Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27

"But I am a ruin myself, wandering among ruins.”

Heinrich Heine; image from; more below (in today's PDPR's "related items"), Jake Heppner, "The 38 Most Haunting Abandoned Places On Earth. For Some Reason, I Can't Look Away...,"; via GG on Facebook


PD Council Seeks Ten Best Public Diplomacy Actions of 2013 - "Public Diplomacy Council wants your nominations for the best public diplomacy actions, ideas, programs or decisions of 2013. The rules, says PDC, are simple: 'Anyone can make a nomination.' Entries are welcome from current and former public diplomacy professionals, as well as observers in the academic world, business, and government. Nominations should be sent by e-mail to by noon on Monday, 30 December."


U.S. Foreign Exhibitions Program Remembered in Pictures - [Joe Johnson], Public Diplomacy Council; image from entry


What’s Wrong with U.S. Public Diplomacy? - Michael Rubin, Commentary: 'I had written a couple months ago about the seemingly uncoordinated and scattershot approach in which U.S. embassies engage in the name of public diplomacy. An interlocutor pointed me to a speech delivered by retired Foreign Service officer Donald Bishop to the Council of American Ambassadors earlier this fall. While so many practitioners of public diplomacy circle the wagons to protect budgets and the system they know and in which they thrive, Bishop speaks directly: ['] Public diplomacy makes less difference in spite of the many studies and reports that proclaim its importance, despite the many new programs in the graduate schools, despite words of praise on all the appropriate public occasions, despite Congressional support for exchanges, despite Secretary Clinton’s decree that 'every officer is a Public Diplomacy officer,' and despite the fact that Public Diplomacy officers are working harder than ever. ['] Bishop continues to suggest three separate problems, or rather clusters of problems. The first is organizational. Public diplomacy has been shunted aside to a bureaucratic corner. ... The second problem, he observes, is the fact that there is 'division among the American people over our nation’s purposes in the world.' ... For Bishop, the third set of problems revolves around strategy. ... It seems that secretaries of state in recent administrations have sought to compete with their predecessors in mileage traveled, as if logging miles somehow became a metric of wisdom or diplomatic success. Leadership is not simply about free travel and five-star hotels, nor should an appointment to lead the State Department be the ultimate perk. Rather, being secretary of state should be about management and implementing a coherent strategy." See also.

China Remembers Mao … on the Eve of His 120th Birthday - Ron Radosh, "When I was in China for one of those State Department public diplomacy tours in 2000, before our highly contested election that year, I spoke all over the country to explain our American political system, how it worked, and to lecture on the meaning of political democracy. The last day in Beijing, before I was about to leave back for the States, the American embassy phoned to say they had managed to book me on the most popular talk program in the country, in which I and an interviewer — a political scientist from the university who had his own popular program, something akin to Charlie Rose on PBS here — would conduct the discussion. It was a big coup to place me on the program, the embassy spokesman told me. They never had been able to do that before. I got to the station on time, and presented my views much as I had in lectures at universities and public forums. These, of course, were limited to those who came to hear me. The show was taped, and I was told it was to be broadcast later that evening, in prime time. I received a call from the embassy again. The censors viewed it before airing, and right before airtime, they re-broadcast an old program, putting my interview into the ashcan. The reason, the embassy told me, was that they thought my comments on political democracy were too volatile to be heard by a vast audience. Mao never believed in political democracy."

Mission and Innovation — Netflix CEO at Broadcasting Board of Governors - BBGWatcher, BBG Watch: Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Jeff Shell should be applauded for arranging a visit to the federal agency by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his participation in a panel discussion on technology and innovation. The event was held Wednesday, December 18, at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) headquarters in Washington, DC. Reed Hastings made a refreshingly unassuming, honest and informative presentation. Fortunately, the discussion went beyond the topic of technology, thanks to both Hastings and Shell, but also thanks to the two other panel participants: Macon Philips, Coordinator of the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, and Tom Cochran, Chief Technology Officer at Atlantic Media.

Hastings, Philips, and Cochran described how companies, media outlets, and government agencies can best develop a strategy for adjusting to technological and societal changes. Image from entry, with caption: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (center); Macon Philips, Coordinator of the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (right); and Tom Cochran, Chief Technology Officer at Atlantic Media (left).

American movement for equal rights and justice in Palestine gains momentum - Sarah Marusek, "As the New Year approaches and we step back to reflect upon 2013, it becomes increasingly obvious that cracks are emerging in Israel's most special relationship.

