Showing posts with label US Embassy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Embassy. Show all posts

June 11, 2019

Despite Trump Anti Gay Decision Against The Rainbow Flags Still Many Embassies Are Displaying Them

Image result for rainbow being display on which embassies
  US Embassy in Seoul South Korea
German embassy flies rainbow flag in show of support for Turkey’s LGBT community
German Embassy in Turkey

"Just bcause we have a lying anti gay president trying to accomodate the homophobes in his party and changed his mind about the LGBT community does not mean the rest of the world has" Adam

American diplomats in Brazil recently sought State Department permission to fly rainbow flags this month at the United States Embassy and a consulate, citing an increasingly hostile environment for gay Brazilians since the election of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro last fall.

Washington rejected the request in what some see as the latest sign that the Trump administration may be quietly abandoning the advancement of rights for gay and transgender people as a foreign policy imperative.

The rainbow flag may not be displayed on a “public-facing flagpole,” the department instructed personnel in Brazil and at other missions across the world last Monday.

The symbolic gesture had become routine at American diplomatic posts since 2011, when Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, proclaimed in a landmark speech that “gay rights are human rights.” 

The State Department has taken other steps that reflect its shift since the Obama administration days.

There was no public statement this year marking June as Pride Month, and no cable to all its missions like one last year that gave detailed suggestions on celebrating gay pride and “strongly encouraged” them to “advance LGBTI human rights policy objectives” all year.

The department has quietly eliminated the position of special envoy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights as a high-profile, stand-alone job.

And it is creating a Commission on Unalienable Rights, which gay-rights groups fear is intended to narrow the scope of American advocacy. The panel aims to “provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights,” according to a notice posted on the Federal Register, a government journal, on May 30.

Still, American diplomats in Brazil had no reason to expect official resistance to their proposals to commemorate Pride Month as in years past. 

In a memo, teams at the consulate in Rio de Janeiro and the embassy in Brasília suggested that in light of Brazil’s increasing political polarization under Mr. Bolsonaro, their actions would “be an opportunity to show support for not only the L.G.B.T. community but minority rights as well,” while showcasing “pride and confidence in our own diversity and strength as a society.”

The State Department’s curt rejection left gay personnel and their backers reeling. In conversations this past week, American diplomats who are gay described a prevailing mood of fear and angst. None would speak on the record for fear of retaliation.

Robyn McCutcheon, a foreign service officer who in 2011 became the first transgender American diplomat to transition on the job, expressed disappointment in a recent blog post about the department’s decision not to issue the standard yearly cable encouraging embassies to mark gay pride or a day against homophobia that is observed every May 17.

“Day by day, a death by a thousand cuts, our rights as lgbt+ Americans are being eroded with the removal of a guidance here, the rewriting of a policy there, or just the quiet disappearance of a website,” she wrote.

Officials at the State Department did not respond to questions about the flag policy or say whether the advancement of gay and transgender rights continues to be a foreign policy priority. And while they declined to shed light on the intent of the new commission, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently told reporters it would help him decide how to think about human rights in diplomacy.

“How do we make sure that we have a solid definition of human rights upon which to tell all our diplomats around the world how to engage on those important issues?” he asked. 

Gay advocacy groups said they expected the commission to be a setback.

“We sincerely doubt that this commission is being organized to ensure that the human rights of LGBTQ people and others who experience extreme violence and discrimination are being protected to the fullest extent,” said Ty Cobb, global director of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group.

He added, “Trump and Pence have made it clear they are not allies to the L.G.B.T.Q. community — neither here at home or abroad.”

Mrs. Clinton’s 2011 speech before a United Nations body in Geneva that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights” represented an ambitious bid by the United States to lead a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and expand the legal rights of gay and transgender people.

American focus on the issue helped galvanize same-sex marriage movements across the world. The Obama administration sought to make headway even in deeply conservative nations, at times coming under criticism for endangering the advocates it sought to empower.

Washington’s stance matters, rights advocates say (still the changes helped by the Obama administration worldwide have not gone backwords yet)

“In environments in which marginalized populations have little other recourse within their own government, they saw the United States as a protector,” said Rob Berschinski, the senior vice president for policy at Human Rights First, who worked on rights issues at the State Department in the Obama administration. “The United States government walking back on issues like L.G.B.T. rights matters deeply to those communities; for some it’s a matter of life and death.”

Under President Trump, the United States has not formally abandoned gay and transgender rights as a foreign policy imperative, but the quest has lost visibility and momentum. Some senior diplomats have continued to champion the issue, but they no longer have a comprehensive policy directive to follow. 

Mr. Trump’s announcement this month that his administration would lead an effort to decriminalize homosexuality across the world has been met with criticism, given his administration’s rollback of rights at home for gay, bisexual and transgender people.

