Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 28-29

"They flow disjunctively: directed, shaped and sometimes inhibited by what we might call mediating structures of interlocution."

--The "so-called global cultural flows," according American University professor Robert Albro, Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Chicago and author of Rooster at Midnight: Indigenous Signs and Stigma in Local Bolivian Politics (2010);  image from

"Watch American University students fail to name single U.S. senator: 'I'm not big into the whole America thing,' one student joked [Video]"

--Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News


U.S.-China Relations, Sports and Cultural Diplomacy Panel: Foreign policy scholars, government officials, and other public figures talked about the state of U.S.-China relations, including issues such as diplomatic and cultural ties and the effectiveness of public diplomacy and soft power -


[LISTEN] The BBG’s Role in U.S. Public Diplomacy - "Michael Ardaiolo and Dr. Guy Golan discuss the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ role in U.S. public diplomacy with Lynne Weil.  Lynne Weil is the director of communications and external affairs for the BBG."


First Monday Forum to Discuss Young African Leaders Program - "The next next Public Diplomacy Council/USC First Monday lunch forum takes place on Monday, 7 April at 12:00 pm, where Joyce Warner will tell about the U.S. Young African Leaders Initiative.

Warner is Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff of IREX, an international not-for-profit organization working with local individuals and institutions to build key elements of a modern society. ... The program is free, but advance registration is essential. Please RSVP to FirstMondayForum [dot] RSVP [at] gmail [dot] com." Warner image from entry


Arts of Revolution - "The Arts of Revolution in the Middle East events at Duke explore the relationships between politics and aesthetics, with a particular focus on the democratic potential of popular forms of expression." Image: heading of website


State Department #YALICHAT with Young African Leaders Goes Viral - IVN [March 27], "Yesterday, using hashtag #YALICHAT, more than 12,000 people joined Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel (@Stengel) for the first in a series of live Twitter chats on the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and Young African Leaders Network (YALN), briefly out-trending the ever popular hashtag #Beliebers worldwide.

YALI is President Obama’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African entrepreneurs, educators, activists, and innovators. YALN aims to connect this next generation with resources from the U.S. Government and to one another to build brighter futures for their communities and countries. Citing his many years working with Nelson Mandela, Under Secretary Stengel expressed his excitement at helping to grow the next generation of leaders. Evan Ryan (@ECA_AS), Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and Macon Phillips (@Macon44), Coordinator of International Information Programs (IIP), also joined Under Secretary Stengel to discuss topics ranging from governance to leadership for Africa’s brightest young leaders. In the last week, this #YALICHAT produced more than 39,000 tweets and counting. The YALN Twitter handle, @YALNetwork, also grew by more than 7,400 followers overnight. Top participating countries included Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, and Uganda." Image from

Forever On The Backburner: The Ukraine Crisis Usurps The Asia Pivot - Sarah Batiuk, "No one can make the argument that Asia is not important to the United States. The Obama Administration has not been shy about voicing its commitment to the pivot/re-balance, with National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice commenting how the Asia-Pacific remains 'a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy ' and that 'no matter how many hotspots emerge elsewhere, we will continue to deepen our enduring commitment to this critical region' during her remarks at Georgetown University last November.

Now the world is currently in the grip of such a hotspot, as the uncertainty of what will transpire between Russia and Ukraine continues to grow. The Obama Administration has understandably been at the forefront, including imposing sanctions against Russia. But this does not excuse forgetting about one’s own policies, especially one like the pivot/re-balance which is being watched closely by both allies and skeptics the world over. Yet this is exactly what happened.  ... The government shutdown last year, which prevented President Obama from visiting Asia during both the APEC and East Asia Summits, was the most recent red flag for the validity of the pivot/re-balance. Many countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, were concerned that the United States would not be able to fulfill its commitments to the region if it could not control its own domestic issues. Of even greater concern is how U.S. allies such as Japan saw this negative symbolism. At the East-West Center on March 5, Dr. Nobuhiro Aizawa, a researcher from Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), stated that the uptick of questioning the closeness of Japan towards the United States policy-wise had gained steam from Obama’s inability to attend the summits last October. According to him 'the word pivot is there but symbolically speaking Obama not showing up to the meetings was a negative image, when you talk about public diplomacy this matters very much.' " Uncaptioned image from entry

