Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15 Public Diplomacy Review

"Today, Peace Corps volunteers ... work with beekeepers in Ghana to expand honey production."

--T. Rees Shapiro, Washington Post; image from

"Among the projects taxpayers paid for was an effort ... to provide Iraqi widows with fifteen beekeeping sets at the cost of just under $25,000. But 'widows were not as keen to keep bees as we thought, showing roughly the same enthusiasm as they had for short skirts.'"

--From a review of Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, which deals with U.S. diplomat Van Buren's service with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Iraq


(a) Belgrade Initiative for Public and Digital Diplomacy homepage, among its video series, contains the following two: (1) Master Class in Public Diplomacy - Hon. John Howard OM AC Lecture (2) Ambassador Don Beyer on American Public Diplomacy

(b) Studying jazz piano at NYU with a Fulbright grant: Alex Derudder - youtube.com: 2014-2015 Belgian Fulbright grantee to the U.S.: Alex Derudder looks forward to studying jazz piano at New York University (NYU) and gives advice to prospective Fulbright applicants; via LMH on Facebook

(c) Ensuring that the World Sees the Truth Behind Hamas - Moshe Herman, jewishpress.com: "Yishai presents audio recorded with Daniel 'Danny' Seaman, who is the Deputy Director General for Information at the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. Together, they discuss the Arab reaction to events that have happened in the past couple of weeks and how Israel’s reaction needs ensure that the truth is shown, despite the other side using terminology to try to confuse the world’s media.


The US Has Been Quietly Recording Pop Songs to Scare Away Would-Be Immigrants - Tess VandenDolder, inthecapital.streetwise.co: "While the United States might get the most credit for its military prowess the American government's public diplomacy efforts are pretty top notch. At least that's the positive spin on the fact that the United States has been spending millions of dollars on quiet public relations campaigns designed to dissuade Central Americans from attempting to cross the border into America, including producing some rather catchy pop songs.

or 'No More Crosses,' which highlighted the deaths and other dangers faced by migrants attempting to cross the Sonoran desert to reach the American border. Part of this campaign included the release of five songs, which are set in the popular and upbeat cumbia style, yet have lyrics that promise certain death for those attempting to illegal enter the United States. The most popular of these songs, La Bestia or 'The Beast,' is currently in daily rotation at 21 well known radio stations throughout Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The lyrics read, 'migrants from everywhere, entrenched along the rail ties. Far away from where they come, further away from where they go. They call her the Beast from the South, this wretched train of death. With the devil in the boiler, whistles, roars, twists and turns.'” Image from entry, with caption: US Customs and Border Control

Daring to Try: The US and Sectarianism in the Middle East (Part 2/2) - fairobserver.com: "The idea of concrete US action to affect the Sunni-Shia split is not audacious; it is necessary. The sectarian brushfire currently burning in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere threatens to consume the entire region if left unquenched, and Washington can and should take steps to act.

Through an adroit combination of public diplomacy and backroom dealings, American initiatives can have a real impact, and should be pursued quickly and comprehensively. Furthermore, the steps outlined above all provide a possibility of success while minimizing the US profile and diminishing the risk of public opinion issues. However, there is an important caveat: it should be remembered that these recommendations do not comprise any kind of silver bullet, either alone or in combination; any progress may come only after years of effort. But they do have a very real potential to nudge the Sunni-Shia split in a less explosive direction. If there is even the remotest possibility of such an outcome coming to pass through American actions, the US has a moral obligation to make the attempt." Uncaptioned image from entry

Department of State Public Schedule, July 14, 2014 - posted at rockycoastnews.blogspot.com: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS RICHARD STENGEL 11:00 a.m. Under Secretary Stengel meets with Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed Tawfik, at the Department of State."

