Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10

abbreviated edition

“We have a ‘math’ teacher right now who majored in HISTORY."

--Beth Z., a math teacher in Alaska; image from


100 Movie Quotes (American Film Institute Top 100 Movies) - flixxy.com; Via DRH on Facebook


OMG -- Is that Public Diplomacy?

From a Facebook comment by your PDPBR compiler:

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Facebook UPDATE (1:34 PM December 10):

John Brown And PD is all supposed to be "not about me" ... well, I guess times change ... selfie first ...
29 minutes ago · Like · 1

John Brown If the pix was photoshoped, we yet have another example of "social media 'freedom'," ...
2 minutes ago · Like · 1

Aaron Z Snyder One could argue that PD is about "us," although I think that "us" should be a bit more inclusive than just 3 people.
a few seconds ago · Like · 1

Note: Notable point made by a Wash Post reader: larrypostman: Evidently neither the Post nor CNN understand the difference between a memorial service and a funeral, which by definition is the ceremony when the deceased is buried or cremated. Mandela's body was not present at the memorial service. Was Obama supposed to look stiff and somber throughout the 4-hour service?

Mandela’s funeral brings foreign rivals together - dawn.com: “'The world literally is coming to South Africa,' said the government’s head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela [one of many articles mentioning Mr. Monyela and his position].

Effects of public diplomacy hard to prove - Zach Rausnitz, fiercehomelandsecurity.com: "Public diplomacy does not have a clear way to measure its effects, said Walter Douglas, minister counselor for public affairs at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. Douglas spoke during an event on Nov. 25 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he was a State Department visiting fellow in 2011-2012. 'It's very difficult, because you can measure inputs but you can't measure outputs,' he said. 'Nobody has really come up with an idea' for how to show when populations 'have changed their way of looking at the United States based on what we have given them.' Knowing which programs your agency should support doesn't have to be a guessing game. Even with social media, now a key channel for public diplomacy messaging, outcomes can be difficult to measure even though the metrics for inputs are clear. Instead, Douglas said public diplomacy should have a clear message, identify success stories, and seek out influential people as the prime audience. 'If your narrative makes sense, people can probably trust that you're onto something,' he said.

Douglas was an advertising executive before he joined the State Department. While advertising and public diplomacy bear some resemblance to each other, decision-making in the advertising business is far more clear-cut, Douglas said. The success of advertising can often be reduced to whether a product sells or not. U.S. public diplomacy has in recent years focused heavily on countering anti-American views in Muslim-majority countries. One lesson Douglas said he has drawn from his experiences is that it helps to discuss the importance of religion to Americans. Many are surprised to hear about the prominence and prevalence of religion in the United States, he said, since they often learn about U.S. culture from entertainment that doesn't capture a complete picture of American life. 'I think that's something that is a barrier and breeds a lack of trust in who we are, because religion is so important to them,' he said." Image from entry

No deal with Iran: The United States and other powers appear resigned to conceding, in the final stage of a future agreement with Iran, that Tehran has a right to enrich uranium. They're wrong to be - thecommentator.com: "It took only 100 days in office for Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, to fool the United States and its Western allies into believing that his charm offensive was a genuine change of direction. As a result, in Geneva three rounds of negotiations began the process for an interim nuclear agreement that will leave Iran with its ability to build a nuclear bomb intact while giving Tehran the much-coveted sanctions relief the regime needs to keep its economy afloat. How did such a capitulation happen? After demanding for seven years that Iran halts all its enrichment-related activities, including research and development, the international community is prepared to settle for a deal that will not stop Iran's enrichment activities and may ultimately recognise Tehran's demand that enrichment be considered 'an inalienable right'. Iran's demand has been a key element of its public diplomacy for over a decade. And while many members of the international community have been nervous about Iran's nuclear ambitions, few outside the small circle of Western democracies are entirely comfortable with foregoing in principle the ability to enrich."

Iran: Parliament launches new push to improve ties with West - aawsat.net: "'Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said last week that the Iranian parliament is to decide on the formation of an Iran-US parliamentary friendship group. These developments follow statements by Iran’s deputy speaker of parliament, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, known to be a member of the conservative camp, who said in October that 'parliamentary diplomacy between Iran and America must take shape before official diplomacy.' Bahonar said: 'Official diplomacy has limitations that public diplomacy does not have. Public diplomacy can start with a soccer match, parliamentary consultations or lobbying.'”

