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Turkish Security Personnel Beats Up Protesters in Washington, D.C. — Just Like Back in Turkey

Posted: 1:13 am ET

 

In March 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Washington to attend the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit. His security detail made news for its actions toward protesters and journalists covering the visit (see Turkish President Erdoğan Visits DC, His Guards Make News, and Oh, the Turkish Army Says No Coup).

On May 16, President Trump hosted President Erdoğan at the @WhiteHouse where the Turkish president congratulated POTUS for his “legendary triumph.”  Later when protesters demonstrated in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., they were beaten by Turkish security personnel. Just like back in Turkey where peaceful protesters are routinely attacked, even jailed. The attack was captured on videos and beamed around the world.  This time though, President Erdogan appeared to watched from inside his car while the brutal attack unfolded on the street of his host country’s capital city. The State Department and the DC Mayor’s office released statements on the attack against peaceful demonstrators. The White House offers no statement concerning the attack.

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Trump Expected to Nominate Callista Gingrich as the Next Ambassador to the Holy See

Posted: 2:50 am ET

 

According to history.state.gov, the United States maintained a presence in Rome throughout the nineteenth century. The United States at different times had a Minister to the Papal States, Minister to the Pontifical States, and finally, a Minister to Rome from 1848 until Kingdom of Italy conquered Rome in 1870. Throughout much of the twentieth century, successive U.S. Presidents sent a Personal Representative to the Holy See, the diplomatic representative of the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope with its headquarters in Vatican City.

The United States and the Holy See established diplomatic relations by agreement between President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on January 10, 1984, when William A. Wilson presented his credentials to the Pope, elevating his position from Personal Representative of the President to U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Callista Gingrich, the wife of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is widely reported as the expected nominee to be the next ambassador to the Vatican. No official announcement has been made as of this writing. President Trump is scheduled to leave this week for his first trip overseas with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, The Vatican, Belgium, and Italy (May 26-27) for the 43rd G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily.

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New Ambassador David Friedman Arrives in Israel, in Time For POTUS Visit and For a Diplomatic Spat

Posted: 3:50 am ET

 

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Trump to Nominate San Diego Developer “Papa” Doug Manchester to be Ambassador to The Bahamas

Posted: 3:46 am ET

 

On May 15, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Doug Manchester as the next Ambassador to the Bahamas. The WH released a very brief bio:

If confirmed, “Papa” Doug Manchester of California will serve as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.  Mr. Manchester is a leading industrialist with accomplishments on a national and international scale in telecommunications, radio broadcast, medical instrumentation, publishing, and real estate development.  Since 1970, he has been Chairman of Manchester Financial Group, which has multiple divisions including Manchester Grand Resorts and M Commercial Properties.  He leads the Manchester Charitable Foundation and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of The Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute.  Mr. Manchester earned a B.S. from San Diego State University.

The most recent Senate-confirmed Ambassador to the Bahamas was Nicole Avant who was appointed by President Obama on October 16, 2009 and served until November 21, 2011.  Career FSO John W. Dinkelman served as Chargè d’Affaires from November 2011 until July 2014. Career FSO Lisa A. Johnson assumed office as Chargè d’Affaires and has served in that capacity since July 9, 2014.

A note about this vacancy.  On February 10, 2014, President Obama nominated a law school classmate and his Deputy White House counsel, Cassandra Q. Butts, to be the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. The Senate did not confirm her to the post. The Hill reported that her nomination was blocked by Republican senators, including Ted Cruz(Texas) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), over unrelated issues.  The Hill also noted that she died before the Senate held a vote on her confirmation, with a total of 835 days elapsing between the day she was nominated and the day she died.

Clips:

Tillerson on Trump: “I understand I have to earn his confidence every day…”

Posted: 12:54 am ET

 

Via All News:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday said that the firing of FBI Director James Comey did not shake his faith in how much independence he has, adding that he has to earn President Trump’s confidence “every day.”

“I have a great relationship with the president,” Tillerson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I understand what his objectives are,” he added. “When I’m not clear on what his objectives are, we talk about it.”

