SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas Swears-In U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau

 

The new U.S. Ambassador to Mexico had a ceremonial swearing at the State Department officiated by SCOTUS Associate Justice Clarence Thomas last week.
Ambassador Landau was officially sworn in as United States Ambassador to Mexico on August 12, 2019. His bio says that after graduating from law school, he clerked for then-Judge Clarence Thomas of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He later clerked for Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1990 and 1991 terms.
His father, George Walter Landau (1920–2018), a career Foreign Service officer, served as U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay from October 13, 1972–October 14, 1977. Ambassador George Landau who also served as U.S. Ambassador to Chile and Venezuela passed away last year.
The new ambassador speaks fluent Spanish, and earned a Certificate in Latin American Studies at Harvard College.  He was born in Madrid, Spain, and attended the American School of Asunción, Paraguay, for five years.

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United Airlines Changes Unaccompanied Minor (UM) Policy For Kids Traveling Alone

Posted: 12:49 am EDT
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An FS member alerted us about a recent change in United Airlines’ unaccompanied minor (UM) policy.  “It had been optional to be an unaccompanied minor for those 12 and above — now everyone under 16 is required to pay an extra $150, fly only on direct United flights, and be handed off at the gate by a guardian or caregiver at each end.”

Apparently, United was the last of the three major airlines with a permissive UM policy.  Delta and American already required the UM service for those under 15, although minors were allowed to change planes.

Our correspondent asks: “Is M/FLO engaged on this?  There will presumably, be a significant impact on 9th and 10th graders from the foreign affairs community attending boarding school in the USA while their parents are abroad.  Combine these UM policies with city-pair rules, requiring the use of a contract carrier when travel is USG-paid, and I see an interesting Catch 22 brewing.”

We’ve asked the FLO but have not received a response.

Below via United:

For tickets purchased on or after December 14, 2015, children 5 to 15 years of age who travel on an aircraft without a parent, a legal guardian or someone who is at least 18 years of age are considered unaccompanied minors and are subject to certain restrictions. Travel arrangements for these young travelers can be booked through united.com or the United Customer Contact Center.

Information for children traveling alone

  • Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express®. United does not offer unaccompanied minor service to or from other airlines’ flights.
  • Children younger than 5 years of age are not accepted as unaccompanied minors.
  • Children 5 to 15 years of age who are traveling alone must use our unaccompanied minor service. A service charge will apply.
  • Unaccompanied minor service is not available for children over age 15. Children ages 16 and 17 may travel alone on any United- or United Express-operated flights.
Children 5 to 15 years of age who are not accompanied on an aircraft by a parent, a legal guardian or someone who is at least 18 years of age are considered unaccompanied minors and are subject to certain restrictions. Travel arrangements for these young travelers can be booked through united.comor the United Customer Contact Center.

Information for children traveling alone

  • Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express®. United does not offer unaccompanied minor service to or from other airlines’ flights.
  • Children younger than 5 years of age are not accepted as unaccompanied minors.
  • Children 5 to 15 years of age who are traveling alone must use our unaccompanied minor service and pay the applicable service charge.
  • Children ages 12 to 17 can use United’s unaccompanied minor service for travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express, or they can travel as adults on any flights without using United’s unaccompanied minor service.

Service charges

Children traveling unaccompanied pay the regular adult fare. An additional service charge is collected to cover extra handling required when an unaccompanied child travels. Please confirm this charge when placing your reservation.

The service charge is $150 each way for children traveling with United’s unaccompanied minor service to any destination. The unaccompanied minor service charge may be paid at the time of reservation, or prior to departure at a United check-in counter.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions

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American Airlines says on its website that its unaccompanied minor service is to ensure your child is boarded onto the aircraft, introduced to the flight attendant, chaperoned during connections and released to the appropriate person at their destination.

  • The unaccompanied minor service fee is $150 (plus tax) each way
  • 2 or more unaccompanied minors from the same family, traveling on the same flights, will only be charged $150 (plus tax) each way

American Airlines will not accept unaccompanied minors when their itineraries include a connection to/from another airline, including codeshare and oneworld® partners and ground/co-terminal connections (unaccompanied minors under 15 years, can’t use ground transportation alone). Read more here.

Delta Airlines also provides special services for children who are flying by themselves. Children 5-14 years of age traveling without an adult (18 years plus) are considered an Unaccompanied Minor (UMNR) and must participate in the airlines’ UMNR program.  Unaccompanied Minor (UMNR) service is mandatory for ages 5-14. Children ages 15-17 are not required to have unaccompanied service; however, we will provide the service if requested. The UMNR service fee will apply. Read more here.

