Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19 Public Diplomacy Review

"STEPHANOPOULUS: The most famous American in Russia right now is Edward Snowden. Is he invited to Sochi?

PUTIN: The most renowned American in Russia right now is Barack Obama."

--From Stan Stein, "Putin: Snowden Can Come To The Olympics," Huffington Post; image from


Introducing our Winter 2014 Issue: Gastrodiplomacy - Public Diplomacy Magazine Editors, USC Center on Public Diplomacy


USC Looking To Sell Their Old Mid-Century Communist Propaganda Research Building - "Via the LA Conservancy comes word that USC wants to kick their Cold War-era registration building to the curb. Designed by USC grads Thornton Laddand John Kelsey in 1963, the two-story, steel, post and beam structure—nicknamed Red Square—was originally built to serve as the university's Research Institute on Communist Strategy and Propaganda.

While the asking price is nowhere to be found in the property's offering memo (pdf), the fact sheet notes that prospective buyers must submit offers by February 28, 2014, and that the successful bidder will be responsible for relocating the 5,050-square-foot building off campus by April 30. However, 'property relocation assistance of $25,000 is available to a qualified buyer.'" Top image from; below Image from entry.  See also, John Brown, "USC: A laudable evolution from propaganda research to gastrodiplomacy," Notes and Essays


Russia should grant a visa to David Satter - Editorial, Washington Post: "Russia is about to host the Winter Olympics, welcoming thousands of athletes from around the world. But Moscow has quietly decided there is one person who cannot enter the country. The American author and journalist David Satter, who has been advising Radio Liberty and has written three books about the Soviet Union and Russia, was informed Dec. 25 that he would not be granted a visa. According to Mr. Satter, the Russian authorities told him: 'The competent organs have decided that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is undesirable.' The 'competent organs' is an old euphemism for the security services. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming Mr. Satter had committed visa violations. Mr. Satter admitted overstaying a temporary visa by a few days but says that was caused by paperwork delays at the Foreign Ministry. It seems clear that Mr. Satter has been barred from entry because someone in the Russian power structure does not want him in the country." See also.

BBC, Deutsche Welle offer superb coverage of Ukraine’s slide toward a police state, Voice of America does not - Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network: "British BBC and German Deutsche Welle (DW) offer superb coverage in English of Ukraine’s slide toward a repressive state.

Too bad America’s voice abroad, Voice of America (VOA), is not, and has left the field to RT (Russia Today)." Image from entry

Winter is Coming... [includes videos] - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "As the host of the 22nd Winter Olympics, the public diplomacy stage is all Russia's to take. How successful it all is or will be, I'll try and address at some other point. At the moment, though, I just wanted to highlight *some* of the media hype ... And a final clip from NBC -- a tribute to vodka. Russian vodka. Because, although there might not be much that the American viewer can relate to in that vast country, they can at least recognize the 'Russkiy Standard' and find some interest is sitting through three minutes of an introduction. Ah yes, but I forget: vodka comprises an integral part of Russia's image. Why not use it for public diplomacy purposes, as well...?"

Two thousand and thirteen – bookkeeping - David Guy, Five Minutes for Israel: "Looking forward to 2014 [:] A new category/blog is in planning for 2014, tentatively titled BLOGography.

In this we hope to contact and collaborate with other small Israel advocacy blogs. We plan interviews, joint and guest posts and a general sharing of tips and ideas on how to advance what I believe is an important weapon in the Public Diplomacy war." Image from entry

This is what an academic boycott looks like: Two new campaigns target conferences hosted by Israeli universities - "Recent decisions by prestigious US academic organizations to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement have sparked long neglected public discussion of the limits of academic freedom in the West, the deleterious effects of occupation on Palestinians, including university students and faculty, and Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, not to mention African migrant workers, Jewish Arabs, political dissidents, and others. ... This is what an academic boycott looks like: Two new campaigns target conferences hosted by Israeli universities - Israeli government and public relations officials confirm that the academic boycott has altered the global political conversation about Palestine. According to The Jerusalem Post, Israeli MK Ayelet Shaked recently referred to the academic and cultural boycott campaign as 'the greatest threat faced by the country.' ... Israel’s attempt to forestall these developments are revealed by revelations that the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office has been funding 'covert units' that pay students to engage in public diplomacy and promote Israel’s 'pretty face' on social media, and by earlier reports that Israel advocacy groups have been targeting pro-Palestinian student groups in an effort to silence university-based criticism of Israeli policies."

The story of JLF's sponsors: At the Sensex' boom-time peak, in Jan 2008, natural resources and financial firms were quite literally in money - Mihir S Sharma, "[I]n the case of the JaipurLiterature Festival, the choice of sponsor is itself, frequently, revealing. ... The Public Diplomacy division of the ministry of external affairs features as a senior sponsor, as does, for some befuddling reason, the National Jute Board.

