Thanksgiving Day 2011: Foreign Service Roundup

US Embassy New Zealand:
2011 Downtown Community Thanksgiving Lunch| Photos from the annual American Thanksgiving Lunch held in conjunction with the Downtown Community Ministry and the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Chef’s Association at the Wesley Church Hall.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photo from US Embassy NZ/Flickr

US Embassy Thailand:
Thanksgiving Lunch at Ambassador Kristie Kenney’s | Photos of the Thanksgiving lunch at the Ambassador’s residence garnered the following comment on Facebook: “Would have been nice if the Ambassador and folks at the Embassy invited long term USA residents of Bangkok, who lost everything in the floods to dinner as well. Very crass of Excellency Kenney to celebrate with the “haves” while the “have nots” suffer. It is not going to be a very thankful holiday this year for some of us.” To which Ambassador Kenney quickly responded: “No tax dollars used. This was my personal thanks to Embassy staffers for great work despite being flood victims themselves.” On Thanksgiving Day, Ambassador Kenney also hosted fifty US military (army, navy, air force and marines) for dinner. They are all in Thailand to help with flood recovery efforts.

Photo from US Embassy Bangkok/FB

US Embassy El Salvador

Thanksgiving Day arrived with Occupy El Salvador protesting at the U.S. Embassy San Salvador “in solidarity with the 99% Global Occupy Movement.” More here.

US Embassy Belgium
Ambassador Gutman invited American sportsmen and women to his residence for a Thanksgiving do.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos from US Embassy Bryssels/Flickr

U.S. Embassy Malaysia
Thanksgiving lunch for more than 300 staff and family members of the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur. Turkey, pie, mashed and sweet potaties, corns and peas … mmmmmm. Thanksgiving Day will have an extended run in Malaysia this year as the embassy will have a PUMPKIN PIE EXTRAVAGANZA open to the public next week with U.S. Embassy Officer Nelson Wu and other embassy staff!

Photo from US Embassy KL/FB

The big news, of course, on Thanksgiving Scaredy was non-halal turkeys “for Americans who still value their freedoms.” Below an excerpt from Crossroads Arabia (a blog by a retired FSO):

“It seems that Butterball’s best practices also permit it to produce turkeys that meet the requirements for halal food. That is, its whole turkeys are deemed permissible for Muslims to eat.

This, apparently, has caused Islamophobe Pam Gellar to go berserk. She somehow sees the fact that Butterball turkeys are halal as a stealth attempt to convert Americans to Islam. I won’t – on principle – link to Gellar’s writing, but here’s an indirect link through Outside the Beltway. Yes, she’s as nuts as that post makes her seem.

Gellar has some really strange beliefs, quite laughable ones.

She appears to believe that if one eats a halal turkey, one mysteriously becomes a Muslim. Or gets tugged toward Islam. Or something. If this is true, it creates an interesting situation…

If I were to become Muslim by eating a halal turkey, then it logically follows that I would become Jewish by eating a Kosher pickle or hotdog. What would happen if I ate both at the same meal? Would I explode? Would I suddenly become Palestine, at war with myself?”

Which led us to this most disturbing image of a suicide turkey ever.  And Thanksgiving will never be the same again after this stealth infiltration.

US Hip-Hop Diplomacy "Recovers" in Karachi and No On Stage B-Boying by American Diplomats

The hip hop group on tour in Pakistan performed in Islamabad, was detained briefly in Rawalpindi, was barred from performing in Lahore (long shadow of Raymond Davis?), then on November 24th, successfully performed at the port city of Karachi.

One may be tempted to call this a 50-50 success, given that the group skipped Peshawar (for good reasons), was unable to perform in Lahore (for fuzzy reasons) but did have successful performances in the capital city of Islamabad, and the country’s largest city of Karachi. But is the ability to be on stage in two out of four U.S. posts in Pakistan sufficient to gauge the success of this program in a country where anti-American protests and demonstrations have tripled since the beginning of 2011? Probably not. One might wonder at the effectiveness of a program like this since it only reaches the more or less westernized and educated parts of the country as compared to the more rural, less educated, more suspicious variety of the local population.  I hope somebody back at State’s Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau is looking at the performance metrics of programs like these.

On a side note, I am pleased to report that none of our diplomats in Karachi — not the Consul General or the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) or Cultural Affairs Officer (CAO) went on stage to try their luck with mcing or breakdancing even if it looks like a whole lot of fun. Whew to you, too!

Via YouTube/rashidkhan1973, the FEW Collective with Amjad Sabri Qawwal: