Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 3-4

“Literature and art in the DPRK perform a mission as a textbook for life that educates the popular masses in a revolutionary way and inspire them for creative labor and as a weapon for struggle.”

--From the website of DPR of Korea; cited at


American Music Abroad 2012-2013 - Paul Rockower, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The American Music Abroad program is designed to communicate America’s rich contributions to the global music scene as it fosters cross-cultural communication and people-to-people connections to global audiences. Today, American Voices is proud to administer the American Music Abroad program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the 2012-2013 touring season.... As part of the American Music Abroad program, the Department of State and American Voices will create a series of international musical exchange tours.

International touring activities will include public concerts, master classes, lecture-demonstrations, workshops, jam sessions with local musicians and media outreach. Ensembles will travel around the globe for approximately one month each between May 2012 and May 2013. During their respective tours, each ensemble will visit four to six countries. ... We invite you to follow the upcoming tours virtually on the American Music Abroad website." Image from American Voices website, with caption: CoCo York Sings Traditional Song The Flower Girl of Kabul in Dari with Aman Yosufi, Afghanistan

Sundance Institute Returns From Presenting Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue In China: U.S. Embassy in Beijing and CNEX Collaborate with FILM FORWARD Initiative for Second Year Free Public Screenings of Six Films in Beijing and Kunming - "FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue, an initiative of Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, took place in China March 14-22, 2012. In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and CNEX, a Chinese non-profit organization devoted to the production and promotion of documentaries related to the Chinese people, FILM FORWARD presented screenings of six films as well as personal appearances and workshops with filmmakers from two of the titles at a variety of community locations in Beijing and Kunming, China. ... U.S. Embassy in China[:] The U.S. Embassy in China is dedicated to achieve a dynamic public diplomacy, people-to-people exchanges, and other programs designed to support the development of civil society, promote religious freedom, and improve policies to protect the unique languages, cultures and religions of China’s ethnic minorities. In conjunction, the U.S. Embassy collaborates and coordinates with various U.S. Consulates throughout China to promote educational and cultural exchanges with local partners."

'Gifts of the Sultan' exhibition made whole — in Qatar: "The Los Angeles County Museum of Arts exhibition was diminished by Russia's ban on art and artifacts loans to American museums. A LACMA team helped set up Qatar show  - Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times - "The Los Angeles County Museum of Art finally has fulfilled the vision it had for its biggest foray into Islamic art — a goal thwarted until now by the government of the Russian Federation. The only problem is that Angelenos would have to travel more than 8,000 miles to see it. In 'Gifts of the Sultan: the Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts,' now on view in Doha, the capital of Qatar, art that Islamic rulers had sent long ago to the czarist courts are finally on display — courtesy of the State Hermitage Museum and National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg, and the Kremlin Museum in Moscow. Russia's ban on art and artifacts loans to American museums forced LACMA to exhibit a somewhat diminished version of the show. Both in L.A. and at its next stop, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, about 30 works that Russian museums had agreed to lend to the exhibition before the ban never went on display.

