Ambassador Bleich’s Close Encounter with the Croc Kind in Australia’s Northern Territory

The last time we featured our man in Australia in this blog was in our election night round up last November. (see Election Night 2012 Roundup — What a Party!).  This week, Ambassador Bleich made quite a stir in cyberverse with an FB post on Stopping the Game of Clones timed for the 17th annual UN World Book and Copyright Day.

Wired.com wades in with “Tyrion Lannister would not give a shit” (of course!) in U.S. Ambassador Calls for End to Game of Thrones Torrenting: ‘Tyrion Will Thank You’.  Over in the ambo’s FB page, there is an ongoing vigorous discussion whether it should be called stealing or not. It looks like a bunch of people there are real serious about their GOT.

Anyhow, we thought we’d check what else Ambassador Bleich is doing.  Don’t you think this photo below is just pretty wild?  That’s Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich who posted that “the cage of death is actually pretty fun.” Compared to his Facebook page, this looks almost peaceful, despite that gigantic snout.

Ambassador Bleich in a face-to-face croc encounter from the “Cage of Death” at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin, Australia (photo via Amb Bleich/FB)

The encounter with the croc kind occurred in Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia earlier this week during  a trip to welcome the arrival of  Lima Company 3rd Regiment, 3rd Marine battalion from Hawaii for training in country.

Quick excerpt from Ambassador Bleich’s FB post:

I spent the past several days in the Northern Territory preparing for the next rotation of U.S. Marines to arrive in Darwin to train with their Australian mates. Each time, I come back to Darwin, I’m reminded of the genuine kindness and hospitality of Territorians. Part of the Marines’ reason for training in Darwin is the ability of our combined forces to practice expeditionary exercises in a large uninhabited training area. But a big part of the attraction is about the people. Our Marines feel truly welcome in Darwin. 
[…] 
By the time I welcomed the Marines onto the tarmac in Darwin last night, I was able to give them three pieces of practical advice: 1) don’t step in any water deeper than your ankle; 2) never pass up a conversation with a Darwinian; and 3) the “cage of death” is actually pretty fun. (See photos!) Welcome Lima Company 3rd Regiment, 3rd Marine. We’re all glad you’re here. 

Read in full here.  Sky News covered the military rotation here: http://goo.gl/Orz8g and says that the 200 Marines on training in Darwin is the second rotation in a five year program.  Next year there will be 1100 Marines and  eventually 2500 on six month rotations.
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Ambassador Bleich’s Strangely Interesting Experience Down Under

This one from US Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich (Read Journal: Getting my hands dirty):

“Today I added another unusual chapter to the strange, and strangely interesting, experience of being an ambassador. Not only did we have a good family day, but I will never look at my suits the same way again.

Photo from US Embassy Australia

Our family spent the morning at the Royal Canberra Show, where I’d been invited to sash the winning Poll Hereford bull and the grand champion Merino sheep. The show was far grander than any state fair or livestock show that I’d ever been to in the States. In addition to several stands for judging livestock, there was everything from fashion shows to amusement park rides to a shopping mall (we purchased more than our share of Cadbury chocolate “show bags”), exhibits, horse and buggy races, produce displays, demolition derby, diving pigs, and motorcycle jumps. We toured the whole range of activities with the president of the show, Rod Crompton and his wife Leonie.
[…]
As I watched the judges examine the merino sheep, they explained to me how they examined the thickness or length of the sheep’s coat (the “staple”), the size and consistency of the crimp in each strand (which helps the wool hold dye), and the fineness of the strands. The judges explained that people like me who have to wear a suit to work, are driving demand for fine and superfine merino sheep wool. They even introduced me to a few handsome rams who, they believed, might be responsible for one of my suits in the future (if I’m lucky). While the final choice of a grand champion was tough (we left it to the experts), we ultimately settled on a very impressive — and loud – ewe.”

Active links added above. Read more here.


