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I believe that a final, negotiated FY 2018 budget request for the State Department should include continued funding – if not a gradual increase – of what has been a relatively small amount of money allocated every year to the soft power of “cultural diplomacy.” Roughly defined as the use of an exchange of ideas, traditions, and values to strengthen relations and encourage engagement, cultural diplomacy is perhaps most easily seen in the use of music, arts, and sports to build cross-cultural understanding.

Today marks one month since the assassination of journalist Javier Valdéz Cárdenas, which shook the international press community and further exemplified the pervasive violation of press freedom in Mexico. Winner of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2011 International Press Freedom Award, Valdéz was murdered on May 15 in broad daylight near the Ríodoce office, the local weekly publication he founded in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

Former U.S. Ambassador Curtis S. Chin on the proposed funding cuts to cross-cultural programs.

Beginning this week, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Global Ties U.S., will sponsor Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits, bringing together leaders in business, government, and the nonprofit world to further citizen diplomacy and forge new connections in local communities. The summits will take place across the United States, engaging Americans from diverse backgrounds on the innovations and impacts that stem from international relationships.

When Colombia’s newest television series airs this week, it will have many of the hallmarks of a classic telenovela. A handsome stock broker from the big city meets a mysterious and beautiful country girl. When she disappears, he’s left as the prime suspect in a shocking crime. But the biggest twist might be who’s helping finance the project: Uncle Sam. The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, put $1 million into the RCN Television series called “No Olvidarás Mi Nombre,” or “Don’t Forget My Name,” which begins airing Tuesday in Colombia.

The Worm has returned. On Tuesday, former NBA great Dennis Rodman flew back to North Korea during a time of heightened tensions with Washington, after the rogue state's 16 missile tests so far this year, and its arrest of two more U.S. citizens, bringing the total number of Americans held by the regime to four. It's at least the fourth trip to North Korea for Rodman, who was previously hosted in 2013 and 2014 by Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, a known basketball fanatic.

As Imam Omar Shaheed looked out at the 150 people who packed the Columbia Museum of Art’s auditorium Sunday night, he was struck by one thing. “We’re all different religions, but we have a humanity,” he said. “That’s really standing out.” Shaheed, imam at Masjid as-Salaam in Columbia, was part of the panel at “Dinner and Dialogue: Understanding Islam.” The discussion that was part of the event answered questions about the tenets of Islam, the most common misconceptions about the religion and the similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

With a partnership between the U.S. and U.K. that dates back to the 1980s, Red Dagger 17, now in its fourth consecutive year, intends to further share and strengthen knowledge and skills in military engineering between the Marine Corps and its allies. “We have been treated as equals and with great respect,” said Capt. Marcelo A. Garcia, the company commander of 6th ESB, 4th MLG, MARFORRES. “The 131 Commando Squadron often asks for feedback and have insisted that this exercise is meant to be a sharing of best practices, both in tactics and planning.”

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