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Kerry takes charge: State Dept. gift shop, climate change and foreign dignitaries

The State Dept. selected Sec. John Kerry's visit to the agency's gift shop as photo of the week. (Photo: U.S. State Dept.)Sec. of State John Kerry visited the State Dept. gift shop and pitched issues like climate change and the much maligned sequester in his first speeches.

At the University of Virginia, Kerry focused on federal spending—he wants more, of course, because he’s a Democrat—gender equality, the complications of globalization and aid to other countries.

Kerry also backhanded Republicans, blaming Congress for the sequester President Barack Obama conceived and pledged to maintain.

Kerry said:

I’m particularly aware that in many ways the greatest challenge to America’s foreign policy today is in the hands not of diplomats, but of policymakers in Congress. It’s often said that we can’t be strong at home if we’re not strong in the world, but in these days of a looming budget sequester that everyone wants to avoid, we can’t be strong in the world unless we are strong at home.

As Kerry promoted Democrat talking points in his speech, what was happening in other major countries?

India announced plans to send a mission to Mars—this year.

China’s official news service responded angrily to U.S. accusations the Chinese military was connected to recent hackings of U.S. websites. An editorial in Xinhua said:

As the birthplace of the World Wide Web, the United States already has a matchless superiority and ability to stage cyber attacks across the globe…Currently, the U.S. military has established a significant cyber force, including the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, which is a regular military unit tasked with carrying out cyber missions…Earlier media reports said Iran was once attacked by U.S. military intelligence agencies through the Internet, while, according to China's foreign ministry, a majority of the cyber attacks against China come from the United States…In fact, the credibility of the United States has already been seriously questioned because of its government's habit of accusing other nations based on phoney [sic] evidence…In 1993, the United States accused "Yinhe," a Chinese cargo ship, of carrying banned material for making chemical weapons to Iran. However, no suspected goods were found after a joint Chinese-Saudi inspection.

As for climate change, formerly referred to as manmade global warming, China continued her role of the world’s largest total emitter. The country has considered a ban on grilled foods because of pollution—currently there’s a “war on smog” going on there. Media have reported residents are tired of having to wear masks in some areas where the air is extremely dirty.

Closer to home, Canada announced a new top trade partner—China, now ranked No. 2. Great Britain formerly occupied that spot. The U.S. remains No. 1 for now.

In July, 2012, Forbes pointed out a few numbers comparisons between the U.S. and Canada—boldface is added:

Canada’s unemployment rate is now 7.3%, whereas the current U.S. unemployment rate is 8.2%. Canada’s combined federal and provincial debt to GDP ratio is 57.9%, while Canada’s federal debt to GDP ratio is 34%.  Meanwhile, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio reached 101.5% in 2011.

Kerry didn’t mention the war the Obama administration engaged in Libya (without Congressional consent) or the fact that figures from Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) were quoted by Agence France Presse who reported “an estimated 4,700 people, including civilians, have been killed in America's secretive drone war.”

One of the first photos of Kerry at the State Dept. blog showed the secretary visiting the State Dept. gift shop. Who knew State has its own gift shop?

The State Dept. blog also noted the first foreign dignitaries Kerry met with: Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Feb. 21, 2013)

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