House Foreign Affairs Chairman: Overhaul Pro-Freedom Broadcasting -
John Gizzi, newsmax.com: "House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce has called for a complete overhaul of the U.S. government agency that oversees civilian broadcasting abroad, saying the current Broadcasting Board of Governors is effectively 'defunct' and 'real change' is needed to send American voices of freedom to people who aren't as free. 'We need an overhaul of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and a complete reinvigoration of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and the Voice of America,' the California Republican said. 'Real change is needed to offset the propaganda in Russia and the Middle East.' At a media breakfast on Friday hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Royce specifically criticized the 'the part-time Board of Governors, which very often cannot find a quorum.' He called for replacing the current structure of three disparate broadcasting bodies by combining them into 'a single institute.' 'It would be put under a CEO and have an advisory panel, and operate like the NED,' he said, referring to the National Endowment for Democracy, the umbrella agency that oversees the four core pro-democracy nongovernmental organizations.

But Royce strongly emphasized that the message of the streamlined broadcasting agency must also be overhauled. He urged that it should communicate the same things as it did during the Cold War. The Californian pointed out that 'friendly voices' and messages of freedom were heard from U.S. broadcasts under his political hero Ronald Reagan. A younger Royce worked as executive director of Reagan's youth campaign in the California primary during Reagan's 1976 challenge to President Gerald Ford. 'Radio Free Liberty and Radio Free Europe helped instruct a generation of young Germans and helped shape' the present free Germany, he said, noting that many Germans have said the positive messages they heard on those broadcasts were light years removed 'from the bombastic rhetoric of [Communist] East Germany.' Recalling a decision made by Radio Liberty not to broadcast into what was then Yugoslavia, Royce said that years after that country dissolved into civil war and broke up into several states, he met a young man from the former Yugoslav state of Croatia. 'He told me all he had to listen to was hate radio from the Serbs [who forged the present nation of Serbia], hate radio from Bosnia-Herzegovina [now an independent state], and his own peoples' hate radio.' The Croatian contrasted those broadcasts, Royce said, with broadcasts under U.S. aegis by Czechoslovakian anti-Communist leader Vaclav Havel, and told him, 'If only we heard what I heard, we would not have had the loss of life we did.' Royce noted that in a polar opposite situation to the bloodshed that swept former Yugoslav states in the 1990s, 'Czechoslovakia became independent and then peacefully divided itself into the Czech Republic and Slovakia without a shot being fired.'" Uncaptioned image from entry

Voice of America, entre la diplomacia y la información independiente -
Francisco Javier Hernández Alonso, diplomaciapublica.es: "Voice of America (VOA) nació durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y pronto fue utilizada como un servicio de diplomacia pública basado en informaciones transparentes y contrastadas que reflejaban el espíritu de los Estados Unidos. Una ley firmada en 1976 bajo el mandato de Gerald Ford constituía a la VOA como una fuente de información fiable, precisa y objetiva. A finales de abril (2014), el Comité de Asuntos Exteriores de la Cámara de Representantes (House Foreign Affairs Committee), dirigido por el republicano Ed Royce, propuso reformar la estructura de comunicación pública internacional de Estados Unidos. El proyecto de ley aborda la transformación del Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)

en la Agencia Internacional de Comunicaciones de los Estados Unidos (United States International Communications Agency, USICA). ... La propuesta del Comité de Asuntos Exteriores ha enfurecido a muchos periodistas que trabajan en la VOA ya que, en su opinión, el gobierno trata de instrumentalizar la información para sus objetivos políticos. Así, la objetividad e imparcialidad de la VOA se vería afectada. Pero el proyecto de ley presentado es muy claro, y advierte que los medios de comunicación del gobierno no deben hacer lo mismo que los operadores privados y deberán apoyar las políticas de los Estados Unidos. Y para asegurar una eficacia y una coordinación adecuadas se creará la Agencia Internacional de Comunicaciones de los Estados Unidos (USICA). ... Los periodistas y la sociedad norteamericana, con este proyecto, se encuentran ante una elección que tiene que ver con la naturaleza de sus comunicaciones internacionales. Si optan por utilizar la USICA como un medio de diplomacia pública, la VOA deberá seguir una línea editorial marcada por el gobierno. Si, por el contrario, deciden luchar por una VOA independiente, Estados Unidos perderá un gran activo diplomático. ... Estados Unidos deberá optar entre la diplomacia y la información libre, crítica e independiente." Image from entry

