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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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

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During a visit to see the Nutrition Program in Akkha Village

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During the Pi Mai New Year Holiday in Laos

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

More Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service

Catch up post on additional Fourth of July celebrations around the Foreign Service this year that caught our eye. The previous one we did is here: Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service Round-Up.

US Mission Mexico

Guadalajara, Jalisco: Los Vice Cónsules Nick Geisinger y Timothy J. Dunaway interpretaron el himno nacional estadounidense durante la celebración.
Click on image for more photos of the Fourth of July celebrations in our Mexican posts.

US Embassy Paris, France

Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin at the 4th of July Garden Party, Ambassador’s Residence, July 4th, 2012.  More photos via FB here.

US Embassy Nassau, The Bahamas

On Tuesday, July 3 the United States Embassy commemorated the 236th Anniversary of Independence of the United States of America by hosting a celebration in Nassau, The Bahamas aboard the U.S. Naval Ship USS ANZIO docked at Prince George Wharf.  The event was held in partnership with the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and included more than 200 of The Bahamas’ top leaders, representing the government, the business community, civil society, media, and the arts.

U.S. Charge d’Affaires John Dinkelman gives official remarks and toast at the 4th of July celebration. (Photo State Dept.)

US Embassy Dublin, Ireland

On July 4 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia celebrated American Independence Day and hosted at their Residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin the Third Irish American Flag Football Classic. Over 2,500 guests were in attendance for the Independence Day celebrations.

Photo from US Embassy Dublin/Flickr
(click on image for a slideshow)

US Consulate General Chennai, India

Photo via USCG Chennai/Flickr
Click on photo for a slideshow

US Embassy Afghanistan

U.S. Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland, the Coordinating Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement shakes hands with a Marine after he received his naturalization certificate on 29 June 2012 at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. Click on image for more photos

Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr

US Embassy Cairo, Egypt

Ambassador Patterson on the dance floor during the Fourth of July celebration.  Photo from US Embassy Egypt via FB
Click on image for a slideshow

US Mission Pakistan – Islamabad

Photo via US Embassy Islamabad website

US Mission Pakistan – USCG Lahore

Consul General Nina Maria Fite hosted U.S. Independence Day reception at her residence. She was joined by Chief Guest Senior Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, U.S. Army Attaché Colonel Kurt H. Meppen, and USAID Punjab Director Theodore Gehr, and 400 guests from various walks of life. The event included the playing of the Pakistani and U.S. national anthems and a cutting of a cake.

Photo via USCG Lahore/FB

US Embassy Rome, Italy

Visitors arriving at the Villa Taverna for the Fourth of July celebration.  Photo via US Embassy Rome/Flickr
Click on photo for a slideshow

US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

The theme of U.S. Embassy Bangkok Independence Day Celebration for this year is “The Great American Roadtrip.”

US Embassy Vientiane, Laos

Photo from Ambassador Karen Stewart’s Tumblr.
Click on image to read about it in the ambassador’s blog

US Embassy Beijing, China

Ambassador Gary Locke cutting the Fourth of July cake. Photo from US Embassy Beijing/Flickr. Click on photo for a slideshow

US Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau

Probably the most popular US mission online post for this Fourth of July, 11,000 forward and still counting. Via the WSJ:

For the July 4 commemoration of U.S. Independence, it stepped back into history to tweak the Party with its own words.  Accompanied by an exuberant image of the Stars and Stripes, its Weibo posting said:

On this day each year, joy and glory is felt by every good and honest person in this world. From the birth of this new nation, democracy and science were seeded beneath the foundations of a new liberal world… Day and night, the god of liberty shines her torchlight of freedom into the darkest corners of the earth, providing warmth for those who have suffered and reminding them there is still hope left yet.

This post quickly gained popularity and has now been forwarded more than 11,000 times.

Let’s see how long before the Chinese tigers bite.

Domani Spero