Cultural Diplomacy of and by the Book - Robert Albro, PD News – CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "[O]ur cultural diplomacy frameworks are too narrow and too broad. With few exceptions, discussions of soft power lack context or grounding in any specific public or set of social relations. We assume the mysterious workings of cultural globalization to work in our favor. People-to-people exchange is restricted to particular partners, events, or programs, instead of broader considerations of the circulation of culture through publics. And regardless of scale, we assume culture to be an instrument to persuade others rather than a dialogic beachhead. Meanwhile, people in the U.S. are most likely unaware that they have been largely shut out from, in this case, a global print-based conversation. But the peculiarities of the U.S. publishing industry remind us that so-called global cultural flows do not simply circulate. They flow disjunctively: directed, shaped and sometimes inhibited by what we might call mediating structures of interlocution, composed of combinations of: industry practice, investment, legal frameworks, collaborative networks, business models, consumer preferences, and value chains, which, taken together, make up particular corners of the global creative economy."

Disastrous BBG Budget - BBG Watcher: Contains article by Gary Thomas "Voice of America News, 1942-2015,” which states: "As written, the 2015 BBG budget proposal is, for all intents and purposes, the death notice for substantive news coverage at the Voice of America. Should it be enacted, people around the world would only get the most simplistic of news reports, especially in English, the lingua franca of the host broadcaster – and not necessarily in a timely manner.

Most disturbing of all, news would be blurred into national security policy goals. ... Wade through the thicket of deliberately dense bureaucratese, and that purpose is abundantly clear: to transform VOA – and other entities – into a foreign policy tool, placing VOA down a path away from news and towards propaganda. ... In other words, public diplomacy will trump journalism." Image from

US Message to Sri Lanka through Geneva: Tamil Issue -- Tamil Issue -- Tamil Issue - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: "I have been with Asian Tribune about some sensitive working atmosphere within the portals of the American Embassy in Colombo and the dialogue and working relationship I had with senior foreign service officers (FSO) in Colombo and Washington, this writer is not prepared to break the oath of office taken during the employment with the U.S. Federal Government. Throughout my career, first ten years (1970 thru 1980) in public affairs and the following fifteen years in public diplomacy, I was associated with many internal discourses of critical and not so critical socio-political-economic developments in Sri Lanka while maintaining very close rapport with some principal players in this South Asian nation and routine working relationship with others for me to broadly understand the nuances of Sri Lanka's national issues and how they were related to overall American foreign policy and reaction to those in within the Colombo diplomatic mission and Washington. I was a political specialist with little above mid-level classification clearance but was routinely exposed to the sensitive and classified mind-set of the senior American diplomats because they couldn't conceal their thinking if they wanted me to produce reports and analyses for Washington's understanding. It is with this understanding that I stated at the outset that the United States never wanted Sri Lanka divided which means never wanted the Tamil Tigers to establish a separate state for minority Tamils."

'Russia coming back to Bangladesh' - Nurul Islam Hasib, "Russia is stepping up public diplomacy to make a 'comeback' in Bangladesh as it is doing in other South Asian countries. Russian ambassador in Dhaka Nikolaev Alexander said on Friday the relations between the two countries were experiencing 'a renaissance now'. ... The ambassador's effusive remark was made in the presence of the Deputy Head of Russian Federal Agency for Cooperation with Foreign Countries (Rossotrudnichestvo), Alexander Chesnokov, currently in Dhaka. Chesnokov is here on a visit to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in the city. The ambassador told journalists that Russian culture and its people's friendliness were his country's 'power'. 'And it (culture) has enormous importance.' ... The Cultural Centre was set up in 1974, encouraging many Bangladeshis, students in particular, to visit the Soviet Union.