Nato leaders plot cyber fightback - Sam Jones, Financial Times:  "Nato has been shaken by the effectiveness of Russia’s online information war during the Ukraine conflict and is now looking for ways to counter the country’s aggressive propaganda campaigns, the UK ambassador to the world’s largest military alliance has said. Russia’s recent annexation of the Crimean peninsula and subsequent activities in eastern Ukraine were accompanied by organised internet trolling campaigns and cyber attacks on organisations deemed to be pro-western, Adam Thomson, the new UK permanent representative to Nato, said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Describing the annexation of Crimea as a 'real wake-up call' for Nato, he added that the issue of how to combat this media offensive would be one of several topics on the agenda at the Nato summit in September this year. ... Mr Thomson added: 'The question of strategic communication by western capitals, or by Nato allies, will come up at the summit ... there is a large amount of common ground. I’m sure we will all hotly debate the finer points of policy... but I’m not worried about coming to some good, strong clear conclusions.'” See also. Image from

Gaza in the First Person - R.S. Zaharna, uscpublicdiplomacy.org: "While much of the world sees Gaza in the third person -- a place peopled by 'them' – I see Gaza in the first person. It’s home. It’s my grandmother. It’s my room upstairs with the kitchen downstairs. ... When I hear Israeli military officials insist the rockets must stop, I agree. In the 21st century, such continued violence is unconscionable.

The deliberate killing of youth is unspeakable. When I hear the Israeli vow to stop the rockets 'once and for all,' my heart skips a beat. In the conflict between the intimately intertwined Israelis and Palestinians, the fate of one is the fate of the other. When we begin to ponder humane resolutions of that conflict and recognize how inexorably entwined our fates are, we might understand better why military solutions are neither effective nor enduring in ending that shared suffering. But that shift requires moving from us-versus-them to just us. That goal may seem elusive at the moment, but it is what compelled me to study communication and keeps me wedded to the ideals of public diplomacy." Uncaptioned image from entry

IDC fights war on another front: Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum - Lidar Gravé-Lazi, jpost.com: "As Israel’s security forces remain embroiled in the ongoing conflict with Hamas along the country’s southern border, students at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (IDC) are engaged on another equally important front: hasbara or public diplomacy. The Student Union at the

IDC opened a 'Hasbara Room' on Thursday – the first day of Operation Protective Edge – with the purpose of providing factual information about the situation on the ground to people around the world, as well as countering the misinformation and lies being disseminated on social media sites. 'Israel is not very strong at hasbara, while Hamas and the Palestinians are very good at spreading the word in the media,' said volunteer coordinator Karen Yoseph, a 27-year-old masters student at the IDC. 'We are trying to combat that and we are trying to expose that a lot of times Hamas is lying.' ... According to Yoseph, since the launch of Operation Protective Edge some 400 people have volunteered in the hasbara room and hundreds more have offered their assistance and support. Currently their operations encompass activities in 31 languages in 62 countries and have so far garnered some 6,000 followers on Twitter and some 55,000 likes on Facebook. They have also opened a dedicated website available in 13 languages, with informative texts, videos, pictures, and testimonials – www.Israelunderfire.com. ... One of the challenges facing Israeli hasbara has been the constant stream of fake photos and images of dying and oppressed children – many of which are old pictures from the conflict in Syria being misrepresented by Hamas and others. Some are even pictures straight out of Hollywood films. ... Asked whether hasbara is making a difference, Yaffe said he believes that public opinion is more on Israel’s side than in any previous operation, while De Benedetti [Emanuele De Benedetti, a 21-year-old undergraduate at the IDC from Rome] replied that he hadn’t been convinced, at least not until recently." Image from entry, with caption: IDC