Initiated in the fall of 2010, the embargo imposed by Russia's Ministry of Culture remains in effect, despite the State Department's ongoing efforts to work out a resolution. The ban stems from Russia's ire over an American federal court ruling in mid-2010, ordering it to return a trove of sacred books and rabbinical writings known as the Schneerson Library to Chabad, a Jewish religious movement that began in 18th century Russia. The texts had been seized during the Russian Revolution, before Chabad was transplanted to its current home in the United States. With loans from many other sources and pieces from LACMA's own collection, the L.A. and Houston iterations of 'Gifts of the Sultan' still had more than 200 works. But for Linda Komaroff, the curator of Islamic art who put together 'Gifts of the Sultans,' a LACMA team's three-week visit in March to install the show at Qatar's Museum of Islamic Art provided some delayed satisfaction. 'It was worth it to me to put another six months of my life into it, to see the show the way I envisioned it,' she said this week. 'It does look better with the Russian loans. 'A lot of glitzy objects' were on view in L.A. despite the Russian boycott, Komaroff said, but 'his was the extra bling — the jewel-encrusted saddle and stirrups, and all kinds of other courtly paraphernalia, and they're just spectacular looking. It's an array that added another layer of meaning. It was exciting for me to see it, but I wish it was in the exhibition here.' Perhaps the most striking piece denied to Angelenos remains missing from the show in Qatar — a gold- and silk-embroidered Turkish tent from the 1700s that was a gift to Catherine the Great. Komaroff said that even before the ban came down, she and her counterparts at the Hermitage had been wrestling with how to set the tent up properly while on tour. In St. Petersburg it has a custom-made aluminum and plexiglass support grid that couldn't be transported, and in the end, she said, the Hermitage decided not to let it travel. Komaroff said she was happy to meet curators and directors of the three Russian museums at the March 18 opening in Doha. The ban clearly came from higher government authorities, she said, and there were no hard feelings among museum folk on either side. 'If it were up to curators and museum directors around the world, we'd all get along,' Komaroff said. 'We recognize the importance of these cultural interchanges. I don't know if our governments always recognize it.' The ban puzzles Americans such as Sarah Pratt, a USC professor of Slavic languages and literatures who studies cultural relations between America and Russia. Chabad tried to help LACMA last May — to no avail — by filing a legal stipulation saying it would not 'disrupt in any manner the nonprofit exchange of art and cultural objects between the Russian and American people, which is fully protected by the law of the United States.'  'There's nothing on the surface that makes any sense that anybody can tell,' Pratt said. 'Nobody I know can quite fathom it. It may be one of those things that is dictated by certain internal pressures that we can't see.' In talks with State Department officials last year as LACMA tried to reassure Russian officials and secure the loans, Komaroff said, she learned that Russian authorities weren't satisfied with the law safeguarding foreign art loans from seizure and wanted a separate treaty with the United States to cover exchanges of cultural property. Asked for an update, a State Department spokesman said the issue remains unresolved and discussions are ongoing. The Russian Embassy's press office in Washington, D.C.did not return calls, and Seth Gerber, Chabad's attorney, said it had no comment. In the performing arts, however, it's business as usual: the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra toured through Southern California
a in October, and the Bolshoi Ballet is due at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in June. While some American institutions, including New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, are refusing to lend works to Russian museums until reciprocity resumes, a traditional American music series featuring Cajun, western, gospel and Native American groups has been touring in Russia since Feb. 29 under the banner of American Seasons in Russia, a program supported by the State Department. The Chicago Symphony has concerts scheduled later this month in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The State Department's partner for the folk music tours is CEC ArtsLink, a New York-based cultural exchange organization founded in 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis, to promote better understanding between the United States and nations of what was then the Soviet bloc. 'The conflict involving the museums is not a pretty story, but it has had no impact on the exchanges we run,' said Zhenia Stadnik, the group's spokeswoman. That's because we are not dealing in an exchange of objects, we are dealing in an exchange of people.

Gregory Guroff, president of the Foundation for International Arts and Education, a Maryland-based nonprofit that presents exhibitions of art from Russia and other former Soviet republics, said Russian officials have decided to withhold artworks that are government property while allowing visits by performers who are private individuals. He said they view the instruments, sets and costumes the performers bring as private property that's not subject to a government-imposed travel ban." Via FB on email. Above Image from; below images  from and from

US Karabakh Foundation discusses Azerbaijan’s cultural diplomacy - "Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US Elin Suleymanov has given a speech about the cultural diplomacy of Azerbaijani in its foreign policy at the Karabakh Foundation operating in Washington. He said Azerbaijan should be introduced in the first place in order to reach goals in foreign policy, Gun.Az reported. According to the ambassador, its culture is meant to introduce it. The culture of Azerbaijan reflects its society, geography, tolerance and ethnic diversity, in order words, everything. Every direction of the cultural policy strengthened after the country gained independence.

As a result of indefatigable efforts of Azerbaijani first lady, president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, goodwill ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO Mehriban Aliyeva, Azerbaijani carpets, mugam and other types of art became famous in the world. The Azerbaijani diplomat noted that as cultural ambassadors of Azerbaijan, Alim Gasimov, young jazz singers and other cultural figures who in recent years gave concerts in US sometimes gained greater achievements than the traditional diplomacy. The ambassador thanked Executive Director of the Karabakh Foundation Diana Altman Cohen and noted the necessity of preserving the culture of the Azerbaijani community of Karabakh in the faraway land and importance of raising awareness about this culture in the United States." Image from article

