U.S. Mission Russia: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg #ThinkingofYou

Posted: 3:35  pm PT
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We’re thinking about the staffers at U.S. Mission Russia, at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and the U.S. Consulates General in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg.  Those who will remain at posts will have to make do without the help of their colleagues and local staff, and those who are required to depart will have to find temporary homes at other posts until they can locate new assignments.  We’re only a few weeks away from school opening, so we anticipate that some Foreign Service kids could also be affected.  We have no doubt that our Foreign Service folks are resilient and will face the next weeks with strength and fortitude, but these will be difficult times nonetheless.

This will be especially hard for a large number of employees at U.S. Mission Russia who are local employees and do not have relocation as an option. We don’t know at this time if they will be placed on administrative furlough, or if there are other options specific to the Russian posts.  3 FAM 7732.4 provides for separation by reduction in force (RIF) for local employees for “lack of funds, reorganization, decrease of work, or similar reason.” OPM says that agencies must follow RIF procedures for furlough of more than 30 continuous calendar days, however it also says that employees may be placed on an extended furlough when the agency plans to recall the employee to his or her position within 1 year. The FAM provides for reemployment of  FSNs “separated upon expiration of a short term of employment” but we won’t really know how long this will last, do we?

 

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President Obama Visits Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Manila — Yabusame, Durian, EDCA, and Lots of Handshakes

— Domani Spero

President Obama is traveling to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines from April 22 to April 29. Below are some photos from his stops:

Japan

The US Embassy Tokyo folks also got a meet and greet with President Obama. We are pleased to hear that no one was strangled with the lanyard of some Top Secret Clearance badge despite all that standing around waiting to see POTUS.  You all did not get up at 3 a.m., did you?

Republic of Korea

Malaysia

Philippines

Shortly before President Obama arrived in Manila, the United States and the Philippines signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The agreement is designed to promote among other things, capacity building towards Philippine Army modernization, maritime security, maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

For more of that, see links below:

President Barack Obama stretches to shake the hand of a young girl held aloft during a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Round-up: American Ambassadors Presenting Their Credentials (Photos)

— By Domani Spero

The newly confirmed American ambassadors presented their credentials to each of their receiving states in the last couple of months. Below are just a few of the photographs that are available online.

U.S. Embassy Japan
Cred_kennedy2013

TOKYO, Japan (November 19, 2013) U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy arrived at the the Imperial Palace, where she presented her credentials to His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito.
[State Department photo by William Ng/Public Domain]
(click on photo to view Flickr slideshow)

U.S. Embassy United Kingdom
@MatthewBarzun Diplomacy is a balancing act, like wearing a top hat. Preparing for my #CredentialsCeremony

@MatthewBarzun
Diplomacy is a balancing act, like wearing a top hat. Preparing for my #CredentialsCeremony

U.S. Embassy Brazil
A embaixadora dos EUA no Brasil, Liliana Ayalde, apresentou hoje suas credenciais à presidente do Brasil Dilma Rousseff. via US Embassy/FB

October 2013: A embaixadora dos EUA no Brasil, Liliana Ayalde, apresentou hoje suas credenciais à presidente do Brasil Dilma Rousseff.
via US Embassy/FB

U.S. Embassy Germany
CRED_Emerson Germany 2013

S. E. den Botschafter der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, Herrn John B. Emerson | 26. August 2013, Schloss Bellevue – © Bundespresseamt via US Embassy Berlin/Flickr (click on photo to view slideshow)

U.S. Embassy Italy
CRED_Italy Philips

October 2, 2013. L’Ambasciatore John R. Phillips ha presentato ieri le Lettere Credenziali al Presidente Giorgio Napolitano.
Con l’accettazione formale delle Credenziali, si conclude il processo di insediamento del nuovo Ambasciatore, iniziato con la nomina da parte del Presidente Obama lo scorso luglio. (via US Embassy Rome/FB)

U.S. Embassy Denmark
Ambassador Rufus Gifford received his credentials from H.M. Queen Margrethe II today at a ceremony at Amalienborg.

Ambassador Rufus Gifford received his credentials from H.M. Queen Margrethe II  (not in the photo) at a ceremony at Amalienborg. U.S. Embassy/FB Photo

U.S. Embassy South Africa
CRED_Ambassador-Gaspard-and-his-spouse

On October 16, 2013 Patrick H. Gaspard presented his credentials to President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa. Photo of Ambassador Gaspard and his spouse Ms. Raina Washington at the credentialing ceremony. (US Embassy Photo)

U.S. Embassy to the Holy See
Via US Embassy/The Vatican

Via US Embassy/The Vatican

Ambassador Ken Hackett presented his credentials to Pope Francis at the Vatican in October 2013. More photos via US Embassy Vatican/FB.

