Category Archives: DipNote

State Dept Wants To Protect Labor Rights in the Global Market Place – Smart Power in Action, Really …

– By Domani Spero


To mark Labor Day, Barbara Shailor, the State Department’s Special Representative for International Labor Affairs blogged on September 2 over at DipNote about “Protecting Labor Rights in the Global Market Place.”  We also marked labor day with a blog post on the State Department’s refusal to talk about granting labor rights to its local embassy employees worldwide (see State Dept on Embassy Workers Unionization: Yo! Could Put U.S. National Security at Risk).

We should admit upfront that Ms. Sailor’s blog post is definitely the most worthwhile read of the two.  After all, who can argue against “protecting the dignity of workers everywhere” as “the right investment?” Or fault the “history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — [… ] the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work?”  This American value is a laudable export to the  global market place. Last year, Ms. Shailor also had a labor day message for everyone.

This year, we again applaud the State Department’s commitment  “to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.” We are republishing Ms. Shailor’s blog post in full in appreciation of smart-power pretense affectation.

For over a century, we’ve set aside a day to honor the contributions of workers. The cookouts, shopping sales, and parades are end of summer American rituals.  But the significance of Labor Day — advocating for the dignity of work — is, and always will be an American value.

Promoting labor rights and improving working conditions is a smart economic investment — essential to driving growth, ensuring its benefits are broadly shared, and delivering decent jobs for the American people.

Protecting the dignity of workers everywhere is also the right investment.  The goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth.  That means ensuring all workers enjoy certain universal labor rights, including the freedom to associate and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, and prohibitions against the worst forms of child labor and forced labor, and employment discrimination.

Much of the world is still experiencing high unemployment, a lack of opportunities for youths, discrimination towards women, disabled persons, and LGBT individuals, and the growth of disenfranchised migrant workers and refugees.  This exacerbates already volatile situations in many countries.

By combating the root causes of poverty and helping countries provide a prospect for decent work we can better hope to achieve our foreign policy goals: stability, security, democracy, and prosperity for all.  We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization.

Secretary Kerry captured the importance of protecting rights in the global market place in his address at the University of Virginia, where he said:

“I’m here because our lives as Americans are more intertwined than ever before with the lives of people in parts of the world that we may have never visited. In the global challenges of diplomacy, development, economic security, environmental security, you will feel our success or failure just as strongly as those people in those other countries that you’ll never meet…it also gives us many more rivals determined to create jobs and opportunities for their own people, a voracious marketplace that sometimes forgets morality and values.”

The history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — is the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work.

Today, we celebrate the sacrifices and successes of workers everywhere, and commit to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.


Excellent example of talking the walk but not walking the talk.  Brava! Can we have more, please? File under the “hypocrasy” tag. And no, that’s not a misspelling.







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Filed under DipNote, Foreign Service, Funnies, John F. Kerry, Leadership and Management, Locally Employed Staff, Special Envoys and Reps, Spectacular, State Department

Rename DipNote Effort Gets Not So Hilarious Suggestions From Chattering Crowd

We previously blogged about the State Department’s crowdsourcing effort to give its official blog, DipNote a makeover (see State Dept Crowdsourcing New Blog Name – What’s Wrong With DipNote?).

As part of the Department of State’s redesign, the blog may get a new name.  Department employees worldwide apparently submitted more than 370 submissions for a new name for the blog. Last week, the public was asked to select one name from the top four blog names suggested by the employees:

  • Unclassified: The State Department Blog
  • Statecraft
  • DipNote
  • Matters of State

We don’t know if everyone who posted in the comments section of DipNote all voted but we noticed that a good number of them also posted their own blogname suggestions. A few samples below from the public’s abundant imagination:

  • Lol in Virginia writes: Spin Department or Propaganda Machine
  • Scott P. in Massachusetts writes: New Blogt Name — State of Affairs @StateofAffairs
  • Christy M. in New York writes: Try: 1)”QODUS” for The Quarter of Diplomacy in United States; or 2)”DOQUS for Diplomacy Operation Quarter of United States; or 3) USDOQ for United States Diplomacy Operation Quarter; or DUSQ for Diplomacy United States Quarter; or USDOQ for United States Diplomacy Operations Quarter
  • Mike S. in Pennsylvania writes: State It” Sometimes in naming you need to start all over. None of the lowest common denominator proposed names has any life or zing. It promises that the blog might be the same. Please find a name with zip such as the above suggestion or another submission.
  • Frank D. in New York writes: How about “Lies My Government Told Me”?
  • Edwyne R. in Texas writes: Blues News
  • Tom in Colorado writes: View Abroad
  • P. Kumar in Virginia writes:  My Suggestion for the Name of the State Dept Blog: StateSide
  • Cristian in Romania writes: Blogmerica
  • Katherine in the U.S.A. writes:  Foggy Bottom would be hilarious, though Unclassified would draw more folks in…
  • A.Y.C. writes: Peter Van Buren!
  • Willie W. in the U.S.A. writes: “Gayanashagowa” (the “Great Law of Peace”) Origin: Six Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee)
  • Erin S. in Virginia writes: Diplo-phone: like megaphone!
  • Michael in the U.S.A. writes: US DiploBlog
  • Donald M. in Virginia writes: Theres an old saying, “if it works don’t fix it” whats wrong with the current blog name? I like it and its fitting for what it does.
  • Betty D. in Idaho writes: BLOG FOG
  • W.W. writes: I would call it : UncleSam International
  • Eric in New Mexico writes: USDOSFAB” ??  


We thought that last one, USDOSFAB good as in USDOSFabulous.  No such luck, it turns out that simply means, “United States Deptartment Of State Foreign Affairs Blog.

Comedy Central’s Indecision, by the way,  considered it a shame that only State employees were asked to submit names for the jazzed-up site coming in 2013.  It posted that they have a many great ideas for blog names and content to feature at relaunch, such as:

  • BuzzState, featuring “15 Cats That Look Like Heads of State”
  • Diplomatic Pouches from Last Night, including this submission: “LOL I am so baked right now, XOXO – Ambassador Rudolf Bekink, Royal Netherlands Embassy”
  • Sttdprtmntr, which is American policy expressed entirely in GIFs
  • Hillary’s Livejournal, with the top entry: “Waiting for the Senate to confirm my successor. Mood: pensive.”

Even Twitchy got into the act, collecting suggestions from Twitter just for fun:

  • @BryTupper “State of Disbelief”
  • @rellis168 How about naming it Dodge Ball?
  • @theGrudgeRetort The Onion @StateDept
  • @serr8d  “Doublethink”
  • @Crapplefratz  “The Daily Stand-Down”

The names are certainly … um interesting, but they pale in comparison to the ones from 2007.  Don’t know who came up with these but way back when DipNote was just launched, the Top Ten Rejected State Department Blog Names apparently surfaced online.  Published here by FishbowlDC and  here by The Beltway Confidential. Please don’t fall off your chairs.

10. Blackwater Serenade
9. Condi Meant (First Post title: “Condi Fiddles while Nick Burns”).
8. Kinky Boots (First Post title: “The Twee Communiques”).
7. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rumsfeld! (First Post Title: “Allegro Con Dolcezza!”)
6. Bottom-up Reconciliation (whoops! That was supposed to be in the “Top Ten Rejected Larry Craig blog names”).
4. The Crocker Barrel (First Post: “The Global War On Errorism”)
3. The Wolf o’ Wits
2. Laying The Morning Cable (First Post: “I’ve Got Your Long Telegram Right Here, bub!”)
1. http://www.bitemejohnboltonwe’

What colorful names!  DipNote may not rock your world but it could have been a lot worse.

domani spero sig



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Filed under DipNote, FS Blogs, Social Media, State Department, Technology and Work

State Dept Crowdsourcing New Blog Name – What’s Wrong With DipNote?

DipNote, the official blog of the Department of State will soon get a makeover.  The blog was started on September 25, 2007 with a first post by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Sean McCormack. See his first post here from 2007 and his last post here in 2009.  The functionality and interactivity were not tops, the design with blog text occupying two thirds column space was not ideal but — we thought it was elegant particularly the banner.