A Mecca in London - Huma Yusuf, New York Times: "As a frequent visitor to the British Museum, I can attest that its vast Great Court has never been as full of Muslims — declaring themselves through headscarves, skull caps and prayer beads — as it is these days. They are swarming the museum to visit 'Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam,' the first-ever exhibit about the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. More than 80,000 people visited the exhibit in its first seven weeks. Moreover, it has fueled a

much-needed dialogue about Islam in Britain, and demonstrated that cultural venues are well suited to host the difficult debate about multiculturalism. ... Since the Hajj exhibit began, the British Museum has been praised for fostering cultural diplomacy, acknowledging the role of Islam in British public life, and attracting new audiences to a cultural venue. In addition to tracing the history of the pilgrimage, the exhibit explains the purpose of the Hajj in Islam and the Muslim beliefs that inform the many rituals. The exhibit’s curators emphasize the attempt to highlight the spiritual aspects of Islam that are lost in frequent news headlines about terrorism and wars in Muslim countries. ... Amidst the praise, critics have also condemned the British Museum for perpetuating the foundation myths of Islam and permitting censorship under the guise of patronage: The exhibit has been organized in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Public Library and thus presents a sanitized version of the Hajj." Image from

Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) Sign Strategic Partnership with British Council and Pave the Way for Greater Cultural Collaboration (4 April 2012): ADMAF’s drive for Cultural Diplomacy gains major traction in securing key international partnerships - "As the Abu Dhabi Festival 2012 draws to a close plans are being set in motion for future collaborations, to ensure momentum is sustained after the Festival finishes. At the Emirates Palace today the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural and educational relations, signed a Letter of Cooperation with Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF). The Letter of Cooperation, which will strengthen the ties of cultural diplomacy between the UAE and UK, was officially signed by Mrs. Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation and Sir Vernon Ellis, Chairman of the British Council."

Newsline: Libyan embassy retains DC lobbying firm - The first Washington firm to sign up with the Libyan rebels during the successful revolution against Moammar Gadhafi will no longer be working for free. The Harbour Group has signed a new $15,000-per-month contract with the Embassy of Libya, according to documents the firm has filed with the Justice Department. The agreement is set to run from March 1 to the end of the year. Richard Mintz, managing director of the public-relations firm, told The Hill that he and others at the firm are eager to help Libya transition toward democracy. 'We are proud to have played a modest role in helping the Libyan opposition to replace 40 years of dictatorial rule.

Now we look forward to supporting free Libyans in their democratic transition,' Mintz said. ... The new contract supersedes the agreement the Harbour Group signed last year with the council. 'The Harbour Group is pleased to have been able to volunteer its services to the Libyan National Transitional Council and the Embassy of Libya for the last year in its historic efforts to establish democracy in Libya and to build new and important bridges to the United States. We welcome the opportunity to respond to your request to present this scope of services and budget to support the Embassy of Libya’s public diplomacy and communications efforts in 2012,' the contract says." Image from

UAE to turn force of public opinion against piracy - Gulf News, posted at "The past few months have been marked by continual progress on all fronts for the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and its working groups, assistant foreign minister for security and military affairs Fares Al Mazroui told delegates at the 11th plenary meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy of the Coast of Somalia in New York yesterday. ... The first key priority that the UAE has set out to achieve through its leadership of the plenary is the raising of awareness and public diplomacy measures, especially in the region, Al Mazroui said in opening remarks at the meeting."

Rogozin’s travails in Moldova - Nicu Popescu, "Brussels might have started to get used to the sharp-tongued former Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, but Moldova is only in the early stages of doing so. After a stint in Brussels, Rogozin moved back to Moscow last December to be appointed deputy prime-minister in charge of the military-industrial complex.

