel over whether the country’s heavy-handed approach to nonviolent protesters was exaggerated and causing damage to Israel’s image. The assault, captured on video and featured in all major newspapers and TV broadcasts, follows Israel’s high-profile interception at its main airport of dozens of international activists who had planned a solidarity mission with Palestinians in the West Bank. Adding to the sense that Israel may have gone too far, officials said Tuesday that nearly 500 people were erroneously blocked from visiting. Israel has branded the activists 'provocateurs' who posed a security threat to the country. Calling itself the Middle East’s only democracy, it says the protesters have their priorities wrong and should instead focus on rampant human rights violations in neighboring Arab countries. Israel feels it is unfairly singled out internationally and is obsessed about its international image. Leaders often complain about what they say are unfair efforts to 'delegitimize' the country with boycotts, divestment calls and other campaigns. The country even has a ministry of public diplomacy that aims to promote the country’s image overseas. ... Yuli Edelstein, Israel's minister for public diplomacy, rejected the notion that Israel was overreacting with the foreign activists and thus damaging its own image. He said the incident with Eisner highlighted the danger of letting activists roam freely."

Praise from the Right, condemnation from the Left - yonitheblogger.com:"Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner's filmed assault on an unarmed left-wing activist from Denmark, which gained large-scale exposure on Sunday, has won praise from the Right and harsh condemnation from the Left. ... Peace Now General Director Yariv Oppenheimer insisted that Eisner be removed from the IDF.

'The state of Israel cannot ignore violent and inappropriate behavior from senior officers. All of our public diplomacy efforts are wiped out in a second with one glimpse of the occupation's worst ugliness.'" Image from

Flytilla: Prevent, arrest and deport - Danny Danon, worldlikud.org.il: "The unfortunate incident which took place in the Jordan Valley on Saturday where an IDF officer was forced to fight off an anti-Israel activist has proven once again that we are not dealing correctly with this latest attack on the very legitimacy of our existence. We witnessed this regrettable phenomenon again this week with the ludicrous internal debate that has surrounded the 'flytilla' attack on Israel. Our society is busying itself with an absurd internal debate that includes calls from the extreme Left to welcome these anti-Israel activists and open a dialogue with them. This is not only misguided, but actually endangers the foundations of our society. Attempts to explain the rationality behind the Zionist dream of building a state in our historic homeland will simply not work with those who are attempting infiltrate Israel’s borders only to attack us from within. It is time that we recognize the reality we are faced with. The State of Israel is at war. This war is being fought on a completely different battlefield than in the past, one in which the word de-legitimization has replaced bullets and provocative actions such as the flotilla have replaced tanks and fighter planes. ... These[...] so-called activists not only take part in these violent attacks on our security forces, but

also gather intelligence against Israel and donate to organizations that bankroll terrorism against our citizens. While I am a fervent advocate of hasbara (public diplomacy) outreach – I have personally spent countless hours, days and weeks traveling around the world speaking out on behalf of our legitimate rights – we must also know when the time for talk has ended. In dealing those who openly call for the destruction of the Jewish state, it is a waste of time to make 'the case for Israel.' Instead, we must meet this challenge as we have similar threats in the past, with creativity and determination, to ensure that the interests of the State of Israel and the Jewish people are safeguarded against those who seek to hurt us." Image from


Lock up your poor - Rob Gowland, The Guardian: The Worker's Weekly: The United States, the world’s richest country – and according to its own propaganda the world leader in democratic freedoms – has the largest prison population in the world today.

Seventy five percent of that prison population are black or Latino. Image from article

Legalize drugs? It's a valid discussion for U.S., Mexico and others - Latin American leaders, weary of the drug war, are calling for an important discussion on drug legalization. The U.S. should not turn away - Editorial, latimes.com: With the U.S. presidential electionjust months away, the Obama administration is not going to engage in discussions about liberalizing drug laws just at the moment. But Latin American leaders, weary of failed enforcement policies, are calling for an important discussion. The United States should not jump on the decriminalization bandwagon without a lot of serious thought and careful analysis. But nor should it shut itself out of that debate. Alternative approaches that hold out hope for a regional solution deserve a fair hearing.

Afghanistan's Bloody Spring: Mr. President, have you heard there's a war on? - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The Taliban's weekend raids on Kabul and three other cities show the progress of Afghanistan's military. At least 36 insurgents were killed, along with eight Afghan policemen and three civilians, but no NATO forces.

