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New Ambassador to NZ Scott Brown to Arrive at Post With Some Ready Made Headaches in Waiting

We have been a reader-supported blog since 2014. We want to keep this blog as open as possible and that’s the reason we don’t have a subscription fee. You know best whether our work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances allow it, we could use your help to carry on for another year: Help Diplopundit Get to Year 10 ⚡️
Posted: 12:25 am ET

 

In January, we heard several concerns about the ongoing construction project at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand related to safety issues, structural and health concerns and communication issues in the work disruption that followed the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016 (see US Embassy New Zealand’s Chancery Rehab Project: Safety and Health Concerns With Ongoing Construction).  In State/OBO’s response to our prior inquiry, we were told that rehabilitation project of the existing chancery in Wellington to meet seismic and security requirements is scheduled for completion in early 2018.

The new Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa Scott Brown is reportedly expected to arrive in Wellington this week (also see New Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa Scott Brown Introduces Self in Home Video). Below is from a new howler we got which shows the new ambassador has ready made headaches to welcome him at his new gig.

“Regarding Embassy Wellington’s seismic upgrade, the latest completion date is now “mid-2019”.

“No deaths on site so far, although there have been a few more injuries, fires, power outages and evacuations.”

“Staff members are now back at the British High Commission with their workspaces scheduled to be consumed by the project again, because we didn’t learn from our mistake last time.”

On a positive note, OBO built post a beautiful new kitchen…which we can’t use during business hours because the only entrance is through the Embassy’s *one* meeting room.

“Will incoming Ambassador Brown be able to make any sense of this mess when he arrives this week?”

“It’d be lovely to have a town hall to welcome him, except that the multi-purpose room is scheduled for teardown this week, too.”

via replygifs.net

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New Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa Scott Brown Introduces Self in Home Video

We have been a reader-supported blog since 2014. We want to keep this blog as open as possible and that’s the reason we don’t have a subscription fee. You know best whether our work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances allow it, we could use your help to carry on for another year: Help Diplopundit Get to Year 10 ⚡️
Posted: 3:50 pm PT

 

Six Trump ambassador nominees have been confirmed to date, including former Senator Scott Brown who was confirmed last week in a 94-4 vote.  It looks like State/IIP no longer releases introduction videos for new ambassadors. The newly confirmed ambassador did release a home video for his soon to be host countries of New Zealand and Samos featuring his family and pet.

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Tillerson/Priebus Standoff on Ambassadorships, Plus Rumored Names/Posts (Updated)

Posted: 2:03 am  ET
Updated: 2:31 pm PT

 

The following report may explain the slow announcement of ambassador picks under the Trump administration. To-date, only two ambassador’s postings have been announced, China and Israel. The nominee for Israel, David Friedman has a scheduled confirmation hearing this week.   Terry Branstad’s nomination as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China was sent to the Senate on January 20 but so far, no schedule has been announced by the SFRC. Note that Nikki Haley was previously announced as Trump’s pick for the UN and was confirmed by the Senate on January 24. Her official title is United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, an ambassador-rank position; it is also a cabinet level position. 

For a list of ambassadorships that may be the cause of the reported standoff between Secretary Tillerson and WH Chief of Staff Priebus, see America’s Cushiest Ambassadorships Will Go Vacant By Inauguration Day.

Via the WSJ:

Senior White House advisers have suggested to cabinet secretaries or nominees that they need to be consulted on all personnel and policy decisions, creating friction between the agencies and the White House officials who have been permanently stationed inside their buildings.

Many of the U.S. ambassadorships remain unfilled, a result of a standoff between Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Priebus, the chief of staff, said people familiar with the process.

Below is a round-up of names floated around as possible picks for ambassadorships to Canada, Austria, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, and the UK.

Ex-Senator Scott Brown to New Zealand

Sarah Palin to Canada, to Canada. Or not.

Patrick Park, Sound of Music Fan to Austria?

From Palm Beach — Robin Bernstein to the Dominican Republic? Brian Burns to Ireland?

Major Campaign Donors Lewis Eisenberg to Italy, William Hagerty to Japan?

Woody Johnson to the United Kingdom, but role not official?

