George Floyd’s Death: Official Reactions Plus Trolling From Overseas

 

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Pompeo Hosts Game of Distraction: From “Enormous Evidence” to “Somewhere in the vicinity of the lab” #cliffhanger

 

 

Pompeo, May 7, 2020:

“I think the whole world knows that this began and originated there in Wuhan.  Where exactly it came from, it matters.  We want to know the answers to that.  There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong.”

Pompeo, May 3, 2020:

And Mr. Secretary, have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  “Martha, there is enormous evidence that that’s where this began.  We’ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.  We took a lot of grief for that from the outside, but I think the whole world can see now.  Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.  These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.  And so while the Intelligence Community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

US Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra With Winnie the Pooh

 

A Tanka For Michael R. Pompeo, 70th Secretary of State

I Agree To All That

A Tanka For Michael R. Pompeo, 70th Secretary of State

That’s right. I agree
        with that. And that. I agree
                           with me, I agree.
Even when I disagree.
I do swaggerly agree.

*

Surviving the Outbreak, Reflections on ConGen Wuhan’s Evacuation and Life in Quarantine (Via @StateMag)

 

Featured in the  April 2020 issue of State Magazine (published by the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources) is an article by Russell J. Westergard, the deputy consular chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan, China.
Surviving the Outbreak, Reflections on ConGen Wuhan’s evacuation and life in quarantine

By mid-October 2019, the dedicated team at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan knew that the city had been struck by what was thought to be an unusually vicious flu season. The disease worsened in November. When city officials began to close public schools in mid-December to control the spread of the disease, the team passed the word to Embassy Beijing and continued monitoring. The possibility of a new viral outbreak was always on the consulate’s radar. Still, the working assumption in every scenario had always been that, as in past outbreaks like H1N1 (known as swine flu), it would appear in rural areas first and then spread to major urban centers across China. 

When the Chinese government announced on December 29th that the new and novel coronavirus (COVID-19) had been identified and traced to a live animal market near the U.S. consulate, it caught the team’s attention. Four hectic weeks later, ConGen Wuhan closed under ordered departure with the consulate team pulling off what some people involved have since described as a minor miracle. Consulate staff found themselves at the airport of a paralyzed city preparing to evacuate family members and other U.S. citizens from what would turn out to be ground zero of a deadly global pandemic.

Fast forward to the second week in February. As the ConGen Wuhan team, family members, and the rest of the 195 passengers on board that first flight from Wuhan concluded their 14-day quarantine at the March Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Southern California, the joy and a collective sigh of relief were audible.

Read in full here.

 

US v. China: Dueling COVID-19 Donations in Namibia

 

On March 18, the Chinese Ambassador to Namibia had an official hand-over of reportedly a thousand COVID-19 test kits donations with Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula. Kalumbi Shangula is a Namibian doctor and politician of SWAPO Party who has been Minister of Health and Social Services since December 2018.
On March 19, the US Ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson had an official hand-over of donations with Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services Executive Director Ben T. Nangombe, the number #3 ranking official at the Ministry of Health. The USG donated three ambulances, hospital beds, and other medical supplies per U.S. Embassy Namibia.

Snapshot: ShareAmerica’s “Debt-trap Diplomacy” Narrative Via Facebook/Twitter Campaigns

 

Via @StateDept’s FY 2018 Annual Performance Report | FY 2020 Annual Performance Plan (PDF/p149)

Key Indicator: Number of engagements generated by ShareAmerica content delivered to impact targeted narratives

Indicator Analysis. The Department is moving to align its content production more closely with trending social media narratives in target countries on Administration priority issues. Achieving this will require reallocation of internal resources and development of new editorial procedures. Because significant changes to IIP’s organization/mission are in the process of being implemented, IIP is unsure of the future of this particular indicator, and are not able to provide out-year targets at this time. While ShareAmerica will continue to operate, the direction and methods of evaluation for the program may be impacted.