Israel student union sets up “war room” to sell Gaza massacre on Facebook - Ali Abunimah, electronicintifada.net: "As the death toll from Israel’s savage bombardment of Gaza continues to climb, Israel has once again turned to students to sell the slaughter online. Although they haven’t been called up to the army yet, they’ve decided to enlist in a civilian mission that is no less important – Israeli propaganda [hasbara],’ Ynet’s Hebrew edition reported about a massive initiative organized by the Israeli student union branch at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC Herzliya), a prestigious private university.  ‘Hasbara,’ literally ‘explaining,’ is the term used in Israel for government propaganda aimed at overseas audiences.

‘The goal is to deliver a very clear message to people abroad – Israel has the right to defend itself,’ Lidor Bar David told Ynet. Bar David, a student, and one of the organizers of the ‘war room,’ adds, ‘We want people abroad who don’t know our reality to understand exactly what is going on here.’ …  Last year a ‘covert’ Israeli government initiative came to light which planned to pay students for spreading propaganda online. ‘The whole point of such efforts is to look like they are unofficial, just every day people chatting online,’ Israel expert Dena Shunra told The Electronic Intifada. ‘But in fact, these are campaigns of organized lying, orchestrated with government-approved talking points and crowdsourced volunteers and stipend recipients,’ Shunra added. According to Ynet, ‘The war room was opened in the afternoon of the first day of Operation Protective Edge,’ one week ago, by the IDC Herzliya student union, and currently has more than 400 volunteers active in it, all students at the institution. Image from entry, with caption: Students at the IDC Herzliya 'war room,' seen here in a screenshot, focus on posting propaganda justifying Israel’s attack on Gaza on Facebook. See also.

Hamas propaganda programme targets Israelis and Palestinians: Inspired by Hezbollah, Hamas is waging propaganda warfare and seeking to prepare ground for myth of victory - Sara Hussein, Middle East Online: "The music video opens with Palestinian Hamas fighters in fatigues building, transporting and then firing rockets at Israel -- but the triumphant lyrics are being sung in Hebrew, not Arabic. 'We prepare a generation of warriors who cling to death like the enemy clings to life,' the words run, with Arabic subtitles. 'A (nation) state of weakness and illusion can't hold out during wars,' it continues, referring to Israel. 'They fall apart like spider webs when they meet knights.' The five-minute video is part of a slick propaganda programme designed by Hamas and its armed Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades wing. It can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiUWgWjL24U&feature=youtu.be. The programme is intended both to rally divided domestic Palestinian opinion behind the group during its current conflict with Israel, but also to address the Israeli public directly. The music video, entitled 'Shake Israel's Security,' is a Hebrew remake of a song that the group released in Arabic in 2012, during its last conflict with Israel. It appears to be the first time that Hamas has released a song in Hebrew, but it builds on a broader strategy of delivering its own message to Israelis. ... The message is a mixture of threats intended to create fear, and attempts to turn Israelis against their government. It also mirrors Israel's media operations, which include military spokesperson Twitter accounts in multiple languages -- including Arabic, and video footage intended to illustrate the 'targeted' nature of air strikes. The Israeli army even distributed lollipops in part of the West Bank recently, offering 'a little sweetness' to counteract the 'bitterness Hamas has brought to your lives'."

Gaza: Turkey increases aid to Strip through Israeli crossing - ansamaed.info: "Turkish agencies have been flowing aid into Gaza worth a total of USD 2.5 million and most of the assistance is based on local procurement, daily Hurriyet online reported quoting a Turkish official as saying. The rest of the Turkish humanitarian assistance, food and medical treatment provided from Turkey, has been delivered into Gaza through Israeli crossings in line with the earlier practices between the two countries, the official added. The Israeli Embassy in Ankara contacted the Turkish authorities late July 11 and offered assistance with the coordination of delivering aid to the Gaza Strip, according to embassy officials. The Turkish Foreign Ministry received the offer, but has initiated further cooperation with the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Ankara considered the Israeli embassy's initiative as part of their public diplomacy efforts because the delivery of Turkey's humanitarian assistance is already provided in coordination with the Israeli army, which controls the border crossings, and the Palestinian Authority director of border crossings."