The blog first underwent a makeover in 2009 after Secretary Rice left and as Secretary Clinton assumed office with the Departments’ 21st Century Statecraft initiative. Below is the updated and current look:

We were not particularly fond of the new design. We did not grow to like it but then again we seldom visit because of well, allergies.  When we did visit, we took a strong dislike of that background with splotches that we came to call the “hesitant blue”   The deeper solid blue similar to its Tumblr account would have been much better.  But what do we know? We just know that we liked the washed out version less.

Here is part of the Media Note on this:

The updating of the State Department’s blog is part of 21st Century Statecraft — the complementing of traditional foreign policy by harnessing and adapting the digital networks and technologies of today’s interconnected world. The blog’s redesign will include greater functionality and interactivity with an emphasis on visual engagement.

So now, the blog is going to go under the knife for the second time, so to speak.  As part of the Department of State’s redesign of the official blog, Department employees worldwide submitted more than 370 submissions for a new name for the blog. The top suggestions, all four of them, are now available to the public, who are asked to vote on the final decision.

Here are the top suggestions; click here if you want to vote on the new blog name:

  • Unclassified: The State Department Blog
  • Statecraft
  • DipNote
  • Matters of State

Would be interesting to see what else were in those submissions, right?

Public voting of the new blog name started today, Friday, December 7, 2012 and can be accessed on the Department’s website, as well as the Department’s official social media presences on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the blog itself. The public voting will last until Friday, December 14. The result will be announced when the new blogsite launches in  early 2013.

Umm… we can see you giving us an eye over there — what do we think about … well, let’s see:

Unclassified: The State Department Blog: Zzzzzzz. Please don’t call it that, it offends the imagination

Statecraft: Sounds like a dangerous 21st century aircraft fueled by nothing but air

DipNote: Sounds about right, except that this was a pre-Clinton era creation. What’s wrong withit? Oh, is that it?

Matters of State:  Is this like a new movie with Will Smith and Gene Hackman?

C’mon folks, is the blog name DipNote really broken? No? Then why are you fixin’ it?  Go ahead and add “greater functionality and interactivity with an emphasis on visual engagement” but  do you really have to change its name, too?

While we’re on this subject, would you please do something with DipNote’s disclaimer during the redesign? Because it says:

This blog does not represent official U.S. Department of State communications. The Digital Communications Center, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this blog as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.

Seriously? Who does it represent? What …

Oh, hey, we just thought of a really shiny blog name.

How about “Matters of Official Concern“? That’s straight out of the Foreign Affairs Manual. And you won’t need a disclaimer since it already says “official” right there.

domani spero sig


Filed under Digital Diplomacy, DipNote, Social Media, State Department, Technology and Work

Haiti Says G’bye to Ambassador Merten While AP Complains About the $1.8 Billion Reconstruction Promise

Last Friday, Ambassador Kenneth Merten concluded his assignment as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. They must really like him over there. The Embassy had somebody sketched him and his family over in FB; rather cute.

Via US Embassy Haiti/FB

“Today, we bid adieu to Ambassador Kenneth Merten and his family after a three-year term as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. With his deep knowledge of the country, Ambassador Merten has strengthened Haitian-American relations and led U.S. Government assistance to the Government and people of Haiti through the good times and the bad. He has worked to support the take-off of Haiti, pou ayiti ka dekole, strongly encouraging investments and job creation in the country, particularly with the construction of the Caracol Northern Industrial Park. We salute Ambassador Merten’s commitment and dedication to Haiti. Embassy Port-au-Prince wishes all the best to the Merten family and we look forward to the arrival of our next Ambassador.”

Last week, Haiti President Michel Martelly awarded the outgoing ambassador with the National Order of Honour and Merit. The award, with the grade of Grand Cross, was given to Ambassador Merten at a ceremony in Port-au-Prince’s National Palace.

