Here are links from INFOdocket.
New State Department"Smart Traveler"iPhone App Available
iPhone app; Free.
"Digitized Medical Books: National Library of Medicine Releases “Turning the Pages” iPad App"
iPhone app; Free
"Food Safety Questions? USDA Releases Mobile Version of “Ask Karen” Virtual Assistant"
Mobile Web; FREE
State Department shifts digital resources to social media, By Alicia M. Cohn, The Hill (04/24/11).
With little fanfare, the State Department has abandoned America.gov -- an ambitious digital project launched three years ago to promote Democracy abroad -- and shifted its resources to social media projects.
The site, which provided original content translated into at least three languages besides English, "was meant to be a resource for cultural and policy information serving America’s interests abroad."
An announcement at http://America.gov says, "This site is being archived..." but provides no further information on what that means and if content that was on the site will be preserved or made available to the public.
Hat tip to Benton's Communications-Related Headlines!
[UPDATE 11/30: More and more context and analysis is coming out daily. We'll post links in the comments to stories of interest and would appreciate if readers would do the same. JRJ]
[Update 02/07/2011: I'd really like to know if any libraries are downloading and giving access to the cables. The best access I've seen so far is CableSearch. JRJ]
Wikileaks has just released its latest coordinated "radical transparency" document dump of 250,000+ US State Department diplomatic cables, with partnered coverage in the New York Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel (which also includes a cool visual interactive atlas of the cables). In addition, Wikileaks has expanded its partners to include El Pais and le Monde.
The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.
The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in "client states"; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
From the NY Times story (actually day 1 of 9 days of coverage):
A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats...
The cables, a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates, amount to a secret chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world in an age of war and terrorism. Among their revelations, to be detailed in The Times in coming days:
¶ A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
¶ Thinking about an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States.
¶ Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
¶ Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government: When Afghanistan’s vice president visited the United Arab Emirates last year, local authorities working with the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered that he was carrying $52 million in cash. With wry understatement, a cable from the American Embassy in Kabul called the money “a significant amount” that the official, Ahmed Zia Massoud, “was ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money’s origin or destination.” (Mr. Massoud denies taking any money out of Afghanistan.)
¶ A global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.
Steven Aftergood describes a new report on the State Dept. Office of the Historian and the Foreign Relations of the United States series:
- Something “Very Wrong” in State Dept History Office, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News, June 8, 2009.
- Management Review of the Office of the Historian, (Report Number ISP-I-09-43), State Department Office of Inspector General, May 2009.
With plummeting employee morale and departures of experienced staff historians, “something in HO is very wrong,” the Inspector General concluded. “HO is suffering from, and has for some time been handicapped by, serious mismanagement...
Under present circumstances, the task of the FRUS series, although mandated by law, is “almost unachievable,” the IG said.
State Dept. Hosts TED Talk, Tech Daily Dose, June 2, 2009.
The State Department on Wednesday afternoon will host the first ever U.S. government-sponsored Technology, Entertainment, Design, or TED, event. Speakers include social-media analyst Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody; philanthropist Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of the Acumen Fund; futurist Stewart Brand, author of the Whole Earth Catalog; economist Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion; and data visionary Hans Rosling, Karolinska Institutet Professor of International Health.... Video from the State Department event will be posted on the TED Web site, www.TED.com.
There is a nice overview of the "new, sleeker, and more interactive" web site of the Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, on the blog of the American Historical Association: Office of the Historian’s New Web Site, By Elisabeth Grant, AHA Today, April 06, 2009.
Note, particularly, that the series Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) is being transferred to this site.
The U.S. Department of State has launched a new web site, ExchangesConnect (connect.state.gov), to promote international exchanges and enhance the United States' image abroad, particularly among young people. ExchangesConnect is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. According to the Washington Post, "It’s a new online home for Americans and Web users overseas interested in interacting with other participants or potential participants in U.S. educational or foreign exchange programs." Use of the site requires registration. See also: State Department unveils social networking site, by Kellie Lunney, GovExec, December 1, 2008.
US Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security Countermeasures Directorate has recently launched a new public exhibition on cold-war era eavesdropping gadgets entitled, "Listening In: Electronic Eavesdropping in the Cold War Era." Scientific American posted a slide show ("Spying on the spies") of the exhibition and much of the text written about the devices, from old-school keyloggers to phone tap detectors. The permanent exhibit is located in the lobby of a State Department building in Rosslyn, Va.
Perhaps one of our DC readers can help us out and confirm the location. According to the State Department's list of field offices, there are 2 buildings in Rosslyn within a few blocks of each other: 1400 Wilson Boulevard and 1801 North Lynn Street.
MASON A3B RECEIVER: U.S. State Department engineers working for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security needed a receiver in order to find devices subversively transmitting signals to the enemy. The best kind of receiver was one that could be moved from room to room without looking like a radio, and the Mason A3 more than fit the bill.