Institutes of Confusion - akkuza.com: "Confucius Institutes have been set up the world over by China in an effort, true, to spread its cultural enlightenment to the world. These institutes though are not totally bereft of controversy and this mainly because of the very nature of their backer. Alas Chinese culture includes a dark void in such subjects as democracy and human rights. Don’t expect the institutes to be a shining example or learning center where these subjects are concerned. Last year a number of Canadian Universities were up in arms and sought to eliminate all ties to their Confucius Institutes precisely because of behaviour that was not fitting for liberal democracies [.] ... There’s more in this article in the New York Times also highlighting all the strings that are attached to setting up a China funded institute within a Western University.

In the article the difference between Confucius Institutes and the Alliance Francaise is stressed [.] ... Academics find the idea of the institutes abhorrent because they symbolise the stifling of academic freedom – and they insist on being intrinsically linked to university campuses. Their use as a tool of propaganda while censoring controversial parts of the Chinese story (the three T’s are blacked out: Tiananmen, Tibet and Taiwan) makes them stick out like ugly warts within the Western concept of liberal seats of learning that is supposed to underlie the very basis of academic development. ... Dealing with China brings in Chinese favors and money but the ultimate result is that what suffers are truth and integrity." Uncaptioned image from entry

Why did a Chinese newspaper call Julie Bishop a 'complete fool'? - John Garnaut, smh.com.au: "The editorial page of Monday's Global Times - the Chinese Communist Party's rabidly nationalistic tabloid - would seem to support .. [the] prediction that Australia will pay a price for obstructing, rather than facilitating, the expansion of Chinese 'leadership' in the region. The paper derided Julie Bishop as a 'complete fool' using a term that defies neat translation but could be construed even more harshly.  ... What was Ms Bishop's sin?

She dared to publicly air what leaders across the region have been saying privately to each other for quite some time. ... Successive Australian governments have not been in any kind of denial about China's challenge to the strategic order. ... Since 2011, however, when China flexed its paramilitary, economic and diplomatic might to dislodge the Philippines from the Scarborough Shoal, these concerns have risen to the 'actual' level. And they rose to new heights in 2012 when China used military, paramilitary, economic and public diplomacy levers - including the Global Times - to frame their story and challenge Japan's control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands." Image from entry, with caption: Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in her office at Parliament House

Farewell Luncheon for Ambassador Sarath Kongahage hosted by the Foreign Office - asiantribune.com: "The German Federal Foreign Ministry hosted a luncheon at the fashionable 'Bocca di Bacco' restaurant in the centre of Berlin to bid farewell for Ambassador Sarath Kongahage on the conclusion of his tour of duty as Sri Lankan Ambassador for Germany. ... Mr. Peter Pruegel, Regional Director of the Foreign Office for Asia and the Pacific in his farewell speech said that 'you have accomplished a great deal in terms of consolidating the multifaceted relations between Sri Lanka and Germany.

Your distinguished service has earned respect and admiration in Germany. Your firsthand experience and understanding of the Germany would be a valuable asset to both our countries. As far as public diplomacy is concerned, you are a brilliant representative for Sri Lanka, you reached out to almost every state of this country at the time Sri Lanka and Germany were celebrating 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relation between two countries and promoted your country in many aspects, Mr. Pruegel added. 'On behalf of Federal Foreign Ministry and the government of Germany, I convey our gratitude to you for having been supportive to bridge the gaps that arose in our relationship.'” Uncaptioned image from entry