You might remember that last year, Ambassador Merten was also the recipient of the 2011 Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy. “This award recognizes those U.S. diplomats who excel in the most challenging leadership positions overseas. The Selection Committee commended Ambassador Merten for his extraordinary leadership of the unprecedented U.S. government response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which involved over 22,000 US military in Haiti and thousands of civilian personnel from numerous U.S. government agencies. His capable leadership saved lives and embodies the highest virtues of public service and crisis management.”

Then less that 24 hours of his departure from Haiti, the Associated Press published a lengthy report complaining about the Haiti reconstruction (see US pledge to rebuild Haiti not being met).  What’s wrong with you, AP?

The Associated Press also says that “the fruits of an ambitious, $1.8 billion U.S. reconstruction promise are hard to find.”

Further it has some more troubling details:

  • On July 21, Less than 12 percent of the reconstruction money sent to Haiti after the earthquake has gone toward energy, shelter, ports or other infrastructure. At least a third, $329 million, went to projects that were awarded before the 2010 catastrophe and had little to do with the recovery — such as HIV/AIDS programs.
  • Half of the $1.8 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding is still in the Treasury, its disbursement stymied by an understaffed U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince in the months after the quake and by a Haitian government that was barely functional for more than a year.

The AP report also cites major frustration for watchdogs of the U.S. effort for the lack of transparency over how the millions of dollars are being spent.

From interviews to records requests, efforts to track spending in Haiti by members of Congress, university researchers and news organizations have sometimes been met with resistance and even, in some cases, outright refusals.

Even when US contractors were willing to release the information on the Haiti reconstruction, apparently they become unreleasable because the information is considered “proprietary” by their funder. And who is the funder? USAID. To my last recollection, USAID is still run by the U.S. government, and funded by U.S. taxpayers.

For the AP to released this report on the 21st is just mean, that’s a weekend for goodness sake!

But you gotta do what you gotta do. Thomas C. Adams who serves as Haiti Special Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State, and Mark Feierstein who serves as Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), probably did not get much sleep trying to make sure that their blog post on Haiti makes it to DipNote on the day the AP report came out; and it did.

On July 21, they jointly blogged about the Progress in Haiti.

And — poor guy, Ambassador Merten’s luggage was barely out of the Reagan National Airport when he had to pen an op-ed for the Miami Herald saying “I am proud that the work we have done, and continue to do, helps Haitians build a stronger foundation for a prosperous future.”

Also this:

As I leave Haiti, I am encouraged. Haiti has reported a 21-percent increase in foreign direct investment since 2010. In the north, I saw the completion of the first factory buildings and modern power plant at the Caracol Industrial Park. There is palpable enthusiasm in the community for the jobs this park will bring, adding more factories over the coming months and years. Anchored by a $78 million investment from Korean apparel manufacturer Sae-A Co., Ltd., the park has the potential to create more than 60,000 jobs.

[Potential rosy picture. :roll: ].

Oh, wait, a blog friend pointed us to this piece in NYT –  is he touting the same Sae-A Trading, a South Korean clothing manufacturer and major supplier to American retailers like Walmart and Gap Inc.? The company that’s been called ““one of the major labor violators”?

[T]hanks to a deal that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker, Sae-A looked forward to tax exemptions, duty-free access to the United States, abundant cheap labor, factory sheds, a power plant, a new port and an expatriate residence outfitted with special kimchi refrigerators.
The developers — the Haitian government, the State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank — chose Sae-A despite its troubled labor relations in Guatemala, where the company closed its flagship factory last year after threatening to move jobs out of the country during an acrimonious dispute with its union.

Before the Haiti deal was sealed, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. urged American and international officials to reconsider, given what it described in a detailed memo as Sae-A’s egregious antiunion repression, including “acts of violence and intimidation” in Guatemala, where Homero Fuentes, who monitors factories for American retailers, calls Sae-A “one of the major labor violators.”

Continue reading Earthquake Relief Where Haiti Wasn’t Broken.

You think Ambassador Merten deserves a double :roll: here for touting that company in his op-ed and not mentioning the um, labor issue? Okay, here you go -



In related news, Al Kamen writes that Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book, “Little America,” apparently “has sparked a scramble in the Kabul embassy compound to compile “success stories” for publication to counter the book’s analysis.”