While the occupation of Washington continues uncontested, more and more Americans are carving out other spaces of resistance that challenge the hegemony of the Zionist narrative and confront Israeli occupation and apartheid. These efforts are starting to rupture the deeply entrenched political and ideological frameworks that enable the US government to spend vast public resources to help Israel oppress the Palestinian people, without any public backlash. There is still an extremely long way to go, but there is no doubt that Zionists in the US and Israel are beginning to see that the writing is indeed on the wall. ... In addition to spending $125 million on bringing Jews around the world to Israel, the government has also formed a task force to reverse the disenchantment trend. Other efforts that illustrate the growing sense of desperation in Tel Aviv include a related initiative of the prime minister's office to establish covert units at Israeli universities to engage in online public diplomacy, or hasbara. As Haaretz reported in August, 'A diplomacy group will be set up at each university and structured in a semi-military fashion.' Those students who head each group are to receive full government scholarships while other students are paid stipends. When a government has to pay its own youth secretly to counter the increasingly negative image of its country abroad, pro-justice activists can take courage in the struggle in the year to come." Uncaptioned image from entry

Israeli right proposes taxing NGOs that back boycott - "On Dec. 16, the media published stories about how an organization — a negligible one, it should be noted — called the American Studies Association (ASA) decided to adopt an academic boycott against Israel to express, in its words, identification with Palestinian students deprived of their academic freedom. Anyone who is well-versed in Israeli-Palestinian relations understands that this is total nonsense. ... It should be noted that the US State Department issued an immediate condemnation and rejection of the boycott. But one should not treat this case lightly because it is the first time that such a large US organization joins the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The decision by the ASA, which numbers 5,000 lecturers and professors, was adopted in an Internet vote in which a quarter of the organization’s members took part. Two-thirds (66%) voted in favor of imposing a boycott on Israel’s academia. It should be noted that no American university or college joined the boycott. ... So how are educated American academics taken in by this pack of lies? I believe that the main reason for this is that the Israeli government, which invests a lot of money in its defense budget, has still not understood that public diplomacy is the new battlefield and that money and resources must be invested to repulse the wave of incitement and lies spread about it around the world. The battlefield of public diplomacy is far more important today to the existence of the State of Israel than a tank battalion or an Apache squadron. Many pro-Palestinian organizations in the world, and in Israel, seek to hurt Israel using the framework of quite successful 'public diplomacy' offensives. They do it by calling for an academic and economic boycott of Israel and by presenting petitions against Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and heads of the security forces. These organizations enjoy a great deal of power and invest millions of euros in their incitement activity — a sort of a 'new anti-Semitism.' What is the source of the money, you ask. Well, it comes from private donations, but a more significant part originates in European countries, in general, and the European Union, in particular. ... To contend with this absurd situation, I proposed, along with Knesset member Robert Ilatov, an amendment (No. 1672) to the internal revenue bill (support by a foreign diplomatic entity for Israeli nonprofits), known by the media as the 'NGO bill.' In a nutshell, this bill determines that any donations received by Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGOs) from a foreign diplomatic entity will be levied a 45% tax, if the NGO in question — be it in its charter or the actions taken by

the organization or by its managers — corresponds to one of the five criteria specified in the bill: -- Petitions for legal procedures against IDF soldiers in international courts. -- Calls to boycott, to withdraw investments or to sanction Israel or its citizens. -- Delegitimizes the existence of Israel as being a Jewish and a democratic state. -- Incites racism. Supports armed resistance of an enemy state or a terror organization against Israel. The proposed bill was met with a cold shoulder by the Israeli left, including Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, for allegedly being 'anti-democratic.'” Image from entry, with caption: The American Studies Association, in voting for a boycott against Israel, claimed there was "no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation" — a statement strongly disputed by others. Here, Birzeit University near Ramallah is seen in 2007.

Into the Fray: Leibler on settlements - Right diagnosis, wrong prescription - Martin Sherman, Jerusalem Post: "The real reason for much of the international misunderstanding – and hence enmity – towards Israel with regard to the Palestinian-cum-settlement issue is the abysmal performance of Israel’s public diplomacy over the past several decades, and its utter failure to convey to the world the imperative of applying Jewish (I stress 'Jewish')

sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. ... One cannot really gauge Israel’s political options, or the international constraints on it, given the current feeble and often counterproductive efforts in the field of public diplomacy." Image from entry, with caption: Diamond Exchange Area, as seen from "Palestine"

Israel Hopes To Lure More French Jews - "Israel is set to announce a three-year plan aimed at attracting more French Jews to settle in the Jewish state. The first move will consist of recognizing French diplomas for medical professionals and tax consultants, an official from Israels Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs told the Maariv daily this week. The government has decided in principle to increase funding for facilitating the arrival of new immigrants from France, said the official, who was not named. The government has realized this is a historic window of opportunity, said the official."

