Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saving cost-free the Kitchen Sink: The small joys (miracles) of American life

Most USA home/apartment owners are eventually faced with the not-so-minor kitchen tragedy: their InSinkErator (or its variations), their kitchen sink garbage shredder/disposal, ceases functioning -- for many reasons.

The Problem

Scene One: I suppose most of us Americans blame ourselves for sending the wrong waste down the kitchen skin (oops, I meant sink) drain.

Now this time, about a week ago, I wasn't sure why my InSinkErator at home seemed to have perished: I blamed everything from feeding it pork fat to celery leaves.

But I didn't want to give up (don't we all want in America never to give up?) So I shoved my hand down into the bowels of the sink, making doubly sure that the InSinkErator was "off" and wouldn't turn my hand into a messy cut-up salami.

After some expeditionary steps, I picked up some pork fat from the sink and said -- ah ah ah -- I've resurrected my "Badger 5" (a version of the InSinkErator). On my knees, I pulled down Badger's on-off switch in the darkness of the cabinet below the sink.

But nada, nada, nada, no life -- just a buzzing sound. The snoring of the not-yet dead?


Near hopeless, but still determined to fix the problem, I resorted to the instructions in the Badger leaflet:

If motor stops while disposer is operating, disposer may be jammed. To release jam:
1. Turn off disposer and water.
2. Insert one end of the self-service wrenchette into center hole on bottom of disposer. Work wrenchette back and forth until it turns one full revolution. Remove wrenchette.
3. Reach into disposer with tongs and remove object(s).
I did as instructed.

No luck. Deep in my kitchen sink (and in my all-American soul), I sensed no physical object, except the feel of my own shaking hand touching metallic inards. I again realized -- as I did nearly one week ago, when the InSinkErator had gone kaput -- that the work of replacing the InSinkErator by a plumber could be as much as an outrageous $450 (labor, round-trip travel to place of labor, replacement for the Badger if it so needed).

$450? Financial panic time for this not-yet-defrocked academic.

That's nearly half of the salary many an adjunct professor receives a month for teaching a college course. Compare that to the former Brandeis president who, in his retirement, is getting $600,000 a year from his supposedly beloved university, with its students in debt for the privilege of graduating.

The Guardian Angel

Scene Two: Two days after Thanksgiving. Returning home from shopping (I didn't have to buy much, since I still had tasty turkey left in the refrigerator thanks to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner among friends), in my co-op's elevator I bumped into a pleasant, well-groomed technician (with a "legitimizing" company shirt) from a local plumbing organization that was fixing a major pipe problem in our building.

I told the polite, personable young man (he had only one tatoo) about my InSinkErator problem. After kindly requesting for the number of my apartment (which I readily gave him), he volunteered to check the problem, without even asking for any remuneration.

Thirty minutes later there was a gentle knock at my door -- it was the Plumber (I deliberately capitalize his profession as he was a most worthwhile and articulate representative of it).

He entered my kitchen, used several gadgets (including a cell phone camera) to identify the InSinkErator complication, inspecting the area immediately below the sink -- the top of the InSkinkErator -- and said: "You've got something in there. It's a spoon."

He used a plyer to try get the putative guilty object out, eventually plunging his hand into the pipe leading to the top of the InSinkiErator's motor.

And then, after some ten minutes of what initially appeared to be successful surgery into the sink's interior, he seemed to change his mind -- it wasn't a spoon problem, it was a "total" InSinkErator problem, he said.

Total kaput, spoon not the compleat culprit.

Disappointed, but relieved that at last I knew what the sink "issue" was, I thanked him profusely, expressing my gratitude with a small cash honorarium which he, a true guardian angel, evidently had not expected but reluctantly elegantly accepted.

We Can Work it Out

Scene three (a): A few minutes after the Plumber left, "I thought to myself," to use current American parlance:

I remembered that, about the time my InSinkErator seemed to have left me, I had been unable to find my trusty can opener
and wondered what had happened to it.

I got my flashlight out of a drawer and again stared into that mysterious hole leading into the InSinkErator. And lo and behold, what do I see, when pressing to the sides of its black rubber "sink baffle" -- the area surrounding its opening -- I see a metal object that seemed to be a can opener, stuck in the front side surface (facing me) of the InSinkErator's motor.

And now, I thought, there was no doubt -- the real work had to begin. I had to loosen the can opener from the InSinkErator's grasp. I used various instruments to do so -- my hands, a wrench, a knife, scissors -- but no luck.

Despair reared its ugly head. Perhaps, I worried, it's not a can opener after all, but just part of the InSinkErator's motor. Scenes from the film Alien came to my mind.


Scene Three (b): But, obsessed with the cost of getting a new InSinkErator (remember, some $500; the price get going up in my mind), I refused to give up. I directed the flashlight again to the InSinkErator's essential organ (thinking that the Plumber should perhaps have done the same, since he seemed to be a professional par excellence) and I was convinced by then it -- the problem -- was, indeed, the can opener!

I fiddled around with my various rudimentary tools and then the miracolo happened:

I got the can opener out!

But, skeptic that I am, I immediately thought: Too fast! It's not yet a miracle! Will the InSinkErator work after I surgically remove a metallic intrusion in its most important mechanism?

My hand shaking, I opened the door of the closet below the InSinkErator, turned on its switch there and ...

YES, YES, REAL MIRACLE! MIRACOLO! Call (in gratitude but collect) the Lady of Loudres!

The InSinkErator worked, thanks to a miracle. Now I've been spared of spending the 550 bucks (price keeps increasing in my head) that can be used to buy proper gifts for loved ones for the holiday season.

P.S. Full Disclosure: Before posting this piece, "just to be sure," I dropped a slice of delicious thanksgiving pumpkin pie (uneaten, due to culinary saturation) down the kitchen sink, keeping my fingers crossed that the InSinkErator would reduce it to bits. It did indeed, and the InStinkErator did seem to work fine -- at least for now, as I await the next miracle.

--Images, from top to bottom: fromfrom; from; from; fromfrom

"Обманутая Россия" Андрея Пашкевича


"Обманутая Россия" Андрея Пашкевича - RFE/RL

"Москва – Пушкинская площадь". 1990 год. Фото Татьяны Вольтской
"Москва – Пушкинская площадь". 1990 год. Фото Татьяны Вольтской


ВПетербурге в музее-квартире Исаака Бродского открылась выставка живописных работ московского художника Андрея Пашкевича "Политэкология" – художественное осмысление российской истории XX столетия.

Грубый деревянный стол, мятый ваучер, символ достопамятных времен приватизации, за столом – нагольный тулуп, из рукавов торчат мозолистые рабочие руки, но воротник пуст – ни головы, ни шеи. Это и есть обманутая Россия художника Андрея Пашкевича, а есть еще Россия, не просто взывающая – вопиющая о помощи – "Спаси и сохрани": крест, как будто растущий вверх из ладоней старческих рук, рядом на столе – пирамидки жалких пенсионных рублей. Раздумье и сострадание двигали этой кистью, пока художник был жив, а ушел он из жизни совсем недавно, так что его вдова, Грет Ван Хаелст, просит называть ее не вдовой, а женой.

Грет, переводчица из Бельгии, время от времени бывала в России, приехала в Москву и в 1990 году. Рассчитывала поработать полгода и уехать, вызвала рабочих вставить новую дверь в свое временное жилище, пришли двое, поразившие ее своей интеллигентностью. Один из них был безработный кинооператор Андрей Пашкевич, во время разрухи зарабатывавший на хлеб ремонтом квартир. Поставленная им дверь оказалась дверью в новую жизнь – с тех пор они не расставались, прожили вместе 22 года.

