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- The Weird, Wacky World of The Platypus (neatorama.com)
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The government of Peru has declared a state of emergency for 60 days in two southeast provinces due to heavy rains. The region has suffered flash floods, landslides and flooding that have closed roads, bridges and railines. The airport in Cusco is operating sporadically.This measure covers the provinces of Cusco and Apurimac, and their towns of Calca, Cusco City, Urubamba, Canchis Quispicanchi, Anta and the Convention. Included in affected areas are Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu Pueblo.The U.S. Embassy has sent field teams to Aguas Calientes, where many tourists are stranded; to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, where tourists who are being evacuated from the area of Machu Picchu are arriving; and to Cusco, to assist American citizens who are stranded there. The road from Ollantaytambo to Cusco is open and transportation is being provided to the evacuees. American citizens may wish to contact the US consular agency located at Avenida Pardo #845, in Cusco.The Embassy is attempting to send helicopters to Aguas Calientes, at the base of the Machu Picchu ruins, to assist in removing American citizens, and in support of Peruvian Government assistance operations. Delays resulting from the rains, high altitude and fuel shortages may hamper air operations.
Gordon Duguid, acting Deputy Spokesman for the State Department is presently serving with the Haiti Joint Information Center (HJIC) in Port-au-Prince. He recently pens “On the Ground in Port-au-Prince” for DipNote. Excerpt below:
Our consular officers are working 20-hour days to provide assistance to those who are entitled based on legal or humanitarian grounds. Their work is not only exhausting, but heartbreaking. Many people have compelling stories about why they should travel to the United States, but not all are allowed under U.S. law. And because we have so many people in line, it is difficult to render service to those who are entitled to it while sorting through those who are just hoping we will let them travel. For example, there was an American citizen child in the line today suffering from a swollen brain and very ill. He was being cared for by a French woman and a Haitian man. Had they had to wait in line like all the rest to get to the consular section, the child might have been endangered. I just happened to be giving an interview near the spot where they were standing, and the TV producer saw the child and pointed him out. We then got the child and woman on the next flight out.
Frustrations in the line are high. All day today, the press section has been broadcasting public affairs messages via Haitian radio explaining who we can help and who we can’t. We are now planning more aggressive information campaigns to convince people to come only if they really are entitled to U.S. help. With the situation as it is now, we are really worried someone who survived the earthquake will be crushed on our doorstep.
The editor at large for The Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove, asks “Can This Man Outsmart the Taliban?” He is talking about – you guess it — former war correspondent David Ensor who is shipping out for his toughest assignment yet: helping the State Department win Afghan hearts and minds. The long article is here; quick excerpt below:
Ensor, who spent three decades in broadcast journalism (at National Public Radio, ABC and ultimately CNN) and then 3½ years as a London-based PR executive for an oil-trading company, will operate from the heavily fortified American compound in Kabul, and get around using armored vehicles with bullet-proof windows and teams of bodyguards. He has committed to at least a year in country, and will coordinate his efforts with those of two-star Rear Admiral Gregory J. Smith, the Pentagon’s top spokesman in Kabul, and report to U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, a former three-star Army general.