In Brazil their rights have been considerably expanded in the past decade, with permission to marry granted by the courts in 2013 and the ability to change names and gender markers on public documents now made relatively easy.

In addition, Brazil’s top court is expected to issue a ruling this month making homophobic acts a criminal offense.

But anti-gay violence is widespread, and many people feel increasingly vulnerable with the rise of elected officials like Mr. Bolsonaro, who said in 2011 that he would rather have a dead son than a gay son. In April, he said Brazil should not market itself as a destination for gay tourists because “we have families.” Anticipating action on homophobia from the top court, the president told supporters he was inclined to appoint an evangelical justice.

Amid this backdrop, a midlevel diplomat at the American Consulate in Rio de Janeiro sent an email to a supervisor in mid-May seeking approval to raise the pride flag alongside the American flag for all of June.

Scott Hamilton, the consul general, backed the idea in a memo to the embassy in Brasília, noting the “atmosphere of increased intolerance and acts of homophobic violence.”

Embassy personnel supported the request, too, and planned to raise a rainbow flag at their compound as well during a public ceremony on June 19. 

The rejection from the State Department set off frenzied speculation about what it meant for American leadership on gay rights.

At other diplomatic posts, including the American Embassies in South Korea and Israel, pride flags or banners have been put up in public view — but not on flagpoles, as the State Department specifically prohibited. The United States Embassy in Germany, where the ambassador is the most prominent openly gay diplomat in the Trump administration, plans to do the same.

But not in Brazil. In a notice issued Friday, the embassy instructed personnel at the five consulates in the country to ensure that any pride “flags are placed internally.”

May 16, 2018

Why Trump's Move of The US Embassy to Jerusalem Was For Anything But Peace

 Tear gas with bullets rain on the Palestinians on the Gaza Side of Jerusalem

"Our greatest hope is for peace." Those were the words of Donald Trump in a recorded message at the Jerusalem ceremony. 
But the opening line in White House talking points cut straight to the top priority: "President Donald J Trump keeps his promise." 
Mr. Trump decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because he likes to keep campaign promises made to his base. 
He also likes to make big bold historic moves, especially if that means delivering where his predecessors did not. 
So far so good on the principles of Trumpian foreign policy.  
In this case, his base also lobbied hard for the move. That included right-wing American Jews whose message was amplified by the conservative orthodox Jews dominating Mr. Trump's inner circle.  

It also included evangelicals whose voice was amplified by the devout Christian in the White House, Vice-President Mike Pence. 
"God decided Jerusalem was the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago during the time of King David," I was told by Dallas evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress, who cited Biblical history. He and another leading voice in the pro-Israel part of the Christian world delivered prayers at the opening ceremony. 

So what about the peace process?

"The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement," Mr. Trump also said in his recorded message. 
He has declared an interest in solving the "toughest deal of all" and, despite the outrage over Jerusalem, the White House is still intent on rolling out a detailed initiative of a settlement it thinks is achievable. 
Its authors -Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and his lawyer Jason Greenblatt - concluded that shaking up the status quo could help their efforts by giving the Palestinians a dose of reality, says former Mid-East negotiator Aaron David Miller. 
And the Palestinian deaths in Gaza make that prospect even less likely. The administration argues it is simply recognizing the obvious in accepting Jerusalem as Israel's capital and that the city's final boundaries can still be determined in negotiations. 
But confusingly, Trump has also said he has taken the issue "off the table". And he has failed to say anything about Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. 
So whatever the intent, he appears to have sided with Israel on one of the most volatile issues in the peace process and prejudiced the final outcome of any talks.

Does this mean an explosion?

The Trump administration has also sided with Israel in its response to the deadly violence on the Gaza border. 
The White House accused Gaza's Hamas leaders of "intentionally and cynically" provoking Israel in an attempt at "gruesome propaganda" but, unlike European countries, it did not call on the army to exercise restraint. 
Hamas has been directing the weeks-long protest campaign by Palestinians frustrated with Israel's economic blockade of Gaza. 
Analysts said it was a chance for the militant Islamist movement to shift the blame for its own poor performance in government. 
The question now is whether the hundreds of casualties will trigger an uprising, or intifada, that spreads to the West Bank.

The Jerusalem decision itself did not do so and there are many reasons why the Gaza violence may not. That includes divisions in the Palestinian leadership and the high cost for Palestinians of a return to sustained conflict. 
But it is a volatile situation fuelled by a sense of Palestinian hopelessness that could lead to further escalation. 

Crossing a red line?

What seems more likely to me at the moment is a slower unraveling of the peace process framework which for the past 25 years has led to neither peace nor all-out war. 
Despite spasms of conflict, it has maintained certain fundamentals. 
The Israelis have not annexed the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority continues security co-operation, in effect helping Israel police its own people. 
The framework is held up by an American mediator that is seen by many as somewhat credible, if not neutral.

