Gay Men Allegedly Attacked Over #Orlando Condolence Photo Published by US Embassy Côte d’Ivoire

Posted: 3:50 am ET
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Gay Ivorian men who signed the Orlando condolence book at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan were reportedly attacked by an anti-gay mob after the embassy published a photo of them on the embassy’s website.   According to the AP, the embassy contacted three LGBT organizations but did not contact the men directly prior to putting the photo online. The embassy’s press officer reportedly told the AP that the embassy “deeply regrets that any individuals were attacked based on any kind of orientation they might have.”

She added that the embassy was in contact with the men and urged them to report the attacks to the police. Nonetheless, the photo was still up on the embassy’s website early Wednesday, with Ategou saying that there had been no request to remove it.

Waaaaaah!

Pardon us for that …

As of this writing, the photo no longer appears to be anywhere on the embassy’s website or on the Wayback Machine.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015 | Cote d’Ivoire

Via State/DRL:

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

No law criminalizes homosexuality. The law’s only mention of same-sex sexual activity is as a form of public indecency that carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment, the same prescribed for heterosexual acts performed in public. Antidiscrimination laws exist, but they do not address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (see section 7.d.).

Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of security forces beating, imprisoning, extorting, or humiliating members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community due to their sexual orientation. Law enforcement authorities were at times slow and ineffective in their response to societal violence targeting the LGBTI community. The few LGBTI organizations in the country operated freely but with caution.

There was no official discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, or access to education or health care. Nevertheless, societal stigmatization of the LGBTI community was widespread, and many members reported discrimination at health clinics, particularly when seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Persons believed to be gay also faced societal discrimination in finding employment and housing.

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JW v. @StateDept: Huma Abedin’s Testimony (Transcript)

Posted: 3:47 am ET
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Judicial Watch has released the transcript of Huma Abedin’s deposition in connection with the group’s FOIA litigation.

If you want to read the transcript, it is available below or read the original post here (PDF).

 

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DHS Proposes Collection of Social Media Identifier For U.S. Visitors

Posted: 2:20 am ET
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Via the Federal Register:

On December 18, 2015, the President signed into law the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. To meet the requirements of this new Act, DHS strengthened the security of the VWP by enhancing the ESTA application and Form I-94W. In two recent emergency submissions under the Paperwork Reduction Act, additional questions were added to ESTA and to Form I-94W that request information from applicants about countries to which they have traveled on or after March 1, 2011; countries of which they are citizens/nationals; countries for which they hold passports; and Global Entry Numbers.

DHS proposes to add the following question to ESTA and to Form I-94W:

“Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.” It will be an optional data field to request social media identifiers to be used for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information. Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case.

The information collection is optional under the proposed rule.  DHS estimates that there will be over 32 million travelers who will be  Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) respondents and nonimmigrant visa respondents entering the United States and filling out the I-94 Arrival and Departure forms.

The question we have is 1) Will the baddies be dumb enough to provide their social media identifiers if they have nefarious intent during their travels? 2) Does DHS have a system that combs through this huge haystack to find a a few needles?

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Suicide Attack at Istanbul Airport Kills 36, Wounds Many More

Posted: 2:04 am ET
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The State Department has created a Crisis in Istanbul page to provide updates to American citizens for the terrorist attack at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. Excerpt below:

Turkish media is reporting that possibly two or more explosive devices detonated at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport at approximately 10:15pm local time June 28, 2016. Police and anti-terror teams are currently at the scene and there is no official announcement on the reason of the explosion(s) or the exact number of wounded.  Entrance to and exit ‎from the Airport have been prohibited.  Flights have been suspended.  All direct flights from Istanbul to the United States had departed prior to the attack at the airport.  U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the area around the airport and to avoid any police action that may be taking place throughout the city.  Please check local media for the latest updates.  We strongly urge U.S. citizens in Turkey to directly contact concerned family members in the United States to advise them of your safety.

