Photo of the Day: Happy Lao New Year 2559

Posted: 1:05 am ET
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Lao New Year, the most widely celebrated festival in Laos is known as Songkran or “Pi Mai” and celebrated every year from April 14 to April 16. On April 9, the US Embassy in Laos celebrated Lao New Year with offerings of flowers and fruits. Post also made a video but it’s only posted on FB so we’ll make do with this photograph:

Via US Embassy Vientiane:

via US Embassy Laos/FB

via US Embassy Laos/FB

 

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Officially In: Dan Clune – From HR/BEX to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

 By Domani Spero

On June 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate  Dan Clune as the next Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The WH released the following brief bio:

Dan Clune, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is an Assessor on the Board of Examiners in the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State.  From 2010 to 2012, he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.  From 2007 to 2010, he was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia.  From 2005 to 2007, he was the Director of the Department of State Office of Monetary Affairs, and from 2002 to 2005, he was Director of the Department of State Office of Economic Policy and Public Diplomacy.  Mr. Clune served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, The Bahamas from 2000 to 2002.  Previously, he was the Trade Advisor at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development from 1998 to 2000.  In Washington, his earlier assignments include Director for Middle East in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 1997 to 1998, and Economic Officer in the European Affairs Bureau from 1990 to 1992.  He has also served overseas at the U.S. Embassies in Lima, Peru and Jakarta, Indonesia.

Mr. Clune received a B.A. from Boston College and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Until 2012, Mr. Clune was the PDAS at the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), and was reportedly charged with overseeing the Keystone XL project, one of the more contentious subjects facing the State Dept. in the domestic front; contentious enough that it might manifest during his confirmation hearing currently scheduled for Tuesday, July 23 at 9 am.

As an aside, Senators Sanders, Wyden and Whitehouse had requested State/OIG for an investigation into the State Department’s handling of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and National Lnterest Determination (NlD) for TransCanada Corporation’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  (See  Special Review of the Keystone XL Pipeline Permit Process Report Number AUD/SI-12-28, February 2012).

If confirmed, Mr. Clune would succeed career diplomat, Karen Stewart who was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy in Vientiane in November 2010.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is one of the 42 countries in the world where we haven’t had a political appointee. Ever.

According to history.state.gov, the American Legation in Vientiane was established on August 22, 1950, when it opened under Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Paul L. Guest.  On July 27, 1955, the United States Senate confirmed Charles W. Yost, who was then Minister to Laos, for the post of Ambassador to Laos.  According to a joint announcement by the Governments of the United States and Laos on August 10, 1955, the United States elevated its diplomatic mission in Vientiane from a Legation to an Embassy. With the founding of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) in December 1975, the diplomatic relation was downgraded. The ambassadorial relations was not restored until August 6, 1992 with the the presentation of  credentials by our first Ambassador to the LPDRAmbassador Charles B. Salmon Jr.

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US Embassy Laos: Ambassador Stewart Gets a Lesson in Breakdancing

Via the US Embassy Vientiane:

“The 2012 Fang Meh Khong dance festival will take place October 23-24 in Vientiane, featuring hip-hop, modern, and traditional dancers from Laos, Singapore, and France. The U.S. Embassy is one of the sponsors of this event, so Mr. Ole, the director, decided to stop by the Embassy to teach some dance moves to Ambassador Stewart. She raps, she breakdances, it’s official: Than Thoot Karen is the coolest Ambassador ever!”

Why breakdancing?  Ambassador Stewart explains in her blog:

Since coming to Laos, I have definitely tried a lot of things I never thought I never thought I would try. From eating bugs, to detonating a huge pile of unexploded ordnance, to rapping in Lao to a crowd of teenagers, I’ve had some amazing experiences.

Last week I got to cross another experience off my list: Break-dancing! To show my support for the upcoming Fang Mae Khong dance festival (which the U.S. Embassy is helping to sponsor), I got a lesson in B-Boy dancing from Ole, the young director of the dance festival.

Ole and his team showed me a few simple moves (well, simple for them, anyway). At the end, we performed a little dance routine together. You can watch the results here.

Well, of course I am no real dancer, but it was a lot of fun! It’s always good to get out there and try to do something when part of you thinks you can’t do it.

Read her full post here.  She also blogged about detonating the “bombies” here.