Russian books and cinema became popular among Bangladeshi readers and cine goers. ... In a period of Russia's own transition, the Culture Centre had stymied owing to a lack of diversity and modernisation. 'We never stopped, but we want to engage more actively,' Deputy Head Chesnokov said. 'This centre acts a bridge between Russia and a foreign country.' There are more than 80 such centres across the world and at least another 20 will be added soon. Chesnokov said they would modernise the Dhaka centre, connecting its library with Moscow’s national library and national museum, enabling Bangladesh’s new generation learn a great deal about Russia from Dhaka. 'It’ll also foster their interest in visiting Russia,' he said. ... Last year, 47 Bangladeshi students had enrolled in different Russian universities. This year the number was expected to cross 60, he said. Young professionals from various fields, aged between 20 and 35 years, would also be invited. ... The ambassador said he noted that Bangladesh media without keeping its journalists in overseas countries were covering stories following foreign media, mostly British and American. Russian embassy can be a source of news in Dhaka, he said." Image from

Activities of Armenian community highly valued in Estonia and Lithuania - "Laine Randyarv, Vice-Speaker of the Riigikogu (the highest representative and legislative body of the Republic of Estonia - Ed.) on Wednesday held a meeting with journalists from Armenia and the Armenian community of Estonia and expressed her appreciation to the local Armenians for the high activity in the areas of social and cultural life . ... [A]bout 2,000 Armenians live in Estonia. There are 11 national-cultural societies there, which are aimed at preserving the Armenian language, culture and traditions. ... At the meeting the results of the Estonian-Armenian cultural event, 'See you in Tallinn', held last June in Tallinn, were discussed. The event was attended by over a hundred Estonia cultural activists, journalists and students from Armenia. There were concerts, theatrical performances, exhibitions of contemporary art, and other cultural events. The action was a return visit - in those days about 200 artists, entrepreneurs and journalists from Estonia had visited Armenia. Laine Randyarv, who also was directly involved in carrying out the action and met the Armenians that arrived in the Riigikogu, called the Armenian cultural days held in Estonia succeeded: 'Public diplomacy for the two small countries is a unique opportunity to establish friendly relations. The 'See you in Tallinn' event gave the residents of Estonia an opportunity to get acquainted with Armenian rich culture and history, as well as made it possible to have direct interpersonal communication.'"

Belgian lawmakers visit Judea and Samaria - "A delegation of Belgian parliamentarians visited Judea and Samaria on Thursday as guests of the Shomron Regional Council. The visit was coordinated by the council’s foreign relations committee. During the visit, delegation head Senator Anke Vandermeersch noted that she was 'surprised to see how different the reality here is compared to what we are shown by the European media,' Israel Hayom reported.

Vandermeersch, a 1992 Miss Universe finalist, agreed to head pro-Israel public diplomacy efforts in Belgium and in the European Parliament, in an effort to counter anti-Israel boycott campaigns." Image from entry, with caption: Belgian legislator Senator Anke Vandermeersch, pictured, noted on a trip to Judea and Samaria that she was “surprised to see how different the reality here is compared to what we are shown by the European media.”

Riveting Flores Moroccan musicians Residents with Sasando [Google "translation" from the Indonesian] - "Musicians Indonesia from Flores, Ivan Nestorman and the group appeared in a series of events the promotion of culture and Tourism of Indonesia is scheduled by the Embassy in Rabat in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia in a number of places in Morocco.

appearance at the Hotel Sofitel Rabat on Delivery International Public Events Diplomacy Diplomatic Foundation Award by Morocco, on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 which then became the top event Nestorman Ivan appearance with the group in Morocco. Image from entry, with caption: Ivan Nestorman and the group appeared in a series of promotional events Indonesian culture and tourism in Morocco.

The Daily: Taiwan’s Soft Power Stumble - Michael Ardaiolo,

Conflict and Cuisine - samuelchapplesokol: Describes recent gastrodiplomacy projects/publications.

Public Culture on Display - Maria F Curtis,
"What began as an outgrowth of public diplomacy’s cultural forms, the Asia Society remains in dialogue with discourses of cultural diplomacy through arts education but has expanded its mission hoping not only to inform and educate, but to leave its visitors with an experience that challenges our often heavily digitized lives, what they have called the

'frisson'. Listed as number six in Asia Society’s strategic goals, the frisson prioritizes face-to-face interaction with others at the museum site over all else. Steven Conn’s questioning of 'Where is the East?' and 'Do Museums Still Need Objects?' seem to converge easily here at this junction of art and politics." Image from

Visitors from Ukraine discuss unrest in trip to CSU campus: Sister Cities International organized trip [includes video] - Mallory Huff, "A group of Ukrainians visiting the United States said they feel frustrated with the unrest at home. The delegates spent Monday afternoon at California State University, Stanislaus. They are from the city of Khmelnitskiy, which is one of Modesto's seven sister cities. Sister Cities International organized the trip. The university took the opportunity to host a conversation about the events unfolding in the region."