The political detachment of Mr. Obama from his own surge is unprecedented—and demoralizing. U.S. Ambassador to Kabul Ryan Crocker has made no secret of his frustration with the "two-front war" that he and his colleagues must wage—in Afghanistan and in Washington. Time and again, the U.S. military has fulfilled its end of the bargain in Afghanistan. The least Mr. Obama can do is let the troops know he still believes in their cause. Image from

Afghanistan: Propaganda by both sides - Jim Rafferty, Royal Military Police Association - Isle of Man Branch: The attacks carried out by the Taliban in the heart of Kabul have once again exposed the increasingly glaring discrepancy between the official version of the Afghan war and the actual situation on the ground. For the last year, US and British military commanders have painted an upbeat picture of the war in which their forces are "gaining momentum," "disrupting Taliban activity," "degrading their capabilities" or "denying them control of population areas." So where did it all go so wrong. Now the Taliban have carried out the most serious assault in Kabul in 11 years, simultaneously attacking embassies, a supermarket, a hotel and the Afghan parliament, in addition to attacks on US bases and Afghan police stations in three other provinces. Hardly a spent force. In fact these attacks managed to achieve a great deal.

Politically they demonstrated that the Taliban has the organising capacity to plan and carry out attacks in the Afghan capital, and that neither NATO or the Afghan security forces are able to prevent them. In guerilla wars of the type that the Taliban has been waging in Afghanistan, victory and defeat is not measured in strictly military terms. Guerillas/insurgents 'win' by not losing, because they are able to endure, grow and reconstitute themselves again and again until their enemies can no longer find the resources or political will to stop them. As Ho Chi Minh once observed, "You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill one of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it." President Hamid Karzai criticized "intelligence failures" by his own government but especially faulted NATO for the attacks that rocked Kabul. To prevent this outcome, real open-ended negotiations between all contending political forces in Afghanistan, both national and international, are essential, and sooner rather than later. Image from article

Iran strikes a new tone on nuclear talks - Editorial Board, Washington Post: For now Tehran is hinting at flexibility: Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi suggested Monday that a deal was possible on the 20-percent-enriched uranium targeted by the international coalition. Yet by any reasonable assessment, it remains unlikely that the regime will agree to the administration’s terms, or settle for something less than major sanctions relief in exchange.

Talking With Iran - Editorial, New York Times: Iran’s nuclear ambitions

are real and dangerous, though there is no proof yet that it has made the decision to move from producing fuel to building a bomb. It’s not clear that any mix of sanctions and diplomacy can persuade the mullahs to abandon their course. But we do know the only possible way of achieving a negotiated deal is for the international community to stay united and keep on the economic pressure. Image from

Iran’s Phantom Menace - Ray McGovern, consortiumnews.com: For years, a propaganda drumbeat has been rising to justify a war to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, though U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran isn’t building one and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has decried nukes as a “great sin.” But nothing has stopped the drumbeat.

Western propaganda on Iran fictitious: Nigerian Foreign Minister - presstv.com: Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Viola Onwuliri has dismissed the Western propaganda against Tehran, praising Iran’s ‘vigorous’ social and economic environment. Onwuliri made the remarks at a Monday meeting with Iran’s top diplomat Ali Akbar Salehi in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Image from article, with caption: Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (R) meets with his Nigerian counterpart Viola Onwuliri in the Iranian capital city, Tehran, April 17, 2012.

Cautious hope for Syria - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: The fetish for military intervention among so many in the Syria policy debate has been counter-productive. The Obama administration and most of the key governments involved in the Syria crisis clearly believe that military intervention and arming the opposition are bad ideas -- not viable solutions which they are avoiding for political reasons, but potential fiascos which they are avoiding out of prudence.

Playing Nice With Pyongyang - Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal: North Korean doves will no doubt advise more talking, and more reliance on China—as if that's ever worked in the past. The only prudent policy is for the White House to junk its speak softly, carry a little stick approach, but don't count on that happening in an election year.

Echoes of the End of the Raj - Kwasi Kwarteng, New York Times: America’s position today reminds one of Britain’s situation in 1945. Deep in debt and committed to building its National Health Service and other accouterments of the welfare state, Britain no longer could afford to run an empire. Moreover, Britain, which so proudly ruled the waves a generation ago, was tired; it lacked the willpower to pursue its imperial destiny.