Rogozin is a Russian populist nationalist politician ... A couple of weeks ago he was also appointed special representative of the Russian president on Transnistria (rather than on conflict settlement in Transnistria) and co-chair of the Russian-Moldovan intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. ... Rogozin on the third day of his new appointment called Moldova a ‘hencoop’ on his twitter account. ... Rogozin is a symptom not a cause of what might come in Russian foreign policy. But ultimately, his ‘in-your-face’ and often intimidating negotiations style is often self-defeating. As a Brussels observer said about Rogozin’s stint in Brussels: ‘everything anyone told Rogozin Immediately ended on Twitter. In the end, people stopped talking to him in confidence. Anyway, Rogozin’s 'public diplomacy' actually undermined Russia’s policy on NATO.’ It might be the same on Moldova." Image from, with caption: Dmitry Rogozin holding Kalashnikov Assault Rifle

Lessons on corporate communication in China - Adminrynappty, Singapore Property Market Highlights: "[C]orporate communications activities are still in the early stages of sophistication, even among multinational companies. They are at earlier states for Chinese companies operating internationally. China is now investing to improve its global communication. Its recent initiatives include the setting-up of a public diplomacy research center; producing national image publicity films and running Confucius institutes worldwide. It has gone far beyond using panda and ping pong diplomacy to burnish its image. However, it still has a lot of work to do, and the same goes for companies operating in China."

Chinese soft power: Libya and Syria - Public Diplomacy and International Communications: Thoughts and comments about public diplomacy, soft power and international communications by Gary Rawnsley: "[I]t is possible that China's decision to abstain in the vote on Libya damaged its soft power capacity: China's behaviour was not consistent with Chinese foreign policy values and principles. Moreover, China's soft power

is now enhanced not only by attempts to engage with the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime (the Syrian National Committee met with the Chinese Foreign Minister on Africa and West Asia only 24 hours after the vote in the UN), but also by China's active search for a non-military solution to the Syrian problem. This is the kind of behaviour that can make a huge difference to China's ability to claim soft power capital." Image from

NBC's "once trusted newsman" Tom Brokaw gets heat for his appearance on CCTV's The Heat - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Public Diplomacy and the Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: An Interview with Dr. Susan Allen Nan, Associate Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University - "Professor Nan: People-to-people diplomacy plays different functions at different stages of conflict. In the period prior to a political agreement, people-to-people diplomacy can lay the groundwork that will allow an eventual political agreement to be successfully implemented at a later stage. Track two diplomacy can engage civil society in discussions that will open more people to supporting an eventual agreement. Furthermore, track two can bring together people who may later need to work together on the details of implementing an agreement. ... I am

only getting to know the range of the many people-to-people diplomacy programs that have engaged Azerbaijanis and Armenians. From the bit that I have seen, I see one clear result: there are some Azerbaijanis and some Armenians who know 'reasonable' people exist on 'the other side' of the conflict. In cases of such deep divides, it is necessary that some individuals recognize a few reasonable colleagues across the conflict divide. This makes it possible to engage in real discussions even on difficult issues. ... All successful peace processes are multifaceted. There are official peace agreements, and there are complex interrelated dynamics of implementing those agreements. Civil society is involved in conflicts at all stages. During a war, it is civilians and the most junior soldiers that suffer most. During the long search for a peace agreement, civil society can establish relationships between individuals, which will eventually facilitate implementation of agreements." Image from

MFA makes recommendations on Jewish refugees - "Following yesterday's momentous conference on Jewish refugees, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a report. [Among] its Summary and Recommendations: ... g. During the peace negotiations (with the Palestinians or Arab countries) the demand for financial compensation for both Palestinian and Jewish refugees should be raised.

h. The Foreign Ministry, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, will lead a Hasbara campaign on the issue of Jewish refugees in coordination with the PM's office which will consolidate the issue into any future negotiations. i. As part of the negotiation framework, all of Israel's delegations around the world will be directed to distribute and to pass along these messages to any governmental body and public diplomacy forum in their host country." Image from article

Language Use in Digital Diplomacy Via Social Media - "In our research projects in the use of social media in Public Diplomacy and Digital Diplomacy, we’ve noted some interesting aspects around what language people will use in their primary communications. This is important, as what language is being used in a social media channel can be a prime indicator of “who” a message or communication is aimed at. For example, with the Syria crisis ongoing an in the Egypt crisis of 2011, we would see abrupt changes in the primary language used, especially in video content, between Arabic and English. In 87% of the videos analysed on video channels such as YouTube and Vimeo relating to the Syria crisis, English was used, especially in narrated videos. If the intent of the authors was to reach an Arabic audience, they would use Arabic, but instead used English. A similar pattern evolved with the Egypt crisis of 2011. We’ve noted similar patterns in the Sudan and Haiti. English is the primary language used online and certainly the main language an organisation would use to gain the attention of western news media and governments. When tagging videos, blog posts or images and using hashtags on Twitter, these are predominantly English. Also keeping in mind that the top social media channels such as Twitter, blogging platforms or YouTube are Western tools delivered mostly in English. Digital diplomacy is not just the bane of governments, it is a powerful soft power tool used by well organised non-state actors and ad-hoc groups to gain attention from not just western governments and news media, but from the general population and perhaps diaspora communities where the originating native tongue is not spoken as much; such as with third generation diaspora. Understanding language usage can be an important element of defining primary and secondary messages to various audiences. As more governments and state/non-state actors engage in these back-channel public diplomacy tactics, new subtleties and dynamics will begin to emerge in the world of digital diplomacy."

