Category Archives: Flickr

Photo of the Day: Come to Manitoba, Stay for the Dig

– Domani Spero

 

Via U.S. Consulate Winnipeg, Canada:

I visited the Canadian Fossil Discovery Center (CFDC) in Morden on October 17. Along with me was MLA Cameron Friesen, Mordern City Councillor Heather Francis, Morden City manager John Scarce, and CFDC representatives Curator Matt Duda and Executive Director Peter Cantelon. I have never tried to hide my enthusiasm for all things associated with paleo-history. Indeed, at one time in my university career I was studying paleobiology. So, I came to the CFDC with a bit of a background in their field of expertise.

Principal Officer Chris Gunning during his visit to the Canadian Fossil Discover Centre in Morden, Manitoba, Canada

U.S. Consulate Winnipeg Principal Officer Chris Gunning poses with Bruce, the Mosasaur during his visit to the Canadian Fossil Discover Centre in Morden, Manitoba, Canada | October 2014

The CFDC focuses on marine reptiles like the Mosasaur (you may have heard of “Bruce” – if not, check out the pictures, you’ll know him when you see him. He’s a record breaker.). I also had the fortune to spend part of the day with the CFDC out in the field on a dig. It was a privilege to work on pulling some of the fossils out of the ground, but what really struck me was just how many fossils there were. Southern Manitoba is, almost literally, a goldmine of marine fossils. It is really a breathtaking geological situation – and you don’t need to be a paleontologist to appreciate how unique southern Manitoba is in regards to fossils.

Read in full here.  More photos here.

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USCG Karachi: Goodbye Michael Dodman, Hello Brian Heath

– Domani Spero

 

 

USCG Karachi’s Consul General Michael Dodman recently concluded his 2-year tour in Pakistan.  Here is a memorable photo of Mr. Dodman showing his dance moves at the historic Kot Diji Fort in the Khairpur District of Pakistan’s southeastern province of Sindh.

Photo via USCG Karachi/Flickr

Photo via USCG Karachi/Flickr

Brian Heath assumed charge as the U.S. Consul General in Karachi on August 20, 2014. USCG Karachi released the following official bio:
 A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Heath most recently served as the Minister-Counselor for Management Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Since joining the Foreign Service in 1998, Mr. Heath’s overseas assignments have included Director of the U.S. Regional Embassy Office in Al Hillah, Iraq; Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Pakistan; Management Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, Pakistan; General Services and Human Resources officers at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany; and Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay), India.
In the course of several assignments in Washington, DC, Mr. Heath has studied at the National War College; worked as a Senior Advisor in the Under Secretary of State for Management’s Office of Management Policy; and served as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. Mr. Heath is the recipient of multiple Department of State Superior and Meritorious honor awards.
Mr. Heath graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor’s degree in political economics, earned a law degree from Rutgers University, and received his Master’s degree in national security studies from the National War College. He is a member of the New Jersey and New York State bars.

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Kerry Tours the Vatican

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– Domani Spero

Vatican Chief of Protocol Monsignor Jose Bettancourt gives U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a tour of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City during a visit to Rome, Italy, on January 14, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Vatican Chief of Protocol Monsignor Jose Bettancourt gives U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a tour of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City during a visit to Rome, Italy, on January 14, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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Photo of the Day: Key Leader Engagement and No Monkey Panky

Via dvidshub

“An Afghan National Army pet monkey sits on top of an Advanced Combat Helmet observing a favorite cigar belonging to U.S. Army 1st Lt. John Pleasants from 127th Military Police Company, Fort Carlson, during a Key Leader Engagement in Marawarh district of Konar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 9, 2011. Pleasants is a part of a routine Key Leader Engagement operation that enables Task Force Cacti, 2-35th Infantry Division win over the local population and show the insurgents they are no longer able to use Marawarah district for safe haven.”

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tia Sokimson/Released; Date Taken:09.09.2011

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tia Sokimson/Released; Date Taken:09.09.2011

 👀

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Day 2012: Foreign Service Roundup

At US Embassy Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), the American staff and family members home cooked and served a real American Thanksgiving lunch for the embassy’s Malaysian employees.  Ambassador Paul Jones who helped serve lunch gave a shout out via FB to Victoria Station — “especially chef Haji Jean-Luc Lundy, Alex Lee and Vivian Low, for complementing our home cooked meal with delicious halal Thanksgiving dishes so that everyone could enjoy the occasion together.”

