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Embassy Row

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

LIPSTICK ON RATS

The U.S. ambassador in Kenya announced Tuesday a ban on four top government officials and a businessman from traveling to the United States because of suspected connections to drug smugglers he compared to "infectious rats."

Ambassador Michael Ranneberger also announced that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will open an office in Kenya to help local authorities fight drug trafficking, especially the coastal city of Mombasa, where drug abuse is rampant. He urged the Kenyan government to enforce a provision of the country's new constitution that requires political candidates to disclose the source of their campaign donations.

"Today I am announcing that, based on reliable and corroborative reports, we have taken steps to ensure that four senior government officials and one prominent businessman will be permanently prevented from entering the U.S. for business or tourism," he said in a speech to the Mombasa Rotary Club.

Mr. Ranneberger did not identify the five people banned from the United States.

"I want to issue a call to action - a clarion call - to the people of Mombasa and Coast province, to their political leaders, to the Kenyan government, and to the nation of Kenya," the ambassador declared.

"If you are not battling against drugs, then your are complicit in their spread. It is up to you political and business leaders, civil society, village elders, young people, neighbors and friends to do something about it."

Mr. Ranneberger said drug lords often spread their money around in local communities to buy the loyalty of villagers.

"They attempt to bolster their public image by funding local causes, but these public-relations efforts belie their very base nature," he said. "It's like putting lipstick on an infectious rat."

WORSE THAN CYNICAL

The Pakistani ambassador this week complained about the slow pace of international aid to his flood-ravaged country and criticized news organizations for failing to cover the human tragedy that uprooted 20 million Pakistanis.

"There are times when our compassion overwhelms our cynicism, and there are times when our cynicism overwhelms our compassion," Ambassador Husain Haqqani told students at Georgetown University. "But there is something worse than cynicism at work here."

He upbraided news organizations that tended to accuse government officials of a poor response to the floods, the student newspaper, the Hoya, reported.

"A story like a flood can only be told by getting your feet wet, literally," Mr. Haqqani said. "What about the human tragedy? What about the suffering?"

POLISH HERO

The U.S. ambassador in Poland joined the Polish president Tuesday to dedicate a statue of a Polish hero of the American Revolution. The statue in Warsaw of Gen. Tadeusz Kosciuszko is a replica of one in Lafayette Park across from the White House.

"Kosciuszko exemplifies the spirit that joins both Poland and the United States: a deep and abiding commitment to fight for the freedom and rights of others around the world," Ambassador Lee Feinstein said.

He was joined by President Bronislaw Komorowski and Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walz.

Kosciuszko served primarily as a military engineer from 1776 until 1783, building fortifications that led to several American victories. Congress rewarded him with U.S. citizenship after the war.

- Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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