Ivana to the Czech Republic, and she’ll get agrément?

Ted Malloch, potential European Union pick attacks the EU?

Miami Marlins owner Jeff Loria to head to France?

GOP activist Georgette Mosbacher to Luxembourg?

Hedge funder Duke Buchan to Spain?

Edwin Feulner, Heritage Foundation founder to South Korea?

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Jennifer Santiago: Lawyer, Reporter, Former Model, Now Diplomat – You Go Girl!

From best we could tell, the story has been online forever but got resurrected in Peter Van Buren’s blog, then got picked up by WaPo’s In The Loop column, and by aol.com. The National Confidential puts it under its Weird news section.  The old but new again story is slowly ricocheting around the web until it gets booored.

Jennifer Santiago is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S Department of State and is training with the 162nd A-100 Junior Officer Class at the Foreign Service Institute. In about a month, she will start her first overseas assignment at the US Consulate in São Paulo, Brazil.  You normally do not start your career in the Foreign Service with a “walk-in” appearance in Al Kamen’s In The Loop column. Despite her public blog, she did not actually do the walking in (and who does?).

Apparently, there are some sexy Jennifer photos from way back when.  And they are online. Really, who doesn’t have some sexy photos out there? Haven’t you seen mine? See below, painted by no less than the eccentric genius of the Venetian Renaissance, Lorenzo Lotto:

Artist: Lorenzo Lotto

For those who want to quibble, no, I am not naked; I am wearing a veil, a diadem and a pearl earring. And for the record, I am perfectly happy with this painting. The only thing that embarrasses me about this is that I clearly needed more Vitamin D!

And then there’s the sexy photo of Senator Scott “Centerfold” Brown, the senator representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate.  See, we are for one standard here. If men are allowed their youthful indiscretion, women are not exempt from the same standard. Now that you’ve seen the photos, let’s take a peek at Senator Scott’s photo.  Gosh! What an even tan!  And isn’t this just a poor copycat of my Venus and Cupid pose? Except for the strategic placement of the arm, of course, but then he did not have the little rascal peeing on him!

Cosmopolitan magazine's "America's Sexiest Man" contest

So anyway, back to Jennifer.  In her blog, without addressing the brouhaha, Ms. Santiago writes:

I have made mistakes in my past. Who hasn’t? But- I have come to live and love the fact that we are all flawed beings and as long as we strive to be better and learn from our experiences, all these mistakes are merely lessons. So- I forgive myself. And forgiveness is very empowering.
[…]
Yoga certainly helps mend the wounds.

So, while I appreciate and love the support of my family, friends, work colleagues, sometimes even total strangers, I also find peace in my practice. My favorite yoga quote (Betsy Cañas Garmon) says: ” I do yoga so that I can stay flexible enough to kick my own arse if necessary.”

With all the self-inflicted arse kicking I’ve done over the past 15 years, my skin has grown thick and numb to the attempts of others.

I do not know Ms. Santiago and have never meet her but I can only admire her zen and spunk particularly in her recent post.  This could not possibly be an easy time for her and yet, today, she writes about her A-100 classmate, Hannah who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and asks State folks to donate leave on Hannah’s behalf. Head over there and consider a donation if you are able.   Yep, that’s one classy lady.

So since Ms. Santiago had other lives (promotional/reporting stills are quite gorgeous) prior to joining the Foreign Service, I am posting below a link to a brief segment she did on during a visit to the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station. In Florida, this is where hundreds of pelicans, blue jays, masked boobies and other injured birds are rescued and nursed back to health. She chats with  the Director of the Rehab Center, Wendy Fox on internal and external injuries caused by fishing tackles. Via Miami’s PlumTV (not able to embed the video, please click on the image to view the video):

Secrets of Miami: Pelican Harbor Seabird Station

In “Diving Into the Wreck” the recently departed feminist and poet, Adrienne Rich writes about a dive into the dark, a metaphor for the depths of women’s experience:

I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body
We circle silently about the wreck
we dive into the hold. …
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to the scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Sometimes the mermaid’s name appear. She even says, I’ll do my own arse-kicking if needed, thank you very much. And don’t you just want to say — me, too, dammit?!

Domani Spero