Earlier —

 

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US Embassy Venezuela: Appointment Wait Time For Visas Now at 999 Days

Posted: 1:41 am ET
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Last month, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas announced that it is no longer able to provide new appointments for first-time business or tourist (B-1/B-2) visa applicants due to staff shortages. Apparently, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has refused for many months to issue visas for Embassy personnel.  So, there you go.  Limited numbers of appointments are available for other temporary visas, and immigrant visas will continue to be processed but Venezuelans interested in visiting or conducting business in the United States will have to review their plans given the length of the wait time to get a visa appointment. Below is an excerpt from the embassy announcement:

If you are applying for a renewal of your valid U.S. visa or are a first-time applicant for any of the petition-based, student, or investor visas (E, F, J, M, H, I, L, O, P, Q, R, T, U), limited numbers of appointments for those visa types will be made available.  Unfortunately, due to limited staff, wait times for these appointments will be much longer than in the past. During this time, we continue to offer appointments for immigrant visa applicants as these cases become ready for interview.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has refused for many months to issue visas for U.S. Embassy personnel, resulting in staff shortages throughout the Embassy and also preventing visits by technicians to maintain, upgrade and repair our consular computer systems.  For many months, we have not had sufficient embassy personnel to handle the existing workload in Venezuela and, despite our best efforts, large backlogs of visa applications have accumulated.  Once the Foreign Ministry resumes issuing visas for U.S. diplomatic personnel, and those staff members are able to start working, we will begin to restore full visa services to the Venezuelan public.  We deeply regret that it is impossible for us to maintain our previous high standard of service to the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan citizens who visit the U.S. Embassy in Caracas each year.  We ask for your understanding and cooperation as we all work to overcome the many challenges during the current difficult times.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26

 

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Top Diplomats Oppose Lateral Entry Program to the MidLevels in the Foreign Service

Posted: 1:28 am ET
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Last month,  the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD) sent a letter to SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn) to register its strong opposition to the provision in the draft FY 2017 State Department Authorization Bill (Section 207) mandating a program for lateral entry into the Foreign Service at the middle and higher ranks. Below is an excerpt:

— The provision will damage American security interests by undermining the professional nature of the U.S. Foreign Service. Professionalism is as necessary for diplomacy as for the military.

— The provision will subject the Foreign Service to unprecedented politicization to the detriment of our nation’s security.

— At a time when we ask Foreign Services Officers to risk life and limb in assignments from Afghanistan to Africa, the provision would allow entry into the Service at ranks equivalent to Major, Lt. Colonel and Colonel without earning that distinction by actual service and without accumulating the experience to support their status.
[….]
The Academy’s mission is to promote a strong American diplomacy, which today is needed more than ever to support and protect America’s interests. Our most recent report, American Diplomacy at Risk, called for an effective American diplomacy based on a strong State Department founded on strong Foreign and Civil Services. We called for robust funding of diplomacy and we highlighted the need to enhance a professional Foreign Service, not diminish it as this proposed provision will do. The need for a professional Service has been affirmed repeatedly in legislation for nearly 100 years. It will be even more needed in the global world of tomorrow.

The letter signed by AAD Chairman Thomas Pickering, Vice Chairman Marc Grossman, and President Ronald Neumann, was also sent to Senators Cardin and McCain and Representatives Engel and Royce.

The Academy of American Diplomacy founded in 1983 is a non-profit organization whose active membership is limited to men and women who have held positions of high responsibility in crafting and implementing American foreign policy. Last year, it issued the report, American Diplomacy at Risk available to read here (PDF).

Read the letter in full below:

 

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Ambassador Nomination: Douglas Silliman — From Kuwait to Iraq

Posted: 1:23 am ET
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On May 19, President Obama announced Douglas Silliman as his nominee for the next Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq. The WH released the following brief bio:

Douglas Silliman, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Kuwait, a position he has held since 2014.  Ambassador Silliman was a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2013 to 2014 and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2012 to 2013.  From 2011 to 2012, he was Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs in Baghdad.  Before serving in Iraq, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara, Turkey from 2008 to 2011.  Ambassador Silliman was Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs from 2005 to 2007 and Deputy Director from 2004 to 2005.  From 2000 to 2004, he was Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1984, he has also served at posts in Haiti, Pakistan, and Tunisia.

Ambassador Silliman received a B.A. from Baylor University and an M.A. from The George Washington University.