Photo from US Embassy KL/FB

The Thai-American celebrity chef Tommy Tang and Ambassador Kristie Kenney of  US Embassy Bangkok (Thailand) prepared a Thanksgiving feast together for the children at Duang Pratheep Foundation. The foundation founded in 1978 to address the problems that have its roots in poverty and deprivation.  Its permanent building which opened in 1992 is reportedly Thailand’s first comprehensive and resource center for the slum community.

Photo by US Embassy Bangkok/FB

Ambassador David Huebner of US Embassy Wellington (New Zealand)  at the annual Thanksgiving lunch with the Downtown Community Ministry.

Photo via US Embassy NZ/Flickr
(click on photo to view the slide show in Flickr)

At US Embassy Jakarta (Indonesia) Ambassador Scot Marciel and his wife Mae hosted around 100 young Indonesian alumni of U.S. exchange programs for Thanksgiving dinner at their residence.

Photo via US Embassy Jakarta/Flickr

At US Embassy Seoul (South Korea), Ambassador Sung Kim shares Thanksgiving dinner with English Teaching Assistants in The Fulbright Program.

Photo from US Embassy Seoul/FB

I hope you all have a good Thanksgiving week with loved ones and friends.  To readers, followers, friends and champions of this blog, thank you for your thoughtfulness and continued support. I learn something from you everyday. 

 

 

 

 

 

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US Embassy London: First Lady Brings Let’s Move! to Winfield House

Via US Embassy London/Flickr:

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a Let’s Move! event for about 1,000 American military children and American and British students in London today. The event took place at the Ambassador’s residence Winfield House. The kids had the chance to meet Olympic and Paralympic legends including David Beckham, Bart Conner, Nadia Comaneci, Teresa Edwards, Emily Hughes, Sarah Hughes, Shawn Johnson, Carl Lewis, Dikembe Mutombo, Dara Torres, members of the 2012 US Track and Field Team and Manchester United legends, among others.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a Let’s Move! event for about 1,000 American military children and American and British students in London.
(click on photo for slideshow)

Nickelodeon, The NBA and USA Basketball, U.S. Tennis Association, USA Field Hockey, USA Track and Field, Manchester United and Right to Play provided sports stations for kids to get into the Olympic spirit by getting active.

The Wanted, the University of Florida Gator Marching Band, Mark Ronson, Katy B. and Nickelodeon’s DJ J Boogie and Jeff Sutphen, the Power Rangers and SpongeBob helped entertain the kids throughout the event

Active links added above.

–DS

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More Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service

Catch up post on additional Fourth of July celebrations around the Foreign Service this year that caught our eye. The previous one we did is here: Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service Round-Up.

US Mission Mexico

Guadalajara, Jalisco: Los Vice Cónsules Nick Geisinger y Timothy J. Dunaway interpretaron el himno nacional estadounidense durante la celebración.
Click on image for more photos of the Fourth of July celebrations in our Mexican posts.

US Embassy Paris, France

Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin at the 4th of July Garden Party, Ambassador’s Residence, July 4th, 2012.  More photos via FB here.

US Embassy Nassau, The Bahamas

On Tuesday, July 3 the United States Embassy commemorated the 236th Anniversary of Independence of the United States of America by hosting a celebration in Nassau, The Bahamas aboard the U.S. Naval Ship USS ANZIO docked at Prince George Wharf.  The event was held in partnership with the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and included more than 200 of The Bahamas’ top leaders, representing the government, the business community, civil society, media, and the arts.

U.S. Charge d’Affaires John Dinkelman gives official remarks and toast at the 4th of July celebration. (Photo State Dept.)

US Embassy Dublin, Ireland

On July 4 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia celebrated American Independence Day and hosted at their Residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin the Third Irish American Flag Football Classic. Over 2,500 guests were in attendance for the Independence Day celebrations.

