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just consulting has a new digital home!

Today the team at just consulting unveiled its new website.

Thanks to our webmaster, Jen Ehlers, just consulting has launched a fantastic site that demonstrates not only our skills and services, but also our professional digital presence in the consulting/government relations world.

And with this new site, I received a gentle reminder of the need actually to write all the blogs I have been thinking and talking about…

Check out the amazing new site here, and be sure to sign up for our mailing list for reports about just’s work, events and other great information!

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America – and Afghanistan – Needs Another Charlie Wilson

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, 76, has passed away. While his life was caricatured in the admittedly fantastic Hollywood biopic Charlie Wilson’s War, Congressman Wilson was in fact a great public servant, a fantastic American and an international statesman and game-changer.

During the congressional perk heyday, Charlie Wilson was best known as the hard-drinking, hard-partying Texas congressman with a penchant for beautiful women. His wild lifestyle earned him the nickname “Good Time Charlie”.

“Charlie may have been the only believer in the United States that the Afghan people could actually expel the Soviets. He had his own personal jihad,” said Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

Historians can argue over the reality of the movie lionization of Charlie Wilson. But what no one can argue is that he single-handedly raised the attention of both congressional leaders and the United States public to the situation in Afghanistan.

We can expect any Hollywoodization of a real person and their story to filled with Hollywood-style gratuities – such as portraying Joanne King Herring as a caring and concerned citizen rather than the paid lobbyist of the Pakistani government that she was. But the movie did portray at least one element of Charlie Wilson’s story dead-on accurately: he cared about what the Soviets were doing in Afghanistan and raised holy hell in Congress to stand up to it.

Some of Charlie Wilson’s compatriots in the Afghanistan struggle, like the incomparable and mythical Kathryn Cameron Porter, continue to be voices in the wilderness on Afghanistan policy.

With Charlie Wilson now accounting for his deeds, America needs another Charlie to take the bulls by the horns and stand up for Afghanistan. With ever-lowering approval ratings on the war in Afghanistan and the majority of Americans forgetting that we actually have troops over there, someone has to speak out and stand up for American policy there.

President Obama has increased the troops levels and military spending while not increasing the USAID or aid budget to Afghanistan. We send our troops to die for and in a country that, from this viewers’ perspective, isn’t interested in having us there. On the one hand, we say the Taliban and Al-Queda are the enemy we are rooting out, while on the other hand we posit that perhaps we should be negotiating with the Taliban to turn them away from Al-Queda.

The United States has no over-arching, strategic policy for Afghanistan. We have plenty of tactical policies, but no over-arching aim of what we want to achieve in AfPak. Continued drone attacks are not enough to end the insurgency or win hearts and minds.

Charlie Wilson knew what needed to be done in Afghanistan. He wasn’t a geopolitical grand strategist, or an intelligence analyst. He was a guy who did a thing because it was the right thing to do.

“People like me didn’t fulfill our responsibilities once the war was over,” Wilson said in a September 2001 interview with The Associated Press. “We allowed this vacuum to occur in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which enraged a lot of people. That was as much my fault as it was a lot of others.”

America desperately needs another Charlie Wilson now to help us figure out an Afghanistan policy that will be mutually beneficial to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States the way Charlie did.

Morocco Comes to Scranton — Photos, Food, and Wine at City Hall

February 4, 2010 2 comments

The great piece below ran in today’s Scranton Times about my friend Heather Walsh DiPaolo’s photo exhibit. Heather came with me to Morocco last summer and this exhibit shows off some of her work.

If anyone is in the Scranton area tomorrow evening, be sure to stop by. The Moroccan ambassador, His Excellency, Aziz Mekouar, will be joining us. The ambassador was kind enough to contribute quite a few bottles of Moroccan wine, and there will be hors d’oeuvres and Moroccan music.

If anyone from outside Scranton is interested in coming, the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center is offering an $89/night rate for the exhibit. When you make your reservation, reference the “Moroccan Photo Exhibit” to get the rate.

I hope you’ll be able to join us and support Heather’s work!

First Friday photo exhibit celebrates Morocco
By Josh McAuliffe (STAFF WRITER)
Published: February 4, 2010

Heather DiPaolo‘s photographic exhibit, “Morocco: The Western Kingdom,” will be on display Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Scranton City Hall. Above is Mrs. DiPaolo’s photo of the second largest mosque in the world, located in Casablanca.

Facebook helped Heather DiPaolo reconnect with her old Scranton Preparatory School classmate Joseph Grieboski.

Then it got her a trip to Morocco.

Last year, the West Scranton resident traveled to the North African country to serve as the official photographer for a trip sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank founded by Mr. Grieboski, formerly of Scott Twp.

Now, 20 of Mrs. DiPaolo’s best photos from that trip will be the centerpiece of the exhibit, “Morocco: The Western Kingdom,” which will be on display Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Scranton City Hall.

Part of this month’s First Friday art walk in downtown Scranton, the event will feature an appearance by Aziz Mekouar, the Moroccan ambassador to the United States, as well as the entire Moroccan embassy staff and Mr. Grieboski. Stirna’s will provide appetizers, and several types of Moroccan wine will be served.