Грет ван Хаелст, муза художника ПашкевичаГрет ван Хаелст, муза художника Пашкевича
– Он меня привлек к культурной жизни, познакомил с отцом – известным кинохудожником, который его еще мальчиком возил с собой на этюды, учил рисовать, – вспоминает Грет. – Мы оформили свой брак в 1995 году, жили в Москве: он не хотел жить на Западе, говорил, что там скучно. Когда мы бывали в Бельгии или где-то еще, он все время, даже на пляже, радио слушал – что там происходит в России. Писать картины он начал давно, у него были абстрактные работы, и потом он ведь еще учился на курсах у Юрия Пименова, так что у него есть школа. Но толчок к этой серии работ – "Политэкология" – Андрей получил на Рублевке, когда его остановили за то, что не пропустил какую-то машину с мигалкой. На него это произвело очень сильное впечатление, он почувствовал, что пора как-то осмыслить происходящее.

По словам Грет, Андрей Пашкевич писал быстро – много времени уходило на обдумывание замысла, за этим занятием художник проводил бессонные ночи. 
"Динамическое равновесие". 1992 год"Динамическое равновесие". 1992 год
Стали приходить образы – монументальные и мрачные. Петербург занесен песком, еще виднеется одинокий Исаакиевский собор, впереди – гигантская стопа Атланта, все, что осталось от Эрмитажа. Москва погибает иначе – купола Василия Блаженного исчезают под водой. Земной шар выветрился – от него остался только каркас меридианов и параллелей с застрявшими символами – статуей Свободы, кремлевской башней, Биг Беном и крохотным паучком, в ужасе обратившимся в бегство. Это и есть "Политэкология", аллегория безответственной политики, но не только это. Если задаться вопросом, что главное в художнике Андрее Пашкевиче, ответ напрашивается только один: у него внутри болит Россия. Возможно, многим эти работы покажутся слишком повествовательными, литературными: сплошные аллегории – жанр, любимый не многими. Ведь что ассоциируется с аллегорией? Омертвевший академизм, от которого веет холодом и скукой. С другой стороны, среди знаменитых гравюр Дюрера тоже немало аллегорий – в искусстве нет готовых рецептов, и авангардный этюд бывает мертвым, а картина, задуманная в старомодном жанре, – вполне живая. Боль, которую испытывал Андрей Пашкевич, думая о том, что же случилось с его страной, – живая.

И потому страшный пролом в иконе Владимирской Божьей Матери, через который несется паровоз с цифрой "1917", царапает душу. И от орла, свившего гнездо на багровой звезде кремлевской башни, становится не по себе – так художник отозвался на мелькнувший когда-то, да так и канувший проект заменить звезды на орлов. Одна из самых выразительных картин – та, где с Красной площади уходит толпа демонстрантов, а за ней в брусчатке образуется пролом. Под картиной пояснение – когда картина была готова, пролом оказался похож на профиль Сталина. Андрей Пашкевич пытался осмыслить и сделанное Горбачевым – серия начинается оптимистической картиной "Реставратор" – Горбачев в белом халате смывает с холста изображение Сталина, обнаруживая под ним портрет Николая Второго, и заканчивается трагическим холстом "Что дальше?", где Горбачев – игрок в бильярд, разбивший "пирамиду" из 16 республик СССР, закрывает рукой лицо.

"Полиэкология" побывала на западе, собрала много отзывов, среди которых есть даже несколько строк Генри Киссенджера, но лучшие слова, пожалуй, 
написал режиссер Отар Иоселиани: "Андрей Пашкевич является редким образцом художника, которому дар дан от Бога. Дар-то дан, но еще странное сочетание этого дара с удивительным терпением, упорностью, выносливостью, несмотря на все беды, которые на нас всех сваливаются время от времени". Возможно, Иоселиани как человек кино почувствовал в Пашкевиче родственную душу – его картины и образны, и повествовательны одновременно, как будто художник Пашкевич, стоя у холста, никогда не забывает о кинооператоре Пашкевиче. Есть наивные вещи, такие как портрет Шойгу – министра МЧС, "починяющего примус" развалившегося хозяйства, есть почти карикатуры – вот, например, натюрморт с яйцом, откуда вылупливается крошечный Борис Ельцин с трехцветным флажком в руках, а есть по-настоящему трагические полотна: "Монумент с трубой" – толпы входят в мавзолей Ленина и вылетают дымом из трубы крематория; "Затмение" – полуобнаженные женские и мужские фигуры идут в серый лагерный ад на фоне улыбающегося генералиссимуса; "Красный поток" – парафраз к левитановскому "Над вечным покоем", где вместо воды течет российский флаг, и самая широкая полоса, с водоворотом, – красная.

Грет не смирилась с потерей мужа.

– Когда его не стало, – говорит она, – я подумала: как я могу продлить его жизнь? Только показывая его картины. И я решила, что пока я живу и могу что-то сделать для него, я буду возить по разным городам его выставку. В Москве он уже выставлялся, и я подумала, что надо поехать и в другие города. Слава Богу, удалось сделать выставку во Владимире, потом в Калуге, и вот сейчас она приехала в Петербург. Больше всего я рада, что люди так живо на нее реагируют: женщины в Калуге смотрели на эти картины со слезами на глазах. Да и в Москве, в Манеже, я помню, даже дети, хоть они и не все понимали, но спрашивали у мам, у бабушек – а это что такое, а здесь почему так? Это для меня самый важный знак – знак того, что эти картины нужны людям.

Фрагмент итогового выпуска программы "Время Свободы"

Экономический сепаратизм или здоровая жажда жизни?

Наталья Зубаревич [provides Google English "translation"]

[Loose translation: Economic Separatism or Search for a Healthy Life?]

 Эта публикация основана на статье «Перспектива: Страшилки экономического сепаратизма» из газеты «Ведомости» от 20.11.2013,№215 (3477).
Либералы и консерваторы — очень разные, но их объединяет общее свойство: они ушиблены российским пространством. Разница в эмоциях: консерваторы страстно пугают развалом страны, а либералы просто рассматривают его как один из сценариев, негативный, но возможный. О вероятности развала России спорить бессмысленно, это рационально необъяснимый символ веры. Но риски экономического сепаратизма очень даже нужно обсуждать.

Страшилки экономического сепаратизма мешают понять реальную картину. А она такова: сверхконцентрация власти на федеральном уровне достигла предела неэффективности. Пора двигаться в противоположную сторону. Но не так, как хотят федеральные власти: вкусные «корешки» в виде сверхконцентрации налоговых доходов и контроля над принятием любых решений останутся им, а «вершки»(трудновыполнимые и затратные социальные обязательства) — регионам и муниципалитетам, чтобы иметь под рукой козла отпущения.

Издержки сверхцентрализации и «ручного управления» очевидны. Начнем с доходов бюджетов регионов. Все более острой проблемой становятся льготы, раздаваемые федеральными властями сырьевым госкомпаниям. Федеральные власти имеют право давать льготу по НДПИ, который зачисляется в федеральный бюджет. Но почему предоставляются льготы по налогу на прибыль и налогу на имущество, которые поступают в бюджет регионов? Нормальна ли ситуация, при которой Красноярский край практически ничего не получает от мощного роста добычи нефти(до 18 млн т) на своей территории? «Роснефть», получившая все мыслимые льготы, заплатила 2-3 млрд руб. налогов в бюджет Красноярского края. Это сущие копейки для бюджета, который в 2012 г. составил 176 млрд руб. Федеральная власть проводит классическую колониальную политику, при которой регион не может использовать конкурентное преимущество — богатство природными ресурсами — для развития своей территории.