Iranian Embassy, shuttered for decades, was known for hedonistic, star-studded gatherings - Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post: "The Iranian Embassy at 3005 Massachusetts Ave. was once 'the number one embassy when it came to extravagance,' wrote frequent guest Barbara Walters in a memoir. As tuxedo-clad musicians serenaded, the flamboyant ambassador welcomed Washington’s A list with endless bowls of fresh Caspian Sea caviar

and glasses of Dom Perignon. All that came to a shuddering halt in 1979, when Islamic revolutionaries replaced the shah with a theocracy and the partying stopped.  The 34-year freeze between Iran and the United States has in some ways been colder than the Cold War, when the United States and Iron Curtain countries at least had diplomatic relations and embassies. Since the 444-day hostage crisis, representatives of the United States and Iran have had scant direct communication. Nuclear negotiations over the past few weeks have represented the most extensive overt diplomatic contact in decades and have set off speculation about the possibility of renewed relations between the former allies." Via HD on Facebook. Image from entry

RFE/RL counters Russian state media propaganda on events in Ukraine - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch - "This has been posted on Facebook by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)[:]

Russian state-controlled television channels have been treating its viewers to a raft of disparaging, often bizarre reports downplaying Ukraine’s protests. –>http://bit.ly/1bx4XXn Luckily, RFE/RL‘s reports are making it far and wide, as yesterday’s CNN screengrab will attest. (It was shown on ABC World News as well.)VOA Ukrainian Service is also doing an outstanding job of reporting despite limited resources and general management disarray within Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). But while there are exceptions among some language services, generally, the Voice of America is failing to report news in a timely and professional manner. The Voice of America English News and VOA English news website have been an especially great embarrassment because of late and inadequate reporting and failing to report on many important news developments in Ukraine and elsewhere. While the Voice of Russia (VOR) covered this U.S.-Ukraine news story in English, the VOA English website did not report on Vice President Joe Biden’s phone call today with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.  Earlier last week, the Voice of America English website also failed to cover Biden’s speech in Beijing, China, on human rights and media freedom." Image from entry

Russia Today now reports on Biden’s call to Yanukovych – still nothing on VOA English website - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: "Over the weekend, most VOA reports from Ukraine were from Reuters. They received even fewer Facebook 'Likes' compared to thousands Facebook 'Likes' for Russia Today and BBC reports on demonstrations in Kiev."

Putin Overhauls Russia's International Broadcasting: Back to Propaganda 1.0? - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "Russia's primary public diplomacy objective: gaining true recognition and acceptance among the big power players of the world. ... Seems like despite all the years and money spent on various public diplomacy and propaganda (and I won't shy away from using this term here) campaigns with little to no results, Kremlin still stubbornly believes that its approach is the right approach. And the approach is very similar to the Russian (military?) saying: Не знаешь — научим, не хочешь — заставим! If you don't know [something] -- we'll teach you. If you don't want to -- we'll force you to."


John Kerry's high-wire diplomacy: Has the new secretary of State eclipsed Hillary Clinton on the world stage? - Doyle McManus, latimes.com: In 10 months, Kerry has embarked on a whirlwind of diplomacy. He helped conclude an interim deal with Iran that puts a ceiling on Tehran's nuclear enrichment. He launched new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with the goal of producing a deal next year. And he secured a date for negotiations to end the war in Syria, although it's still not certain who will show up.One reason Kerry has been given so much leeway to try his hand on Iran, Israel and Syria: They're all issues the White House is happy to drop into someone else's lap. But it does lead some diplomats to wonder whether Obama and Rice can be counted on to back up Kerry when he makes a deal.

A Breakthrough Agreement at Risk - Editorial, New York Times: The interim deal nuclear deal with Iran stated that no further sanctions should be imposed while it was in force. New penalties would betray that agreement, feed Iranians’ deep mistrust of Americans, deny Mr. Obama negotiating flexibility and, most likely, crush any hope that a diplomatic solution is possible.