Tillerson also said he is “devoted” to helping Trump achieve his objectives.

“And I understand I have to earn his confidence every day with how I go about those affairs and how I go about conducting the State Department’s activities consistent with the direction he wants to take the country.”

When asked about his personal line between service to the president and service to the country, Tillerson said he “will never compromise” his own values.

“That’s my only line. And my values are those of the country.”

 

 

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Trump Fires FBI’s James Comey: Cartoonists Around the World React #ComeyFiring

Posted: 3:27 am ET

 

 

The following is by Tjeerd Royaards, Editorial Cartoonist and Editor-in-Chief of  from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

This is by Maarten Wolterink@mwcartoons, cartoonist for Joop.nl, Cartoon Movement, Cartooning for Peace, also from The Netherlands:

This one is from Martin Sutovec of Slovakia via @PRI:

The following is by Rod Emmerson@rodemmerson, the Editorial Cartoonist of The New Zealand Herald:

The following is by Michael de Adder@deAdderpolitical cartoonist and author from Halifax, Nova Scotia:

The following is by Ben Jennings, @BJennings90a London based cartoonist/illustrator whose work has appeared worldwide.

This one is by Christian Adams@Adamstoon1, the multi-award winning Political Cartoonist for the London Evening Standard.

From Matt Wuerker@wuerkerthe staff cartoonist and illustrator for POLITICO.

From Ann Telnaes@AnnTelnaes, “Pushy Nasty Woman Pulitzer prize winning editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post.”

Here’s next week’s cover, “Ejected,” by Barry Blitt, who also did “Broken Windows”  via

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Senate Confirms Amb. Robert Lighthizer as Trump’s U.S. Trade Representative

Posted: 4:33 pm ET

 

On January 3, then President-elect Trump announced his intent to nominate former deputy USTR Robert Lighthizer as the next U.S. Trade Representative (@USTradeRep).  If confirmed, Ambassador Lighthizer would succeed Ambassador Michael Froman who was sworn in as the 17th United States Trade Representative (USTR) on June 21, 2013 as President Obama’s principal advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on international trade and investment issues (see Trump to Nominate Robert Lighthizer as the Next U.S. Trade Representative).

Today, the Senate confirmed Robert Lighthizer, of Florida, to be United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador in an 82-14 vote; four GOP senators did not cast their votes. Three Republican senators, McCain (R-AZ), Sasse (R-NE), and Gardner (R-CO) joined 11 Democrats for the no votes.

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Trump to Nominate Former Ambassador Mark Green as USAID Administrator

Posted: 2:48 am ET

 

On May 4 we blogged about former GOP Representative Mark Green as the prospective USAID Administrator (see Expected USAID Pick Ex-GOP Rep Mark Green Lost in the Trump Jungle). On May 10, President Trump announced his intent to nominate  Mark Andrew Green of Wisconsin to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Mark Green is currently serving as President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing citizen-responsive, citizen-centered governance around the world. In addition to his leadership of IRI, during 2011-16, he served on the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. In 2007-09, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, and oversaw major programs in the areas of global health and economic development. Prior to his role as ambassador, Mr. Green represented Wisconsin’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives and served on the House Judiciary and International Relations Committees. He helped craft key policy initiatives like the Millennium Challenge Act and President George W. Bush’s international AIDS program.

He holds a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, and an honorary Doctor of Science from Georgetown University.

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AFSA Elections 2017: Three of Four Top Elected Posts Are Uncontested. Again.

Posted: 12:10 am ET

 

It’s that time of year again. AFSA is having an election for the 2017 Governing Board.  For the second time in four years, three of the four top elected posts are again, unopposed: President, Secretary, Treasurer.  As in 2013, only the State VP position has two candidates.  Also uncontested slots are: USAID VP, FAS VP, APHIS Rep, BBG Rep, FAS Rep and USAID Rep.  The Foreign Service had seen this movie before in the 2013 elections.