Featured Expert Opinions: A Look Back at Brazil’s Hosting of the World Cup and Forward to the Rio 2016 Olympics - uscpublicdiplomacy.org: "As the World Cup drew to a dramatic close on July 12, CPD reached out to a few public diplomacy experts and asked whether they thought Brazil’s hosting of the tournament had been worth it, in terms of its global image and soft power, and what it means for the country as it prepares for the arrival of the Olympics in 2016. Has the World Cup helped Brazil’s global image/soft power? 'The failure of the Brazilian team has caused huge damage to the country’s international reputation. ... Professor Jacques A. Wainberg, School of Communication, Catholic University, Porto Alegre, Brazil' 'Pulling off the mega-event has certainly given the country a great deal of global projection. ... Professor Roger Kittleson, author of 'The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil' 'As Brazil’s football team has been eliminated, the global circulating sentiment is one of embarrassment. ... Rook Campbell, Visiting Professor of Political Science, Communication and Diplomacy, USC' 'Brazil, which prides itself on its soccer prowess, has suffered a soft power hit. ... Ambassador Derek N. Shearer, Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and Director, The McKinnon Center on Global Affairs' ..."

Preparing for comps -- Part 3 - Julio J. Bermejo, Freudsnephew.blogspot.com: "Esser  (2009), in his content analysis of metacoverage of the Gulf War and Iraq War in five German newspapers, equates public relations with propaganda and with public diplomacy: ‘Diplomatic craft requires effective use of communication to persuade public opinion around the world to support one's causes. Also, the use of propaganda or international public relations[emphasis added] is sometimes euphemistically called public diplomacy’ (p. 709).”


America’s ‘freedom’ reputation is on the decline a year after NSA revelations - Andrea Peterson, Washington Post: A main selling point of the U.S. brand on the international stage has long been summed up with the screech of eagles and one word: "Freedom."

But in the wake of the revelations about U.S. surveillance programs from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year, the world is less convinced of the U.S.'s respect for personal freedoms according to new survey results from Pew Research. Image from entry

Peace Corps announces major changes to application process - T. Rees Shapiro. Washington Post: The Peace Corps, formed more than 50 years ago to send Americans abroad to perform good works, is in the midst of its most serious challenge, with the number of applicants falling rapidly, leaving the volunteer force at its lowest level in more than a decade.

Recognizing that the organization envisioned by President John F. Kennedy could be endangered, its leaders are scheduled to announce Tuesday a series of steps to make it more attractive, including allowing candidates to choose the country where they want to serve, shortening the year-long application period, and recruiting more minorities and young people. “The Peace Corps is a great brand, but we really needed to bring it into the 21st century,” Carrie Hessler-Radelet, director of the organization, said ahead of the announcement. “This is the most extensive reform effort our agency has ever undertaken.” Uncaptioned image from entry

Obama's foreign-policy strikeout: Could things get any worse for him? - Dana Millbank, Washington Post: The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article Monday reporting that "the breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn't been seen since the late 1970s" and that "U.S. global power seems increasingly tenuous." The Journal's catalogue of woes — civil wars in Iraq and Syria, hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, an electoral crisis in Afghanistan, tension with Russia over Ukraine, floundering nuclear negotiations with Iran and renewed Chinese expansionism — didn't include the current crisis on the United States' Southern border. Could things get any worse? Well, maybe if the president's chief spokesman claimed that Obama was bringing "tranquility" to the globe — which is what White House press secretary Josh Earnest did at his daily briefing Monday afternoon.

Berlin vs. Washington: When friends spy on friends - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Spying on a close ally is as likely to undermine as to enhance the security of the U.S. Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that Germany and the U.S. shouldn't "waste energy" spying on each other. Obama should make sure that the CIA and other intelligence agencies understand and act on that message.

Undoing Afghanistan's resource curse - Jodi Vittori, Los Angeles Times: President Obama warned recently that the Al Qaeda-inspired militants who have seized territory in Iraq pose a serious threat to the United States. After the U.S. exited Iraq and Americans thought they had escaped the conflict, Washington has had to pledge sustained support to the Iraqi government.