If you’re the smarty person who leaked that nugget to Al Kamen, they better not find out who you are; or you will be compiling “success stories” until 2024.

Domani Spero

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Filed under Afghanistan, Ambassadors, Awards, Countries 'n Regions, DipNote, Foreign Assistance, FSOs, Media, State Department, USAID

US Embassy Haiti: Where diplomats are not super-humans but …

Super humanImage by jamesmellor via Flickr

real people who do the best they can

Paul Mayer serves as the Consular Section Chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Montrèal. He served as Acting Consul-General at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince Haiti during the days following the January 2010 earthquake. He pens What I Saw in Haiti for DipNote. It’s not every day that you read such luminous writing on the pages of the Department’s official blog.  This piece gives a window to the pressure, the stress and strain, the emotional toll and the difficult work that go with a large scale evacuation in a disaster zone. It is an authentic and personal voice that captures the work as it is and the demands on our men and women on the ground; no airbrushing needed, just a well-told story.          

Towards the end of Mr. Mayer’s post, he writes, “I am almost ashamed to admit that my gas tank is empty, and that I need to go home.”  This reminds me of  the FS Rookie who was warned by one of his A100 coordinators “of the perils of blogging” and who was “shamed for talking about being tired –.” I hope FSI sends his coordinator to the real world where Foreign Service officers are not super-humans, but real people who feel pain, who needs rest, who gets tired and still do the best they can. As far as I know, the super-diplomats who runs on solar power 24/7, 365 days a year who do not bleed or cry  are still in bionics research stage 1d — in an undisclosed location and most possibly won’t roll off the conveyor belt until 2063.
Excerpt below from Mr. Mayer’s piece:      
The news of the earthquake in Haiti hit me the same way the tsunami in Southeast Asia did: A tragic event that had happened far away. I donated money to the Red Cross, and even used the same credit card I’d used five years before. It hit much closer to home when I learned that an officer with whom I’d served in Montreal had been seriously injured at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. I wanted to give something more than money, so I contacted the Bureau of Consular Affairs to ask how I could help. Less than 24 hours later, I was on a plane from Montrèal to Santo Domingo and just six hours after arriving in the DR, I was strapped into a DHS/CBP Blackhawk helicopter, 600 feet above the ground, flying toward Port-au-Prince.
Unfortunately, whatever preparations I thought I’d made for what I would see when I arrived weren’t enough. As we made our descent to land outside the embassy walls, I saw throngs of people crowding the streets adjoining the embassy. What I saw on the ground was worse. There were faces which reflected panic, fatigue, anger, pain, hunger and thirst. There was more desperation than I’d ever seen in my career: hundreds, maybe thousands, of people had come to the U.S. Embassy with their suitcases packed, mostly based on the hope and the belief that the U.S. government was going to feed them, house them, cure them or whisk them away.
Under U.S. law, the State Department has very clear guidelines for the aid and assistance we provide American citizens in times of crisis, and our office of Overseas Citizen Services in Washington is there to support and guide us every step of the way. The Foreign Affairs Manual (we call it “the FAM”) explains things in precise detail.

The FAM, however, doesn’t prepare you for the feeling you get from saying, “No” and “I’m sorry” over and over. The FAM doesn’t tell you how many bottles of water you will need to give people who’ve been standing in line for six hours. The FAM doesn’t tell you how quickly you need to take the Power Bars you’d bought at Wal-Mart out of your backpack, just so you can give them to the people who are saying, “Please, j’ai faim.” The FAM does not tell you whether you’re permitted to shed a tear when you see the look of resignation in a person’s eye after you’ve said, firmly, “I’m sorry, but you do not qualify.” People just walked away, with their kids in one hand and their suitcase in the other. There were 500 more in the queue, waiting for their turn to come. This was Day 6 after the earthquake.