Pianist Malek Jandali on the Soft Power of Music and the Syrian Revolution - “'The Voice of the Free Syrian Children' concert is part of Jandali’s world tour and the March 27 opening event of this year’s Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies Annual Conference — Arts of Revolution — that will also feature artists from Baghdad, Libya, Turkey, Qatar, and Bahrain.

Jandali will speak about the soft power of music and art in the Syrian revolution as part of a conference panel on Friday morning. Image from entry, with caption: Malek Jandali’s very last concert he gave in Homs; before the revolution started. At the beautiful and historic St. Elian Church, which has since been completely destroyed by the Assad regime’s bombardment of Homs.

Conference on South Korea’s Rise: Politics, Economics, and Humanities - "Conference on South Korea’s Rise: Politics, Economics, and Humanities is going to be held on May 1-2, 2014 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The conference focuses on how South Korea’s economic development has affected its politics, economics, society, and foreign relations. ... 10:45- 12:15 pm Panel 2 – North Korea ... Implications on Korea’s public diplomacy [ - ] Jangsup Choi (Texas and M-Commerce) and Dennis Patterson (Texas Tech)"

ISA 2014-Advancing the Learning Environment in the Digital Age - curiouscat4: "Four of the five ALPS [Active Learning in Political Science] editors are together again, presenting on this ISA Innovative Panel on various aspects of simulations, games, films, and the use of digital technology. ... [t]he best part was at the end, when a member of the audience called for some public diplomacy on behalf of pedagogy, to create a culture where learning about teaching is valued (and better attended!)"

Ask, write, edit: Princeton students discover journalistic paths - Jamie Saxon, "The Ferris McGraw Robbins Professors in Journalism have been teaching seminars at the University since 1964. The professors often bring colleagues to visit. .... Guests in Richburg's [Keith Richburg a former foreign correspondent with The Washington Post] seminar have included Bay Fang, former U.S. News and World Report correspondent in Beijing, Baghdad and Kabul, and former deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy."

Declared the provisional program of the festival OPEN 2014 - "OPEN Festival will be held in Minsk on 19-21 June for the third time. Work Festival will be held at three sites: Competition OPEN your world, Congress OPEN your mind and guest program OPEN

your heart. ... The Congress OPEN your mind the following experts: ... Andrei Stas (Russia), Managing Partner of Stas Marketing. Founder and leader of the group Stas Marketing (until 2005 - a2z marketing) since 1999. Andrew is an expert Institute of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy and Director of LEU 'Institute of Territorial marketing and branding.'" Image from entry


State Dept. Warns Against Ukraine Travel, Promotes Ukraine Travel: Mixed messages on danger cause confusion - Adam Kredo, The State Department issued a Ukraine travel warning on March 21 warning “U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine

and to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula and eastern regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Lugansk due to the presence of Russian military forces in the Crimean Peninsula, and in Russia near the Ukrainian border.” Three days after that warning was issued the State Department’s official Twitter feed disseminated an official video promoting travel to Ukraine and arguing that all is safe for tourists. Image from

Russia sends troops, Obama administration sends a selfie - Carl Campanile, New York Post, posted at: Russian leader Vladmir Putin sent in troops and tanks to invade neighboring Ukraine and the Obama administration is coming to the rescue with . . . selfies! State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki

was mocked Thursday after posting a photo of herself on Twitter holding a sign that read #United­For­Ukraine @State­Dept­Spox.” Psaki, who has worked closely with President Obama since his 2008 campaign and is the chief communications adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, is smiling and giving a thumbs-up in the photo. Image from entry, with caption: THUMB-BUDDY LOVES YOU: State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki indicates her support for Ukraine in a Twitter post Thursday (right) — less than a week after Russian forces stormed an air base in Crimea that refused to surrender after the territory's annexation by Russia (left).

Obama’s Speech on Ukraine: Propaganda and Lies - Patrick Martin, The speech delivered by President Barack Obama in Brussels Wednesday was a call to arms for a US-NATO confrontation against Russia.