A recent content team effort illustrates how this new editorial model can work. More specifically, the team:

• Employed analytics tools to monitor African conversations on the subject of Chinese aid. More specifically IIP sought to determine whether/how Africans drew distinctions between Chinese and American efforts;

• Identified key narratives and even phrases (“Debt-trap Diplomacy”) gaining traction in selected English, French, and Portuguese-speaking African nations and audience segments most likely to engage in those narratives;

• Developed content specifically tailored − down to the headline (“How U.S. aid avoids ‘debt-trap diplomacy’”) − to impact those narratives by contrasting development aid best practices with those that enmesh recipients in debt. IIP did not specifically address Chinese aid, but knew from our research that the target audiences could connect the dots; and

• Created Facebook and Twitter advertising campaigns (total expenditure: $1,000 total, or $8 per day/platform in each country) specifically targeting the audience segments identified during research phase.

Results:

• Digital analytics measure “post momentum” (engagement rate over previous 24 hours) at 76 times above average;

• 74 percent of respondents clicked-through to read the article;

• Fully 10 percent of respondents shared the article to their own social feeds, shares being the highest level of engagement and clearest indicator of success; and

• Facebook campaign (reach: two million) netted useful benchmarking data, allowing more precise, and inexpensive, future targeting for message reinforcement.

Indicator Methodology :

ShareAmerica content is meant to be distributed primarily on social media. IIP will assess whether social media audiences are finding the content engaging and interesting on those platforms. As a proxy for link clicks and for an engagement metric usable for a large set of articles, IIP will look at the total number of social media engagements (retweets, shares, likes, and comments) on Department ShareAmerica social media posts.

Clips:

US Embassy Mongolia Now on Voluntary Departure For Non-Emergency Staff/Family Members

 

On February 25, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees and their family members due to travel, transport, and other restrictions related to Mongolia’s response to an outbreak in the neighboring People’s Republic of China of COVID-19 (the “novel coronavirus,” also known as the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2). (see link below).

 

South Korea Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel February 29, 2020
Italy Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel February 29, 2020
Iran Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 26, 2020
Mongolia Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel February 26, 2020
Japan Travel Advisory Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution February 22, 2020
Hong Kong Travel Advisory Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution February 20, 2020
Macau Travel Advisory Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution February 11, 2020
China Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 2, 2020

The Philippines Sends USG Notice of Military-Pact Termination #VFA #180days

 

Via Rappler (Philippines):

On Monday night, February 10, Duterte launched a fresh round of verbal tirades against the US saying while top officials, including President Donald Trump, were trying to salvage the VFA, he was bent on having it terminated. (EXPLAINER: Visiting Forces Agreement)

Duterte first broached his plan to terminate the VFA on January 23, after the US canceled the visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa. Dela Rosa is Duterte’s first Philippine National Police chief known as the architect behind the government’s bloody anti-drug campaign.

The President later said he was serious about his decision, adding his choice to do so was anchored on US lawmakers’ moves to impose travel and financial restrictions on Philippine officials linked to the detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima and alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under the Duterte administration. (READ: Why the Global Magnitsky Act matters to the Philippines)

 

U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau on ‘Voluntary Departure’ Over Covid19 Outbreak

 

On February 11, the State Department issued a Level 2 Exercise Increase Caution for the Hong Kong and Macau. The announcement includes public notice of the voluntary evacuation order of February 10 for the consulate general’s non-emergency staff and and their family members due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China (now officially called covid19).  Excerpt below:

Exercise Increased Caution due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.  Read the entire Travel Advisory.

A novel (new) coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness that began in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The Hong Kong government has reported cases of the novel coronavirus in its special administrative region, has upgraded its response level to emergency, its highest response level, and is taking other steps to manage the novel Coronavirus outbreak. On February 8, the Hong Kong government began enforcing a compulsory 14-day quarantine for anyone, regardless of nationality, arriving in Hong Kong who has visited mainland China within a 14-day period. This quarantine does not apply to individuals transiting Hong Kong International Airport and certain exempted groups such as flight crews. However, health screening measures are in place at all of Hong Kong’s borders and the Hong Kong authorities will quarantine individual travelers, including passengers transiting the Hong Kong International Airport, if the Hong Kong authorities determine the traveler to be a health risk. Please refer to the Hong Kong government’s press release for further details.

On January 30, the Hong Kong government temporarily closed certain transportation links and border checkpoints connecting Hong Kong with mainland China and on February 3 suspended ferry services from Macau.

On February 10, 2020 the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members due to the novel coronavirus and the impact to Mission personnel as schools and some public facilities have been closed until further notice.

The Department of State has raised the Travel Advisory for mainland China to Level 4: Do Not Travel due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Warning:  Avoid all nonessential travel to China.

Full advisory available here.