Photo of the Day: President Obama Visits Our Men in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama meets with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, left, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Snapshot: US Consulate General Cd. Juarez

El Paso & Ciudad Juárez from Scenic DriveImage by charlie llewellin via Flickr
The shootings involving staff/family members from the US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez made me dig up the 2009 OIG report on US Mission Mexico. Below is part of what the report said about Ciudad Juarez:  

The consular section in Ciudad Juarez is the largest in the world with 50 consular officers, six EFMs, and 116 LE staff, yet its staffing is still too small for the workload (see the section of this report on IVs for a complete discussion). Despite workload pressures, the consular section is doing a remarkable job under excellent leadership. The consular section chief and IV unit chief work effectively as a team to manage the massive challenges facing the IV unit. However, the other parts of the consular section are also under stress. NIV work increased 31.4 percent to 121,010 cases in FY 2008.

The NIV unit copes with this increase with the help of a steady stream of TDY ELOs from other posts in Mexico.

This NIV workload increase was not surprising because Ciudad Juarez was the first post in Mexico to start issuing an improved version of the BCC on April 1, 1998, and therefore the first post to experience a surge from the 10-year replacement program. The workload rose dramatically in 1999 (to 308,370 cases) and peaked in 2001 (at 411,743 cases). This means Ciudad Juarez is likely to be hit by a huge increase in NIV work in the next three years. In addition, analysis shows that much of the Ciudad Juarez FY 2008 NIV workload increase is, in fact, coming from first time applicants, and this means that NIV levels after the BCC renewal surge ends are likely to remain higher than previously thought, requiring additional permanent resources.
Immediately following the visit by the OIG team to Ciudad Juarez, the consulate staff moved into a new OBO-built facility. This vast facility — with 87 visa interview windows — gives the staff the capability to handle the huge numbers of consular visitors and provides for future growth.
The consulate general in Ciudad Juarez processes all IVs for Mission Mexico, and in FY 2008 it handled 149,014 applications, 19 percent of all IVs worldwide. The workload was greater than that of the next three largest IV operations in Santo Domingo, Manila, and Ho Chi Minh City combined. IV workload has fluctuated greatly in the last 10 years in Ciudad Juarez, but recently increased dramatically. The Department will need to increase significantly officer and LE staffing in Ciudad Juarez to rightsize the operations.

Here is a nugget from the report that you may or may not know:

US Mission Mexico, consisting of an embassy, seven consulates general, two consulates, and 14 consular agencies, is one of the largest U.S. missions in the world. The magnitude of the consular operation is staggering: 20 percent of all arrests of Americans abroad occur in a single consular district in Tijuana. Consulate General Ciudad Juarez processes more IVs than any other post in the world. Embassy Mexico City processes more NIVs than any other post in the world except Embassy Seoul.

Because of the consular workload, 10 percent of all entry-level officers (ELO) in the U.S. Foreign Service are assigned to Mexican posts. With such numbers, Mexican experience will have an important influence on the next generation of Foreign Service officers.

USAID’s Global Pulse 2010 Starts Today

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is sponsoring the Global Pulse 2010, a 3-day, online collaboration event, that will bring together individual socially-engaged participants and organizations from around the world.

Global Pulse 2010 is an online “virtual” event. Registration is free and participants can join from any computer with internet access. The event will be live, over the span of 3 days, and is hosted online using IBM’s award-winning Innovation Jam TM solution. “Similar to the collaborative spirit of musical ‘jamming,’ participants gather online to collaborate on ideas around real societal issues, build on each other’s contributions, find shared solutions — or simply connect. The Web 2.0 platform provides for a meaningful brainstorming environment where groups of individuals ranging from a few hundred — to hundreds of thousands — can join in. Based on the concept of crowdsourcing (also knows as “wisdom of crowds”), the Jam platform is especially adept at bringing communities together to discuss social issues.”
Global Pulse 2010 launches today, Monday, March 29th and concludes on Wednesday, March 31st.  Sign up here to participate.

China Issues 2009 Human Rights Report of the United States

Seriously. You know this was going to happen sometimes.

The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are submitted annually by the U.S. Department of State to the U.S. Congress in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. On March 11, the State Department published its
latest Human Rights Report.

Secretary Clinton says that “[f]or the last 34 years, the United States has produced the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, providing the most comprehensive record available of the condition of human rights around the world.”

The online documents
here only dates back to 1999.  Prior reports should be available from the U.S. GPO; some are available in PDF format here.
Well, at least one foreign office must have been waiting for the official US report to be released.  On March 12, China’s Information Office of the State Council published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009.” Its full text is published by here.

Here is part of its introduction: “As in previous years, the reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 is prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States.”

On Life, Property and Personal Security section is declares: “Widespread violent crimes in the United States posed threats to the lives, properties and personal security of its people.”

On Civil and Political Rights section it claims that “In the United States, civil and political rights of citizens are severely restricted and violated by the government.”

On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it claims that “Poverty, unemployment and the homeless are serious problems in the United States, where workers’ economic, social and cultural rights cannot be guaranteed.”

The report also states that “immigrants live in misery.”
I don’t understand.  Since the United States is a country of immigrants, does that mean all 305 million of us, except Native Americans — live in misery?