Barbara Stephenson is running unopposed for reelection as AFSA’s president. In her latest FSJ column addressing the 30% funding cut, she writes that she has become over the years, a “cheerleader for making the most of transitions to reexamine priorities.” In hedging off potential criticisms for AFSA’s noticeable silence over these budget cuts, she cites “AFSA’s record-high membership levels and the response and feedback from our “structured conversations” (now in their second year) and other communications tell me that many members are open to a sophisticated approach by AFSA that draws on our core competencies as diplomats.”

Following Secretary Tillerson’s recent address to State Department employees, WaPo’s Joe Davidson writes“Tillerson seems more in touch with the tension reorganization can generate among employees than the union representing them. A statement from American Foreign Service Association President Barbara Stephenson didn’t address worker apprehension as she said “this reorganization effort offers a rare opportunity to make American diplomacy stronger.”

Former Ambassador Tom Boyatt running unopposed for AFSA Secretary says in his campaign message that he “registered the unprecedented uncertainties in the current budget proposal, the reorganization and “streamlining” being considered and the possible RIF flowing therefrom.”

First time candidate for AFSA office, former Ambassador Tony Wayne running in an uncontested seat for the Treasurer slot says that he “cannot recall a period when the misunderstanding was so serious regarding the vital role that American diplomats and American diplomacy play.  AFSA must be as effective as possible in explaining the importance of the non-military tools in America’s international policy. The proposed budget cuts are deeply concerning.” 

Ken Kero-Mentz running for State Vice President under the Stephenson slate writes, “I believe we must forge new alliances, build new bridges, and plan for a stronger future, together. […] I believe AFSA must be a place where everyone can share concerns and ideas, safely. I know how to work with senior management, and I know how to advocate for our Foreign Service and our Department.”

Joe De Maria, an independent running for State Vice President says, “I have served 26 years in the Foreign Service. I’ve served at six posts and in five functional bureaus with many fine generalists and specialists. I’ve served as a consular officer, a Pearson Fellow, HRO, Labor Officer and Congressional Advisor. I know the Department well.[…] I know what works well and what doesn’t, and what motivates us to keep plugging away year after year. Let me put this experience and knowledge to work for you and your families.”

Ann Posner for USAID Vice President in an uncontested seat writes: “As USAID Contingency VP, I want to press onward to assure that the Agency streamlines systems that affect FSOs’ work and careers.”

Daniel Crocker running for FCS Vice President as part of the sole slate: “I’ll help ensure that FCS’s role in promoting U.S. economic security is a core component of your country team at post. I’ll challenge Commerce to support a first-tier Foreign Service. And my communication with you will be transparent and timely.”

Independent Steve Morrison is running for FCS Vice President says that he “Cannot be promoted, SFS “window” not open so ONLY WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR INTERESTS!”

The contested Retiree VP slot is between Bill Haugh who is running as part of the only slate and John Naland running as an independent. Haugh writes: “I want to strengthen AFSA’s capacity to help you transition to retirement. Every retirement is unique, so I propose to strengthen AFSA casework. I am a career management officer with decades of experience navigating the bureaucracy.”

AFSA President twice and former AFSA VP John Naland writes that he is the “only retiree candidate who has pledged to dedicate 20 hours per week to AFSA, I have the time to apply my experience and knowledge to advancing AFSA’s agenda.  As an independent candidate, if the need arises to urge our AFSA President to speak out more strongly in defense of the Service, I will be freer to do so than her fellow slate candidates whose elections she made possible.”

As an aside — we have not made a habit of endorsing AFSA candidates and we are not about to start now, but we will always remember John Naland as an AFSA president who was willing to address members’ concerns long before we had this blog. He was accommodating and sensitive to the issues of Foreign Service members and their spouses, even those who were not paying members of the organization.  He certainly talked the talk and walked the walk.

Frankly, we are sorry to see that he is not at the top of the ticket.

Former Ambassador Alphonse F. La Porta for Retiree Representative talks about “another and lesser known threat: the gutting of employee rights and the labor-management system for which AFSA is responsible as the exclusive representative of the Foreign Service. The law-based and carefully-negotiated rights of federal unions are under attack on the Hill to limit due process, employee protections, and AFSA advocacy.”

