Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26

"Surveys have shown that not a small percentage of Americans would give up sex for a week before giving up their smartphones."

--Michael S. Rosenwald, "Two books on Apple and Google: ‘Dogfight’ by Fred Vogelstein; ‘Jony Ive’ by Leander Kahney," Washington Post; image from


Familiar Ring to Retired Propaganda Chief’s Ode to an Ugly Bird - Austin Ramzy, New York Times: "The Chinese Communist Party’s former propaganda chief has found a kind of post-retirement fame in a paean to an unsightly, scavenging stork and garish video to match. In his party post, Li Changchun frequently spoke about the need to build socialist culture, both to guide ideology at home and to promote China’s image abroad. Now retired, Mr. Li has just released a book discussing his thoughts on culture. Perhaps the most surprising revelation is that he has dabbled in the arts himself, writing the lyrics to a children’s song, 'Ode to the Ugly Bird.' Creativity may not be his strong suit, however. Some commentators have noted that the song’s refrain is nearly identical to that of a 1980s Taiwan pop song."


Some diplomats are less equal - Ramesh Thakur, "Khobragade affair is characterised by America's Orwellian doublespeak [:]  Consider two cases of consular officials two years apart. One shoots and kills two locals, the other pays her nanny below local minimum but above home wages. Had host-country law prevailed, the first — Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor in Lahore — could have faced the death sentence. Instead he was brought home a free man. US media managed to contain its outrage on his victims. The second — a female career diplomat, not an intelligence agent — is strip-and-cavity searched. The same US president insists on diplomatic immunity for the first but stays studiously silent on the second. No apology from secretary of state John Kerry. US media are oh so touched by the plight of the poor maid and sanctity of the law of the land. Guess which country they accuse of hypocrisy? Yes indeed, the second, India.

And praise which for standing up for the rule of law that must treat everyone equally? Yep, good ole USA. ... Delhi has demanded a formal US apology and unconditional release of Khobragade. ... Given the limpness of this government and neglect of public diplomacy, India may well back down eventually. Even so, a soured India will withdraw extra courtesies to US officials beyond legal requirements, to the detriment of their professional functions. Cancellation of full diplomatic privileges to US consular officials should be the start, not the end, of a sobered India's hardened policy." Image from, with caption: Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade

Stop federal spending on frivolities - Editorial, "Priorities matter, particularly when government burns through taxpayers’ money. Congress should demand explanations for the State Department’s spending on a pile of arty rocks and growing outlays for booze. A federal government submerged in red ink needs to manage tax dollars carefully, not tolerate dubious spending. The pile of rocks in question is artwork the State Department recently commissioned from acclaimed Irish-American artist Sean Scully, to decorate our embassy in London.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf defended the purchase at a press briefing this month, saying, 'Like much of the art purchased by this program, this piece was purchased under the market price after considerable negotiation with both the artist and the gallery.' We hazard to guess there are innumerable artworks of an appropriate size and significance available for much, much less than seven figures, even without haggling. 'This is an important part of our diplomatic presence overseas,' Harf explained, adding that the Art in Embassies program has 'a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy with a focused mission of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.'” Image from entry, with caption: A government awash in red ink should not spend money carelessly on items such as costly art for the U.S. embassy in London.

From U.S. Embassies in Warsaw, Bangkok, Dublin, Kampala, Oslo – A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year [includes videos]– Domani Spero, DiploPundit:  [Among the embassies cited:] "Embassy Warsaw, Poland [:] Employees from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and the U.S. Consulate General in Krakow along with their families with their 'Jingle Bell Rock' cover

recorded by American diplomats in Poland with the support of musician Stan Breckenridge, U.S. Distinguished Chair Fulbright Scholar to Poland from California State University, who is currently in Poland on the Fulbright Scholarship at Jagiellonian University. The video was created on the streets of Warsaw and Krakow. The clip includes Ambassador Stephen D. Mull, see the 00:12 mark.  Last year, they did All I Want For Christmas Is You." Image from entry

IT unaware bullets were found near its office: spokesman - Elaine Hou, "The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is not aware that any bullets were found near its Taipei office, an AIT spokesman said Wednesday in response to a local media report that 10 bullets had been found in a nearby drain. 'We have not heard anything about bullets being found near AIT,' said

Joseph Bookbinder, the AIT’s Public Diplomacy Section Chief who also serves as a spokesman for the office that represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties. He was responding to a report posted Wednesday on the Facebook page of the online Chinese-language Storm Media. The report said that in early December, 10 bullets were found near the AIT’s Taipei office on Xinyi Road, which caused consternation in the AIT." Bookbinder image from entry

Photo Release -- The "Hello World" Public Service Propaganda Film Was Shown at New York Times Square - "At 0:00 on December 24, 2013, the day before the Christmas Eve when the most areas in the world see in, on the world No.1 screen of NASDAQ Tower at the New York Times Square in the U.S., the Chinese characters '你好世界,新年快乐 (Hello world, Happy new year)' written with traditional Chinese calligraphy and a Chinese literati painting 'the Painting of Humanistic Ancestor' showed up. The pictures on the screen drew attention to passersby to stop to watch and took out mobile phone to take photos as a memento.