Mrs. DiPaolo attended Prep at the same time as Mr. Grieboski, but aside from being in several of the same classes they didn’t know each other all that well. Then, one day last year, Mr. Grieboski, whose organization was nominated for two Nobel Peace Prizes for its work promoting religious freedom throughout the world, sent Mrs. DiPaolo a friend request on the social networking Web site Facebook.

They started chatting about their respective lives, and when Mr. Grieboski made a trip to Scranton they decided to meet for lunch.

“He’s really a fascinating person,” Mrs. DiPaolo said. “He is a supergrounded, genuine guy.”

When Mrs. DiPaolo told Mr. Grieboski about her photography, a hobby she had picked up after becoming a stay-at-home mother to her children, he invited her to take part in his organization’s upcoming goodwill trip to Morocco.

“I said, ‘You tell me when and where,’ ” said Mrs. DiPaolo, long a devotee of travel photography.

Between meetings with high-level Moroccan government officials, Mrs. DiPaolo got the chance to see and shoot a good part of the country, from the world’s second- largest mosque in Casablanca to the open-air markets of Marrakech to the rugged natural beauty of the disputed region of Dakhla, located in the western Sahara.

“That was my favorite place. I would move there tomorrow,” she said of Dakhla. “I had pains in my stomach leaving there.”

Overall, Mrs. DiPaolo took about 1,000 pictures, a good portion of which were of buildings, partly due to her interest in architecture and partly due to the fact that many of the Moroccans she encountered refused to have their pictures taken.

Mrs. DiPaolo’s ultimate goal for her photos was to juxtapose “Western culture and the traditional Moroccan culture.”

“You have the chance to show the differences in the cultures, but also the common traits we all share,” said Mrs. DiPaolo, who has been asked by the Moroccan government to turn her photos into a coffee table book. “A lot of times, the more exotic the destination, the more similar we actually are.”

Contact the writer: jmcauliffe@timesshamrock.comIf you go

What: “Morocco: The Western Kingdom,” photographs by Heather DiPaolo

Where: Scranton City Hall, 340 N. Washington Ave.

When: Friday, 6 to 9 p.m.

Details: The exhibit is part of this month’s First Friday art walk in downtown Scranton, and admission is free. Aziz Mekouar, the Moroccan ambassador to the United States, will be among the featured guests. Appetizers will be provided by Stirna’s, and a selection of Moroccan wines will be available. First Friday Venues

Parallels: Emanuel, Sawicki And Teitsworth and the Artwork Summer Program: opening reception Friday, 6 to 9 p.m.; through Feb. 25, ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, Lackawanna Avenue.

Ashcan Humanists: by John Sloan and Jerome Myers, Friday through March 12; gallery lecture, Feb. 5, 5 p.m., Hope Horn Gallery, University of Scranton.

Works In Clay: by Jeff Kuratnick, opening reception, Friday, 6 to 9 p.m.; through March March 4, Creedon’s Floral and Art Gallery, 323 N. Washington Ave.

The Art Of The Brick: Lego Sculptures by Nathan Sawaya: Friday to May 2, Everhart Museum.

Brick Creations: Student Art at The Everhart: Friday through May 2, Everhart Museum.

Isaiah’s Corner: Build It!: Friday through May 2, Everhart Museum.

2010 Winter Members Show: opening reception Friday, 6 to 9 p.m.; through Feb. 27, Afa Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.

Scenes From Delaware Water Gap: photography by Rick Faas, opening reception Friday, 6 to 9 p.m., STAR Gallery, second floor, The Mall at Steamtown.

Neo Surrealist Portraiture By Tina Imel: Anthology, 515 Center St., second floor

Jewelry That Celebrates Your Heart’s Passion: The Crazy Pineapple, 317 Linden St.

Nature of Northeast Pa: photography by Robert Kareka and works in clay by Jeff Kuratnick, Creedon’s Flower Shop, 323 N. Washington Ave.

Passport: photography by Rachel Dare, Eden – A Vegan Cafe, 344 Adams Ave.

In Passing: watercolors by Keith Beale, Electric Theatre Company, 326 Spruce St., second floor

New Paintings by Brooke Wandall: GreenBeing, 334 Adams Ave.

Works By Gallery Artists: Laura Craig Galleries, 307 Linden St.

Furniture Forms: mixed media works by students of Marywood University, Lavish Body+Home, 600 Linden St., and Marquis Art and Frame, 515 Center St.

Oil, Pastel And Watercolors: by artist of the month Devon O’Keefe, with music by the Bog Swing Band, Northern Light Espresso Bar, 536 Spruce St.

Handmade Headwear by Dana Zaccheo: Outrageous, 515 Center St.

Prints Of The Original Building Plan Drawn by Raymond Hood: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.

A Collection of Still Lifes by Prominent Northeast Pa Artists: Windsor Studios, 408 Spruce St.

The Fabulous Frankie Lapaglia: portraits by Zak Zavada, The Bog, 341 Adams Ave.

Free trolley rides will be provided to and from each venue from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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