Philip A. Shull for Retiree Representative as part of the sole slate writes that “If elected as your Retiree Representative, I will use my skills and 30+ years of experience in marketing and coalition building to win over even more converts.”

George Colvin is running as an independent for Retiree Representative. In his campaign statement, he writes:

According to prominent legal theorist Jack Goldsmith, the Trump administration is conducting “the greatest presidential onslaught on international law and international institutions in American history,” including “trying to gut State Department capacity across the board.” News stories feature bewildered Department staff fearful of budget cuts that could produce a Foreign Service RIF, as well as a drastic and damaging reorganization. The Secretary is a taciturn recluse and policy bystander.

Faced with conditions that threaten both the national interest and the future of the Foreign Service, Barbara Stephenson and her colleagues have nothing to say.

I am running as an independent candidate for retiree representative because I believe AFSA must engage on these concerns, and must be seen to do so. We are the Foreign Service, not the Silent Service; and it is past time for the “Voice of the Foreign Service” to start speaking.

Oh boy! Mr. Colvin might just stir things up on the Board!

Several folks are also running for State Representatives. Some candidates’ statements do not talk about what they hope to accomplish  as AFSA representatives but about the um… “true appreciation of the work” of AFSA President Ambassador Stephenson or Stephenson’s “leadership.”  

Below is a list of nominees.

 

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@StateDept/USAID Staffing Cut and Attrition: A Look at Real Numbers and Projected Attrition

Posted: 3:32 am ET

 

In late April, Bloomberg reported that Secretary Tillerson is seeking a 9% cut in State Department staffing with majority of the job cuts, about 1,700, through attrition, while the remaining 600 will be done via buyouts.

9% Staffing Cut: A Look at the Numbers

The following is the best numbers we could come up with for the State Department and for USAID. The State Department data is from its HR Fact Sheet as of March 31, 2017, while the USAID data is from the Semi-Annual USAID Worldwide Staffing Report from September 30, 2016.

The 3% personnel cut mentioned in some media reports is if the staffing cut is applied to the entire State Department workforce  (2300/75,555).  If we include USAID’s workforce in this calculation, the staffing cut would be 2.7% (2300/84,048). More than half of the total combined workforce, some 55,148 employees are Foreign Service Nationals, also known as Locally Employed Staff (LES) in over 275 posts around the world. One notable thing about FSNs is their compensation. Almost all of them are paid under local compensation plans. Unless the State Department is slashing FSN positions in high-income economies where local compensations are as high as in the U.S., the savings realized from eliminated local positions would barely register.  The reported staff reduction does not specify if FSNs will be affected.  However, if there are post closures in the next 2-3 years, the likelihood for a reduction-in-force for local employees would inevitably follow. So far, we have not heard of post closures, but we suspect that with the kind of cuts projected in FY2018 funding, and potentially in the fiscal years after that — it will only be a matter of time before this dog bites.

The 9% personnel cut reported by some media outlets is if the staffing cut is applied to the State Department’s U.S. direct-hire employees to include Foreign Service and Civil Service employees only (2300/25,007). If we include USAID’s direct-hire workforce in this calculation, the staffing cut would be 7.9%.

1,700 Through Attrition: A look at the Numbers

The Bloomberg report also says that the personnel cuts which includes 1,700 through attrition may be phased in over two years. We don’t have the attrition projection for USAID but there is one for the Foreign Service which projects the total Foreign Service attrition at 2,450 for the next five years.  The average annual attrition for Foreign Service Officers is 261 and 230 for FS Specialists from FY2016-2020 or 490 per year.

Note that the highest projected attrition for FSOs is in the Political and Economic career tracks. Among FSSs, the highest projected attrition occurs in the security officer, office management, and information management skills group.

So, if the State Department is phasing in this personnel cuts of 1,700 through attrition over two years, the projected attrition for FSOs/FSSs for the next two years is only 980.  That means they have to find the rest of their attrition number of 720 from a combination of State Department Civil Service (and USAID/FS-CS, if USAID is part of the calculation), and Foreign Service Nationals (locally hired employees).  They also have to find 600 who are willing to take a buyout to get to 2,700.

If you know anything more about where this is going, get in touch!

 

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