ONLF Foreign Secretary on the Situation of Somalis in the Ogaden Region of Ethiopia - Matteo Giusti/Limes, "The (Ethiopian) embassies in London and Rome describe the Ogaden a great economic growth now and in peace for years. A very different picture from that presented by the Ogadeni guerrillas.

Limes spoke with the head of the Policy and Public Diplomacy at the Embassy in Rome, Fesseha Tesfu Beyane. ... BEYANE [:] Our constitution is clear, we are a federal republic that recognizes autonomy in all 9 regions that make up Ethiopia.Our government has invested heavily in the Ogaden and violence are a distant memory. The accusations of genocide against Ethiopia are defamatory . The country which I have the honor to represent is a true oasis of peace in a turbulent region and the population in the Ogaden are recognized autonomy and freedom." Image from entry


Take Two: Propaganda is eyes of beholder of painted goalie mask - Matt Nestor, Jessie Vetter, a goaltender for the U.S. women’s hockey team, wanted a mask that “screamed America.” Ron Slater, who paints masks for NHL goaltenders, designed one that had a red, white and blue shield, a bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty. Vetter asked for the U.S. Constitution to be included. Slater opted to go with the simple phrase “We the People,” the opening to the Preamble.
The International Olympic Committee wouldn’t allow it, citing rules it has against propaganda or advertising being displayed on Olympic uniforms.

A new day at the NSA: President Obama takes a step back from unfettered surveillance - Doyle McManus, Instead of accepting the doctrine that a global war against terrorists justifies almost any expansion of information-gathering, Obama said the entire U.S. intelligence enterprise should be subject to more public scrutiny and more stringent cost-benefit tests. A second Obama innovation — the idea that the NSA should treat foreigners the same way it treats Americans when it comes to privacy — is a revolutionary idea within the intelligence community, which is used to drawing a clear line between us and them.

Obama’s sure-footed surveillance speech - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Perhaps most interesting, Obama has signaled a desire to extend privacy rights to foreigners—not just the leaders of friendly countries, but their citizens, too. He’s not offering the protection of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure—you still have to be an American citizen to get that. But it’s significant for a president to affirm that that global citizens have a right to be protected against unwarranted snooping by the world’s only superpower.

State Dept. computers open to hackers: report - Phillip Swarts-The Washington Times: Despite frequent hacking attempts and the threat of another Edward Snowden-like data theft, the State Department’s computer systems remain woefully insecure and easily could be breached by enemies seeking to steal classified information, the department’s internal watchdog says.

propaganda about Syria is most welcome - As'ad Abu Khalil, The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: "Saudi Arabian photographer Abdel Aziz Al-Atibi was shocked to find that the picture he took of his nephew Ibrahim on January 3 in Saudi Arabia was picked up on social media networks and reported as being a picture of a Syrian child found sleeping near the graves of his parents. Al-Atibi tells that he took the photo, which was staged with fake graves, as part of a conceptual project."

South Korean Activists Send Propaganda-Filled Balloons into North - Activists in South Korea, including some North Korean defectors who were soldiers when they lived in the North, sent propaganda-loaded balloons over the border into North Korea on Wednesday, defying Pyongyang's past threats of retaliation against the launches.

The helium-filled balloons were stuffed with DVDs and leaflets documenting human rights abuses in the North. They also contained 1,000 U.S. $1 bills and small USB drives loaded with the Korean-language version of Wikipedia. Image from entry, with caption: Former North Korean defectors who were soldiers when they lived in North Korea release a balloon containing $1 banknotes, radios, CD and leaflets denouncing the North Korean regime towards the north near the demilitarized zone, which separates the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul, Jan. 15, 2014.

Dave Agema: Russian anti-gay propaganda law is 'common sense' - Garret Ellison, Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law is “common sense” according to a Facebook posting by Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema. Agema, known for making inflammatory statements about gay people, reportedly endorsed the Russian law that makes it illegal

to discuss LGBT issues in front of children. Image from entry, with caption: Republican National Committeman Dave Agema.

Lone Survivor's Takeaway: Every War Movie Is a Pro-War Movie: Even if films don't glorify conflict itself, they all come down to good guys against bad guys - Calum Marsh, Atlantic: Adapted from the memoirs of former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (played in the film by Mark Wahlberg, who also co-produced), Lone Survivor is the sort of film you expect to seem at least a little propagandistic. It’s rooted in a tradition of patriotism as old as the motion picture itself, stretching from the John Wayne vehicle The Green Berets to the recent Act of Valor. Many of its more aggressively nationalistic elements are just a matter of following genre protocol. Now, compare this exaggeratedly casual introduction with the way the film brings in its Taliban villains. Their unruly gang storms into a quiet village while firing off machine guns and, while screaming unintelligibly, drags a man into the streets and lops his head off with a machete. (Sinister-sounding music accompanies, just in case the sentiment wasn’t clear.)