Еще одна проблема — вступивший в силу в 2013 г. закон о налогообложении интегрированных бизнес-групп (холдингов). Крупный бизнес получил право интегрировать прибыль и убытки предприятий, размещенных в разных регионах. В результате в регионах, где находятся успешные предприятия крупных российских компаний, сократились поступления налога на прибыль. Такое «выравнивание» выгодно крупному бизнесу, а с регионами, которые должны были стать основными бенефициарами нового закона, получилось «как всегда». В январе — июле 2013 г. поступления налога на прибыль и так сократились на 20% из-за экономической стагнации, а тут еще и дополнительная институциональная западня.

Кроме того, регионы потеряли право влиять на инвестиционную политику в добыче ресурсов, правило «двух ключей» давно отменено. Нужно ждать два-три года, пока Минприроды примет решение о выдаче лицензий. Для регионов Сибири и Дальнего Востока это смерти подобно. Мечтать о развитии обрабатывающих отраслей можно долго, но законы экономики отменить невозможно — развивается то, что выгодно бизнесу. Новые технологии есть не только в обрабатывающих, но и в сырьевых отраслях, и в агросекторе. Они способны модернизировать экономику региона, создавать новые высококвалифицированные и лучше оплачиваемые рабочие места. Но власти всех уровней привыкли считать, что машиностроение в Сибири — основа модернизации. Не пора ли посетить Аляску или Австралию?

Теперь о перераспределении. Сверхцентрализация приводит к необъяснимым решениям. Почему доля дотации на выравнивание бюджетной обеспеченности так мала (четверть от всех трансфертов в 2012-м и треть в январе — июле 2013 г.), а остальные безвозмездные перечисления распределяются по непрозрачным критериям? Почему объем дотаций на сбалансированность бюджетов (самый непрозрачный трансферт из федерального бюджета) составил в 2012 г. 30% от дотаций на выравнивание, рассчитываемых по формуле? Почему в 2013 г. дотации на сбалансированность получили все регионы, кроме самых богатых — Москвы и двух автономных округов Тюменской области, по каким критериям они распределялись и почему так повезло Чечне (22% от всего объема дотаций на сбалансированность за январь — июль) и Санкт-Петербургу (16%)? Почему регионам предписано сверху повышать заработную плату занятым в социальной сфере (хотя это полномочие регионов) и в нарушение Бюджетного кодекса финансирование из федерального бюджета для реализации принятых наверху решений обеспечено только частично — около трети от необходимого объема, а остальное должны изыскивать сами регионы? И таких «почему» — сотни.

Сверхцентрализация и перераспределение по непрозрачным критериям — самая плохая институциональная среда для развития. Житейское сравнение: если муж контролирует все деньги в семье, а потом дает их под настроение, будет ли жена вести хозяйство разумно или попытается особыми дамскими способами выцыганить побольше и потратить побыстрее? Будет ли региональная власть стимулировать развитие своего региона, если выгоднее обивать пороги министерских кабинетов и добиваться щедрот от Белого дома и Кремля? Чемпионы выбивания федеральных средств в России уже есть, от Чечни до Татарстана. А некоторым и просить не надо, федеральные власти сами дадут, если в регионе Олимпиада. Вот и Красноярский край выбил себе очередную Универсиаду. Российская институциональная система не нацелена на развитие, какими бы мерами ни понукали регионы — от рейтингов эффективности региональных властей до публичных выволочек губернаторов под камеры федеральных СМИ.

Как и что нужно менять? Многим не хочется менять ничего, и в ход идут страшилки экономического сепаратизма. Безусловно, интересы частного(региона) могут не совпадать с интересом целого (страны). Значит, нужно искать компромисс, а для этого требуется нормальное представительство интересов регионов в политической системе. Не бутафорский Совет Федерации с олигархами и отставниками, а реальная политическая площадка согласования интересов.

Насколько велики экономические риски децентрализации? Разумные управленческие решения, ограничивающие рентные сверхдоходы богатых регионов и обеспечивающие поддержку менее развитых, давно приняты. В федеральном бюджете сконцентрированы наиболее неравномерно распределенные по территории налоги (НДПИ и НДС). Для понимания масштабов неравномерности налоговой базы достаточно одного примера: на три субъекта РФ — два нефтегазодобывающих автономных округа Тюменской области и Москву — приходится 55% от всех поступлений налогов с территорий в федеральный бюджет, с добавкой Санкт-Петербурга — 60%. Полтора десятка лет действуют инструменты смягчения неравенства: регионы получают дотацию на выравнивание бюджетной обеспеченности, рассчитываемую с помощью прозрачной формулы. Долю этой прозрачной дотации во всем объеме трансфертов нужно просто увеличить как минимум до 50%, чтобы уменьшить масштабы развращающего «ручного распределения».

Но главная страшилка экономического сепаратизма другая — богатые ресурсами Сибирь и Дальний Восток начнут ими распоряжаться, а потом войдут во вкус и отделятся. Ответ простой: вам шашечки или ехать? У России не хватит финансовых ресурсов, чтобы освоить огромные восточные пространства. Пора уже честно об этом сказать. После завершения саммита АТЭС и строительства ВСТО инвестиции в Дальневосточном федеральном округе снизились на 20%. Доля Дальнего Востока во всех инвестициях в России — только 6%, вместе с Сибирским федеральным округом — 17% (первое полугодие 2013 г.). Это диагноз: инвестиции федерального бюджета и сырьевых госкомпаний не стали драйвером развития. Конкурентное преимущество Сибири и Дальнего Востока может быть реализовано только при привлечении глобальных инвесторов по прозрачным и разумным правилам. Инвесторы выберут сырьевые отрасли, но подтянув туда новые технологии. Выиграет и сервисный сектор крупных городов востока страны, что очень важно для развития и модернизации.

Роль регионов в привлечении глобальных инвесторов трудно переоценить. Для этого у них должна быть гораздо более высокая степень свободы и ответственности. Не все ее осилят, неизбежно будут срывы и коррупционные проблемы. Вот тут-то и потребуется четкая работа разросшихся контролирующих федеральных структур. Но суть не меняется: спасение утопающих — дело рук самих утопающих. И это не экономический сепаратизм, а здоровая жажда жизни.

Автор — директор региональной программы Независимого института социальной политики

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 28-29 Public Diplomacy Review


“You will at the first opportunity offered call attention of the Government, to which you are accredited, to the fact that on the last Thursday of November this country according to customs will celebrate a national day of thanksgiving and prayer.

You may add that at this time, when there are such profound reasons for gratitude, the other victorious nations may consider it appropriate to designate Thursday, November twenty-eight, a national day of thanksgiving for the blessings bestowed upon us.”

--Secretary of State Lansing’s telegram (November 13, 1918); from Domani Spero, "Ninety-Five Years Ago, We Tried to Export American Thanksgiving Day Around The World," DiploPundit


A) (Repeat announcement): The third Public Diplomacy Council/USC  "First Monday" Forum, "Public Diplomacy as a Global Phenomenon: The Baltic States."