Ambassador Bleich Sworn-in by SCOTUS Chief Roberts

…at the White House

 Photo from US Embassy Canberra           

Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich was formally sworn in by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts in a ceremony on December 20 at the White House. The event was attended by the Ambassador’s family, government officials and Elizabeth Ward, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Australian Embassy in Washington. Ambassador Bleich and Justice Roberts worked together as clerks for the former Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Note that he had his SFRC hearing on November 5, and five days later, the Senate discharged from further consideration and confirmed his nomination by unanimous consent.

Excerpt: 
I haven’t been able to keep up with all of my emails since leaving the White House. As some of you know I was confirmed by the Senate on a Tuesday night at 10:15 p.m., and raced out to post soon after, and I’ve had a flood of emails and questions from many of you here. So since so many friends are here, I’d like to respond to some of those emails now.
First. Yes – to those who asked – there were actually senators on the floor at 10:15 at night on a Tuesday night. Actually I prefer Jim Messiness’ explanation for the unanimous vote that every senator, regardless of their political views, shared a desire to send me 10,000 miles away from them.
Second, thank you all for the suggestion about learning how to speak Australian. We are, after all, two great countries separated only by a common language. Becky and the kids and I have begun extensive training and, no worries, mates, we’re picking up ’strine.
Third, because we are all friends here, yes I did tighten up the security on my facebook account recently if you’ve been trying to reach me. I promise that if you stop sending me emails referencing Fosters Lager and your favorite Crocodile Dundee line, I’ll re-friend you. Finally, yes, there are guest rooms, and no you can’t actually move in until we get there first.
Read Ambassador Bleich’s full remarks.
 

Confirmed: Jeffrey Bleich to Australia

Australia Day CupcakesImage by Bev (Sugarbloom Cupcakes) via Flickr

On November 5, the SFRC had a hearing on the nomination of Jeffrey Bleich to be US Ambassador to Australia. Yesterday, November 10, the Senate discharged the nomination: “The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations was discharged from further consideration of the following nomination by unanimous consent and the nomination was confirmed.”

PN933
Jeffrey L. Bleich
of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Australia.


CONFIRMATION — (Senate – November 10, 2009)

[Page: S11357] GPO’s PDF

SFRC Hearings: Bleich, Huebner, King

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
UNITED STATES SENATE
111th CONGRESS
1st SESSION

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2009
Time: 2:30 P.M.
Place: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Presiding: Senator Menendez

Nominees:

Jeffrey L. Bleich, of California
to be Ambassador to Australia

David Huebner, of California
to be Ambassador to New Zealand, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador to Samoa

Robert R. King, of Virginia
to be Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, with the rank of Ambassador

See the SFRC hearing page here for video and prepared statements.

Officially In: Jeff Bleich to Canberra

Australia, founded July 9, 1900.Image via Wikipedia

On September 12 President Obama announced his intent to nominate Jeff Bleich to be Ambassador to Australia. The official bio released by the WH is below:

Jeff Bleich is the Special Counsel to the President at the White House. From 1995 to 2009 he was a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where he was recognized as one of the nation’s top lawyers. Outside of his legal practice, Mr. Bleich has a long-standing commitment to international law. After clerking for Judge Howard Holtzmann at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal and acting as Special Rapporteur to the International Court of Arbitration, he assisted the Special Prosecutor for the International Tribunal for the Former-Yugoslavia.

He has taught international human rights at UC Berkeley’s School of Law, and written and lectured extensively on the international criminal court. More recently, Mr. Bleich represented the ABA before the United States Supreme Court in several matters including the Medellin case concerning the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. He recently chaired both the ABA’s Amicus Curiae Committee and the subcommittee on Corporate Social Responsibility. Mr. Bleich served as an officer or member in numerous foreign policy organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations, the ABA Section on International Law, the Pacific Council on International Policy, the International Law Association, the American Society of International Law, and Human Rights Watch. In 2008, he served simultaneously as the Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees and as the President of the State Bar of California.

Mr. Bleich received his B.A. from Amherst College, his Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University, and his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. He received his certificate in Public International Law from the Hague Academy in 1993. Following graduation from law school, he clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist on the United States Supreme Court as well as Judge Abner J. Mikva of the D.C. Circuit.