Much could be written about the stress and strain of our work days — 16 hours on, 8 hours off — or about the questionable glamour of sleeping on the floor of the consular section, or the daily diet of MRE’s. The truth is that the several dozen volunteers and I would have endured even more if we thought that it would better help us to carry out our tasks. We fought off the fatigue by contemplating the magnitude of what we were accomplishing: Thousands of Americans already evacuated, and one crazy day in which we moved more than 1,600 people through the Embassy, through the consular section, on Embassy vehicles to the airport, and into the cavernous cargo bays of the C-17 transports. I’d been asked to fill in as Consul General for a colleague who’d needed to depart post temporarily, and I had the privilege of guiding a marvelous team of entry-level and mid-level officers, reminding them about the need to sleep, to eat and drink, to wear sunscreen. On Day 9 after the earthquake, I fell asleep at the computer keyboard while trying to write an email explaining this to my wife and daughter.

Read the whole thing here.

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Filed under DipNote, Disasters, Foreign Service, FS Blogs, FSOs, U.S. Missions

Top Floors Read the Consular Corner

Resort Municipality of WhistlerImage via Wikipedia

From FS blog, SassAndSweet ““Observations about working as a Diplomat. Thoughts on living in Israel. Comments on life, the universe and everything.” Extracted from entry What to Write, What to Write?

I have to send a shout out to & word of appreciation LS who kindly congratulated me a couple weeks back via the Consular Corner re: my Olympics Posting to Whistler.
so my thanks to LS is for posting the word and congrats that I’d heading to Whistler for the Olympics because THAT got noticed by Public Affairs & Consular Affairs and last week an email popped into my inbox at work…
I’m hardly the only one but … among other imminently more qualified people than myself. I’ve been asked to write a blog entry to be published by the Department of State about my posting to Whistler. We’ve negotiated subject and timing so I’ll be writing it 48 hours after my arrival – and discussing first impressions, my role up there for the upcoming Olympics, and probably some “Ra Ra State!” wordings. Which I’m cool w/because I like my job and my employer. Most days… :)
Active links added above. The writer has been tapped to open State’s first temporary consular office in Whistler, Canada to provide support for the U.S. Olympic Committee and consular assistance to American tourists attending the Olympic Games.

The up floors as much as the down floors probably read Liam’s Consular Corner (newsletter and Facebook). Now that’s something to think about, ya?

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Thanksgiving Around the Foreign Service

I wanted to do this last week but did not get around to it (turkey’s fault). Here is a quick round-up of FS folks who marked Thanksgiving last week in their own special way:

US Ambassador to Moscow, John Beyrle posted a brief note on Thanksgiving last week. Check this out if you read Russian.

US Embassy Tokyo DCM, James Zumwalt of the “Z Notes” blog, also wrote about Thanksgiving here.

US Ambssador to Canada, David Jacobson blogged about family and Thanksgiving traditions and had the Marines over for fried turkeys with lots of Cajun spices.

Anne Frej of the Public Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy Kabul blogged in DipNote about celebrating both Thanksgiving and Eid e Qurban, the Muslim days of sacrifice in Kabul.

Josh Glazeroff, the visa chief at U.S. Embassy New Delhi wrote in in the official blog about Thanksgiving in India as also a day of remembrance and how 26/11 will always be remembered as an infamous day in the country for the Mumbai attacks last year.

In Germany, Ambassador Philip Murphy carved the turkey after he gave a speech during the Annual Fulbright Thanksgiving Dinner.

US Embassy Berlin Photo

On Thanksgiving Thursday, a small group of embassy volunteers led by Ambassador Ertharin Cousin (UNFAO) visited an orphanage and served and shared a Thanksgiving meal, complete with the uniquely American cheesecake donated by Eli’s in Chicago, to immigrant families from all over the world. Read more here.

Photo from DipNote Blog

Over at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and wife, Ching, visited U.S. service members and civilians and thank them for their service on Thanksgiving Day.

Photo by U.S. Army Capt. Michael Greenberger

In the Southern Philippines, Ambassador extraordinaire to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney served food to our troops in Mindanao and wrote about her family’s Thanksgiving tradition in her blog:

Photo from Amb Kenney’s Blog

“This year, I traveled from Manila to celebrate Thanksgiving lunch in Zamboanga with temporarily deployed U.S. troops. The makeshift dining hall was festooned with streamers and turkey cut-outs. In accordance with tradition, I served the food to our troops, joined by the most senior U.S. military officer present and visiting U.S. Congressman Bob Filner.” Read her whole post here.