The following distinguished diplomats will speak about their country's public diplomacy and how it is planned and implemented in the United States: Maria Belovas, Press and Cultural Officer, Embassy of Estonia; Jurijs Pogrebņaks Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Latvia; Simonas Satunas, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Lithuania. Date/Time:

Monday, December 2
The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)
2101 E Street NW
Washington DC (Foggy Bottom metro).
12:00-1:00 PM

For more information, including about attendance, please contact:;  image from

B) Metzgar presents research to U.S. commission - SoJ Web Report: "Assistant professor Emily Metzgar will present her research work to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy Dec. 2 in Washington D.C. At the conference, 'The State of Public Diplomacy in 2014,' Metzgar will discuss her work, a meta-analysis of public diplomacy literature that examines more than 600 articles from 1966 to present. ... The first panel will focus on appraisals of public diplomacy and international broadcasting the past decade from the U.S. government’s perspective. It will include Jason Bair, assistant director of International Affairs and Trade at the Government Accountability Office; Seth Center, historian at the U.S. Department of State; and Michael Hurley, senior public diplomacy inspector at the U.S. Department of State."

The presentation will be focused on literature since 2001. She will present insights based on findings, and will address how to characterize the existing research and how best to translate academic findings into insights that might prove useful to practitioners. Her presentation is set for the second panel event, which focuses on scholarship in the past decade from the external researchers’ perspective. Professor Craig Hayden of American University also will serve as a panelist." Metzgar image from entry

C) Soft-Power in Eastern Europe: The Role of Cultural Diplomacy - "Join us for a conversation on 'Soft Power in Eastern Europe: The Role of Cultural Diplomacy' with Ambassador John Beyerle. Russia and its sphere of influence have long been the focus of American public diplomacy, and remain a relative bastion of such efforts today, when funding elsewhere have been slashed. In recent years, Russia has also been trying its hand at ‘Soft Power,’ and yet Joseph Nye–who coined the term in 1990–recently wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine entitled ‘What China and Russia Don’t Get About Soft Power.’ As Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2008-2012) and to Bulgaria (2005-2008), as well as in previous stints in Moscow John Beyrle was a proponent of American cultural diplomacy, and a great specialist on not only Eastern-European politics, but the region’s culture.

This event will explore what works and what doesn’t in the region and why cultural diplomacy matters. ... This event is organized by the The Ballets Russes Cultural Partnership and co-presented with the Center for the Study of Europe. Attendance at this special event is limited. Kindly RSVP to by Monday, December 9." Beyrle image from entry


Telling America's Stories - Public Diplomacy Council: Among the photos the below, with the caption: Council Member Yale Richmond provided this photo of "Duke" Ellington chatting with Ukrainian composers and musicians

in Kiev in 1971 -- an off-stage event typical of cultural presentations.


Propaganda, Power and Persuasion: From World War I to Wikileaks (International Library of Historical Studies) [Hardcover] David Welch (Editor) October 2013 - Amazon: "Propaganda came of age in the Twentieth Century. The development of mass- and multi-media offered a fertile ground for propaganda

while global conflict provided the impetus needed for its growth. Propaganda has however become a portmanteau word, which can be interpreted in a number of different ways. What are the characteristic features of propaganda, and how can it be defined? The distinguished contributors to this book trace the development of techniques of 'opinion management' from the First World War to the current conflict in Afghanistan." Via GR on Facebook; image from entry


Looking for a Christmas Present?  - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "Do you have someone in your life who is obsessed with public diplomacy or cultural relations? ...  do they read French? Is your other half asking you what you want for Christmas?  Then PD Networks can recommnent the perfect present: it’s the Atlas de l’Influence Francaise au XXIe Siecle new from the Institut Francaise [sic]."


Defining the NSA Scandal - Kurt Lining, "The United States of America has many enemies. Ideally, we gather intelligence to defend against these enemies and counter-attack when provoked. The NSA is a military organization, and cannot afford to waste its personnel and resources monitoring international opinion by spying on its allies. If we want the world to love us, let our diplomats make the case via public diplomacy: alienating our friends by getting caught spying on them is counterproductive to that end.

Instead, let the NSA fulfill its actual mission, so our warfighters have the information they need to secure US interests overseas, identify real threats to US persons and interests, and target our actual enemies." Image from

Anatomy of Iranian Nuclear Deal - Matthew Lee and Brian Murphy, "The marathon talks in Geneva appeared at times to be a study in Internet-age brinksmanship and public diplomacy — with all sides sending out signals and statements by Twitter and Facebook — but they also were the culmination of a painstaking process of old-school contacts and secret sessions between Iranian and American envoys that began even before the surprise election of Iran's moderate-leaning President Hassan Rouhani last June."

EU foreign policy chief Lady Ashton comes of age in Iran talks - Peter Spiege, Financial Times: "High quality global journalism requires investment. For three years, Catherine Ashton has navigated the quarters of Brussels with a virtual target on her back – the subject of withering and constant criticism over her performance as the EU’s foreign policy chief. ... Lady Ashton compounded the difficulties by showing a thin skin towards criticism and relying only on a close-knit group of advisers. She also failed to engage in the kind of public diplomacy needed from a modern jet-setting diplomat, where foreign ministers not only regularly project 'soft power' through the media but via Twitter as well." See also [subscription]

Spin Wars: How the Nuclear Deal Is Playing in the U.S. and Iran [November 25] - "The day after world powers struck a historic nuclear deal with Iran, the headlines say it all. Over at USA Today, one reads, 'Kerry: Iran has to prove its nuclear deal compliance.' Iran’s Fars News Agency, meanwhile, has a somewhat different take on the road ahead: ' 'Iran to Verify World Powers’ Compliance with Geneva Talks Undertakings.' It’s either a sign of a good agreement

(each side sees something in it for them) or an indication of just how much still divides the parties as they begin the difficult work of fashioning a longer-term accord on Iran’s nuclear program. Or both. But whatever the case, U.S. and Iranian leaders spent Sunday pitching the diplomatic breakthrough to domestic audiences in remarkably different ways. ... Here’s video of Zarif’s press conference [included in entry], with English-language subtitles courtesy of the Tehran-based @MeetIran Twitter feed, which appears to be part of a larger Iranian online public diplomacy campaign." Image from

Turkeymenistan Day - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "As followers of this blog may remember, last year I spent Turkey Day in Turkmenistan with Della Mae. Our cultural diplomacy adventures coincided with culinary diplomacy outreach, as the Thanksgiving meal was prepared

by Chef Jim Leahy of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York.  Chef Leahy, who had made the delicious baked good for the State Dept's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership kick-off in Foggy Bottom, was brought out to discuss American food traditions in conjunction with the U.S. Cultural Days and the State Dept's culinary diplomacy initiative." Image from entry

Gastrodiplomacy! - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The Dance Motion USA program's twitter account tweeted their @gastrodiplomacy feasts around the world on their great cultural diplomacy program."

International Experience is Crucial for Our Education - "Founded in 1948, the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers states that, in regards to foreign policy, 'International exchanges have often been cited as one of our strongest and most effective public diplomacy tools.' We cannot effectively lead a world we do not understand. This understanding is crucial for a nation that pursues global issues and faces global threats. I believe that every student should be given the opportunity to be educated internationally—especially as a means to better understand the cultures we affect, and are affected by. International education is a worthwhile investment that institutions should make for their students; it should not be reserved solely for privileged students. This is why the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education wish to promote these types of programs and experiences—there’s a lot to gain, and little to lose."

Décrypter la communication européenne - "Communiquer sur la valeur ajoutée de l’Union européenne [.] Publié le 25 novembre 2013 par Michael Malherbe [.]Aujourd’hui et demain, le Conseil économique et social européen (CESE) organise un séminaire : ' Vers

les élections européennes – Communiquer sur la valeur ajoutée de l’Europe'. Que prévoit le programme ? Image-building de l’Europe: les leçons de la ' public diplomacy ' et du 'corporate branding ' Habitué des cénacles européens, encore récemment lors d’EuropCom en octobre, Simon Anholt, l’inventeur du concept de 'nation branding ' devrait sûrement faire un keynote speech remarqué sur la construction de l’image de marque de l’Europe." Image from blog headingsee also. 