Photo via USEmbassy Kuwait/FB

Photo via USEmbassy Kuwait/FB

Ambassador Silliman had his confirmation hearing at the SFRC on June 21.  If confirmed, he would succeed career diplomat, Stuart E. Jones, who was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Iraq on September 17, 2014.

 

Related posts:

 

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Ambassador Nomination: Sung Y. Kim — From North Korea Special Rep to the Philippines

Posted: 1:21  am ET
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On May 18, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Sung Y. Kim as his nominee to be the next Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. The WH released the following brief bio:

Sung Y. Kim, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, positions he has held since 2014.  Previously, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2011 to 2014, Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks with the rank of Ambassador from 2008 to 2011, and Director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs from 2006 to 2008.  Mr. Kim was Political-Military Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea from 2002 to 2006.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1988, Mr. Kim has also held positions at posts in Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Kim was a Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Kim received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy (Photo via US Embassy/FB)

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy
(Photo via US Embassy/FB)

If confirmed, Ambassador Kim would succeed career diplomat, Philip Goldberg who was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy in Manila in December 2013.

 

Related posts:

 

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Ron Capps: Seriously Not All Right, Five Wars in Ten Years (Excerpt)

Posted: 5:23 pm PT
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Ron Capps is a U.S. Army veteran and a former Foreign Service officer. He served in the military from 1986 until the early 1990’s. In 1994, he moved to the Army Reserved and joined the Foreign Service. His FS assignments took him to Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Kosovo, and Rwanda. Between 1996-2002, he also deployed as an intelligence officer in Uganda and Zaire for the U.S. Army.  According to his online bio, after the September 11 attacks, he served with XVIII Airborne Corps and the Defense intelligence Agency in Afghanistan as a soldier. Later, he was also deployed to Darfur and Chad as a soldier, and Iraq and Darfur (again) as a Foreign Service officer. “Throughout his career of service, Capps was often working in close proximity to murder, rape, and genocide. He suffered from regular and intense nightmares; he was diagnosed by an Army psychiatrist with PTSD and depression, and prescribed Prozac. In 2006, he nearly committed suicide. He was medically evacuated from service by the Regional Medical Officer of the State Department.”

He retired from government work and pursued a Master of Arts in Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2009. In 2012, he founded the Veterans Writing Project, a non-profit organization that hosts free writing workshops and seminars for veterans and service members, as well as their adult family members.  VWP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. You can support the group with a tax-deductible donation or through the Amazon Smile program.

Ron Capps is the author of the book, Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years, which details his own experiences with PTSD.  To mark June as PTSD Awareness Month, we’re sharing an excerpt from Mr. Capps’ book with you (courtesy of Amazon Kindle).

Via Amazon/Kindle

Click on image to read an excerpt or buy the book  Book cover via Amazon Kindle

 

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12 Former AFSA Presidents Express “Deep Concern” Over Proposed FS Lateral Entry Program

Posted: 2:02 am ET
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Twelve former AFSA presidents whose tenures span nearly half a century wrote a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressing “deep concern and opposition to Section 207 of the 2017 State Authorization Bill.” See New @StateDept Authorization Bill Includes 3-Year Pilot Program For Lateral Entry Into the Foreign Service.

The past presidents write:  “The Foreign Service Act of 1980 requires entry into the Foreign Service to be “rigorous and impartial.” Lateral entry programs are neither rigorous nor impartial. There have been several lateral entry programs during our collective service. All have been vehicles for abuse through the hiring of personal and political cronies of those administering the lateral entry.”

They urge Senator McCain as an “Officer of the United States Navy, an organization founded on career professionalism and special service” to “decline to attach the 2017 State Authorization in its present form” to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA). As far as we could tell, the NDAA passed by the Senate on June 14 does not include the lateral entry provision.

The letter is signed by William C. Harrop, Thomas D. Boyatt, Lars Hydle, Dennis K. Hays, F.A. Tex Harris, Alphonse F. La Porta, Marshall P. Adair, John Naland, John Limbert, Susan R. Johnson, Theodore L. Eliot, and Lannon Walker.

Read in full below:

 

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