Photo from US Embassy Dublin/Flickr
(click on image for a slideshow)

US Consulate General Chennai, India

Photo via USCG Chennai/Flickr
Click on photo for a slideshow

US Embassy Afghanistan

U.S. Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland, the Coordinating Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement shakes hands with a Marine after he received his naturalization certificate on 29 June 2012 at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. Click on image for more photos

Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr

US Embassy Cairo, Egypt

Ambassador Patterson on the dance floor during the Fourth of July celebration.  Photo from US Embassy Egypt via FB
Click on image for a slideshow

US Mission Pakistan – Islamabad

Photo via US Embassy Islamabad website

US Mission Pakistan – USCG Lahore

Consul General Nina Maria Fite hosted U.S. Independence Day reception at her residence. She was joined by Chief Guest Senior Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, U.S. Army Attaché Colonel Kurt H. Meppen, and USAID Punjab Director Theodore Gehr, and 400 guests from various walks of life. The event included the playing of the Pakistani and U.S. national anthems and a cutting of a cake.

Photo via USCG Lahore/FB

US Embassy Rome, Italy

Visitors arriving at the Villa Taverna for the Fourth of July celebration.  Photo via US Embassy Rome/Flickr
Click on photo for a slideshow

US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

The theme of U.S. Embassy Bangkok Independence Day Celebration for this year is “The Great American Roadtrip.”

US Embassy Vientiane, Laos

Photo from Ambassador Karen Stewart’s Tumblr.
Click on image to read about it in the ambassador’s blog

US Embassy Beijing, China

Ambassador Gary Locke cutting the Fourth of July cake. Photo from US Embassy Beijing/Flickr. Click on photo for a slideshow

US Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau

Probably the most popular US mission online post for this Fourth of July, 11,000 forward and still counting. Via the WSJ:

For the July 4 commemoration of U.S. Independence, it stepped back into history to tweak the Party with its own words.  Accompanied by an exuberant image of the Stars and Stripes, its Weibo posting said:

On this day each year, joy and glory is felt by every good and honest person in this world. From the birth of this new nation, democracy and science were seeded beneath the foundations of a new liberal world… Day and night, the god of liberty shines her torchlight of freedom into the darkest corners of the earth, providing warmth for those who have suffered and reminding them there is still hope left yet.

This post quickly gained popularity and has now been forwarded more than 11,000 times.

Let’s see how long before the Chinese tigers bite.

Domani Spero

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Afghanistan, Ambassadors, Countries 'n Regions, Facebook, Flickr, Foreign Service, Holidays and Celebrations, India, Round-Up, Social Media, U.S. Missions, US Embassy Egypt, US Embassy Kabul

Talk Getting Louder – Ambassador Richard G. Olson Heading to Pakistan

We have previously posted here about Ambassador Richard Olson, currently of US Embassy Kabul but may not be for long (see US Mission Pakistan: Ambassador Munter’s Summer Departure and Is This Our Next Man in Islamabad?). The talk that he’s heading to Islamabad is getting louder.  The Cable’s Josh Rogin is reporting based on three sources that President Barack Obama intends to nominate Ambassador Richard Olson (not Olsen as reported) to be the next U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.  Three sources with direct knowledge of the pending appointment apparently told The Cable.

Olsen, a senior member of the foreign service, has been serving as the coordinating director for development and economic affairs at U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, since June 2011. If confirmed, he will replace Ambassador Cameron Munter, who announced in May that he would step down from his post after only 18 months on the job. Munter, who presided over the Islamabad embassy during perhaps the worst period in U.S.-Pakistan relations in over a decade, resigned of his own accord and will retire from the foreign service and join the private sector, these sources said.

Before going to Kabul, Olsen was U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008-2011. He previously served abroad in Mexico, Uganda, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Iraq, and as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. mission to the NATO.

Read in full here.

The US Embassy Kabul now has Hilda M. Arellano as its Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs (CDDEA), a post previously held by Ambassador Olson.

Below is Ambassador Olson when he was the COM in Abu Dhabi; and that’s no ordinary bird, that’s a falcon:

U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson during a visit to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH), the largest such facility in the world. (Photo from US Embassy Abu Dhabi)

We’ll just wait here for the official announcement. In the meantime, click on image above for more photos of our dashing Ambassador Olson during his time in Afghanistan.