What to do about Syria: The situation is heartbreaking. But a more aggressive approach by the U.S. could backfire - Editorial, latimes.com: As grievous as the humanitarian situation in Syria is, a unilateral military campaign by the U.S. — even if it were supported by Congress, which is unlikely — could prolong the war, exacerbate the suffering of the Syrian people and make it even harder to achieve the political solution that remains the best hope for ending the violence.

Don't Expect Germany to Stand Up to Russia: With Washington in retreat and Berlin still allergic to conflict, Ukraine and its neighbors are on their own against Putin's aggression - John Vinocur, Wall Street Journal: If you analyze what the EU—notably German leadership, because it is largely their show—isn't saying about Russia isolating Ukraine as its ward, and add in American silence on this issue, the situation has become an accelerating challenge to Western notions of a European future "whole and free."

A Global Dining Empire Loses an Outpost - Jane Perlez, New York Times: BEIJING — The last meal at Maison Boulud in China, at least for now, was served on Sunday. The restaurant, run by the New York chef Daniel Boulud in the former American Embassy not far from Tiananmen Square, closed after five years, the victim of a falling out with Chinese partners and perhaps the staid habits of Beijing. Maison Boulud had a certain cachet because of its home in the two-story structure that served as the American Embassy; it was one of the first buildings in the capital to use imported steel and lumber from the United States. Newspaper accounts from the period note that Sidney H. Nealy, an architect for the State Department, designed the chancery, separate residences, servants’ quarters and an ice factory. “These buildings are such as might be put up in Washington for a similar purpose,” said an article in The Washington Post. “They are in every respect first-class gray brick and granite structures with every modern improvement.” The article said Mr. Nealy learned “enough of the language to handle the native laborers,” who “had to be taught in an American way.” When the Communists took power in 1949, the embassy, set on a square known as the Legation Quarter, became the property of the government. Before the 2008 Olympics, developers leased the chancery and the accompanying buildings and renovated them for commercial use in what was planned as a plaza of restaurants and galleries. The interior of the chancery, where the Maison Boulud dining room is on the first floor, retains much of its original look. The white carved banister of the staircase, the black and white marble floors in the bar area and broad beam timber floors in banquet rooms upstairs are still intact. A large room at the back of the lobby, now swathed in red wallpaper, was described by the restaurant as the place where Henry A. Kissinger and Zhou Enlai met secretly in 1971 to plan President Richard M. Nixon’s visit to China the following year. In fact, those meetings took place at the Diaoyutai State Guest House compound some distance from the old American Embassy, said Winston Lord, who participated in the 48 hours of talks as an aide to Mr. Kissinger. Mr. Lord later became United States ambassador to China. “We left Diaoyutai once — for a secret tour of the Forbidden City, followed by a secret lunch with Zhou Enlai in the Great Hall of the People,” Mr. Lord said. Via ACP III on Facebook

Egypt's new hijab-clad superheroine - Dina Demrdash, BBC Arabic: She's got comic strip superpowers, fights for justice and gives bad guys a hard time. If this makes you think of Catwoman, then think again - for this is a new kind of superheroine with a visible difference. Meet Qahera - the hijab-wearing Egyptian comic-book

character fighting back against crime and prejudice. She is the brainchild of a young Egyptian artist who created the first ever Egyptian superhero in a web comic, and its picking up a growing fanbase. "It all started as a joke with a group of friends," Deena Mohamed says. Via ACP III on Facebook. Image from entry


U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul on Facebook, with above photo included: "Yesterday My new cast (it may not look high-tech but it is). It covers up my newly constructed finger, now stronger than ever with a titanium plate and pins. To remind, I fractured my finger playing in a friendly basketball match between Russians, Americans and a few others. You see how much I am willing to sacrifice to improve U.S._Russian relations !"


1. Seattle, US The bohemian Seattle suburb of Fremont acquired a Lenin statue in the early 1990s, with the help of an English teacher, Lewis Carpenter, who mortgaged his home to rescue it from Poprad in Slovakia. It stands outside a number of fast food shops, and is decorated on special occasions, with festive lights, occasionally drag, or just fancy dress

--From; via LO-S on Facebook

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