If the U.S. wants to avoid a similar outcome in Afghanistan, it has to treat management of natural resources as a core strategic priority — not an optional extra — and as a basic condition for stability. Image from entry, with caption: Afghan laborers relax during a work break on their carts in Herat, Afghanistan.

After Afghanistan's Questionable Election, a Real Chance for Peace - Editorial, Washington Post [subscription]

Attacking Israel with the big lie: genocide - Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times: If Hamas were chiefly concerned with protecting Palestinian lives, it would not implore Gazans to stay in their homes — serving as human shields and inflating the body count as a propaganda prop to increase international pressure on Israel.

Is the State Department Prioritizing 'Pretty Buildings' Over Preventing the Next Benghazi?Lawmakers question whether the department’s new embassy strategy puts U.S. personnel at risk? - Jordain Carney, nationaljournal.com: Almost two years after the Benghazi terrorist attack, lawmakers are taking their investigation to a new front: architecture. Lawmakers suggested Thursday that the State Department is trading safety overseas for, as Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said, "pretty buildings." The State Department rolled out the "design excellence" plan for building overseas facilities under President Obama.

The guidelines were aimed at designing buildings that better represent U.S. values, but at a lower cost. Lawmakers have honed in on diplomatic security since the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans: Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith, and embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Image from entry, with caption: The aftermath of an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. See also.

British Film Institute: Government and Art becomes Government Art becomes Propaganda - Rebecca Hamilton, patheos.com: It appears our British cousins do not ascribe to the artistic freedom idea, at least not when it pertains to political-correctness. Exercising the Golden Rule without Christ, they will require film-makers who want to receive funding from the British Film Institute to “ensure diversity in films” by “ticking” at least two of three criteria. The filmmaker must provide on-screen diversity, off-screen diversity and “creating opportunities for social mobility.” The government intrusion into artistic expression in this is obvious. It is direct, government control of artistic expression for the express purpose of controlling the attitudes and beliefs of the populace.

From the archive, 14 July 1930: The World Wide Whisper -- Editorial: Germany fears Communist radio propaganda from Russia, but its new 'giant loudspeaker' technology could be exploited by those with bad intentions - the guradina.com: Berlin, which is reported to be seriously concerned about Communist propaganda launched by wireless from Moscow in four languages, would yet seem to be actively interested in making that kind of interference with one’s neighbours more effective than ever. For even while there are complaints about broadcast sedition there are rejoicings over the introduction, by one of Germany’s great engineering firms, of a “new giant loud-speaker.” It seems to be the mechanical perfection of the stage “aside”; it does not shout, but it can make itself heard from one end of a town to the other, and, according to the Observer’s account, “a whole fleet, a whole army, not to mention a whole town, can be controlled by one whisper into a microphone.”

With such an instrument at its disposal Moscow would be able to cover the length and breadth of Berlin with Communist propaganda, and the only hope for law and order would be to hire another machine and shout down the invaders - a painful prospect for the peaceful citizen who only wished to hear a little chamber music or the night’s news. But this would mean a real invasion of the rights of a sovereign State; presumably the distributing station would have to be sited within the threatened area, and in that case it might be detected, seized, and destroyed. On the other hand, it might not. The ingenuity which has created the ten-mile whisper might also make a ventriloquist of his invention in order that the sound would seem to come from all sorts of unlikely sources. The hidden operator might then waft his message about like a boy playing with a sunbeam and a mirror, so that an anti-religious address appeared to be issuing from the archbishop’s palace, an exhortation to mutiny from the War Office, and an appeal to the workmen to down tools from the Ministry of Labour. It is altogether a very alarming prospect, but if Berlin will work miracles Berlin must be prepared for the possibility of their abuse. It should be remembered in time that the difference between White Magic and Black is chiefly one of intention. Image from entry, with caption: Radio was a key tool for propaganda in 1930s Germany.

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