Officially In: Mark L. Asquino, from “J” Bureau to Equatorial Guinea

On March 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Mark L. Asquino as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mark L. Asquino, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, currently serves as the Executive Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the U.S. Department of State.  From 2010 to 2011, he served as a Senior Public Diplomacy Fellow at George Washington University.  Previously, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan and at the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan.   Mr. Asquino has also served overseas in Caracas, Panama City, Madrid, Bucharest, Santiago, and Tashkent.  In Washington, he has served as the Principal Deputy Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the U.S. Department of State.

Mr. Asquino received his A.B. and Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University.

Mark Asquino, then Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Khartoum during a ribbon-cutting ceremony (Photo from US Embassy Sudan/Picasa)

If confirmed, Mr. Asquino would succeed career diplomat, Alberto M. Fernandez who was appointed to the US Embassy in Malabo in January 2010. On March 26, Ambassador Fernandez assumed the position of Coordinator of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), a new inter-agency entity based at the State Department.

Domani Spero

Related item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | March 16, 2012

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Photo of the Day: Walking Blue Condoms, We Need You in America!

The 100% Condom Use Campaign launch in Vietnam late last year was very festive, with banners, singers, and dancers. Best of all, there were walking blue condoms with Men in Black shades!  And there were white condoms in cute tiny blue shoes.  Really cute!

Condoms! They remind me of somebody …. somebody talking a lot about contraception and sexual ethics around the campaign trail:

“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country […] Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s OK; contraception is OK. It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Rick Santorum
GOP Presidential Candidate

Via USAID Vietnam/Flickr

100% Condom Use Campaign launch, supported by USAID with PEPFAR funding (December 2011). Photo by USAID Vietnam/Flickr

Uh-oh! Uh-oh! These folks are getting a “license to do things in a sexual realm.” Thank god they’re Vietnamese!

Domani Spero

US Embassy Kuwait Celebrates 4th of July (in March) with Generous But Unnamed Sponsors

Our Ambassador to Kuwait, Mathew H. Tueller hosted the embassy’s 4th of July celebration during what is called the U.S. National Day on March 12, 2012. Below is an excerpt from his remarks:

[T]his Embassy is focused on strengthening the U.S.-Kuwaiti relationship by opening doors for the people of Kuwait.  Our Consular and Public Affairs officers organize events where we advise Kuwaiti students on study options in the United States.  Over 3000 Kuwaiti students studied in the U.S. last year and we hope to see that number grow.  Our Public Affairs officers plan regular speaker programs in which embassy staff lead discussions with Kuwaiti students on American culture and other topics.  We pride ourselves on the efficiency and courtesy with which our Consular Section processed more than 30,000 visa applications for Kuwaitis this past year.  Our Commercial Services and Economic Sections are focused on promoting expanded trade with your booming economy. My staff and I look forward to all the future opportunities we will have to strengthen relations with all of you, and with a Kuwait that is advancing confidently toward a better tomorrow.

Now, thanks to the generosity of all our sponsors, we have some marvelous American food and some wonderful Kuwaiti entertainment to share with you this evening.

The embassy has a Flickr account that has not been updated since October 2011. So we can only locate one photo of Ambassador Tueller cutting the gigantic birthday cake. A bad photo that looks like the folks in the picture have all been squeezed from the top.

Ambassador Tueller cutting the 236th Independence Day gigantic cake with a few buddies (Photo from US Embassy Kuwait)

Unfortunately for the sponsors, the US embassy forgot to mention all their names in the prepared remarks. It also failed to acknowledge them in the official USG website. So we have no idea who were these generous sponsors, except that they made it possible for the embassy to serve “marvelous American food.”

Two quick thoughts – one, was this celebration another exhibit of fast food nation?

Also, we feel bad for the lowest diplomat in the totem pole who will be tasked with recruiting sponsors for next year’s celebration.  If I were a sponsor, I would not/not consider this an excellent return of investment, would you?

Domani Spero