Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Kerry Chronicles: Summer Vacation

Relaxing on the boat!

"Yacht trip confusion clouds Kerry’s work on Mideast peace; Despite overthrow in Egypt, he is still focused on talks" by Bryan Bender |  Globe Staff, July 07, 2013

WASHINGTON — The State Department unexpectedly spent Friday deflecting criticism that Secretary of State John F. Kerry took an ill-timed Nantucket vacation as violence erupted in Egypt, but aides said his presence in the Middle East is still being felt in what has become for him another home away from home: The Yitzhak Rabin Suite of the David Citadel Hotel, overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City.

His home away from home!


The Kerry Chronicles: No Excuse For Egyptian Comment
The Kerry Chronicles: Paying Lip Service to Palestinians 

Easy to do on the phone.

Kerry has been calling and e-mailing instructions to a team of negotiators he left behind in Israel last week in a special wing named for the slain Israeli peacemaker to continue pressing for a breakthrough in the Middle East peace process, according to US officials directly monitoring the behind-the-scenes diplomatic push.

In six months, Kerry has spent more time meeting with Israelis and Palestinians in the region than his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, did in her entire tenure — four trips since March, with a fifth as early as next week. Leaders on both sides of the standoff have said Kerry is close to bringing them back to the negotiating table for the first time since 2008.

But Kerry’s ability to keep up the momentum is threatened from multiple quarters. The overthrow of the elected president by the military in Egypt earlier this week could once again change the dynamics of Middle East negotiations. Egypt was the first Arab nation to agree to full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state and remains a critical power in the region.

Nothing to worry about then because Israel is as pleased as punch that there man Sissi is in charge and the Brotherhood is out.

Meanwhile, the Kerry camp was sidetracked by a self-inflicted wound after a State Department spokeswoman initially denied that Kerry had been on a yacht in Nantucket while Egypt was undergoing its latest revolution. The spokeswoman on Friday retracted her denial, which led to the image of Kerry on his yacht getting even more attention. The criticism came from predictably partisan quarters, but still it was a distraction at a critical time.

We can't even get the truth about where he is/was. 

Is there nothing this government doesn't lie about?

But even with events large and small sapping attention from his effort, observers said they should not overshadow Kerry’s focus on what is still for him a diplomatic priority in the region, bringing Israeli and Palestinians to the bargaining table.

Israel has gone some distance,” said Ambassador Zalman Shoval, a two-time former Israeli ambassador to the United States who is now a special envoy for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Netanyahu has gone out on a limb on the issue of two states that has caused problems in his coalition. He wouldn’t have done that unless he really wanted to give Kerry a chance to move things forward. Kerry will probably come back in a week or two and put more pressure on the Palestinians.”

The Israeli spin on it all. Ugh!

Kerry has kept up a whirlwind pace since becoming secretary of state in January, logging nine extended overseas trips.

What was the carbon footprint on that?

His efforts to make headway in the Middle East peace process include 15 meetings and public events in Israel; eight in the Palestinian territories; and two meetings in Washington with the chief Israeli negotiator.

Twice as many.

A key player has been Kerry’s close aide and confidant, Frank Lowenstein, a former Senate aide and adviser on his failed 2004 presidential bid who was reenlisted earlier this year to spearhead the peace effort.

He is the son of the late Representative Allard Lowenstein of New York, an early mentor when Kerry returned from the Vietnam War to become a leader of the anti-war movement.

Also see: John Kerry draws on old allies for team at State

Do I even need to type it?

Frank Lowenstein, along with several other aides, remained behind in the Jerusalem hotel where Kerry has recently hosted multiple high-level meetings, fielding a steady stream of advice and instructions from the secretary of state even as his office responds to criticism of his working vacation on Nantucket.

The Nantucket kerfuffle occurred after Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, on Wednesday denied a CBS News report on Twitter that Kerry had been seen boarding his yacht, Isabel, just hours after Egypt’s first democratically elected leader was overthrown.

“Any report or tweet that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate,” she said Wednesday.

As pictures confirming Kerry’s presence on the yacht were widely distributed, Psaki retracted her denial.

“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day including participating in the president’s meeting with his National Security Council,” she said.

And we should believe her because.... ????

A Kerry aide who was not authorized to speak publicly said the denial on Wednesday was the result of “confusion,” saying Kerry apparently had taken his grandson for an hourlong sail. Fair or not, the focus on Kerry’s leisure activities revived memories of the image of him windsurfing during his failed 2004 presidential bid, which was publicized in a Republican campaign ad to portray him as someone who would change with the winds.

Related: Slow Saturday Special: Senator Kerry Sets Sail For Rhode Island 

But Kerry aides said this week’s incident will blow over. They believe the former Massachusetts senator can succeed in the Mideast peace process where others have failed because he brings a unique blend of knowledge of the issues, personal relationships with the key players, and a knack for negotiation.

“It’s working because they trust him,” said a senior State Department official who is privy to the talks but not authorized to speak publicly due to the sensitive nature of the discussions. “It is his ability to persuade the parties that this is in their best interest.”

But the path ahead has many obstacles. Members of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition have deep misgivings about any peace overtures to the Palestinians — especially if it means halting the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank — while the Palestinian Authority is perceived as in a weakened position with the militant Hamas in control in the Gaza Strip.

While the Israelis have said they would be open to discussing all remaining disputes in resumed talks, the Palestinians are holding out for Israeli commitments to freeze settlements and the release of Palestinian prisoners before returning to the negotiating table.