This is a beginning of the public benefit activity 'Hello World' outside China jointly created by China Dahe Investment Holding Group and five famous painting and calligraphy artists at home for the purpose of paying a tribute and paying a New Year call to the world with Chinese traditional culture. The activity video will be played repeatedly on NASDAQ Tower till the last day of the year 2013 in order to embrace the coming of the year 2014 in a special form. Meanwhile, on network media at home and abroad, e-pals around the world also actively share the special blessing way and deliver their blessings with Chinese cultural elements via pictures, video and etc." Image from entry

Culture and the Third Plenum of China’s Communist Party - Falk Hartig, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The guiding role of Marxism should help to strengthen the country’s soft power? Really? Those statements not only show a total lack of even

the most basic communication skills of a presumed 21st-century country, but also show ignorance or lack of knowledge about how this whole influence business works. And as long as these are the guiding principles, China will struggle to become a 'cultural power.'” Image from entry, with caption: 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

China's FM Holds Public Meeting on China's Diplomacy in 2013 - "2013 marks a year of achievement for Chinese diplomacy. On December 25, 2013, Foreign Ministry held an event with the general public, acknowledging key people behind China's diplomatic work this year while also addressing their concerns. It's part of the Ministry's drive to expand public diplomacy. ... [I]t's important

for diplomats to maximize national interests on the world stage and relay their achievements to the public in plain words. Sino-US relations and China’s territorial disputes with some neighbouring countries are significant enough to be addressed at this seminar. ... Besides holding seminars in the real world, the Foreign Ministry is also extending its reach on the Internet. Its account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, now has more than 5 million followers. The ministry has also launched apps on mobile platforms to better cope with the public’s interest." Image from entry

"Support for Disseminating Chinese Enterprises Overseas" Seminar Held in Beijing - "The 'Support for Disseminating Chinese Enterprises Overseas' Seminar, organized by CRI (China Radio International) Online and the China Public Diplomacy Association is held in Beijing on December 19, 2013.

The Seminar focuses on the demands and problems of Chinese enterprises in their overseas development, ways of promoting Chinese enterprises overseas and the role of the media in the promotion." Image from entry

Q and A: The man who put Israel on the map - Tamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post: "Famous for 'putting Israel on the map' with his exceptional basketball skills, former sports star and current Goodwill Ambassador for Israel Tal Brody

has devoted most of his life to public diplomacy - be it on the basketball court or on university campuses around the world. The first sportsman to ever win the prestigious Israel Prize discusses his past and present with The Jerusalem Post." Uncaptioned image from entry


China and Russie [sic] bring back Cold War tactics - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: Neither the United States nor Europe is locked in a deadly, apocalyptic competition with Russia, China or anyone else. We are not fighting proxy wars. The world has not been divided into two Orwellian halves, democrats vs. communists. But although we are not fighting a new Cold War, the tactics of the old Cold War are now, at the dawn of 2014, suddenly being deployed in a manner not seen since the early 1980s. We in the United States may not believe that we are engaged in an ideological struggle with anybody, but other people are engaged in an ideological struggle with us. We in the United States may not believe that there is any real threat to our longtime alliance structures in Europe and Asia, but other people think those alliances are vulnerable and have set out to undermine them.

Snowden leak examines gaming as a terrorist propaganda and training tool: 66-page report lays out intelligence concerns both practical and fantastical - Kyle Orland, The latest document dump from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is getting a lot of deserved attention for revelations that international security agencies are taking steps to monitor communications inside online games. But those leaked documents also include an in-depth report on the potential for games to be used as recruitment, training, and propaganda tools by extremist organizations. Security contractor SAIC produced the 66-page report "Games: A look at emerging trends, users, threats and opportunities in influence activities" in early 2007, and the document gives a rare window

into how the US intelligence community views interactive games as a potential tool to be used by foreign actors. While parts of the report seem pretty realistic about gaming's potential use as a propaganda and planning tool, other sections provide a more fantastical take on how video games can be used as potential weapons by America's enemies. The strongest parts of the report focus on how games can be used as part of propaganda efforts, presenting a particular political viewpoint or ideology in an engaging and easy-to-digest way. Image from entry

Propaganda, misinformation real face of evil in Syria - For well over two years now, western powers and their media have actively worked to destroy Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s image and that of his regime, painting him as a

"rapacious, bloodthirsty tyrant", whose evil and amorality equate that of Satan himself. Image from entry, with caption: Western propaganda war

Propaganda officials to head top-tier Chinese journalism schools: Communist Party moves to tighten ideological control over university programmes amid concern journalists succumbing to Western thinking - Teddy Ng, The Communist Party's propaganda authority is planning to tighten its control over major journalism schools across the country and increase Marxist education at the universities. Three people familiar with the plan said senior local propaganda officials would become heads or high-level officials of journalism programmes at 10 top-tier universities, in an attempt to ensure their teaching is in line with authorities' directives.

N.Korean Propaganda Hails Hereditary Dictatorship - North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun daily on Tuesday hailed the hereditary transfer of power to current leader Kim Jong-un as former leader Kim Jong-il's greatest achievement. Tuesday marked the anniversary of Kim senior's ascent to supreme commander in 1991. The article is part of propaganda efforts to build up the personality cult surrounding Kim junior since the execution of former eminence grise Jang Song-taek, who is believed to have usurped some of the leader's powers.

Putin Propaganda Claims as Pussy Riot Band Members Freed in Russian Amensty [sic] - Kiren L, A massive amnesty is underway in Russia with two thousand prisoners expected to be released in a period of six months. For many, this is nothing more than an act of propaganda on the part of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.


--Via NZ on Facebook

SOVIETICA - Homes for Northern Siberia, 1972

--From: "The Soviets wanted to build small settlements (4-5 houses) near the workplace. The panel houses weigh only 550 pounds (250 kgs), including the furniture and other items."


Detroit's abandoned buildings draw tourists instead of developers: Detroit has seen an uptick in history buffs and photographers visiting its ruins since its bankruptcy filing - Alana Semuels, Photographers have flocked to the city to capture the decline; two French photographers even produced a book, "The Ruins of Detroit."

But since the city declared bankruptcy in July, hotels say they've seen an uptick in visitors inquiring about the ruins. So have restaurants in the up-and-coming district of Corktown, near the abandoned train station. Image from entry

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