Lebanese satirist takes on British ambassador: Public diplomacy gets a satirical spin with dueling open letters for Lebanon's Independence Day - "A mock diplomatic spat went viral after a popular Lebanese satirist lampooned an open letter by the British Ambassador to Lebanon. British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher wrote the letter to mark the 70th anniversary of the Lebanese republic. He praised Lebanon's accomplishments, lamented its political shortcomings, and offered what he called 'some unsolicited advice'. Though many took Fletcher's letter as an earnest expression of concern and hope for Lebanon, others responded defensively, calling the tone demeaning."

Book Review: Post Cold War Austria: With compelling contributions from two serving diplomats, Günter Bischof’s latest edited collection fills an important gap - "Compelling are the contributions by senior Austrian diplomats who played pivotal roles in the development and conduct of Austrian foreign policy at the time: ... Emil Brix, current Ambassador in London takes on 'Austria’s Cultural and Public Diplomacy after the Cold War.' ... Says Brix, ...: “It is an obvious choice for Austria to concentrate its public diplomacy efforts on national assets which are either well known internationally

or sought after in international relations.” Fittingly, he writes, 'The self-understanding and perception of Austria as a Kulturgroßmacht (cultural superpower) will continue to serve as the core asset for public diplomacy. With the end of the Cold War, Austria seized the chance to communicate its renewed Central European position by means of a strengthened cultural cooperation in the region.' Austrian politicians have made a fine art out of the 'special path,' and Austrian diplomats have firmly rooted the country in its own Central European cultural, historical, diplomatic, and geographic context. Austria, the 'cultural superpower,' is alive and well.” Image from entry

Highlights of UK-Russia Year of Culture unveiled in London: With over 250 events in the works, the year of cultural exchange between Russia and Britain will see an unprecedented showcase of Russian culture in the UK - Tatiana Rubleva, Russia Beyond the Headlines: Among other key events from the UK programme are a display of works byKazimir Malevich at the Tate Modern, as well celebrations to mark the 200th birthday of Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov and commemorative initiatives for the 100th anniversary since the start of the World War I. In turn, Russia will play host to the recent Barbican exhibition Designing 007: Fifty years of Bond Style, displays on British art from the 1990s and fashion in film, and theatre productions by UK companies in celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Via NI on Facebook

Young Russians interested in Vietnam too, says Vietnophile [interview by Phan Xuan Loan] - "Originally a journalist for Pravda newspaper, Petr Tsvetov first came to Vietnam on a field trip in December 1977 after successfully defending his doctoral thesis on Vietnamese history, and has since spent about 10 years living and working in Vietnam. He was a director of the Russian Culture and Science Center in Ho Chi Minh City in the 1980s and 90s. Petr Tsvetov: Vladimir Putin’s third visit to Vietnam is first marked with new breakthroughs […] in all our traditional cooperative fields – energy, military technology, personnel training – with important new agreements being signed. I would particularly like to draw your attention to the fact that at the time of the visit to a prominent place, questions were asked of education, science and culture. The very presence of the presidents of the two countries at the opening ceremony of the Days of Russian Culture says a lot. Add to this the agreements for the joint establishment of universities to expand the training of specialists for Vietnam’s economy and army and navy. A lot of cooperative documents were signed. The challenge is implementation. ... [T]he vast majority of news and commentaries about Russia that Vietnamese journalists can get are from western news feeds. And for the US and Western Europe, critics of the Russian government like Navalny and Pussy Riot are more interesting – they are more scandalous than good clever Russian writers.

After all, not everyone reads books. But on the other hand, Vietnamese journalists who know Russian should read Russian websites and get a variety of information first-hand. ... I do not think people's diplomacy in our relations needs to be revived and developed a new: it is still there. The Society of Russian-Vietnamese Friendship works and the Russian public is aware of it; so are the president and the prime minister of Russia. The Vietnamese-Russian Friendship Society is in an even stronger position […] The only thing I would like to wish is for both societies to recruit more young people. It feels sad when I see that our joint events are attended by people mostly older than me. ... By the way, related to the point made about [public diplomacy], it is necessary to use more ways to attract the younger crowd. For example, the friendship societies of the two countries can arrange exchanges of youth tour groups and sports events or organize teleconferences involving famous entertainers. Funds for these activities could be obtained from Russian-Vietnamese joint ventures." Image from entry, with caption: Vietnamese children wave Vietnamese and Russian flags to welcome President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Hanoi earlier this month.

The partition plan and Jewish refugees - Eli Hazan, "Sixty-six years ago this Friday, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181, under which the Land of Israel was to be partitioned into Jewish and Arab states. ... In the wake of the partition plan, hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab states were subject to harassment and other forms of violence. The scope of these actions forced them to flee and make aliyah to Israel. Over the years, the Arab leadership exacerbated human suffering by making sure the refugees would not be integrated into their new countries. ... The Palestinian refugee issue keeps coming up in international propaganda and various peace initiatives. Until recently, the Israeli establishment chose not to deal with the plight of the Jewish refugees. But this has changed. First, their story is gradually becoming part of the mainstream and is making inroads into published works.

Various people have come out and provided testimonials on their experience, to the point that the Senior Citizens Ministry has launched a project dedicated to passing the story on to the younger generations. And finally, a special caucus has been formed in the Knesset. What is needed is more vigorous public diplomacy efforts in key places around the world. Although some campaigns are already underway, they should be bolstered because international recognition is essential if justice is to be served. The campaign may result in more people understanding the events that led to the establishment of the Jewish state. The world would realize that those who were persecuted after Nov. 29, 1947, found a safe harbor in Israel and built a new home, albeit with great difficulties." Image from, with caption: Jewish refugees in ma'abarot or tent camps in Israel

Knowing the Enemy: How to cope with global jihad - Ariel Cohen, "Public diplomacy/strategic information is yet another area in which Israel utterly failed and which requires a major revamping. Throughout the world, Islamist insurgents masterfully use images and propaganda, relying on sympathetic elements among Western media and nongovernmental organizations to focus international attention on civilian collateral casualties (even to the point of staging them). ... Stigmatized yet again by the conflict with Hezbollah, Israel lost what little support it enjoyed at the beginning of the conflict in Europe, among the American left, and in many developing countries, while the hatred of the Arab world was easily further inflamed by the daily stream of “atrocity news” being served up by Al Jazeera and Al Manar, the Hezbollah satellite tv network. However, Israeli efforts to engage in strategic information operations were and remain virtually nonexistent. The budget of Al Manar is greater than the entire Israeli foreign ministry public diplomacy (hasbara) budget. The architect of this failing public diplomacy/strategic information policy under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Raanan Gissin, has admitted himself that Jerusalem was particularly lacking on this battlefield."

'Could we kill an Arab?' - Belen Fernandez, "A few years ago, the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs unveiled an English-language website with the aim of repairing Israel's image, which was said to be under unfair attack abroad. A Jerusalem Post article marking the debut of the (now defunct) site noted that it 'provide[d] hasbara material related to current events, tips for the 'novice ambassador', myths and facts about Israel and the Arab world, and lists of Israel's most prominent achievements in science, medicine and agriculture'.