We also have post-Thanksgiving “thank yous” for the following generous souls:

To the ambassadors and deputy ambassadors who we heard had invited single folks and newcomers to their Thanksgiving events this year, thank you. It makes a difference when you did not have to go and “catch-your-own” turkey at a farm or “cook-your-own” turkey in borrowed kitchenware when you just arrived in town.

To the Foreign Service families who opened their homes to Peace Corp volunteers, some of whom have been on forced diet of rice and beans or fried fish for many months, we thank you for your generosity.

To the Consular Section chiefs who made every effort to invite the local staff to their thanksgiving gigs, we appreciate your gestures. Some of these local national employees have worked for the USG for 5-10 years and have never ever been to a thanksgiving dinner. Thank you.

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Filed under Ambassadors, Americans Abroad, DipNote, FS Blogs, FSOs, U.S. Missions

HRC: Up and about with an elbow cast …

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leave the Oval Office after a meeting on June 22, 2009. Secretary Clinton broke her elbow last week and had surgery on Friday. Some of her 18 million supporters and proud Hillary villagers have posted their well wishes in DipNote.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Office of the Spokesman: Ian Kelly Signs On

Secretary Clinton came down to the briefing room and spoke to the media at the State Department to announce the release of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi from prison in Iran. She then introduced Ian Kelly as the new State Department spokesman, thanked Robert Wood publicly and turned over the briefing to the new spokesman. This video of State Department Press Briefing with Secretary Clinton & Spokesman Ian Kelly is from c-span as it has not been posted in yet.

Ian Kelly is a career Foreign Service officer, a Russia hand, who has recently served as the director of State’s Office of Russian Affairs. He has also served in Milan, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Belgrade, Vienna, Washington, Ankara, Rome and Brussels. He was spokesman at US Embassy Rome and I think did the same gig at the US Embassy Ankara. He will reportedly serve as the chief spokesman and daily briefer. Will post the official bio when it becomes available.

I understand that career FSO, Robert Wood who has been acting spokesman since Sean McCormack’s departure will stay on as his deputy. Meanwhile, their soon-to-be boss, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs-designate, PJ Crowley, will appear at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination hearing this week.

Update 4:06 PM EST
Video of Secretary Clinton & Spokesman Ian Kelly’s first daily press brief is below; transcript for this DPB is here. Transcript of Secretary Clinton’s introduction of the new spokesman is here. Then Mr. Kelly blogs about his first day at the podium over at DipNote.

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Ambassador Kenney: Under the Sea and More

Last month, I did some quick posts on US Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume with the sharks — here, here and here. I am happy to report that he is not the only one who can do “under the sea” gigs. Our ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney can also dive (this one was taken in Boracay). Helped free a green sea turtle, did a soccer drill, more…

Ambassador Kenney is a career diplomat and is the first female U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. She is also one of our very few diplomats ambassadors who maintains an official blog (US Ambassador to Korea Kathleen Stephens is another one), and the first to have a blog hosted by; I supposed DipNote will not blogroll these official blogs, huh? Blame it on Smith-Mundt?

One thing I must say, I think she has a good ear on the ground over in those islands. When Manny Pacquiao KO Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last week to join the short list of boxing’s quintuple champions, Ambassador Kenney’s US Embassy was quick to laud Pacquiao for ‘dedication to excellence’. The ambassador herself blogged about it in her Sports and Champions post. Anyway, check out her blog here. Not much in terms of foreign policy there but that is to be expected, I think.

Photos below are all screen captures from the US Embassy Manila website (they don’t make it easy to download or copy these photos). Hey, guys, it’s time to move to Flickr!

Ambassador Kenney in Boracay, Philippines

Related Item:

The Ambassador is having a ball
Manila Bulletin: May 10, 2009, 2:07pm

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Filed under Ambassadors, Countries 'n Regions, Digital Diplomacy, DipNote, Foreign Service, FSOs