Marketing to the US Market: Implement a Greater Successful Strategic Public Relations Campaign Paradigm - "Our national, state/province, municipal government, travel-tourism-hospitality, culture, product and service clients

over the past decade that adopted our High Profile – High Impact (H2) Public Relations/Public Diplomacy ‘Reverse Engineered’ paradigm for marketing to the US Market have consistently outperformed their competition." Image from


The Failure of USA Public Diplomacy in the Post – Cold War Era - arjur, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 4: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "The public diplomacy has a unique feature to shape opinions of foreign public audiences and to create receptive environment for a state’s foreign policy goals among them. While the use of hard power strengthens the feelings of revenge and hatre[d] among public, ... smart public diplomacy may promote peaceful cooperation. The US military campaign in Afghanistan and persisting negative perceptions of USA worldwide, and especially in the Arab world suggests that the state has failed to use the potential of soft power. ... In order to shape positive image of USA and Western world , words are no less important than actions. In 1930’s  [the] Roos[e]velt administration realised that 'America’s security depended on its ability to speak to and to win support from other countries” (Nye, 101, 2004). As a result in [...]stitutions, responsible for public diplomacy were established; Radio American Voice [Voice of America] and Radio Free Europe were set up. After 9/11 G.W. Bush attempted to revive this policy, but he failed. Firstly, G.W. Bush Administration’s public diplomacy was based on counterpropaganda (Hofman, 85, 2002). However, propaganda may have been effective in the Cold War era, but not in 'the age of information' anymore. Secondly, President’s words differed from his actions (hard power).

Finally, the President’s Administration failed to understand that public diplomacy is a two-way process, which involves not jus[t] talking, but also listening. On the whole, public diplomacy was used as tool to support government’s policy. The fact, that in the eve of the invasion to Iraq, 88% of Americans believed that Baghdad supported terrorist organizations is a shocking proof. ... [M]edia remains the vital tool to pursue public diplomacy. According to Hoffman, the key in the fight against terrorism is supporting open media (Hofman, 88, 2003). The[re]fore, USA should support independent media in all Muslim states, including Afghanistan. These channe[...]ls may not be very friendly to the USA. ... In conclusion, all three scholars, who were cited in this blog (J.S. Nye in the book 'Soft Power: the means to success in world politics', D.Hoffman in article 'Beyond public diplomacy' and H. K. Finn in article 'Case for cultural diplomacy – engaging foreign audiences [']) agree, that USA has reached so little progress on the war on fundame[n]talism because it fail[...]s to use the opportunities of 'soft power' and public diplomacy. Below image from Google

A Report Review. VOICES OF AMERICA: U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. Author: Kristin M. Lord) - joo0284, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 6: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "Unless America talk[s] to all people including terrorists the efforts the country is putting in its public and cultural diplomacy, as depicted in the report under review, will be futile."

How to Spot Citizen Diplomacy - narinehgh, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 3: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "Citizen diplomacy is the concept that an individual has the right, possibly even responsibility, to help shape their country’s foreign relations, and promote their nation. These individuals can be anyone from a student, teacher, tourist and so on. There is no limitation to who can be a citizen diplomat.

David Hoffman first devised the phrase 'citizen diplomacy', in 1981. Since this time, it has become used more often and become a more notable notion. It has become one of the centre points of nation branding, as it is purely non governmental. This allows people to passionately talk and listen about countries or events around the world." Image from

Celebrity activism: a curse or a cure? - Public and Cultural Diplomacy 1: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "Whilst there are huge disagreements between people in regards to the need for, the effectiveness of, and the legitimacy of citizen diplomacy, it seems inappropriate to simply write it off and disregard [...] its potential. However ... there are some clear areas of concerns that need to be considered when discussing the role that celebrities should play in the field of diplomacy. When a certain group of people gains more power and influence in international politics, it should be accompanied with a certain degree of accountability and responsibility as well – it is time we start requiring this."


