Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 29 Public Diplomacy Review

"news is the shock troops of propaganda"

--A fundamental axiom laid down by Sir John Reith (1889–1971), the former director general of the BBC, when he was appointed Britain's minister of information in 1940; Reith image from


Short Video Shows What It's Like To Work With State Propaganda Blaring Right Behind You - Michael Kelley, businessinsider.com: “An Instagram video posted by user dguttenfelder shows what it's like to work in North Korea while state propaganda blares in the background. The caption reads: ‘A North Korean woman adds up the restaurant lunch receipts while military videos play on the TV behind the counter.’”


Losing the information war: Domestic propaganda officials silence voices of liberty abroad - Ted Lipien, Washington Times: "I fear the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 for somewhat different reasons than most bloggers angered by the removal of a previous legal ban on the U.S. government's domestic propaganda. I agree with those who insist that no government can be trusted as a domestic news provider. Giving officials extra powers without additional safeguards in the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 was a huge mistake. What I fear much more, however, is the negative impact the current controversy has on the future of liberty voices abroad: Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa. Excellent journalists who work there to provide uncensored news and opinions to nations without free media are being unfairly suspected of domestic propaganda because of actions of a few top officials who are also ruining America's media outreach abroad. ... There was no true compelling need for changing the law.

Arguments in favor of the change were largely misleading. Government bureaucrats wanted new powers for themselves, a new audience, and new opportunities for funding additional projects. ... In fact, the old Smith-Mundt Act did not make it illegal for Americans and American media to use and rebroadcast these programs domestically if they got them on their own, for example on the Internet, where they have been available to everyone for a long time. It merely prohibited government officials from actively marketing these programs domestically. A minor change in the law, such as making it clear that all this material is in the public domain — much of it already was, since it is paid for by American taxpayers — could have addressed most of the needs and concerns. But IBB [International Broadcasting Bureau] and State Department officials would not be satisfied with small modifications. They wanted to actively distribute programs to domestic U.S. media without any restrictions. I can't speak about the U.S. State Department with its public diplomacy agenda that in many cases requires active engagement with American citizens at home and abroad. But before they embarked on their domestic media outreach project, officials in charge of international broadcasting have already largely ruined what was once a powerful U.S. tool for strengthening media freedom abroad. ... Members of Congress are now working on reforming the whole structure of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. IBB bureaucrats would like nothing better than for the bipartisan oversight board to disappear. A major overhaul is needed, but a bipartisan oversight board must remain to ensure full accountability. Such a board can also prevent any future domestic propaganda. Congress must, however, quickly fix the board's legislative mandate so it can hire competent staff and gain control over the bureaucracy." Image from, with caption (partial): Record creator: U.S. Food Administration. Educational Division. Advertising Section. (01/15/1918 - 01/1919) Date : ca. 1917 - ca. 1919

Plucky Stars: Meet the hard-driving, all-female quintet that’s putting Boston back on the bluegrass map - Paul Robicheau, Improper Bostonians: "Della Mae looks like a marketer’s dream: a contemporary band composed of five women in their 20s. But the quintet forged its sound on Boston’s fertile string-band scene, putting a fresh twist on traditional bluegrass in an era when banjos and fiddles have even cracked the pop mainstream.

'We owe this band’s existence to the small-family nature of bluegrass itself,' singer/guitarist Celia Woodsmith says. ... Although Woodsmith doesn’t like to emphasize Della Mae’s character as a female band, it was hard to escape the fact when they toured last year as cultural ambassadors under the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad program to Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. 'They did pick us specifically to go into those areas because we were women,' Woodsmith says. 'I don’t like to promote the fact that we’re women. But in this case, when we went to Central Asia, I was extremely proud to be a band of women.' The tour included stops at orphanages." Via PR; image from, with caption: Celia Woodsmith with a new friend

Good cop, bad cop with China's generals - Andrew Chubb, Asia Times Online: "The most famous PLA 'hawk' is retired Major General Luo Yuan. His biography suggests he has operated, and continues to do so, in the areas of Taiwan affairs, intelligence and military propaganda. ... His current position is the Executive Vice President and Secretary General of the China Strategy Culture Promotion Association (CSCPA), a self-proclaimed non-governmental think tank formed in 2011 as a platform for friendly exchange of 'research on international issues, Taiwan issues and culture issues' according to the CSCPA website. ... [A] notable activity of the CSCPA, Luo's current institution, is the publication of annual assessments of US and Japanese military power.

