Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Former Canadian Consulate Employee’s Discrimination Claims Dismissed in New York

A former employee’s sex and age discrimination claims against the Consulate General of Canada were rightly dismissed—in part because the employee alleged he was terminated during a larger workforce reduction while a younger man and woman were retained, and “standing alone” that doesn’t sufficiently support his claims, an appeals court has ruled. An Appellate Division, First Department panel also wrote that former employee John McCabe failed to establish “any causal connection between … complaints he made [pertaining to the Consulate General of Canada] and his later termination or any other adverse employment action.” (https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2019/03/11/former-canadian-consulate-employees-discrimination-claims-dismissed/?slreturn=20190215055144) Affirming two lower court decisions, the panel both granted the Consulate General’s motion to dismiss McCabe’s lawsuit and denied McCabe’s motion to renew his motion to dismiss. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Kenney had rendered both rulings below. First she’d issued her dismissal decision in January 2017. In October 2017, she issued her denial of McCabe’s renewal motion, the panel said. The lawsuit was brought in 2016, court records show. In the suit, McCabe alleged sex and age discrimination under the New York state and New York City human rights laws, according to the panel. The unanimous panel’s decision did not indicate what job position or positions McCabe had held at the Consulate General of Canada. And the decision did not say how long he’d worked there. According to a LinkedIn profile of McCabe, he was a Business Development Officer/Trade Commissioner who was employed in New York City by the Consulate General of Canada from November 2001 to August 2012.

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Newsline: US ambassador to Germany receives threats

The US ambassador to Germany has been receiving threats including at least one against his life. A photo of one letter seen by CNN which was sent directly to Richard Grenell in January told him to leave Germany or he would be killed. Signed by the “Society for the New Truth,” it was one of several threats that have been sent to the embassy, according to a source familiar and two State Department officials. Grenell’s spokesperson, Joseph Giordono-Scholz told CNN that “we do not publicly discuss security issues and procedures.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/14/politics/us-envoy-germany-grenell-death-threats/index.html) A former Republican political operative and spokesman to the United Nations, Grenell has carved an incendiary path since presenting his diplomatic credentials to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May 2018, clashing with officials, businesses and the media.

Newsline: Cuba says USA, not Canada, manipulating diplomat health incidents

Cuba denounced the Trump administration on Thursday (Mar 14) for continuing to refer to health incidents among their diplomats in Havana as “attacks” without presenting any evidence, saying it was part of a broader campaign to damage bilateral relations. (https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/cuba-says-usa–not-canada–manipulating-diplomat-health-incidents-11346348) Both Canada and the United States have cut back their embassies in Havana to skeletal staffing after diplomats there began complaining about mysterious bouts of dizziness, headaches and nausea two years ago. Yet while Republican US President Donald Trump’s administration, which has vowed to unravel the detente with Cuba started by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, was quick to label the incidents “attacks,” Canada has not. A Canadian government official said in January that Cuban officials appeared as frustrated as Canadian ones over not being able to determine a cause. “The topic has been highly manipulated politically by the US government, with unfounded accusations, that have been a pretext to take measures against bilateral relations,” the Foreign Ministry’s director of US affairs, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio told a news conference in Havana.

Newsline: Spain investigates possible CIA links to North Korean embassy break-in

Spanish intelligence officials believe at least two of the 10 attackers who broke into the North Korean embassy in Madrid last month, holding staff hostage and making off with computers, are linked to the CIA, according to a report in El País. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/13/spain-investigates-possible-cia-links-to-north-korea-embassy-break-in-madrid) Police and Spain’s national intelligence centre (CNI) are investigating the unusual robbery, which took place on 22 February in the west of the capital. On Mar. 13, El País said Spanish investigators had studied CCTV footage of the intruders, questioned embassy staff and examined the cars used in the getaway. “Although most of the [attackers] were Korean, at least two of them have been identified by Spanish intelligence services as having links to the US CIA,” it said. The paper said the Spanish authorities had raised the matter with the CIA, which had denied involvement “but not in a very convincing manner”. El País pointed out the robbery took place five days before Donald Trump’s second summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. It suggested the intruders could have been looking for information relating to Kim’s chief negotiator, Kim Hyok Chol, who served as ambassador to Spain before being expelled in September 2017. Asked whether it had lodged a complaint with the US embassy or had sought an explanation from Washington, the Spanish foreign ministry declined to comment, saying: “A police investigation is under way.”

Newsline: U.S. studies ‘protecting power’ for embassy in Venezuela

The United States is in talks with other countries about naming a protecting power for the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela after deciding to withdraw its remaining diplomats amid deteriorating conditions in the country, U.S. special envoy Elliott Abrams said on Mar. 12. (https://www.reuters.com/article/venezuela-politics-usa/us-studies-protecting-power-for-embassy-in-venezuela-new-sanctions-official-idUSS0N20201B) Abrams told reporters at the State Department the United States planned “very significant” additional sanctions, including against financial institutions, over the situation in Venezuela in the coming days.

Newsline: U.S. diplomat accuses China of using ‘pay-day loan diplomacy’

China’s is using “pay-day loan diplomacy” to exert influence in the Pacific, the new U.S. ambassador to Australia said on Mar. 13, comments that threaten to inflame regional tensions. Late last year U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accused China of ensnaring tiny island nations in foreign aid “debt traps”. New U.S. Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse said Pence’s criticism was not strong enough. “I would use stronger language – I would use payday loan diplomacy,” Culvahouse told reporters in Canberra after presenting his diplomatic credentials to Australia’s Governor-General. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-pacific/china-using-pay-day-loan-diplomacy-in-the-pacific-u-s-diplomat-idUSKBN1QU0CG) “The money looks attractive and easy upfront, but you better read the fine print,” he said. Lenders of pay-day loans typically charge a higher interest rate. Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China’s cooperation with Pacific island countries was good for both parties and broadly welcomed by these countries.

Newsline: U.S. Pulls Remaining Staffers Out Of Its Embassy In Venezuela

The United States is withdrawing all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, because of worsening conditions in the country, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late Monday. The move is a setback for the Trump administration, which had vowed to keep diplomats in the country to legitimize the opposition challenger to President Nicolás Maduro, who cut diplomatic ties with the United States in January. (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/world/americas/venezuela-embassy-usa.html) Mr. Pompeo said the move reflected the “deteriorating situation” in the country and the belief that the presence of American diplomats “has become a constraint on U.S. policy.” The last phrase could be read as hinting at some form of military intervention. Top administration officials have said since the start of the political standoff in January that “all options are on the table.” On Tuesday morning, Mr. Pompeo told a Houston television station: “The people there have done great work. But it was time for them to come back. Their security is always paramount. And it’s just gotten very difficult.” Because of backing from the military, Mr. Maduro has held onto power despite the hopes and expectations of opposition leaders and the Trump administration.