Should the U.S. Leave Afghanistan Now? - Room for Debate, New York Times: More than two-thirds of Americans in a recent New York Times poll said the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan and even many Afghans are planning on leaving their country.

With relations frayed by disturbing events like the village massacre tied to an Army sergeant, and riots set off by the burning of Korans by American forces, should the United States stick with its plan to keep troops in place until 2014, or should it withdraw as quickly as possible? The Lesson of Vietnam: Out Now: Chris Mason, Center for Advanced Defense Studies;  Afghan Leaders and Troops Need Time: Kori Schake, Hoover Institution;  Dark Days If the U.S. Left Now: Fawzia Koofi, Afghan presidential candidate; Outsiders Can’t Defeat the Taliban: Elaheh Rostami-Povey, scholar; Don’t Prolong the Inevitable: Stephen M. Walt, Harvard University; History Favors More Time: Christopher Paul, Rand Corporation; Al Qaeda Allies Remain Strong: Frederick W. Kagan, American Enterprise Institute; Some Troops Will Stay Past 2014: Andrew Exum, Center for a New American Security. Image from

Saving lives in Syria: Bashar Assad has reneged on similar commitments. The Western and Arab nations that have pushed for political change in Syria can continue to pursue that objective, but the urgent imperative is an end to the killing - Editorial Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned that there would be "serious consequences" if violence by the Assad regime continued. If by serious consequences, she means progressively punitive sanctions and continued diplomatic isolation, her warning is appropriate. But the U.S. should not threaten, let alone carry out, military intervention in Syria, nor should it aid Syrian rebels. We worry that the provision even of satellite technology might be the first step down that path. This country can be a friend to Syria without taking up — or providing — arms. The United States has learned in recent years that military intervention can have unforeseen and undesirable consequences.

Arab journalist writes that "people have started relying more on western media" due to Arab news channels' selective coverage - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The nuclear countdown in Iran: For more than two years, experts have been saying that the Islamic Republic is about 18 months from being able to build a bomb - Doyle McManus, Neither the United States nor Israel admit that they are behind a sabotage campaign that has made Iran's nuclear centrifuges unreliable, its computer software buggy and its precision steel defective. And the Obama administration has condemned the assassination plots, presumably the work of Israel, that have killed at least four Iranian nuclear scientists.

But both Israeli and American officials predict that more sabotage is to come. Oddly enough, all that sabotage may turn out to be the sturdy handmaiden of diplomacy — and an alternative to all-out war.  Image from

Report: First phase of Iran's domestic "halal" internet to be introduced by 21 May - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Baseless propaganda against Iran - Mohammad Jamil, Both United States and Western Media have unleashed propaganda against Iran for having developed nuclear devices, and are making perpetual announcements that Tel Aviv might attack Iran on the pretext that Iran has nuclear weapons. The charge is baseless and frivolous.

Reckoning with Russia - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: Putin – in good Russian paranoid fashion – seemingly sees Western pro-democracy support for honest elections as directly aimed at his demise whether, in fact, that is its goal or not.

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Azerbaijani leader turned Euronest into platform of anti-Armenian propaganda – Armenian delegate - Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev used tough and insulting wordings referring to the Karabakh issue in his address to the participants of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly held in Baku on Tuesday. Head of the Armenian delegation to Euronest PA Vahan Hovhannisyan filed a complaint regarding Aliyev’s statement. The document says Hovhannisyan was trying to warn all the Bureau members against Azerbaijan’s attempts to use the Assembly as a platform for anti-Armenian propaganda stunt. “Unfortunately, in Baku we witnessed the forecasts were true: the Euronest PA has become an arena for anti-Armenian propaganda based on dishonest reading of history and one-sided interpretation of the international law.