Domani Spero

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US Embassy Vietnam: Congressman Calls for Firing of Ambassador Shear ‘Cuz Embassy Not An Island of Freedom

On July 9th, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) who represents the 10th District  since 1981 (and is up for reelection) in northern Virginia, the home to many Vietnamese-Americans has called for the firing of the US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear.  This is not the first time, he has done this, of course.  In May this year, Congressman Wolf had also called for Ambassador Shear’s sacking.

If we fire our diplomats every time a congressman is upset with a career diplomat, we won’t have anyone left to run our embassies.

According to Congressman Wolf’s office, Ambassador David Shear should be removed because he has “repeatedly failed to advocate for human rights and speak out for the voiceless in Vietnam.” Wolf recommended that Shear be replaced by a Vietnamese-American.

In his letter to President Obama, Congressman Wolf was particularly upset by 1) Ambassador Shear’s “failure to invite more dissidents and human rights activists” to the U.S. Embassy for a July 4 celebration after promising that he would; and 2) was disappointed in Ambassador Shear’s handling of the case of Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, a Vietanmese-American democracy activist and U.S. citizen presently being held by the Vietnamese government.

Below is an excerpt from Congressman Wolf’s letter to the WH with some photos we’ve dug up online from the US Embassy Vietnam:

I have long believed that U.S. embassies should be islands of freedom – especially in repressive countries like Vietnam. Under Ambassador Shear’s leadership it didn’t appear that the U.S. embassy in Hanoi was embracing this important task. But even more troubling is the fact that Dr. Quan is an American citizen, and yet there appeared to be little urgency to securing his release.

In speaking by phone with Ambassador Shear following the hearing I expressed my concerns and urged him to host a July 4th celebration at the embassy, where the guest list was comprised of religious freedom and democracy activists in Vietnam. I stressed that he should fling open the doors of the embassy and invite Buddhist monks and nuns, Catholic priests and Protestant pastors, Internet bloggers and democracy activists. Such was the custom during the Reagan Administration, especially in the Soviet Union. This practice sent a strong message that America stood with those who stand for basic human rights. In many cases it afforded these individuals protection from future harassment and even imprisonment.

From left to right: Clara Davis-Long, DRL DAS Kathleen Fitzpatrick, AAL Suzan Johnson Cooks, Archbishop Nguyen Van Nhon, U.S. Ambassador David Shear, and Father Hung.
(Photo from US Embassy Hanoi/Flickr)

Ambassador Shear said that he intended to honor this request. Following my conversation with him I received the enclosed letter from the department indicating that, “Ambassador Shear continues to engage with civil society advocates, promoters of rule-of-law, and democracy activists and will welcome them to the Embassy’s July 4th celebration.” I took Ambassador Shear at his word and in fact shared this correspondence with members of the Vietnamese Diaspora community in the U.S., several of whom were greatly encouraged by this development.

Late last week it was brought to my attention that many of the most prominent democracy and human rights activists in Vietnam were not invited to the event. These reports seemed starkly at odds with the assurances I had personally received from Ambassador Shear. I called him directly this morning to find out if the embassy had invited the dissidents as had been agreed upon. His response was appalling. He said that he had invited a few civil society activists but then said that he needed to maintain a “balance.”

From left to righ: Clara Davis-Long, IRF Desk Officer, DRL DAS Kathleen Fitzpatrick, U.S. Ambassador David Shear, Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Xuan, Vice Chair of the Committee for Religious Affairs
(Photo from US Embassy Hanoi/Flickr)

I wonder how many prominent democracy and human rights activists flooded the 4th of July celebrations at our embassies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, or China? And is Congressman Wolf upset with those as well?

Who would have thought that the 4th of July could be such a perilous event? And how many is “more” really, that seems like an important number.

I can understand Ambassador Shear’s point about “balance” but also appreciate the mission discretion over these invitees. Vietnam is run by a repressive, communist regime. The embassy has to deal with the government in place, not the government it wished were in place. That said, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the democracy or human right activists who shows up at this function could be put in peril just by the perception that they are working with the Americans. Does Congressman Wolf really want this kind of showy camera moment outreach during our national day or should we not prefer that the embassy have a more substantial engagement beyond the bright lights?