Ambassador Ken Hackett presented his credentials to Pope Francis at the Vatican in October 2013. More photos via US Embassy Vatican/FB.

U.S. Embassy Spain
El Embajador James Costos presentó ayer sus cartas credenciales ante el Rey Don Juan Carlos. Este es el paso definitivo en su acreditación como Embajador de EEUU en España.

El Embajador James Costos presentó ayer sus cartas credenciales ante el Rey Don Juan Carlos. Este es el paso definitivo en su acreditación como Embajador de EEUU en España. US Embassy Madrid/FB

U.S. Embassy Australia
Ambassador Berry formally presented his credentials to the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, who received them on behalf of the Queen.

Ambassador John Berry formally presented his credentials to the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, who received them on behalf of the Queen – September 2013 Photo via US Embassy Canberra/FB

* * *

Derek Brown’s Photographs From India — Old Delhi, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, and Kutch

— By Domani Spero

We most recently blogged about Derek Brown’s photos from India in early 2013 ( See NYT’s India Ink Features Awesome Photographer and USAID EFM). This blog has also featured his 2010 photo exhibit in DC, a photo from the East Africa Bombing Memorial, and photos from Pakistan during his FSO’s assignment there. His photos are in Facebook but we are thrilled to see his photos of Old Delhi, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, and Kutch, in a new Tumblr.

Below is a boat in Kutch, in the Gujarat state of western India. Apparently, Kutch literally means “something which intermittently becomes wet and dry.”  Thanks, Derek, for letting us use this photo!

Check out more gorgeous photos from India, vivid, brimming with life, leaping off the frames at http://derekbrowntravels.tumblr.com.

2013 © Derek Brown. Used with permission

2013 Photo © Derek Brown. Used with permission
(Click on image to view more photos)

* * *

US Embassy Vientiane: Ambassador Karen Stewart Blogs Goodbye

— By Domani Spero

The U.S. Ambassador to  Lao PDR Karen Stewart concluded her three-year assignment at the US Embassy in Vientiane in early August.  She blogged her farewell and favorite Lao things here.   Her Ask the Ambassador: Farewell Edition video is here.  Her successor Ambassador-Designate Daniel A. Clune was confirmed by the Senate on August 1.

You might remember that Ambassador Stewart was also the chief of mission at the US Embassy in Minsk  where embassy staffers were subjected to occasional aggressive surveillance.  In 2008, she was “advised” to leave the country by Europe’s last dictator. Two years after that she got appointed to Lao PDR, another authoritarian state. A case of jumping from a hot frying fan to another.

Below are some of our favorite photos. (All photos from US Embassy Vientiane/Flickr):

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With feelings. At the embassy’s Fourth of July celebration, 2013

KS-6850043204_4aa296aab7

During a visit to see the Nutrition Program in Akkha Village

KS_tumblr_inline_ml2lwe5pX21qz4rgp

During the Pi Mai New Year Holiday in Laos

KS_6834877789_2d796cb560

At a medical delivery mission to three Hmong villages

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With Nitaya Panemalaythong, the first Lao-American to win the title of Miss Minnesota USA 2012. Video of that fun visit here.

👀

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

US Embassy London: First Lady Brings Let’s Move! to Winfield House

Via US Embassy London/Flickr:

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a Let’s Move! event for about 1,000 American military children and American and British students in London today. The event took place at the Ambassador’s residence Winfield House. The kids had the chance to meet Olympic and Paralympic legends including David Beckham, Bart Conner, Nadia Comaneci, Teresa Edwards, Emily Hughes, Sarah Hughes, Shawn Johnson, Carl Lewis, Dikembe Mutombo, Dara Torres, members of the 2012 US Track and Field Team and Manchester United legends, among others.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a Let’s Move! event for about 1,000 American military children and American and British students in London.
(click on photo for slideshow)

Nickelodeon, The NBA and USA Basketball, U.S. Tennis Association, USA Field Hockey, USA Track and Field, Manchester United and Right to Play provided sports stations for kids to get into the Olympic spirit by getting active.

The Wanted, the University of Florida Gator Marching Band, Mark Ronson, Katy B. and Nickelodeon’s DJ J Boogie and Jeff Sutphen, the Power Rangers and SpongeBob helped entertain the kids throughout the event

Active links added above.

–DS

US Embassy Paris: Another Ambassador Goes on a Parachute Jump

Ever since Ambassador Kristie Kenny parachuted over the central region of Lopburi with a military instructor, we’ve been waiting for an addition to our parachute jump collection. This weekend we got our wish.