* * *


Opensecrets.org
has identified Mr. Bleich as one of President Obama’s bundlers raising a minimum of $500,000 during the campaign.

If confirmed Mr. Bleich would replaced another non-career appointee in Canberra, Robert D. McCallum who was appointed Ambassador to Australia during George W. Bush’s second term. Seventeen political appointees and seven career diplomats had previously been appointed ambassador to the US Mission in Australia.


Related Item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 9/11/09

Congress Shuttered Our Zoo, So Here’s the Animal Kingdom Foreign Service Round-Up

— by Domani Spero

You’ve seen this photo of the “sad kid at the zoo,” right? The Atlantic Wire calls it the defining image of the government shutdown.  Okay. Australia’s Herald Sun screams, No zoo for you, kid. The US government shutdown hates children. Who writes things like that?  Also Matt Berman of the National Journal went looking for animals, or tried to (We Try to Find Animals at the Shut-Down National Zoo). He came away with the apparent message from the National Zoo which is this: “During a shutdown, we’ll feed the animals. But not the reporters.” He did not see any animals at the zoo except for a couple of male mammals guarding the gate and he found some fish and turtles at the nearby Petco.

Via Reddit/superbonnie

Via Reddit/superbonnie

As for us, we’re stuck as sad blogger online. The State Department is open for business but its social media arms have reportedly been directed to go limp until the shutdown is over. The embassies Twitter feeds are repeating variations of the same message “Due to the government shutdown, this Twitter feed will not be updated regularly.”  Frankly, some social media ninjas are having a hard time going dark – like @USEmbassyKabul, and @usembassyjkt because Secretary Kerry was in town and @usembassymanila, because of security threats and also Secretary Kerry was not in town.

Meanwhile, U.S. embassy officials are also restricted from giving speeches or conducting public outreach even if the agency is still funded.  Ambassadors are restricted from having welcome or farewell receptions, as well.  The welcome party for U.S.Ambassador Matthew Barzun to London is reportedly sponsored by  Tatler, a Conde Nast publication but was cancelled.  Even if no USG funds are expended, some tasks,chores or fun stuff  (including necessary work ones) are not getting done because they would look bad in the grim light of this government shutdown. But wait, on October 2 AmCham Belgium together with the American Club of Brussels did host a Gala Dinner to welcome the new US Ambassador to Belgium, Denise Bauer. What a difference a few days make!

Anyhow, since our national zoo is closed, we thought a collection of animals overseas might be a worthwhile blogpost during this extremely aggravating season. Note that these official engagements have all happened in the past.  Our ambassadors and diplomatic personnel shown below are not/not feeding any animals not doing engagements during the shutdown; apparently only excepted/limited/restricted/whatever activities.  So no rapid response.  You won’t like us for pointing this out — but … but…the Talibs are ‘um mocking us. Just think about it, okay?  Meanwhile, enjoy the cuties below.

U.S. Embassy Kenya

Ambassador Robert Godec  marked this year’s World Environment Day by adopting a one year old orphaned elephant named Tundani at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi National Park. June 2013 | Via US Embassy Kenya/FB

Amb Godek_elephant2

U.S. Embassy Australia

Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich in a face-to-face croc encounter from the “Cage of Death” at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin, Australia (photo via Amb Bleich/FB) | The encounter with the croc kind occurred in Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia during  a trip to welcome the arrival of  Lima Company 3rd Regiment, 3rd Marine battalion from Hawaii for training in country.

If  this shutdown last another week without a resolution, we should petition Congress to go on a CODEL to Darwin!

Amb B_NT

U.S. Embassy Canada

Ambassador David Jacobson carefully examines Batisse, the official mascot of the Royal 22e Regiment in Quebec. As part of a national farewell tour, the Ambassador of the United States took this opportunity to thank and address the troops of the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group for their contribution in Afghanistan. | Photo by: Cpl Nicolas Tremblay, Valcartier Imaging Section. Via US Embassy/Flickr

US ambo to ottawa_with goat

U.S. Embassy Laos

Ambassador Karen Stewart with an elephant. We think this was taken at the conservation center in Laos but our reference, the  ambassador’s blog has been updated with a new blog by her successor, Ambassador Clune and the archive had been wiped mighty clean.