Yeah (snort), those damn Palestinians blocking peace again!

Kerry’s marathon push comes amid signs of dwindling hopes among both the Israeli and Palestinian public that a viable path forward is available.

I've put mine out, and it involves the dissolution of Israel. The place has to become one big Palestine again. Sure, it will have Jewish enclaves, but no more Israel.

A poll conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem last week concluded that 27 percent of Palestinians believe peace talks will resume, while a mere 10 percent of Israelis share that view.

Well that just about says it all, huh? 

The greatest war criminal that ever lived has a research institute named after him in Israel. 

Did they know he was a virulent anti-Semite

Yeah, who cares?

The situation in Egypt and a grinding civil war in Syria are also seen by some as more pressing challenges. It is unclear when or if Kerry will travel to meet with the newly installed interim Egyptian leader. But it is clear the country will require more of his diplomatic energies.

Related: The Kerry Chronicles: Last Stop is Syria

Kerry is expected to cite the turmoil as all the more reason to settle the differences between the Israelis and Palestinians....

The opposing sides have suggested that Kerry has played an indispensable role in orchestrating a potential breakthrough. After a three-day sprint of meetings in the region last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas credited Kerry with “useful and constructive suggestions” and said Palestinians are optimistic because Kerry has shown he is “serious and determined to reach a solution.”

Netanyahu, speaking at a July 4 reception at the US ambassador’s home, credited Kerry “for his tireless efforts to advance peace. When I say tireless, I mean just that. That man works until 3 o’clock in the morning. We all do. But then he goes on to a 45-minute stroll in Jerusalem. I think I’ll join him next time.”


RelatedKerry on vacation, and on call

Also see:

Teresa Heinz Kerry is reported critically ill
Teresa Heinz Kerry upgraded to fair condition
Teresa Heinz Kerry’s condition improves
Teresa Heinz Kerry released from hospital

Better get her home:

"Police arrest man outside John Kerry’s home" by Jaclyn Reiss |  Globe Correspondent, July 15, 2013

Boston police arrested a man Sunday afternoon after he was spotted taking photos of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Beacon Hill home.

Police found a pellet gun in the man’s vehicle and arrested him for possession of an open alcohol container, said Kerry’s spokesman Glen Johnson.

Kerry was visiting his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown when State Department security officers saw the man taking pictures of the window in Kerry’s home, calling the Boston Police Department shortly after, Johnson said.

Kerry’s wife was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital from Nantucket in critical condition earlier this month after suffering a seizure. After her condition improved, she was moved to Spaulding to complete her recovery.

Boston police declined to immediately provide information Sunday night, saying the incident’s report was still being drafted.


"Officials investigate man held outside Kerry’s home" by Brian Ballou |  Globe Staff, July 15, 2013

A man carrying Russian identification is being investigated by authorities after he took photos of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s Beacon Hill home Sunday afternoon, drawing concern from the dignitary’s Secret Service special agents.

So what sort of psyop is this?

Vladimir Romanov was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court Monday on alcohol-related charges and released on his own recognizance, but the judge ordered that his bail be revoked on unrelated charges stemming from an assault in Quincy in April. He was also ordered held on a warrant sought by probation officers for allegedly violating terms of his probation on a drunken driving case in Waltham District Court. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Kerry was visiting his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital when security officers said they saw the man taking photos of the couple’s house in Louisburg Square. Heinz Kerry was recovering after falling ill on Nantucket earlier this month.

Romanov, 29, of West Roxbury, was apprehended at 4 p.m. Sunday over possession of an open bottle of blackberry brandy that police spotted in his car, authorities said.

In the vehicle, police said they also found a Luger pellet gun, three cellphones, and a black canvas bag holding seven carbon dioxide cartridges, which were all seized as evidence. Boston police arrested Romanov after getting a call for assistance from Secret Service special agents in charge of Kerry’s security.

Romanov was initially taking the photos while in his parked car, then got out to move closer to the Kerry home, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Neil Flynn said in court.

Secret Service agents asked to look at the photos, and Romanov responded by deleting the digital images, according to authorities. When Romanov was asked for identification, he gave them a Russian identification card. Pressed for a Massachusetts identification card, Romanov responded, “I cannot do that at this time.”

Then he is an illegal?

Romanov’s citizenship status was unclear Monday. Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office, said officials were unsure about his status, but that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has never lodged an immigration detainer against him, which the agency routinely does in cases when the defendant is not a US citizen. Officials at ICE did not respond to an e-mail inquiry.

No clear explanation was offered in court as to why Romanov was taking photos.

When agents asked him why, he responded, according to the police report, “My friend is in jail and I want to show him pictures of the bars on the window.”

Defense lawyer Andrea McGeehan said in court that Romanov was a civil engineer and a self-employed tiler who lives in Chestnut Hill with his wife of four years. Boston police and the district attorney’s office, however, said he was from West Roxbury.

At the request of Flynn, Boston Municipal Court Judge Debra Shopteese revoked Romanov’s bail on a charge of open assault with a dangerous weapon pending in Quincy District Court.

Romanov also had his driver’s license suspended twice last year for driving under the influence after failing breathalyzer tests, once after police arrested him in Waltham when he failed a breathalyzer test.

That's why he had no Mass ID.

He was ordered to take an alcohol awareness course.

Romanov’s next Boston court date is set for Sept. 25.