Former UN ambassador Dore Gold to serve as Netanyahu's foreign policy adviser Gold, whose job will focus on Israeli-U.S. relations, has relatively hawkish views and has never expressed support for the two-state solution - Barak Ravid,"Gold currently heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank. During Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, in 1996-99, Gold served first as the premier’s foreign policy adviser and then as UN ambassador. He had no formal position in Netanyahu’s second administration, in 2009-13, but Netanyahu consulted him periodically and invited him to meetings on issues such as public diplomacy and relations with America." Gold image from entry

Pakistan wants to promote peaceful and friendly ties will all countries: PM - Parvez Jabri, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday said Pakistan wants to promote peaceful and friendly relations with international community particularly with its neighbours to ensure peace and progress in the region.

Addressing inaugural ceremony of new block of the Foreign Office building here which has been attributed to the Former Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, the Prime Minister said Pakistan is playing its due role for promoting regional and international peace and enhance mutual cooperation through its Foreign Office. ... Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said for any State, diplomacy was the first line of defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country's diplomats play an indispensable role in any nation's efforts to promote peace, and foster regional and international cooperation. He said conventional diplomacy had now acquired new dimensions and the specialized streams like multi and bilateral diplomacy and economic coupled with public diplomacy and services streams were now more relevant." Uncaptioned image from entry

Annual Parliament address by President Gjorge Ivanov - "This is the complete annual Parliament address made by President Gjorje Ivanov.

Respected citizens of the Republic of Macedonia,... Through a personal example, I have insisted during my term on active, professional and pragmatic diplomacy, but also on proactive economic and public diplomacy." Uncaptioned image from entry

Gas deal may help Ukraine out of crisis - "The gas deal with Moscow may help Kiev get out of economic crisis, a senior Russian diplomat said Saturday. When meeting his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to slash the price of natural gas for the economically struggling neighbor. 'This is an important aid to our fraternal country that will help it, probably, to boost economic rates and to come out of the crisis, toward which the Ukrainian economy has moved closer,' Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying at a public diplomacy event here."

Stephenville native finds success with United Nations: A curious child by nature, Edward Mishaud always strived to solve problems. - "So what’s next for Edward? He admits it’s hard to say. 'After nearly nine years working for the United Nations, across three very different organizations I do think working for a smaller institution, like a ‘start-up’ could be interesting and challenging, for instance a ‘think tank’ or an international public diplomacy institute.

On the other hand, returning to journalism could also be a challenging option.'” Image from entry, with caption: Stephenville native Edward Mishaud can be found in Geneva, Switzerland working for the United Nations where he is helping to tackle the global problem of HIV/AIDS.

Team Leader for Media, Branding and Public Diplomacy: The Danish Embassy in Tokyo Is Currently Seeking a Team Leader for Media, Branding and Public Diplomacy - "Description: The Royal Danish Embassy in Tokyo is seeking a highly motivated person to join us as Team Leader for Media, Branding and Public Diplomacy. Your role is to lead the task of informing about, promoting and branding Denmark and Danish viewpoints in Japan through public diplomacy activities that will support the achievement of the Embassy’s goals. You are expected to proactively and closely network with national and local Japanese press and media in order to ensure a high public profile of Denmark in Japan. You will also need to work closely with representatives of Danish media in regard to high-level Danish visits to Japan. You will be overall responsible for the Embassy’s External Communication Strategy, including Branding Denmark, as well as for the Embassy’s cultural activities.

Public diplomacy efforts are relevant to all Embassy activities, and you are expected to work closely and openly with all Embassy teams as well as the Ambassador. As a member of the Embassy’s Team Leaders’ Group you are expected actively to contribute to the overall management, coordination and functioning of the Embassy." Image from, with caption: Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt pose for a photo during ... memorial for Nelson Mandela.


The awkward state of U.S.-China relations: Working together is hard and frustrating, but not working together is worse - Nina Hachigian, Both countries have managed to compartmentalize disagreements so cooperation in some areas can generate real progress.