ANIMALS_Amb Stewart during elephant festival

U.S. Embassy France

Ambassadeur Charles Rivkin avec “Celebre” au Salon de l’Agriculture 2012.

ANIM_ Ambo Rivkin

U.S. Embassy United Arab Emirates

U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson during a visit to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH), the largest such facility in the world. (Photo from US Embassy Abu Dhabi) This was taken prior to his appointment as ambassador to Pakistan, can you tell?

ANIm_Ambo olson with falcon

U.S. Consulate General Toronto, Canada

Consul General Jim Dickmeyer greets Honest Ed (back) and Tecumseh along with their riders, Sgt. Jim Patterson and Staff Insp. Bill Wardle, respectively. The horses and the police officers – all members of the Toronto Police Service’s Mounted Unit took part in President Obama’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21st.

POD_inauguration horses

U.S. Embassy New Zealand

Ambassador David Huebner during an official visit to Palmerston North and Massey University’s Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences. A special highlightfor the Ambassador was his introduction to “Chelsea” a mature New Zealand Kiwi who was recovering in the Institute’s specialist care centre. August 2010 | Via US Embassy/Flickr

NZ_kiwi

The Emperor penguin colony representatives in Antarctica during their first diplomatic encounter with Ambassador David Huebner.| Photo by USAF/MarkDoll | December 1,2011 via US Embassy New Zealand

NZ_mike_ambo

U.S. Embassy Norway

Ambassador White visits Hedmark – Breeding Bulls and Battle Tanks (May 20, 2011)
Ambassador Barry White met with representatives from local breeding cooperatives Norsvin and Geno over a traditional Norwegian breakfast at Staur Gjestegård.  The companies conduct cutting edge research in sustainable breeding and artificial insemination and export pig and bull semen to over 20 countries, including the U.S. It’s estimated that over one million pigs and 100,000 cows in the U.S. now carry Norwegian genetic material. Below, Ambassador White stopped for a photo-op with Bosnes, a “quietly confident” 1000kg breeding bull.

Ambassador White visits Hedmark – Breeding Bulls and Battle Tanks (May 20, 2011

U.S. Embassy Thailand

Ambassador Kristie Kenney riding an elephant during Thai Elephant Week in early 2013

Photo via KK/Instagram

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.46.10 PM

That’s kind of blurry, so we’ll give you another snapshot of Ambassador Kenney with a real cutie:

Ambassador Kenney with baby elephant

U.S. Embassy Egypt

Photo of U.S. Marine Security Guards and their camels at the pyramids, from MSG Detachment Cairo
via Diplomatic Security

Thanks to A Female Marine (second from left). This photo was taken in 2008 at the Great Pyramid of Giza on the morning of the Marine Ball .  “So the Marine in charge of MWR funds rented a herd of camels for us to sit on while the photographer snapped our pictures. Luckily the herd arrived with a handler for each camel otherwise we never would have been able to get lined up for the photo. The camels were not happy about this at all, they did not appreciate being forced to stand so close to each other and they were constantly squabbling like siblings in the backseat of a car.” Read more about it plus photos here.

Marines_security group in egypt

Perhaps, the most disappointment thing in this collection is the lack of pandas!  We could not locate a snapshot of Ambassador Huntsman or Ambassador Locke with the pandas.  What’s with that?  But we are sorta persistent, and finally we found an ambassador and a panda from 2004, Ambassador Huntsman’s predeceesor, Clark T. Randt, Jr.:

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 3.31.17 PM

The end.

*(^O^)*

Officially In: John Berry – From OPM to Australia

◉  By Domani Spero

On June 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate John Berry as the next Ambassador to Australia. The WH released the following brief bio:

John Berry served as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April 2013.  Previously, he was the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park from 2005 to 2009, and the Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation from 2000 to 2005.  From 1997 to 2000, Mr. Berry served as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget at the Department of the Interior.  From 1995 to 1997, he was Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Advisor at the Smithsonian Institution.  He joined the federal government in 1994 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement at the Department of Treasury.  Before joining the Department of Treasury, Mr. Berry was the Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer.