Behind the Headlines, ‘Orphan’ Explores Fictional North Korea [review of "The Orphan Master's Son" by Adam Johnson (Random House] - Rebecca J. Mazur, Harvard Crimson: In “The Orphan Master’s Son,” Adam Johnson masterfully portrays the difficulties of living in a society whose self-perception is in itself a work of fiction, where truth is ultimately as elusive as the fate of the protagonist Pak Jun Do’s kidnapped mother. In the harsh world of North Korea, however, Jun Do’s personal development often comes across as one-dimensional and emotionally unsatisfying; overall, though, Johnson includes a variety

of other compelling characters and tells a fascinating story with a complex metafictional narrative. In the second half of the book, which injects an exciting layer of mystery and uncertainty into this otherwise straightforward plotline, the narration switches between three compelling voices: a state-employed interrogator, the propaganda-spewing loudspeakers found in every North Korean home, and the same third person account of Jun Do from the beginning of the novel. Image from

Soviet Propaganda as Art, Pedro Brull, Opera Madness: Culture Worth the Miles - Josh Garrick, Darker Shades of Red: Soviet Propaganda from the Cold War will open the season at the Polasek Museum in Winter Park on September 27. Always bold and strikingly graphic in its socialist agenda, the collection reveals the political ideology of the Soviet Union from the mid 1940’s to 1990.

Soviet leaders placed a priority on communicating ideas of ‘social responsibility’ to its citizen-comrades through the heroic symbols of Soviet leaders, soldiers, workers, and peasants. Posters combined these figures with text and vivid blocks of color. Caricatures of American and British leaders depicted "the West" as the enemy of the Soviet people, with this propaganda filtering down to the daily lives of people. The exhibit is an insider’s view into life in a totalitarian society. The exhibit may be viewed from September 27 to January 8 at the Polasek Museum. Call 407.647.6294 or visit Image from article

Internet Freedom Starts at Home: The United States needs to practice what it preaches online - - Rebecca MacKinnon, More than two years after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her first speech declaring "Internet freedom" to be a major component of U.S. foreign policy, it turns out that many of the most sophisticated tools used to suppress online free speech and dissent around the world are actually Made in the USA. American corporations are major suppliers of software and hardware used by all sorts of governments to carry out censorship and surveillance -- and not just dictatorships. Inconveniently, governments around the democratic world are pushing to expand their own censorship and surveillance powers as they struggle to address genuine problems related to cybercrime, cyberwar, child protection, and intellectual property. Even more inconveniently, the U.S. government is the biggest and most powerful customer of American-made surveillance technology, shaping the development of those technologies as well as the business practices and norms for public-private collaboration around them.

As long as the U.S. government continues to support the development of a surveillance-technology industry that clearly lacks concern for the human rights and civil liberties implications of its business -- even rewarding secretive and publicly unaccountable behavior by these companies -- the world's dictators will remain well supplied by a robust global industry. American-made technology has turned up around the Middle East and North Africa over the past year -- from Syria to Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, from pre-revolutionary Tunisia to Egypt -- in contexts that leave no doubt that the software and hardware in question were being used to censor dissenting speech and track activists. While much of this technology is considered "dual use" because it can be used to defend computer networks against cyberattack as well as to censor and monitor political speech, some members of Congress are seeking to prevent its use for political repression. To that end, the Global Online Freedom Act (GOFA), which passed through the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights last week, takes aim not only at U.S.-headquartered companies but also overseas companies funded by U.S. capital markets. Image from


FrInom tracking al-Qaeda to tracking the wayward spouse - Dana Milbank, Washington Post:  International Surveillance Technology is selling hidden cameras and audio recorders in alarm clocks, iPod docks, water coolers and suitcases. Among government security agencies, “there’s nobody who isn’t buying this,” said chief executive Donald DiFrisco. “Imagine:

hookers in a hotel room with a clock radio.” That’s the homeland security mission creep: from Osama bin Laden to hookers in hotels. Image (1976) from


"Our picture of the universe has probably changed more in the lifetime of an octogenarian today than in all of human history."

--Cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss, "A universe without purpose: New revelations in science have shown what a strange and remarkable universe we live in," Los Angeles Times. Below image from


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Unknown said...

That was very rational. When deciding to put up security cameras, determine first the areas you’d like monitored. This gadget could be quite expensive if you’d put up one unit in every corner of the house. The key to such problem is proper angling. Home safety is paramount, that’s why it is really good news that home security cams are more affordable now. Having a secure home wouldn’t then be at all impossible for some people.

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