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Happy December! Amb. Adams Had Already Met With the Real Santa in Helsinki

Posted: 12:53 am EDT
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Via
US Embassy Finland/FB:

You’ll never guess who the Ambassador just met in Rovaniemi…the real Santa Claus! We can’t share what he wished for (or it won’t come true). But we can share that he is participating in the #RovaniemiProcess. We all wish the best for Santa’s home in the Arctic and the #RovaniemiProcess will help make that happen. Check it out to learn more: http://www.rovaniemiprocess.fi/en

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Ambassador Charles Adams, Jr. was born on August 25, 1947, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where his father, a career officer of the U.S. Foreign Service, was on assignment. As an FS kid, he had previously lived in Canada, France, Germany, Morocco, Senegal and Ghana.  He was nominated by the White House in July 2014, and was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 24, 2015. He assumed charge of Embassy Helsinki on August 3, 2015.

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Killer Air in China: Pollution Kills an Average of 4,000/day x 365 = 1,460,000

Posted: 4:18 am EDT
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Berkeley Earth released a study showing that air pollution kills an average of 4,000 people every day in China, 17% of all China’s deaths. For 38% of the population, the average air they breathe is “unhealthy” by U.S. standards. According to the study, the most harmful pollution is PM2.5, particulate matter 2.5 microns and smaller.  This penetrates deeply into lungs and triggers heart attacks, stroke, lung cancer and asthma.

“Beijing is only a moderate source PM 2.5 ; it receives much of its pollution from distant industrial areas, particularly Shijiazhuang, 200 miles to the southwest,” says Robert Rohde, coauthor of the paper.

“Air pollution is the greatest environmental disaster in the world today,” says Richard Muller, Scientific Director of Berkeley Earth, coauthor of the paper. “When I was last in Beijing, pollution was at the hazardous level; every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes. It’s as if every man, women, and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour,” he said.

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Perhaps it’s time to revisit this Burn Bag submission?

“Why are we still downplaying the enormous health impact to officers and their families serving in China? Why are State MED officers saying ‘off the record’ that it is irresponsible to send anyone with children to China and yet no one will speak up via official channels?”

Embassy Beijing and the five consulates general in China house one of the largest U.S. diplomatic presences in the world (no presence in Kunming and Nanjing).  Service in China includes a hardship differential (when conditions of the environment differ substantially from environmental conditions in the continental United States) for poor air quality among other things, ranging between 10-25% of basic compensation.

According to the 2010 OIG report, more than 30 U.S. Government agencies maintain offices and personnel in China; the total staff exceeds 2,000 employees. Consulates General Guangzhou and Shanghai are as large as many mid-sized embassies, each with more than 250 employees. Consulates General Chengdu and Shenyang are smaller but serve the important western and northern parts of the country respectively. Consulate General Wuhan, opened in 2008, is staffed by one American. Mission China is a fully accompanied post; we have no numbers on how many family members, including children are present at these posts.

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Foreign Service Kids Grill Secretary Kerry During Take Your Child to Work Day

Posted: 12:40  pm EDT
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Secretary Kerry and his dog, Ben F. Kerry attended the Take Your Child to Work Day ceremony at the State Department today. Secretary Kerry said he wanted to  “take a moment to maybe answer any questions that some of you have, which is always very, very dangerous – (laughter) – and could put my entire job at risk.”   So the Foreign Service kids get to ask their parents’ boss a few questions during the Q&A:

  • When do you have time to relax?
  • What do you do as your job?
  • Why do you have to wear suits to work?
  • Is it fun being Secretary of State?
  • When did you get your dog?
  • Is this your first time being Secretary of State?
  • What is your favorite sport?
  • What inspired you to be the Secretary of State, and what age did you decide?
  • How tough was it to become what you are?
  • Do you like to do chores? 

You can add all these questions to an 11-year old’s who apparently asked Secretary Kerry, “Who are you and what do you do?” See video here. Click here for the transcript.
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Burn Bag: What’s ‘off the record’ about Assignment China?

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“Why are we still downplaying the enormous health impact to officers and their families serving in China? Why are State MED officers saying ‘off the record’ that it is irresponsible to send anyone with children to China and yet no one will speak up via official channels?

Hello AFSA …. EAP …. HR… Anyone? And the band played on …. ”