With a series of lies and evasions, Obama presented a world turned upside down in which the US and European imperialists, who backed the coup in Ukraine spearheaded by fascistic forces, are the defenders of democracy and peace. Image from entry

1984 in 2014: A new propaganda war underpins the Kremlin’s clash with the West - The Kremlin is celebrating the annexation of Crimea as though Russia had won the second world war (again) rather than grabbing a piece of land from a smaller and weaker neighbour. The public seems intoxicated by victory in a war that was begun, conducted and won largely through propaganda. The propaganda machine is fuelled by a “cocktail of chauvinism, patriotism and imperialism”, says one journalist. It plays on deep feelings among the Russian public: post-imperial nostalgia for the Soviet Union, an inferiority complex towards the West, and a longing for self-justification. Yet patriotic hysteria and jingoism may have reached such levels that any de-escalation by Mr Putin would seem like a defeat. The danger is that he starts to believe his own propaganda and pursues its logic towards renewed confrontation.

Non-Linear War - Peter Pomerantsev, London Review of Books: Russian television is full of hysteria about enemies of the state, fascists taking over Ukraine in a rerun of the Second World War, the great conflict with the godless gay West.

Putin’s news network - Robert Fulford, When Vladimir Putin started his own cable news and Internet service, he said he wanted to break the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on global information. The Russia Today network, now named RT, was to be "absolutely independent.” He didn’t want it automatically committed to his policies. He was kidding, of course, and no doubt everyone working for the network knew it. RT is a propaganda bureau, funded by the federal government — and that’s what makes it interesting and often enlightening.

With Russia dominating the news, it’s more than worth sampling. RT feels much like a reverse image of Fox News. The hosts and reporters are often well-coiffed, leggy American women with firmly held opinions and an angry tone. Image from entry, with caption: RT, a Russian state-funded television channel, is like an angry, anti-American mirror of Fox News.

Matviyenko: No Russian TV channels promote anti-Ukrainian propaganda - [subscription]: Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko has condemned the decision by Ukrainian authorities to ban broadcasts of Russian television channels.

These Are Russia's Alleged Propaganda Instructions On Crimea - Jeremy Bender,
A list of propaganda stories prepared for Russian news stations by the Kremlin have apparently been leaked by a Russian internet group called 'Anonymous International,' Global Voices reports.

The list of prepared topics instructs television journalists to focus on praising the annexation and development of Crimea, while simultaneously portraying the Ukrainian revolution as being run by fascists and extremely damaging to Ukraine as a whole. Uncaptioned image from entry

Are Ukraine’s Pro-Maidan Jews Courting Another Holocaust? According to one Russian TV station, they are - Halya Coynash, Russia may have the military and economic clout to annex another country’s territory, but its propaganda efforts have been foundering spectacularly of late. Prominent Jewish organizations and public figures have publicly condemned Russian lies; the latest fake demonstrates primitive disinformation; and an attempt on 23 March to present Jewish and Russian organizations supporting Maidan as bringing on “a second Holocaust,” as they allegedly did Shoah, could backfire. None of this will matter for those in Russia and Crimea fed only such lies, but the Western media could well take note – and adequate measures for filtering murky information channels. The easiest thing to do when Jewish organizations and religious and public figures deny Russian claims that rampant anti-Semitic hordes have seized power in Ukraine is to pull out other Jews willing to wax hysterical about the anti-Semitic “threat.”

Putin's New War on “Traitors” - Joshua Yaffa, New Yorker: As the space for independent journalism in Russia shrinks, the propaganda apparatus is working at feverish speed. A new Web site called—the word means “traitor”—has recently launched, featuring a list of public figures that the site’s anonymous creators deem to have betrayed Russia, whether by criticizing the annexation of Crimea or by supporting Western sanctions.

North Korea, Syria, Cuba Back Russia's Crimea Incursion at UN - Alexander Smith, Russia has accused the West of using "the Cold War-era propaganda machine" to whip up support for a United Nations resolution condemning the Moscow-backed referendum in Crimea. Just 11 of the U.N. General Assembly's 193 members supported Russia by voting "no" to the non-binding resolution on Thursday. These included an assortment of authoritarian regimes and human rights abusers such as North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Cuba.