Ensor wasn’t the Obama administration’s first choice. Before he started discussing the position with State Department officials in November, it was offered to Asia Society executive vice president Jamie Metzl, a frequent visitor to Afghanistan and a longtime protégé of Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 41-year-old Metzl—who has been a diplomat, a member of the National Security Council, a spy novelist and a congressional candidate—has spent a good deal of time in Afghanistan, serving as a monitor for last fall’s hotly disputed presidential election that is widely believed to have been rigged by the incumbent, Hamid Karzai. But Metzl passed when he and the State Department couldn’t come to terms on logistical issues, which I hear included the question of whether the post would carry ambassadorial rank. It doesn’t.[…]Ensor brings with him the street cred of a well-traveled foreign correspondent, who spent years reporting from Soviet bloc countries and the Middle East, covered wars in Chechnya and the Balkans, and boasts a deep and wide knowledge of America’s national security and intelligence institutions, especially the CIA. As a Washington correspondent for CNN during the Clinton and Bush administrations, he enjoyed top-level access to government officials, especially the longtime director of the National Security Agency, General Mike Hayden. His early career at NPR also gives him a background in radio, the key mode of mass communications in Afghanistan, and his years supervising the two dozen ABC News employees in the Warsaw bureau potentially lend him relevant management experience.[…]Why would he leave his comfortable life in London, to say nothing of his wife Anita and their two children, in order to put himself in harm’s way? A mixture of career restlessness, a desire to serve his country and simple curiosity, says Dobbs. “As a journalist, you always want to know what it’s like being on the inside.”Ensor, for now, is keeping his own counsel. “Thanks very much for your interest in my upcoming work in Kabul,” he emailed me on Sunday. “I am sorry but I am not prepared to discuss it yet. Perhaps we could talk after I have taken office, and spent a little time in Afghanistan.”
However, the embassy’s POL/MIL guy according to the latest listing is Phil Kosnett, a senior Foreign Service officer who served three tours in Iraq. The POL counselor is Annie Pforzheimer, who might be in the SFS, too although we can’t confirm it. So there’s still room for more former or current ambassador ranked officials to join the Kabul embassy team.
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Caitlin Kelly for True/Slant has a piece on the male trailing spouse: I remembered I actually know a “trailing spouse” and asked if he’d be willing to share some of his life with us. I’m delighted that he agreed; his answers to my many questions are below.
On January 20, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Theodore Sedgwick to be US Ambassador to the Slovak Republic. The WH released the following bio:
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I’ve asked the FLO how the Foreign Service community can help and send support to Andrew Wyllie in this time of bereavement. I’m passing along the following information for those interested. I’ve requested and received permission from the family to release this information here:
Many of you have inquired about ways that you could help the Wyllie family during this extremely difficult time. In lieu of flowers, a financial gift would be greatly appreciated and would be put to good use in order to assist with the numerous expenses that will be incurred during the coming months and weeks.
The monetary gifts will be collected by Andy’s brother-in-law, on Andy’s behalf, and should be made payable and sent to:
6214 Duntley Place
Springfield, VA 22152
As far as cards for Andy, you might direct those to: 8090 Winding Way Court, Springfield, VA 22153.
Updated 1/29 per request of the family.
The U.S. Joint Information Center – Haiti confirmed that following numbers on the locally employed staff at the US Embassy in Port au Prince are correct as of 1/27. USJIC-H also said that “We are working however to update those figures as we receive new information.”
The New York Times has posted online two Secret cables from Ambassador Eikenberry on the U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan.
In November 2009, Karl W. Eikenberry, the United States ambassador to Afghanistan and retired Army lieutenant general, sent two classified cables to his superiors in which he offered his assessment of the proposed U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. While the broad outlines of Mr. Eikenberry’s cables were leaked soon after he sent them, the complete cables, obtained recently by The New York Times, show just how strongly the current ambassador feels about President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government, the state of its military, and the chances that a troop buildup will actually hurt the war effort by making the Karzai government too dependent on the United States. Related Article »
Hamid Karzai won the 2009 presidential election after his opponent Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the run-off. He’ll be president of Afghanistan beyond the Obama Administration’s first term so they have to deal with him whether they like it or not. How effective a representative would Ambassador Eikenberry be after this?
Pleaze! I’m dense at times but not that dense. We have the FRUS (Foreign Relations of the U.S.) series for the historical record, folks! The “American official” seemed more interested in the “historical record” that he/she did not worry about how this makes life and work more difficult for our man in Kabul and the US Mission in Afghanistan? This is a firing offense.
Jan. 26, 2010 | Secretary Clinton holds a Town Hall Meeting with Department of State Employees Marking One Year at State, at the Department of State.
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