Among alleged image-improving factoids listed by the ministry was that '[a]n Israeli invention for an electric hair removal device makes women happy all over the world.' The catalogue of 'myths' included that the West Bank settlements are an obstacle to peace - a notion debunked on the website as follows: 'The Palestinian Authority sees the roots of the conflict as being the '1948 settlements', whereas the facts show that the settlements were founded after the 1967 war.' Via this attempted sleight of hand, the ministry endeavored to dismiss the problematic issue of 1948 by triumphantly 'proving' that the post-1967 settlements were indeed established after and not before 1967 - something that no one argues with anyway. The real myth, of course, is the one propagated by Israel, whose refusal to atone for, or even acknowledge, that the crimes upon which the nation is founded constitutes the principal obstacle to peace." Uncaptioned image from entry

Japanese royal visit symbolises advancement of pro-India policy - "The Emperor and Empress of Japan will arrive in India for the first time Saturday to raise the 'mutual interests' of people of the two countries. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will be on a six-day official visit that has already drawn considerable media attention because of the good ratings the two democracies enjoy among their people and the number of policy dialogues both have been holding on trade and investment, energy, security and global governance. ... Under Japan’s post-War constitution, the emperor is 'the symbol of the State', who 'reigns but does not govern'. Yet, he wields significant influence, for being a unifying figure and the Japanese people’s respect for the monarchy. The emperor makes select overseas visits that are viewed as exercises in public diplomacy which convey important signals about Japan’s foreign policy."

Japan's wrestling diplomat in final Sudan bout - AFP, "A wrestling diplomat from Japan challenges a Sudanese Nuba opponent for the sixth and final time on Friday, hoping for his first win. But even if he loses yet again, Yasuhiro Murotatsu says he will still have secured a victory of sorts, helping to unify a divided and war-torn land. The Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state are home to a linguistically and religiously diverse group of people collectively known as 'Nuba'. Their form of wrestling, practised for thousands of years, is completely different from the iconic national sport of sumo in Murotatsu's homeland. Wrestling is central to the Nuba's farm-based society despite a more modern form of combat that has devastated the region for more than two years. ... 'This is a historical achievement and can be considered as successful public diplomacy,' said Murotatsu, who leaves his Sudanese post next week to pursue further education in Scotland."

‘Secret Talks’ On Nile Waters Spark Debate - Fred Oluoch, "Some Nile Basin countries are concerned that they have been kept in the dark on the tripartite negotiations involving Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the use of the Nile waters. ... Ugandan ambassador to Egypt Richard Angualia said that the rest of the Nile Basin countries were hoping that those involved in the tripartite talks would

come out and brief them because they are important members of the Great Lakes region. ... But Egyptian government spokesman and the Director of Public Diplomacy Badr Abdellatty argued that the issue was between three countries, and that the progress report would be revealed after a meeting of water ministers from the three countries scheduled for Khartoum on December 8." Image from article, with caption: Arabs in Egypt believe they have a right to Africa’s resources.

Chinese Martial Arts in the News, November 25th, 2012: New Books, Martial Arts in the Public Sphere and Snubbing a “Grandmaster” - "Obviously readers will be well familiar with the accounts of the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan inflicted on the Philippines.  The question of Chinese aid in the wake of this natural disaster has also led to some controversy.  As such I was interested in this article run by the South China Morning Post.  It profiles a local martial arts and fitness association (Wing Chun and Pilates) that has started a fundraising campaign to assist storm victims. Chinese martial arts association have a long history of contributing to various causes.  Often these have been more local or regionally focused.  Still, I have always wondered to what degree we can think of martial arts schools as nodes for community organization and the creation of social capital.  This story suggests that those sorts of dynamics may be in place, at least in Hong Kong. The martial arts have also been playing a prominent role in other aspects of public diplomacy The last six months or so have seen a steady stream of news stories discussing the deepening ties between martial artists in China and Africa.  These exchanges are often facilitated through the sponsoring of Wushu instruction in Africa or the recruitment of 'martial exchange students' to come and study in China itself.

This is a decent article profiling a group of African students working with instructors at the Shaolin Temple in Henan.  I suspect that this program has gotten more press than other like it because of the Shaolin connection.  Nevertheless, I have been hearing reports of talented African martial artists working in a variety of traditions from Beijing in the north to Guangzhou in the south.  This appears to be one of the more successful attempts to harness the “soft power” of Kung Fu for public diplomacy that I have seen in recent years.  Its a story that is well worth following. Image from entry, with caption: Female student studying Wushu in a scene from Inigo Westmeier’s Dragon Girls.

Cuba, EEUU y la comunicación estratégica: ¿Hacia dónde vamos? - Olga Rosa González Martín, "Conferencia presentada en el VII Encuentro Internacional de Investigadores y Estudiosos de la Comunicación y la Información (ICOM 2013), el 28 de noviembre de 2013. A partir de la importancia que ha ganado en la última década la comunicación estratégica como elemento de la política exterior de los Estados Unidos, la ponencia se propone analizar los cambios que debe experimentar la Oficina de Transmisiones hacia Cuba (OCB) y el impacto que estos puedan tener para la mayor de las Antillas.

Definiré primero el concepto de comunicación estratégica para, luego, explicar la esencia de la OCB, lo que significa su estatus federal y su papel en los llamados programas de conectividad efectiva. Por último, explicaré el impacto que el proceso de desfederalización puede tener para Cuba. Me basé en la perspectiva cualitativa y dividí el desarrollo en dos epígrafes a los que le siguen unas breves conclusiones que no pretenden poner punto final a un proceso que todavía no se ha iniciado pero que aspiro sirvan de llamado para que se reconozca la importancia que la comunicación tiene para la seguridad nacional de la nación." Image from entry

ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott, Bites The Hand That Feeds Him. And He Still Has A Job. Sack the traitor bastard” - "Scott: 'A public broadcaster like the ABC, gives us the best possible means – with Radio Australia and Australia Network given to us in perpetuity

by bed-jumping Gillard – of representing Australia’s international interests through broadcasting… 'It’s worth asking if the entrepreneurial talent, daring and risk that give you an edge in commercial media are also the right credentials for the world of public diplomacy and I am confident that, when Australia’s reputation is at stake, international broadcasting by an energetic, independent (give me bloody strength to continuing paying this creep’s salary) broadcaster owned by the Australian people, is the right way to continue' &; BULLSHIT ON BULLSHIT. This guy has friends?? Methinks this moron has breached his contract." Image from entry

Romanian violinist public diplomacy ambassador 'coo Alexandru Sat scalpel' Visit Korea [Google "translation"]: "South Korea's public diplomacy ambassador (Goodwill Ambassador for Public Diplomacy) was appointed as the Romanian violinist Alexandru Sat scalpel Cruz (Alexandru Tomescu) comes Mr. 12.2 (May) to 7 (Saturday) between South Korea and visit. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the increase in foreign interest in South Korea, and to spread a positive image of people as foreign minister from 2012, foreign celebrities (artists, sportsmen, artists, etc.) a term of two years public diplomacy ambassador (Goodwill Ambassador for Public Diplomacy) to be appointed. Goodwill Ambassador Cruz this Saturday against the cold scalpel instrument of the KBS Symphony Orchestra and, Embassy of Romania Embassy celebrates National Day Concert, Korea National University of Arts for Students Master Class lectures will focus on the exchange is through the arts. jotaeyeol also the Goodwill Ambassador Cruz Sat scalpel second Deputy Foreign Minister, Capt promote KBS Korean leader, Korea National University of Arts, etc."

Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies, University jihanpa a positive foreign [google "translation"] - "Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies of the SK Group Chairman Chey 故 choejonghyeon seonchin fleet of state and society that contribute to the President and to train personnel to four appearances, founded in 1974, is a non-profit public foundation. The Foundation was established early in the domestic top talent from abroad to acquire advanced academic scholarship programs put emphasis on. ... Secretary-General of Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies bakinguk (前 ambassador to the United Nations), the 'foundation of the international academic exchange programs expanded to Asia and the Middle East Asia and contribute to the development of academic exchanges, the de facto place to train hanhakja foundation of international academic position caught,' said a 'new diplomatic area of ​​public diplomacy (Public Diplomacy) in the exemplary practices in the future, as well as South Korea's SK Group's main businesses are going to continue with a similar contribution hope to precedent." See also:(1)(2)

Brand New Sweden Q and A with Swedish Institute’s Frida Roberts: Earlier this month, Sweden unveiled its new brand identity with the launch of its redesigned site, We spoke to Frida Roberts, head of communications at the Swedish Institute about the rebranding initiative -

Sophie Woodrooffe: "The Swedish Institute and the Council for the Promotion of Sweden Abroad, which are a collection of organizations working for the promotion of Sweden abroad, have had a joint communications strategy since 2007, but the strategy was lacking a joint visual design. The joint visual identity, which includes the website, acts as a clear centre of information for Sweden. We also have a wonderful brand identity toolkit. We can just pick and choose which assets to use depending on the communication activity. This flexibility means we will be able to use our money and personnel resources to improve the content instead. 'It’s important that the government prioritize this area, which we call public diplomacy.'" Image from entry, with caption: Sweden’s new logo includes a custom font, Sweden sans.

A 30-year-old Qatari is the most powerful person in art—even if she didn’t buy a $142 million painting - Newley Purnell, "Sheikha Al Mayassa, sister of the emir of Qatar, is by more than one account the most powerful person in the art world due to her position as head of the free-spending and ridiculously well-funded

Qatar Museums Authority.  ... The Qatar Museums Authority, which she heads, is said to spend a whopping $1 billion per year on artwork, dwarfing outlays from famous institutions like MoMA and the Tate Modern. The QMA administers Doha’s IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art, the National Museum of Qatar, and several other institutions.The Qatar Museums Authority, which she heads, is said to spend a whopping $1 billion per year on artwork, dwarfing outlays from famous institutions like MoMA and the Tate Modern. The QMA administers Doha’s IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art, the National Museum of Qatar, and several other institutions." Via ACP III on Facebook, with note: "Cultural diplomacy dominated by a little-known woman from Qatar"; image from entry, with caption: Sheikha Al-Mayassa between tennis players Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters at the WTA Championships in Doha.

The Pillars of Qatar’s International Sport Strategy - Mahfoud Amara, "Sport is an integral part of Qatar’s diplomacy, in building alliances with the world of finance and politics and in establishing a presence in terms of international prestige, image-making and branding."

Fear and Loathing on Social Media - Blake Sitwell, "This year, I spent a lot of time reading the work of Marshall McLuhan, looking for insight in the use of social media as it relates to public diplomacy. ... I began to wonder what the human attraction of various popular social media really is. It’s more than a news feed for most people. For others, posting new material is an almost obsessive habit. Even so, the 'new' material

we post isn’t really all that different. ... So social media users create new material, but it all tends to be similar. Twitter users are repetitious to a fault. ... The rise of the 'selfie' might make one think it narcissism driving much of our own media creation. The whole point of the story of Narcissus is that people can become overly fascinated by any extension of themselves. As it relates to media, McLuhan thought this was a misperception. ... Twitter allows us to quantify our thoughts, ideas, and things we deem to have significance, things we would previously need to write in diaries, or later, on blogs. The magic of Twitter is that no explanation is required. Here is my idea, in 140 characters. There is no space for explanation. Image from bog entry

Honors Tea Talk – “Afghanistan and the Path to Peace through Education” - "On Tuesday, November 12th, Anita McBride, Executive-in-Residence at the School of Public Affairs, was invited to moderate an Honors Tea Talk panel discussion at American University. The panel focused on 3 themes – the importance of education as a path to peace in Afghanistan; raising awareness about the progress made in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban; and the challenges that lay ahead during this period of great transition in the country. The participants included ... Eileen O’Connor, the Public Diplomacy Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Central Asia, an Advisor the U.S. State Department, and

who also served as a CNN Network Correspondent in Afghanistan." Image from entry, with caption: Eileen O’Connor, Public Diplomacy Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Central Asia, discusses the importance of providing technical skills to young Afghans who comprise 60% of the population.

Annenberg Honor students and alumni make great strides - "Vanessa Rozier, class of 2009, print journalism. She is a public diplomacy officer in the U.S. Foreign Service."

8 Public Diplomacy Rules for Surviving the Holidays - Naomi Leight, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: Among them: "If you are a guest, ask questions and offer help to your host. Whether host or guest, don’t put up a facade for the holidays, be yourself, be thankful, and have fun."


What defusing Iran would mean: Forging a nuclear deal serves the broader world goal of nonproliferation - Joseph Cirincione, Stopping Iran would not just eliminate the most discussed nuclear threat facing the United States, it would also bring us closer to the end of nuclear proliferation.

Iran -- the next stage - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Now that the Obama administration has won its breakthrough first-step nuclear deal with Iran, officials are planning strategy for the decisive second round that, over the next six months, will seek a broader and tougher comprehensive agreement. This “end state” negotiation, as officials describe it, promises to be more difficult because the United States and its negotiating partners will seek to dismantle parts of the Iranian program, rather than simply freeze them. Another complication is that negotiators will be fending off even more brickbats from hard-liners in Israel, Congress and Tehran.

Final Iran deal needs to balance out the concessions - Editorial, Washington Post: The interim arrangement with Iran is worthy because it checks Iran’s progress toward a bomb and is far preferable to the military action that otherwise might have been necessary. But the agreement leaves the United States and its partners at a disadvantage in negotiating the comprehensive settlement. The concessions made to Iran will have to be balanced by a major rollback of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — with no automatic expiration date.

Interim Win For Diplomats Slows Down March To Another War. For Now - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: For every foreign minister present in the

photo above, there were numerous nameless individuals who made the work in Geneva possible. Bravissimo for a win that did not involved a drone, a gun, or a deadly karate chop! Diplomacy still works and it did not wear combat boots this time. Image from entry, with caption: (L to R) British Foreign Secretary William Hague, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, EU’s Catherine Ashton, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister

Cleric: Iran’s Success in Geneva Talks Debunks Enemy Propaganda Campaign - A senior Iranian cleric praised the country’s diplomatic efforts in the Geneva talks that resulted in a nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers, saying the accord has given the lie to anti-Iran propaganda campaign mounted by the enemies.

“The move of the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic team and Mr. Zarif and his colleagues proved that the enemy’s propaganda campaign against us was false… Currently, the world has realized that they (enemies of Iran) are lying,” Tehran's Provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani said in an address to a large congregation of worshippers in Tehran today. Uncaptioned image from article

Karzai risks much in his latest manufactured crisis - John Podesta, Tom Perriello and Caroline Wadhams, Washington Post: Afghans are preparing for the presidential and provincial elections in April. They anticipate that a bilateral security agreement under discussion between the U.S. and Afghan governments will soon be signed, creating the security umbrella essential for a stable state.  President Hamid Karzai has threatened to derail this positive trajectory, however, by stating that he intends to delay signing the security agreement until after the elections. While Karzai claims to be concerned about issues already settled, Afghan observers see it as a Machiavellian play to maximize influence over the elections.