This is cartoon villainy—the realm of the black hat and the twirling moustache. Such gestures serve a straightforward dramatic purpose: They align the audience with the heroes while encouraging them to dislike the bad guys, so that when the battle finally ignites, the viewer’s sympathies have already been sorted out. it is worth considering that movies like Lone Survivor do begin to resemble multi-million dollar recruitment videos—tools of military indoctrination geared toward the young and the impressionable. Films like this contribute to subtle shifts in public perception, helping to legitimize feelings of xenophobia and American exceptionalism. It’s no accident that Lone Survivor ignores the question of whether the SEAL team’s mission was justified or worthwhile, just as it ignores, even more broadly, the merit of the war in Afghanistan to begin with. Uncaptioned image from entry. See also.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”: propaganda dressed as entertainment - Reactionary espionage novelist Tom Clancy may have died last year, but his heroic CIA agent, Jack Ryan, lives on, as does the right-wing pro-CIA Military-Industrial-Intelligence-Entertainment Complex's agitprop. To be sure, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Paramount's reboot of the Clancy-derived, highly lucrative Ryan film franchise, is a slickly made, entertaining piece of movie-making full of the usual suspects found in spy movies: motorcycle and car chases galore, assassins, gunfire, dastardly villains hell bent on world domination, a little romance and all those other endless spy movie clichés.

Shadow Recruit is also a sophisticated cinematic piece of propaganda masquerading under the guise of mass entertainment. In a bit of clever central casting, real-life Soviet defector/ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov plays a Kremlin killer in a cameo. Kenneth Branagh (who also directed) portrays dastardly oligarch Viktor Cherevin, a stereotypical Ruskie out to stage terrorist attacks on the good ol' USA and to topple our economy. It doesn't matter that the Ruskies have traded communism in for corporatist ideology - they're STILL the bad guys in this hackneyed plot extolling the virtues of the CIA, as latter day Cold Warriors battle it out from Moscow to Manhattan. It doesn't matter that as America's ally during World War II, 20 million Soviets died, and then their approximation of socialism failed and the Russians "embraced" the private enterprise system: They remain our implacable enemy. I mean, who does a Ruskie have to screw to catch a break from America?! Image from entry

Russians: Still the Go-To Bad Guys - Steven Kurutz, New York Times: Nearly 25 years after the Berlin Wall

fell and marked the end of the Cold War, Hollywood’s go-to villains remain Russians. Image from entry, with caption: Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb and Robert Shaw as Red Grant from the 1963 James Bond film “From Russia With Love.”

Remapping the Territory: ‘Our America,’ by Felipe Fernández-Armesto - Book Review Julio Ortega, New York Times: After long periods of migration, deportation and accommodation, the next United States could well be a pluricultural bilingual power, updating the American dream.

“Our America” is perhaps the first history to make the case for this nation’s becoming a bright Latin American country. Image from entry


E-books are on the rise, but print books rebound and endure - Hector Tobar, Overall, 76% of American adults read a book last year in one or more of three formats: print, e-books and audiobooks.


Madonna apologizes for using racial slur to describe her son - Kellan Howel, The Washington Times: Pop idol Madonna is apologizing for using a racial slur to describe her white son in an Instagram photo, The Associated Press reported. She posted a picture of her 13-year-old son Rocco boxing on Friday night captioned it with “No one messes with Dirty Soap! Mama said knock you out! #disn**ga.” The hashtag, containing a variation of the N-word, garnered hundreds of comments on Instagram. The singer changed the caption which now reads “Ok let me start this again. #get off of my d*ck haters!”

In a statement to the AP on Saturday, she was contrite, saying “Forgive me.” Madonna said she is not a racist and she did not mean to use the word as a slur but said she knew there was no defense for its use. She said she used it as a term of endearment and apologizes if it gave the wrong impression. Madonna has four children total including two black children adopted from Malawi. Image from article, with caption: Singer Madonna performs Aug. 28, 2012, at the Wells Fargo Center




"It’s too rarely understood, except by anyone who has ever done research, how much of it involves browsing: going from book to book, fact to fact, link to link, event to event, letting one subject suggest another."

--Francine Prose, "How Have Tools Like Google and YouTube Changed the Way You Work?" New York Times


From: Global warming’s biggest offenders: The U.S. and China are among the 7 countries most accountable for the world’s temperature increase, according to a new Concordia study. Via JJ on Facebook

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