Mr. Berry received a B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.P.A. from Syracuse University.

Via Federal News Radio:

“On John Berry’s final day as director of the Office of Personnel Management, the consensus from federal employees and employee groups he has worked with the past four years is that his shoes will be hard to fill. Those interviewed by Federal News Radio said he has been the utmost advocate for feds in a tough political climate of furlough talk, budget negotiations and a rebounding economy.”

The advocate.com notes that Mr. Berry’s OPM appointment (2009-2012) made him the highest-ranking openly gay official in the Obama executive branch. It quotes HRC president Chad Griffin praising the nomination: “John Berry has been a devoted public servant for 30 years and will bring tremendous experience to our embassy in Canberra.”

Mr. Berry’s confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23 at 9 am.  If confirmed, Mr. Berry would succeed Jeffrey Bleich, California lawyer and former Special Counsel to President Obama who was appointed to the US Embassy in Canberra in November 2009.  Since 1960, 72.2% of all ambassadorial appointments to Australia went to non-career appointees.

👀

Related item:

June 21, 2013 President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

Election Night 2012 Roundup — What a Party!

Just when we were all feeling like the Bronco Bama girl, the elections ended just like that.  President Obama was re-elected with a wide margin in the electoral college contrary to what the pundits were predicting and in line with the  smart numbers guys who knew their numbers here, here and here.  He was re-elected with a 7.9% unemployment rate, the highest of any president returned to office since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936.  Next to Bill Clinton, he became only the second Democrat since Roosevelt to win another term.

An interesting global poll conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA between July 3 and September 3, 2012, indicates that Obama is preferred to Romney in 20 of the 21 countries polled:

“Of all the countries polled, France is currently the most strongly pro-Obama, with 72 per cent wanting him to be re-elected and just 2 per cent preferring Romney. Australia (67%), Canada (66%), Nigeria (66%), and the UK (65%) are among the other countries with large majorities favouring Obama.

Pakistan, where 14 per cent want to see Romney elected compared to 11 per cent who prefer Obama, is the only country where the current President is not the favoured candidate—but here, three-quarters (75%) express no opinion. The countries with the largest proportions favouring Mitt Romney are Kenya (18%) and Poland (16%).

Around the world, there were election viewing events and parties at our embassies and consulates on November 6. Here are some of them:

US Embassy Wellington, New Zealand

Via US Embassy NZ/FB
(click on photo above to view the slideshow)

US Embassy Santiago, Chile

Via US Embassy Santiago/FB
(click on photo above to see more)

US Embassy Islamabad, Pakistan

An the election watching party with Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam.

Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson with Lady Liberty and guests at the Election Day watch party
(click on photo to view slideshow)

Via US Mission Pakistan/FB
(Click on photo above to view more photos)

US Consulate General Karachi, Pakistan

Before the elections, Consul General Michael Dodman also hosted a  “Rock the Vote” event “for a fun, interactive discussion of democracy and the U.S. voting system.”

Via USCG Karachi
(click on photo to see more)

US Embassy Baghdad, Iraq

Ambassador Beecroft interviewed by #AP and #alhurra at U.S. Embassy election day event
Photo via @USEmbBaghdad
(click on image to see more photos)

US Embassy Canberra, Australia

The US Embassy in Canberra even had mock balloting.  “The room has voted overwhelmingly in favour of Obama/Biden with 85 votes, versus Romney/Ryan with 19. Amusingly, Ambassador Bleich also managed to pick up 14 votes!”

Ambassador Bleich joins Lyndal Curtis on stage — at National Press Club of Australia.
(click on image above for more photos)

US Embassy New Delhi, India

Via US Embassy New Delhi/FB
(click on image above for more photos)

US Embassy Moscow, Russia

Via US Embassy Moscow/FB
(click on image above to see more photos)

US Embassy London

At the Election Night 2012 party at the U.S. Embassy London, not only was Elvis in the building, he was at the door!

Via US Embassy London/FB

And that last one with Elvis is probably my favorite; now gotta get some more sleep.