America’s role as an imperialist is even more fragile, as it never had Britain’s self-confident faith in its own imperial destiny. Americans have always been ambivalent about the role of global hegemon. Today, American retreat is not motivated by traditional isolationism, but by practical necessity. Like post-World War II Britain, contemporary America no longer has the financial resources to maintain an empire — one which, in America’s case, was pursued only halfheartedly in the first place. Deficits and debt have been more damaging to dreams of empire than any genuine shift in ideology. Image from, under the headline "Talking growth with Raj Manufacturing, makers of Hurley and Reef swimwear"

China’s censorship can never defeat the internet - Ai Weiwei, thepeninsulaqatar.com: 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 people could do was watch TV 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.

China: Battle over the spread and deletion of “rumors”‎ - Global Voices Online: "The China propaganda machine continues to launch the war against 'rumors' distributing via social media. However, many still believe that people will eventually win in this online battle. Yesterday People's Daily had a featured article on 'Internet rumors harm people and harm our society. The public must not believe or transmit rumors'. ... The cracking down of online rumors is so hard handed that most of the micro-blogs that I collected via Sina Weibo were deleted."

Palestinians are not wanted in Jordan: Jordanian spokesmen insist over and over again that Jordan is not a Palestinian state, and the assertion heard now and then that Jordan is Palestine is considered subversive propaganda in Amman - Moshe Arens, haaretz.com: Jordan refuses to let in the more than 1,000 Palestinians stranded along the Syria-Jordan border, even though it has allowed 100,000 Syrian refugees to enter.

There are at present an estimated 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, and clearly the last thing the rulers of Jordan want is for them to come streaming into Jordan. The rulers of Jordan believe they have a demographic problem, and Palestinians are not wanted in Jordan. Jordanian spokesmen insist over and over again that Jordan is not a Palestinian state, and the assertion heard now and then that Jordan is Palestine is considered subversive propaganda in Amman. Image from article, with caption: Jordan’s King Abdullah, left, embracing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah last year. Jordanian and Israeli objections notwithstnading, if Jordan is not a Palestinian state.

Gunter Grass's Tin Ear: 'The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz,' runs a mind-bending quip - Josef Joffe, Wall Street Journal: Nobel laureate Günter Grass, 84, is a poster boy of "re-education," America's therapy for post-Hitler Germany. Or he was. In 2006, this chest-thumping anti-Nazi laid bare his long-concealed career in the Waffen-SS.

Just before Easter this year, Mr. Grass launched a bombshell, a poem titled "What Must Be Said." The gist: For too long, the poet had been cowed into silence by what he calls the "verdict of anti-Semitism." But in his dotage, he finally dared speak out against the diktat because Israel was readying a "first strike" that would "extinguish" Iran and the "fragile world peace." But Mr. Grass's indictment is rife with post-Shoah analogues. Carefully coded, it pins on the Jewish state what used to be applied to Jews throughout the ages.We are not talking here about criticizing Israeli policy, a legitimate pursuit. Mr. Grass now charges Israel with concocting the greatest possible evil: a nuclear Holocaust to be visited on Iran and the entire world. Grass image from article

Lamb's Legs: Drinks Bats Milk - DJ Hostettler, avclub.com: The closing track to Drinks Bats Milk—the debut demo cassette from the recently birthed Riverwest combo Lamb’s Legs—is named “Topping Topsy,” after the elephant electrocuted on film by that dickhole Thomas Edison. Somehow, a turn-of-the-century corporate propaganda film is the perfect visual accompaniment for LL’s deranged, hyper-smart post-punk—they’re both unsettlingly ugly/beautiful abominations created by brilliant minds who really should have known better.

In the case of Drinks Bats Milk, though, we mean it in a good way.The latest product of Milwaukee’s penchant for freewheeling local-band incest (band members have done time in Dear Astronaut, Mother Orchis, Disguised As Birds, Stock Options, Bored Straight, etc.), the band Lamb’s Legs taps into a damaged, lower-class sense of musical urban blight that calls to mind the ugly proto-punk of Pere Ubu. Image from article


“We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated.” 

--US Ambassador to Afghanistan Chester Crocker, regarding the Taliban; via


--Via JC on Facebook


--From Boing Boing: visitor looks at a work by South Korean artist Hyung Koo Kang at China International Gallery Exposition 2012 in Beijing, April 13, 2012

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