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Whether by divine providence or a quirk of fate, the most charismatic Pope ever, who was made for television, came along just at the right time, when technology would finally make him available to all of the people all of the time.

WASHINGTON, March 30 – One of Al Jazeera’s fiercest critics in the U.S. now says the Arab satellite channel has become a vehicle to spread democracy in the Arab world.

Acknowledging this reversal of his longtime criticism of the channel, Richard Perle this morning said Al Jazeera’s broadcasts of elections in Afghanistan and Iraq and anti-Syrian protests in Lebanon was advancing democracy in the region – just by the pictures it showed.

At the British Chihuahua Club's 2005 competition a little dog named Diella Blonde with Attitude won the "Limit Bitch (Longhair)" award, all of which just goes to show that our friends across the pond go about things by tradition in their own way. And also by tradition, we Yanks are often perceived by them as well, you know, uncouth.

Beirut – 25 March 2005

As I write this it is late evening and Lebanon's Future Television is deep into its nightly talk show. Four hours, more or less, on where the country is headed. In the upper left corner of the screen a black mourning band cuts across the station's logo. Next to it is the legend "40 ... for Lebanon." The number marks the days since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The words are part of the Lebanese opposition's slogan: "The Truth ... for Lebanon."

Journalists are shocked, shocked to find government videos on local TV newscasts; Karen Hughes, meet Mike McCurry.

There are two big public diplomacy stories this week that are at odds with each other.

One is that the U.S. government has failed miserably in getting its story out to the world, that’s why people hate us, and Karen Hughes is the only one who can save the day.

March 15, 2005
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AMMAN, Jordan -- 14 March 2005

According to news reports over the weekend, President Bush plans to appoint his long-time media advisor, Karen Hughes, as the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. That this post has been vacant for months, even amid general agreement that America’s image overseas is in need of a radical makeover, is itself testimony to the depth of the challenges the new undersecretary faces.

Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on trends in U.S. public diplomacy during the almost two months that this column has been offered here: what we have seen are developments that confirm what we can call the Ted Turner rule.

In 1948, gasoline was 26 cents a gallon, a new car was $1,500, and you could drive it to see Bob Hope in the movie "Paleface," or head home to watch Milton Berle cavorting on your small, round, green TV screen.

1948 was also the year that Congress enacted the Smith-Mundt Act that has, for more than half a century, prevented Americans from understanding how a critically important part of the U.S. government carries out its responsibilities: Under that law, domestic distribution of U.S. government media content meant for overseas audiences was forbidden.

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