Given the differences, even these modest successes are worth celebrating.

In Blue-Collar Toledo, Ohio, a Windfall of Chinese Investments - Timothy Williams, New York Times: ties between Toledo and China have grown numerous. Chinese companies have paid more than $10 million in cash for two local hotels, a restaurant complex and a 69-acre waterfront property. Mayor Michael P. Bell has taken four trips to China in four years in search of investors. His business cards are double-sided, in English and Chinese. Huaqiao University, one of the largest higher-education institutions in China, recently signed an agreement to open a branch in Toledo.

Toledo has also reached a deal for rarely seen Chinese antiques to be shown at the museum next year, and there are plans for the city to host a Chinese technology trade fair at its convention center. More than 100 Toledo businesspeople have traveled to China in recent years, and hundreds of Chinese investors have been welcomed in return, treated to special performances by Toledo Symphony Orchestra members. Image from entry, with caption: The location of Toledo and its low housing costs have helped lure Chinese investment.

South Sudan’s Imperiled Future - Editorial, New York Times: The United States, which played a major role in South Sudan’s birth as an independent state, has a special responsibility to mediate a political solution.

Mystifying U.S. Diplomatic Pullback From the Vatican: Much will be lost by shutting the Embassy to the Holy See and moving its operations to America's outpost in Rome - Ray Flynn and Jim Nicholson, Wall Street Journal: The Obama administration plans to close the separate, free-standing embassy building that has long served the U.S. Mission to the Holy See and move its functions into surplus office space in the compound of the U.S. Embassy to Italy late next year or early 2015. This would be a colossal mistake. The State Department likes to apply the term "reset" to its diplomatic efforts. In this case, a reset is indeed in order: one that confirms the independence of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and reaffirms the importance that America places on this unique relationship.

Supporting Belarus’s climb out from under dictatorship - Andrei Sannikov, Washington Post: Belarusan dictator Alexander Lukashenko stole the presidential election.It is not a question of if but when Belarusans will rid themselves of Europe’s last dictatorship and join the community of European democracies. The strategy for doing so has to be built on principles. Lukashenko must be sanctioned for the crimes he has committed, and the people of Belarus must be engaged. By supporting democratic movements, free media and freedom fighters, along with transparent cooperation and concerted diplomacy with the European Union, the Obama administration can significantly reduce this time from years to months.

Americans favor not isolationism but restraint: Americans appreciate that the U.S. needn't run the world to be safe in it - Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher Preble,

An American Story - Pamela Druckerman, New York Times: Behind all our recent troubles, optimism remains an authentic part of us Americans.

The Enduring Power of Zionism’s Propaganda Lies - Alan Hart, Zionism’s claim that Israel has lived and still lives in danger of annihilation is propaganda nonsense to facilitate the assertion that Israel is the VICTIM, (when actually it is the AGGRESSOR and OPPRESSOR), and therefore must be free to act with impunity in any way it thinks fit, even when its actions demonstrate contempt for international law and the human and political rights of the Palestinians. Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent. He is author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews."


TLC’s New Show Might Make You Reconsider Having Sex - Andrew Kirell, The New York Post chronicles examples the show will cover: 1. Rock singer and guitarist Cash O’Riley and his girlfriend Anne shared a night of passion. During his orgasm, Cash collapsed onto Anne, losing feeling in his left arm and leg. Turns out, Cash had a stroke mid-shag.

2. Dr. Kevin Klauer once treated a man who broke his penis during a threesome with his wife and mistress. When the two women began brawling at the hospital over who did the damage, Dr. Klauer got a bonus patient to treat. 3. Liz and Eric had a quickie before work one morning. But when Eric got up to leave, Liz was still having an orgasm. Pleasure turned to pain when it continued for two hours. 4. When Tsion and Brashaad snuck away for a jaunt in the janitor’s closet, the tight space resulted in injuries. 5. Dr. Jordan Moskoff treated a man for broken bones after he claimed he fell washing his windows. But the man was naked when he fell. When his wife showed up, she accused him of cheating. Image from entry; via LH on Facebook


--Constructed in the shadow of Mt Fuji, this theme park opened in 1997. Despite financial help from the Japanese government, it lasted only 10 years before being abandoned; from Jake Heppner, "The 38 Most Haunting Abandoned Places On Earth. For Some Reason, I Can't Look Away...,"; via GG on Facebook

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