Who Killed One of the Most Notorious Right Sector Leaders in Ukraine? - Oleg Shynkarenko, Daily Beast: Brutal, defiant “Bilyi” was a dream come true for Kremlin propagandists, a nightmare for Ukrainian moderates. Now, just as he predicted on YouTube, he’s dead.

The Muzychko killing is most likely going to go down as one of those enigmatic deaths where many people have potential motives for murder, and each will construct a narrative about why someone else did it. The Right Sector gets rid of a notorious member with brutal behavior. Ukrainian police, meanwhile, can show that they control the situation in the country and no one can threaten their legal authority. The Kremlin loses a useful propaganda tool, but it also eliminates a thug with a lot of Russian blood on his hands. Image from entry

The Russian Open Games: Thwarted at Every Turn by the Powers That Be, but a Success Nonetheless! - Greg Louganis, Huffington Post: In the vein of the late Dr. Tom Waddell, who founded the Gay Olympics (now the Gay Games) in San Francisco in 1984, Konstantin Yablotskiy and Elvina Yuvakaeva, co-presidents of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation, organized the recent Russian Open Games "with the goal of promoting healthy lifestyles, physical activity and sports among the LGBT community and its supporters." Sochi was just Putin's propaganda, while the Russian Open Games represented real Russia!

World Poetry Day: “Childhood Lost” by Propaganda - Hilary Hilpert, In honor of World Poetry Day today, we’re

featuring our partner, spoken-word poet Propaganda, with a video of his poem “Childhood Lost.” “Childhood is worth saving, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.” Watch this powerful video, and learn more about Childhood Lost. Uncaptioned image from entry

The Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review: "It's junk," decrees Hotmail computer-tsars

For persons interested in how hotmail "selects" what to consider "junk mail," allow me to note that the most recent edition of my harmless "Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review" (PDBR, sent to email subscribers via buzzfeed) was relegated (today, March 29 -- not for the first time) to being "junk" by the hotmail computers-power-that-be which, evidently, rule (censor?) the so-called "internet freedom" space. For my sins I have a hotmail account, or so it appears.

Of course, efforts to reach "hotmail" staff (are there any real persons "behind" the computers?) have been fruitless. In our era of "endless connectivity," reaching those, if they are human, who peddle this mirage of universal groovy communications are, perhaps, hidden (if they exist) somewhere in a cloud, perhaps out of fear of being exposed of accusations of censorship.

So, if you are kind enough to be a hotmail email subscriber to the near-daily PDPBR, and are still interested in receiving it by email on a regular basis, may I suggest that you check your "junk mail" after 5:15 pm.

Real good junk, I assure you :). No needle needed to enjoy it free of charge!

And its being "forbidden" will, doubtless, be much more fun than it actually is.

Best wishes, John

P.S. Meanwhile again, I keep getting, in my "serious" hotmail account, emails from unknown persons suggesting that I've inherited millions, must help the undefined destitute, etc.

Image from

Friday, March 28, 2014

And now we have ... selfie diplomacy! Via JJ on Facebook

Russia sends troops, Obama administration sends a selfie

Russian leader Vladmir Putin sent in troops and tanks to invade neighboring Ukraine and the Obama administration is coming to the rescue with . . . selfies!
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was mocked Thursday after posting a photo of herself on Twitter holding a sign that read #United­For­Ukraine @State­Dept­Spox.”
Psaki, who has worked closely with President Obama since his 2008 campaign and is the chief communications adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, is smiling and giving a thumbs-up in the photo.
But the cheerleading for beleaguered Ukraine wasn’t trending or scaring off bully Putin, said critics in the blogosphere.
“Presenting The Latest US Strategy to Counter ‘Russian Aggression,’ ” a snarky blogger posted on “#Selfies!”
Critics said the photo from America’s chief diplomatic perch was embarrassing.
“No wonder Putin covers his mouth when speaking to Obama, perhaps to hide his laugh?” wrote another blogger.
“How flippin’ sad has the USA become?” wondered a third critic.
Psaki defended her photo.
“The people of Ukraine are fighting to have their voices heard and the benefit of communicating over social media is it sends a direct message to the people that we are with them, we support their fight, their voice and their future,” she said.
World leaders and Congress tried to provide Ukraine with more than selfie support Thursday to help contain the Russian Bear.
The International Monetary Fund pledged up to $18 billion in loans to Ukraine and the UN voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Russian-sponsored vote in Crimea that drove it toward the Kremlin.
For its part, Congress approved harsher sanctions against Russia.
Yet even with such intensive help to prop up Ukraine’s teetering economy, its prime minister warned of painful times ahead to implement economic reforms.
Energy prices were certain to jump quickly since much of the country’s energy supply comes from Russia.
In a passionate address to parliament in Kiev, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned that Ukraine was “on the brink of economic and financial bankruptcy” and laid out the fixes needed to put the country back on track.
“The time has come to tell the truth, to do difficult and unpopular things,” Yatsenyuk said, adding that Ukraine was short $25.8 billion — “equivalent to the entire state budget for this year.”
For his part, Obama called the swell of international support a “concrete signal of how the world is united with Ukraine.”
Russia shrugged off the torrent of criticism.
To counter sanctions, Putin’s government announced it would set up its own payment system to rival Visa and MasterCard after the two companies pulled out of some Russian banks.