On June 3rd, U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin took part in a mass parachute jump over the coast of Normandy on Sunday to mark the 68th anniversary of D-Day. And he tweeted about it.

Screen grab from Twitter

Photo from US Embassy France

More photos here.

Domani Spero

Remembrances Around the Foreign Service on Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. It was was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  It is observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May.

Excerpt from General Logan’s 1868 order:

All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from his honor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

Below are some photos from US missions marking the day of remembrance overseas:

US Embassy Manila, Philippines

Memorial Day 2011:  An American boy plants American and Philippine flags beside a cross that marks one of the 17,000 graves in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City on May 28 as part of the U.S. observance of Memorial Day. On May 29, U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. led representatives of the American community and guests in a ceremony at the Memorial to pay tribute to the soldiers of the U.S. and its allies who have fallen in defense of freedom and democracy. The 152-acre cemetery and memorial in Manila has the largest number of graves of U.S. soldiers who died in World War II. The graves include those of 570 Filipinos who served with the U.S. Forces in the Southwest Pacific.

Memorial Day, May 27, 2012.  Chargé d’Affaires Leslie A. Bassett offers a wreath in honor of all Veterans this Memorial Day, at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Philippines.
(Photo from US Embassy Manila)

US Embassy Montevideo, Uruguay

May 31, 2010. A U.S. Marine replaces a worn out flag at the grave site of a young sailor, honoring fallen U.S. servicemen buried at the British Cemetery in Montevideo [U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi]

US Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti

Mike Lombardo, regional security officer for U.S. Embassy, Djibouti, gives the opening remarks during a Ceremony at Cimetiere non Mulilman de Djibouti, May 31. The Memorial Day Ceremony honored Pilot Officer Lawrence Maguire, an American who volunteered for the Canadian air force, one of the many military members who gave their lives during World War II. Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett

US Embassy Tunis, Tunisia

U.S. Army Col. Warren P. Gunderman, a military representative at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, lays a wreath Monday during a Memorial Day service at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial near Carthage, Tunisia. Photo by US Army Africa

US Embassy Nassau, The Bahamas

US Embassy observed Memorial day with a Wreath Laying Ceremony at Clifton Pier. On Monday, May 31, 2010 the United States Embassy observed Memorial Day with a wreath laying ceremony at Clifton Pier in memory of fallen service men and women. Special recognition was given to the U.S. Patrol Squadron 23 Sailors, who perished off the coast of Nassau on May 7, 1954.

US Embassy Baghdad, Iraq

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Maj. Gen. Mark Zamzow, bow their heads during a moment of silence. Troops deployed to Iraq hold a Memorial Day ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Denny Cantrell | 05.26.2008

US Embassy Tallinn, Estonia

U.S. Embassy Tallinn Recognizes Memorial Day – May 30, 2011
(Photo from US Embassy Tallinn/Flickr)

US Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan

Memorial Day, Kabul 2010
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

Plaque “In memory of Ambassador Adolp ‘Spike’ Dubs, Killed in Kabul on February 14, 1979”
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, DEA Regional Director Michael T. Marsac, program analyst Lisa Hostettler, Assistant Regional Director Craig Wiles and secretary Teresa Hernandez near a marker for DEA Special Agents Forrest N. Leamon, Michael E. Weston and Chad L. Michael at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2011. (Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

US Embassy Wellington, New Zealand

Memorial Day Service at Old St Paul’s, Wellington – May 30, 2011
(Photo from US Embassy New Zealand/Flickr)
Click here for slideshow

Memorial Day 2012 | This Memorial Day the people of Kapiti Coast on the North Island of New Zealand unveiled a memorial to the 10 U.S. sailors who died during a training exercise while trying to come ashore on June 20, 1943. About 350 people, including Charge d’Affaires Marie Damour and a U.S. Marine Color guard, were there for the dedication of the memorial, sculptured into the shape of a landing craft, close to the waters where the tragedy occurred. Read more here.
(Photo from US Embassy NZ/Flickr)

Something more to remember – below is a photo from Kabul, Afghanistan, April 10, 2006: The U.S. Embassy in Kabul renamed a camp in honor of Diplomatic Security Special Agent Eric Sullivan, who was killed on September 19, 2005, during a terrorist attack on his motorcade in Mosul, Iraq. Camp Sullivan is a self-contained facility for the local guard force that provides protection to all official U.S. facilities in Kabul. During Special Agent Sullivan’s career with the Diplomatic Security Service he volunteered to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq.

State Department photo

Domani Spero