10:52 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At the end of September, the federal government's fiscal year was drawing to a close, the threat of a shut down was increasing, and the State Department was shopping for art. Four contracts were awarded in the last two weeks of September, including $1,000,000 for a granite sculpture by Irish-born artist Sean Scully to be installed at the new U.S. Embassy in London. Notice of the awards was posted Sunday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
Although the form of the Scully sculpture is not identified in the award notification, the artist has produced granite sculptures before, including this one entitled "Wall of Light Cubed 2" in 2008:
The remaining three awards include a bronze sculpture, "Flowers", by American artist Donald Baechler ($150,000), for the new U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan; a mosaic mural by Miotto Mosaic Art Studio in Carmel, NY ($150,000), for the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; and a work entitled "The Black Arch" by Saudi Arabian writer Raja Alem and artist Shadia Alem, for the new U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
When asked for comment on the contract awards, a State Department official provided the intended destinations for the artwork, as well as the following statement:
The Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies curates permanent and temporary exhibitions for U.S. embassy and consulate facilities. For the past five decades Art in Embassies has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy with a focused mission of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and artist exchange. Art in Embassies is a public-private partnership engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors, and encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries.
The art pieces listed below will become part of the collections at diplomatic posts and in some cases, comply with host city planning requirements that art be incorporated within the design scheme and displayed in public spaces. These pieces are permanent purchases, not on loan.
The State Department's 2013 budget request included $2.5M for the Art in Embassies program.
UPDATE: A State Department official emails to say, "Sean Scully was born in Ireland, but is now an American." This post has been updated to reflect that fact.
10:25 AM, Nov 25, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The terrorist attack against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, awakened renewed interest in the security of overseas consulates and embassy facilities. A recent report by the State Department's Office of the Inspector General spotlights some major concerns regarding the safety of American diplomats and staff in Minsk, Belarus, as well as the security of communications. The report notes that some progress has been made during the last year, but more remains to be done.
4:10 PM, Nov 19, 2013 • By KEN JENSEN
Just when you were getting used to U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, here comes our formal withdrawal from the Western Hemisphere. Yesterday, November 18, Secretary of State Kerry repudiated the Monroe Doctrine in a speech to the Inter-American Dialogue. Here's what he said:
1:44 PM, Nov 19, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Kerry is calling the attacks against the Iranian embassy in Lebanon today "terrorist bombings." And the U.S. secretary of state is condeming the action.
2:04 PM, Nov 13, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The State Department announced today that Boko Haram, a prolific terrorist and insurgency group based in Nigeria, has been added to the U.S. government’s list of designated terrorist entities.
1:14 PM, Oct 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
A week before the government shutdown began, the State Department awarded a $130 million contract to design and build a new embassy compound in the city of NouakChott in the West African nation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which lies between Mali and the Atlantic Ocean. The contract went to Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama, after having asked for bids in December 2011:
12:12 PM, Oct 7, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Just a week before the government shutdown kicked in on October 1, the State Department awarded a five-year, maximum $5 million contract for custom handcrafted crystal stem and barware, according to a report in the Valley News, an online news site in Vermont (via Charlie Perkins).
3:44 PM, Sep 23, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The State Department today announced that John Kerry would spend $10 million "to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies worldwide."
3:22 PM, Sep 11, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City by terrorists. Eleven years later on September 11, 2012, events unfolded in Benghazi, Libya, that would ultimately leave a U.S. diplomatic facility gutted and four Americans dead. As of 8:46 AM today, the U.S. State Department had not acknowledged either anniversary.
Joins China Daily, Pravda, and KCNA.4:03 PM, Aug 30, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
When it comes to North Korea, it’s helpful to keep a simple rule of thumb in mind: don’t trust anybody who refers to the country as the “DPRK.” (That would be the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the country’s official – and yes, bleakly ironic – name.) Calling North Korea the “DPRK” is not only woefully misleading – there’s nothing democratic, republican, or people-oriented about the brutal dictatorship – but it also lends legitimacy to the ruling regime.
6:04 PM, Aug 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House just announced that the special envoy for North Korea, Ambassador Robert King, will visit North Korea.
2:46 PM, Aug 21, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
This week, the State Department announced that, in "an important symbol of our enduring friendship with Benin," construction has begun on a new $178 million embassy complex in the small West African nation, a neighbor of Togo and Nigeria. As is often the case in the construction of new U.S.
But not according to the State Department.4:22 PM, Aug 13, 2013 • By JOSHUA STANTON
Even after a year of North Korean nuclear and missile tests, this year's State Department “Country Reports on Terrorism” makes the risible claim that North Korea is "not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987."
Exhibit A: The talking points.11:18 AM, Aug 7, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
CNN's John King reported last night that the Obama administration has "at times" been "inconsistent, conflcting, and inaccurate" in explaining the Benghazi terror attack:
"Exhibit A in this debate is these Benghazi talking points, used by Ambassador Rice when she made the Sunday show rounds," says King.