Ignore Karzai’s Arrogant Insults - John R. Allen and Michael E. O’Hanlon, New York Times: What is going on with President Hamid Karzai? The world’s only superpower, leading a coalition of some 50 nations, is willing to stay on in his country after a war that has already lasted a dozen years and cost the United States more than $600 billion and more than 2,000 fatalities — and yet the Afghan president keeps throwing up roadblocks. The latest insult is his decision to hold off on signing a bilateral security agreement, the legal basis for American forces to remain in his country past 2014, on the grounds that his successor should have that prerogative next year. Let’s not forget the progress purchased so dearly in this decade and more of war. We must not permit Mr. Karzai’s pique to flush all this down the drain.

Bosnia, in Peril Once More - Kati Marton, New York Times: Now, while Bosnia and Herzegovina’s fragile unity is fraying, the international community is as disengaged as when war first erupted in 1992. The United States has much at stake; it needs to return to Sarajevo.

Confidence Man: John Kerry has the skill, toughness, and ego to be a great secretary of state. But will the world let him? Aaron David Miller - When it's all over, the question on which John Kerry's legacy as secretary of state

will rest is whether he's done something extraordinary. That's not to say he couldn't be judged as a fine secretary of state without some extraordinary accomplishment. But to be a truly consequential one, he'd have to take on a problem that normal human beings saw as really tough (and truly important) and make a major contribution toward resolving it. Kerry has the stamina, will, and smarts. See also. Image from entry

An American Neurotic in Paris - Pamela Druckerman, New York Times: "The Americans in Paris tend to fall into three categories. There are the fantasists — people nourished by Hemingway and Sartre, who are enthralled with the idea of living here. The moneyed version of this person lives as close as possible to the Eiffel Tower.

The Bohemian version teaches English or tends bar, to finance his true vocation: being in France. Then there are the denialists — often here for a spouse’s job — who cope with living in Paris by pretending they’re not in Paris. They tap into a parallel universe of Anglophone schools, babysitters and house painters, and get their French news from CNN. Finally there are people like me, who study France and then describe it to the folks back home. We’re determined to have an 'authentic' French experience. And yet, by mining every encounter for its anthropological significance, we keep our distance, too." Image from entry

If It Happened There … America’s Annual Festival Pilgrimage Begins - Joshua Keating, Salon: In recent years, some experts have questioned whether the hidden costs of the Thanksgiving holiday have become excessive; whether the celebration is worth its massive environmental impact and the increased health risks due to traffic accidents and overeating. Still, the majority of the population holds fast to these pastimes. Via LOS on Facebook.

Is this a South Korean propaganda radio station? Driving up South Korea’s “freedom highway” north of Seoul, just after the turn off for the National Defense University, observant travelers will notice a collection of transmitter masts off to the right of the highway - At first glance, the site looks like it might belong to a major broadcaster like KBS, but the truth appears to be much more interesting. Seeing inside the site is impossible from the highway, but a neighboring hill provides a good outlook, as shown below. The site contains 16 transmitter masts, all but one of which are contained in a large field. A single mast sits in the middle of neighboring greenhouses. Among the roughly dozen shortwave radio stations that broadcast to North Korea, there are two that don’t have websites, they don’t have listings and can’t be found in official literature. “Voice of the People” and “Echo of Hope” have been on the air for years, broadcasting an anti-regime program that goes further than other stations in attacking the North Korean government and leadership.

Both stations have long been assumed to be run by the National Intelligence Service and are heavily jammed by North Korea. The North Korean jamming, which involves broadcasting a very powerful noise signal on the same frequency, makes the South Korean stations difficult to receive. It’s is so powerful that it even overrides their signal on radios in Seoul, across the sea in Japan and even in the United States. The conclusion? The transmitter site is almost certainly the base from which the South Korean government broadcasts the “Voice of the People” propaganda station towards North Korea. Image from entry, with caption: On the north side of the facility (the left side of this picture) are a series of buildings. These almost certainly house the transmitters that produce the signals that are piped to the masts.

The Great thinker: Kim Jong Il Propaganda Films - The Great Thinker: Kim Jong Il Propaganda Films Director: Kim Jong Il, North Korea Appx. 100 min. Friday November 29, R8:00 PM - [Brooklyn, NY]: According to the computer that narrates these films, Kim Jong Il was a transformative, modernizing leader of North Korea. He kept the “US imperialists” in check and brought a cultural revolution to N Korea and the world! KJI encouraged N Koreans to “take one thousand steps when a normal man would take one”. (??) …never mind the restrictions on freedoms of expression, travel, and press, forced labor camps, a medieval prison system, public executions, re-education camps, etc… These films set the bar for bizarre dictator hype films! Two films in the program: The Great Thinker and Leadership of Korea.

One is a history of KJI with lots of archival footage of a young chain smoking Kim, looking cool and changing the world. The other is a fellow North Korean’s praising essay film of KJI with many more of KJI’s achievements outlined." Image from entry

Hacks, hacking and propaganda: what’s happening to Turkey’s journalists? Turkey's media proprietors seem all too willing to play along with practices that make the country feel like a corrupt central Asian republic - Yavuz Baydar, Turkey’s “mainstream” media, politically and economically in shackles is moving towards submitting to the kind of conditions like those in Central Asian republics such as Azerbaijan. This progression was plain for all to see on live television this week. Turkey’s needy public is kept farther away from truth; and instead bombarded by propaganda.

Russian court fines Lady Gaga concert promoter for breaching anti-propaganda law -
A Russian court has fined the promoter of a Lady Gaga concert in St. Petersburg last December the equivalent of $614 for “propaganda of alcohol consumption and homosexuality,” various reports said Monday. Image from entry, with caption:

Lady Gaga arrives for the 2013 Glamour Women of the Year awards in New York City on Nov. 11, 2013.

World War II had a propaganda front, too, a new exhibit of vintage posters shows - The Allies fought World War II on land, on sea, in the air – and on propaganda posters. About 70 posters on display through Feb. 16 at the National World War II Museum show the variety of emotions these pieces were designed to stir up. The posters were supposed to make people angry enough about the attack on Pearl Harbor to enlist.

If people weren’t fit to fight, they should take jobs in factories, and they should feel guilty if they wanted time off. They should buy War Bonds, work hard, be resourceful and watch what they say to keep unseen enemy agents from learning about troop movements. The posters, which go on view Wednesday (Nov. 27), come from the museum’s collections. Image from entry

Image and Emotion / WWII Propaganda Posters - Here is Image and Emotion - WWII Propaganda Posters - a DBQ designed by Aram Glick.

Image from entry

The Greatest Soviet Propaganda Posters Ever - Among them:

--Fascism – Enemy of Nations, a TASS poster with a poem, written by Demian Bednii, translated by Julia Alekseyeva

--Long Live Stalin's Air Force!


"This holiday season, get an unforgettable gift for a loved one (or yourself)."

--Macy's website; cited in Hilary Stout, "Retailers' sly message: get yourself a gift, too," The New York Times


Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples - BBC News: The Magazine's recent piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK prompted thousands of you to e-mail examples. Some are useful, while some seem truly unnecessary, argued Matthew Engel in the article. Here are 50 of the most e-mailed.


Bare Bones Activitism - Developing Tomorrow: As an act of solidarity, FEMEN cut down a cross in Kyiv as a symbolic gesture to stand with Pussy Riot through their trial. While the Femenberjacks were naked, they did wear safety goggles. Image from entry, with caption: Safety first! Always use safety goggles when operating a chainsaw.