The published reports carry the specification 'public version' (minjian ban), implying the existence of internal-circulation versions. With both internal and external dimensions, the CSCPA reports appear to straddle the intersection of military intelligence and public diplomacy aimed at both domestic and overseas audiences. This combination mirrors Luo Yuan's career more generally." Image from

Can Netanyahu go all the way in peace talks? And does it matter?Conventional wisdom says the gaps are too wide, but analysts believe the PM is ready for a demilitarized ‘Palestine,’ or an interim deal. And if all that fails, he’s hoping to prevail in the blame game - Raphael Ahren, timesofisrael.com: "Yoaz Hendel, who headed the Public Diplomacy Directorate at the Prime Minister’s Office from 2011 until 2012, ... believes that Netanyahu is genuinely interested in preventing 'the creation of a binational state,' as the prime minister declared repeatedly in recent weeks."

ASEAN Welcomes Chinese Investment [Google translation] - indonesian.cri.cn: "Dialogue meeting with Chinese businessmen entrepreneurs ASEAN countries was held in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Ethnic, southern China last Friday (26/7). The colloquium was sponsored by the China Association of Public Diplomacy. During the meeting, beberara diplomats from ASEAN countries explained the situation in each country and submit proposals to the Chinese investors who intend to invest in Southeast Asia."

My Summer Internship as an American Diplomat Abroad - Aimal Ahmadzai, kogodbusiness.com: "I arrived in Tajikistan on June 9th to start my 10-week internship with the US Embassy in Dushanbe. For those unfamiliar with Tajikistan, it’s a 'democratic,' former Soviet state in Central Asia with a president who’s been in power for over 20 years.

He recently blocked YouTube because he didn’t like a video someone posted of him singing (off-key) and dancing (off-beat) at his son’s wedding. Despite that, the people are friendly, hospitable, and incredibly curious to meet me and learn how a young man from neighboring Afghanistan (born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia) could represent the United States’ diplomatic mission in Tajikistan. ... I have had the opportunity to do work for the Political, Economic, Management, Public Diplomacy, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), and USAID sections of the Embassy." Ahmadzai image from entry


Blinded by the war on terrorism: The U.S. government's focus on thwarting terrorists has not only eroded Americans' privacy, it's opened them to other dangers that have gotten short shrift - Sarah Chayes, latimes.com: No one denies that terrorism is a real and ongoing threat that must be addressed. No one denies the tragedy of lives that have been cut short or wrecked by terrorist attacks. But those tragedies are no more bitter than deaths due to other preventable threats. It is time for the United States, and its political leaders, to begin getting over it.

Those Egypt Military Propaganda Videos: The Look of Blowback? - After the latest large-scale killing of Islamist demonstrators in Cairo, it’s hard not to think that the military’s surveillance technology and the characteristic features of that video imagery, is minimizing its propaganda value, particularly with an international audience.

PM Erdoğan says Turkish police subject of constant 'dark propaganda' during Gezi protests - hurriyetdailynews.com: There has been constant "dark propaganda" on media outlets and social media networks about the Turkish police’s attitude during the ongoing Gezi Park protests, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğansaid, addressing members of security forces in Ankara July 24.

“We are frequently witnessing attempts at defaming our police in the media and social media through dark propaganda. [Turkish] people know very well their police, and we only care about what people say. It is not the headlines of some newspapers that we care about, but the headlines of our people,” he said, praising the security forces’ attitude during the demonstrations. Image from entry, with caption: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a fast-breaking dinner organized by the riot police sub-directorate in Ankara, July 24.

Backpack Bombers a Propaganda Tale - Lee Sang Yong, A unit of North Korean soldiers carrying what appeared to be representations of "nuclear backpacks" (a variation on the "briefcase bomb" concept) appeared during a military parade held on Saturday as part of North Korea’s commemoration of its “victory” in the Korean War. However, it is thought unlikely that North Korea has the technical capacity to produce such a high-tech nuclear device.

A spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, Kim Min Seok told a regular briefing on the morning of the 29th, “Nuclear backpacks are an extremely small type of nuclear weapon; you need very advanced skills in order to miniaturize like that," before noting, "Experts do not believe that North Korea has reached the ability to manufacture these backpacks.” Image from article, with caption: "Backpack bombers" made an appearance during the July 27th military parade.

Army blasts rebel 'propaganda' - bangkokpost.com: The army says southern separatists are putting up cloth banners and spraying messages that attack the presence of soldiers and policemen to attract international attention and spread anti-Thai propaganda. Col Banpot Pulplean, the spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), said the separatists were trying to send a message to the international community that the three predominantly-Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat are still plagued by violence instigated by the authorities.


"The Anglo-Saxon lavatory acquires its meaning only through its differential relation to French and German lavatories. We have such a multitude of lavatory types because there is a traumatic excess which each of them tries to accommodate."

--Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, dubbed by The Chronicle of Higher Education "the Elvis of cultural theory"; images from, with captions from same:

Above is an Anglo Saxon toilet bowl most readers of this blog should be familiar with. It's very centred isn't it?

Next is the French loo with it's rearward mechanic situated most closely to the flush pipe.

And finally above is the German toilet design, with a completely opposite forward-emphasis arrangement in comparison to the French version


Russian Web Mocks Putin’s Fish Kiss

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