SON LA, Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Nov. 15, 2011) – Dr. Joshua Peck, center, a forensic anthropologist from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, briefs Ambassador David Shear, right, at a remote recovery site. Five recovery teams are searching in the Thai Nguyen, Bac Giang, Lang Son, Son La, and Thanh Hoa provinces at aircraft crash and burial sites for six Americans unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. The ultimate goal of JPAC, and of the agencies involved in returning America’s heroes home, is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of Americans lost during the nation’s past conflicts. (DoD photo by Mr. Jason Kaye, U.S. Navy/Released)

Just a side note here — the 2012 IG report tells us that the Government of Vietnam requires advance permission to conduct programs outside U.S. Government premises, controls the print and electronic media, and sometimes limits access to Internet sites. The US Embassy in Vietnam has been creative in using Vietnamese alumni of U.S. exchange programs as they are able to operate outside the restrictions placed on American speakers.  These alumni can more easily engage with wider audiences as credible, informed communicators about their American experience, something the USG speakers are unable to do. That’s how restrictive is the operating environment. Heck, even acquiring land for a much-needed, new embassy compound there have stalled because the GOV is unwilling to grant a lease term that is acceptable to the State Department.

As to his gripe about the practice and custom during the Reagan Administration of sending a strong message that “America stood with those who stand for basic human rights,” it seems like the congressman has a rather selective memory. We may have been doing that in the Soviet Union, but didn’t we embraced an infamous human rights offender in Asia?  While visiting Ferdinand Marcos, the Filipino dictator, didn’t Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, toasted Marcos’ “adherence to democratic principles?” How quickly we forget our best moments in diplomacy.

As to Congressman Wolf’s complaint about the handling of the case of Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, a Vietanmese-American democracy activist and U.S. citizen who is presently being held by the Vietnamese government — for an elected official it shows a limited understanding of what our embassy can and cannot do for Americans in jail.

Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries. Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there. The United States may view Dr. Quan as a dual national U.S. citizen, not prohibited under our laws, but the country of Vietnam may make no distinction about his dual nationality.

Dr Quan was reportedly arrested in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on a trip on November 17, 2007 for preparing pro-democracy flyers. According to his Wikipedia entry, he brought in a Vietnamese translation of the book From Dictatorship to Democracy about nonviolent resistance. He stood trial in Vietnam on May 13, 2008 on charges of “terrorism” (those commies are creative) and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. He was eventually released on May 17, 2008 and returned to his home in California.

And in April 2012, Dr. Quan was again arrested at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Government officials did not confirm his arrest until five days later. He is reportedly once more, detained on charges of terrorism and for planning to “instigate a demonstration” during the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.

News report in April indicate that the U.S. consulate in Vietnam has confirmed his arrest but that no formal charges have been filed and he has not been granted a lawyer.  Since his arrest, the US consulate was apparently able to visit him only once.

According to a 1994 agreement, U.S. citizens, even dual citizens, have the right to consular access if they were admitted into Vietnam as a U.S. citizen with their U.S. passport. If detained or arrested, travel.state.gov advised that “U.S. citizens should insist upon contact with the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate General.”

The problem is the Government of Vietnam is generally slow to notify the embassy about arrests or to grant access to U.S. citizen prisoners, and it requires diplomatic notes to schedule prison visits. It also does not permit visits without a Vietnamese official being present and insists that all verbal exchanges take place in Vietnamese.

Since the immediate release of Dr. Quan after each arrest is really what the congressman is looking for, nothing that the US mission in Vietnam do will ever be good enough.  Perhaps it would be helpful if the State Department offers basic, no perks, no salary fellowship for our congressional representatives to work the visa line and the American Citizens Services units in the hell holes of the world.  Surely that would be an instructive experience.

Domani Spero

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Photo of the Day: Stay Angry and Stay Young, Fight Human Trafficking

U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, David L. Carden, challenges youth to “stay angry and stay young” by fighting human trafficking at the USAID co-sponsored MTV EXIT concert in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Photo via USAID Vietnam/Fllickr

Click on image above for more photos.

According to the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, Vietnam, a tier 2 country, is a source and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and conditions of forced labor.  Vietnamese women and children subjected to sex trafficking throughout Asia are often misled by fraudulent labor opportunities and sold to brothels on the borders of Cambodia, China, and Laos, with some eventually sent to third countries, including Thailand and Malaysia. Some Vietnamese women are forced into prostitution in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and in Europe.
Domani Spero

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