Every previous US administration has been pro-Israel but made some effort to understand and respond to the Palestinian narrative, says Mr. Miller.
This one is so "deeply ensconced" in the Israeli narrative it has crossed a red line, he says. 
If so, it will be difficult for it to keep propping up the framework, with unpredictable results. 
It is true that key Arab countries seem more willing to sanction a settlement less favorable to the Palestinians than before because they want Israel as an ally against Iran. 
But Trump's decision on Jerusalem, and Israel's heavy-handed approach in Gaza reduces their room for maneuver.

August 11, 2017

Hearing Loss By Diplomats at US Embassy in Cuba

 The two-year-old U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what U.S. officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device.

In the fall of 2016, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case. Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Barack Obama’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. 

Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose.

The U.S. officials weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on May 23. She did not say how many U.S. diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had “a variety of physical symptoms.”

The Cuban government said in a lengthy statement late Wednesday that “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory is used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.”

The statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of the incidents on Feb. 17 and had launched an “exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government.”

It said the decision to expel two Cuban diplomats was “unjustified and baseless.”
The ministry said it had created an expert committee to analyze the incidents and had reinforced security around the U.S. embassy and U.S. diplomatic residences.
“Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for visitors and foreign diplomats, including U.S. citizens,” the statement said. 

U.S. officials told The Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children had been involved. The FBI and Diplomatic Security Service are investigating.

Cuba employs a state security apparatus that keeps many people under surveillance and U.S. diplomats are among the most closely monitored people on the island. Like virtually all foreign diplomats in Cuba, the victims of the incidents lived in housing owned and maintained by the Cuban government.

However, officials familiar with the probe said investigators were looking into the possibilities that the incidents were carried out by a third country such as Russia, possibly operating without the knowledge of Cuba’s formal chain of command.

Nauert said investigators did not yet have a definitive explanation for the incidents but stressed they take them “very seriously,” as shown by the Cuban diplomats’ expulsions.
“We requested their departure as a reciprocal measure since some U.S. personnel’s assignments in Havana had to be curtailed due to these incidents,” she said. “Under the Vienna Convention, Cuba has an obligation to take measures to protect diplomats.”

 The Photographer's handle name here is Steve. The photograph shows the American Embassy on the right and the large much taller building on the left which appears to be the Russian Embassy. People that visit this area in Cuba know that the Russian Embassy is in the same neighborhood but it's so interesting to see how close they are in this non-official picture. I have not been to Cuba myself so I don't know the real distance between the two structures. I don't think the distance in feet or yards is not as important as to know the Russians are close to the US embassy and there might be an intensity of micro waves hitting the structure and inhabitants of that structure. It is general knowledge this goes on in most embassies. So the question is who was responsible but regardless, Cuba is the official host and official blame taker because one takes responsibility for the safety of people invited to your house.
U.S. diplomats in Cuba said they suffered occasional harassment for years after the restoration of limited ties with the communist government in the 1970s, harassment reciprocated by U.S. agents against Cuban diplomats in Washington. The use of sonic devices to intentionally harm diplomats would be unprecedented.


July 9, 2016

Russian Policeman Attacks US Diplomat on his way to Embassy



The State Department condemned Russian security services Friday for an attack on an American diplomat, the latest incident in what U.S. officials said is increasing intimidation of its personnel.
The U.S. diplomat "was attacked by a Russian policeman" while attempting to enter the American embassy last month in Moscow, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters, speaking just days after a video of the altercation was broadcast on Russian TV.
“The action was unprovoked and endangered the safety of our employee," he added. Kirby said that Russian officials' claims that the policeman was attempting to protect the embassy were "simply untrue." 
He called this a "very graphic and violent example" of two years of "increased harassment" of U.S. diplomats in Russia. 
He noted that Washington had initially sought to handle the affair via direct government-to-government channels but said that Russian officials' public allegations compelled the U.S. to make the rebuke public. 
He described Russian behavior as "unprovoked and unnecessary." 
"There's no need for this when there's so many more important things for us to be working on with Russia," he added. 
Washington had delivered high-level complaints to Moscow about accusations of increasing intimidation of American diplomats in Russia, the State Department said in June.
Secretary of State John Kerry last discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 24, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters last month.
"We see an increase and we take it seriously," she said.
Other Western embassies had reported the same behavior toward their diplomats stationed in Moscow, Trudeau added.
Moscow, however, has charged that Washington has also engaged in problematic behavior.
In June, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow has "felt a significant increase in pressure on the Russian Embassy and consulates general of our country in the United States."
According to Zakharova, staff members of Russia's consulate missions abroad "regularly become the objects of provocations by the American secret services, face obstacles in making official contacts and other restrictions," including travel. 
Kirby dismissed the Russian complaints about their U.S.-based diplomats receiving similar treatment, calling the claims “without foundation.”

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