Why is the United States Going Broke? The below provides one answer.

Barack Obama's first visit to Brussels to cost Belgium more than €10m

Obama will arrive with 900-strong entourage, including 45 vehicles and three planes, and attend EU and Nato summits
Nuclear Security Summit, The Hague, Netherlands - 24 Mar 2014
Belgium is mobilising 350 police and military on motorbikes to secure the president’s routes to EU and Nato summits. Photograph: Hollandse Hoogte/Rexsi
As Belgium's capital and host to the EU and Nato, Brussels is used to deploying heavy security when big names pop by. But US President Barack Obama's visit on Tuesday will strain the city like never before with €10m ($10.4m, £8.4m) of Belgian money being spent to cover his 24 hours in the country.
The president will arrive on Tuesday night with a 900-strong entourage, including 45 vehicles and three cargo planes. Advance security teams orchestrating every last detail have combed Brussels already, checking the sewers and the major hospitals, while American military helicopters were last week given the green light for overflights. The city hosts at least four EU summits a year, with each of these gatherings costing €500,000 in extra police, military and transport expenses. "But this time round, you can multiply that figure by 20," said Brussels mayor, Yvan Mayeur.
The city's four-stage security scale will be raised from two to three during the visit, Obama's first to the country. A tight cordon will surround The Hotel, the 27-storey former Hilton in the Toison d'Or shopping district where the president will spend the night.
Belgium itself is mobilising 350 police and military on motorbikes to secure the president's routes to EU and Nato summits on Wednesday, while a convoy of nine US helicopters will take Obama to an American first world war cemetery.
After landing at Wevelgem aerodrome, a phalanx of 30 armoured cars will take Obama to the cemetery where – accompanied by Belgium's King Philippe and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo – he will tour the battlefield and lay a wreath.
Obama will return to Brussels for a lunchtime summit with the European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, and the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso. He will then go to Nato's headquaters for a meeting with its secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Obama, who spent Monday in Amsterdam and The Hague, will depart Brussels on Wednesday evening for Rome, where he will meet Pope Francis. His sole planned speech during his three-nation, four-day European tour will be to a 2,000-strong audience at Brussels' Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar) on Wednesday afternoon.
Brussels already has a reputation as a gridlock capital, ahead of the likes of Los Angeles and London. But Brigitte Grouwels, who heads the city's transport policy, said the expected lockdown of key areas during Obama's visit should encourage locals to walk, cycle and take public transport. She said: "Obama's visit gives an excellent opportunity … to experience first hand a city unencumbered by cars."
Officials say Obama is unlikely to indulge in an impromptu city walkabout like George W Bush who, during a 2005 visit, dropped in on the distinguished chocolatier Mary to buy a box of pralines.

Under Russian Eyes: A Critical View of Ukrainian History Textbooks

See: Ukrainian lessons: they teach students in Ukrainian history textbooks? Among the illustrations in the article:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Evil "high-culture" American influence extended to Odessa ...

Оркестр Хобарта Эрла, [in English] Одесса Привоз флешмоб 22.03.2014 [link provides English-language background]

Национальный оркестр Одесской филармонии исполнил на Привозе классическую «Оду к радости». Музыканты исполнили произведение Людвига ван Бетховена. Музыканты заверили, что акция носит аполитичный…
Added on 3/23/14