Archive for Regions
Decades-old U.S. sanctions have crippled Iran’s airline industry and the national carrier’s fleet of Boeing Co. jets. But it was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry‘s Air Force plane that broke down in Vienna, where he was attending international negotiations aimed at curtailing Iran’s nuclear program. Fuel-tank problems forced Washington’s top diplomat to fly home on a commercial airliner. The grounding left Iranian negotiators in Vienna chuckling about the state of the U.S. government’s transportation. “So it is not just our planes,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told a reporter from the Al Monitor news site – quipping at what he said was the irony of the situation. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Mr. Kerry “was quick to point out that if the hardest thing that happens in a given day is that you have to fly commercial—your life is pretty good.” That said, she pointed out that a commercial flight has a big drawback for Mr. Kerry: no secure phone. Mr. Kerry’s aircraft also broke down this summer in Hawaii on a trip back from Asia.
The Indian diplomat who was kicked out of the U.S. on charges she exploited her maid now claims she was the victim of an extortion plot hatched by the housekeeper. Devyani Khobragade, former Deputy Consul General of India in New York, says her domestic worker tried to blackmail her and claims the household help was part of the “racket” of New York immigration advocates who prey on employers. The 39-year-old disgraced diplomat says she is distressed at being portrayed as an elitist exploiter of the poor, speaking out for the first time since she was forced from the U.S. in January following her legal debacle. She was charged with visa fraud, based on paperwork she completed for her maid and nanny, Sangeeta Richard, who also accused Khobragade of withholding fair payment and forcing her to work 19-hour days. But Khobragade denies the allegations, saying Richard threatened her when the maid decided she wanted to take on additional jobs even though that would violate immigration law. She also blasted U.S. law enforcement for treating her like “a common criminal” when she was taken into custody and strip searched by U.S. Marshals in New York. Her arrest sparked outrage in her home country and the Indian government unleashed their displeasure at the U.S. over her treatment. She now lives in New Delhi and has not taken up a new diplomatic post since there is still an outstanding warrant for her arrest in the U.S.
A former Zambian diplomat to Germany has been found with a case to answer for allegedly engaging girls to practice prostitution. Friday Nkamba, a former political secretary at the Zambian Embassy in Germany from 1994 to 2002, has since been put on his defence. Nkamba, of Emmasdale Township in Lusaka, is alleged to have between January 1, 2012 and October 29, 2013 procured five girls to become common prostitutes. The girls testified how Nkamba would allow them to stay in his house while doing prostitution in exchange for payments. They also testified how on other times the former diplomat would join them in bed and have sex with any one of them in full view of the other girls. Resident magistrate William Banda found Nkamba with a case to answer. The matter was adjourned to October 31 for mention and setting of a date when he would open his defence.
A Russian diplomat in Australia called the remark of Australian PM Tony Abbott about his intention to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin “immature.” He reminded the Aussie politician that he might be “very fit” but Putin is “a professional judo wrestler.” Abbot’s scandalous remark came on Monday after he told journalists that he is going to “shirtfront” the Russian president on the sidelines of G20 summit over the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner crash in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine in July. “I am going to shirtfront Mr Putin – you bet I am – I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered, they were murdered by Russian backed rebels,” Abbott said. Shirtfront is a football technique for a front-on chest bump or rough handling aimed at knocking your rival backward to the ground. It’s “a reportable offence and considered illegal,” says the Australian Football Rules website. The Russian Embassy in Australia, however, didn’t let Abbot’s remark go unnoticed. Third secretary of the Russian Embassy in Canberra, Aleksandr Odoevsky, told the Australian Associated Press that the remarks of the Australian PM were “immature.”
The former househelp in the Venezuelan Embassy Tuesday told the High Court she could not remember whether the embassy was used as a drugs conduit, but had recollection of wild parties. Zipporah Ivulu denied, however, allegations that former First Secretary Dwight Sagaray instructed staff never to respect Olga Fonseca as their new boss. Sagaray and four others are charged with Fonseca’s murder. The envoy was found murdered at the embassy on July 2012. Ivulu, who worked at the embassy for eight years, said she could not remember if there was drugs business. But the former ambassador Geraldo De Silva used to host “wild parties” at which revelers at the residence were naked. The witness told Justice Roselyn Korir that embassy staff “had an issue with that (naked guests)”. “We complained and told them to respect our presence and dress appropriately at such parties,” she said. On Monday, advocate for the embassy Njeri Mucheru told the court Fonseca and Sagaray had a hostile relationship.
Traffic near the United States Embassy in Manila was slowed down before noon Tuesday after some 30 militants picketed the facility to protest the killing of a transgender woman in Subic last weekend.
Members of militant groups including the League of Filipino Students waved red flags and placards with anti-US slogans, radio dzBB’s Manny Vargas reported. While police prevented the militants from getting near the embassy premises, the confrontation took up two lanes of the boulevard’s southbound lane. A video posted by Vargas showed anti-riot police blocking the path of the militants. Following the incident, US Pacific commander Admiral Samuel Locklear III ordered US ships in the country to stay in the Philippines until the investigation is done.
The United States has criticized proposed legislation which seeks to outlaw “popularizing homosexual relations” in the former Soviet nation of Kyrgyzstan. If the changes are approved, a person convicted of “forming a positive attitude to untraditional sexual relations” among minors or in mass media would face fines or a prison term of up to one year, according to Reuters. The U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan responded in a statement: “No one should be silenced or imprisoned because of who they are or whom they love. Laws that discriminate against one group of people threaten the fundamental rights of all people.”