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A World of News and Perspective



■ A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

■ December 2012

‘Tis Time to Give and Receive With Style and Creativity



Group Behind Viral ‘Kony 2012’ Video Resurfaces in D.C.

SouthEaSt aSIa

Continued on next page

Hungary Fêtes Past, Grapples With ModernDay Crises the “corner” from its name,

but it’s not cutting any corners

when it comes to its grand

vision for the future. PAGE 27 ■


The Washington Diplomat

Page 21

This year, as Hungary toasts 90 years of ties with the U.S., its prime minister has come under fire for eroding the very freedoms the country famously fought for in its 1956 uprising. But Ambassador György Szapáry, a longtime economist, says his government is simply trying to weather an economic storm created by some of the very nations criticizing it. PAGE 8

Korea Reclaims Former Embassy Taken by Japan The current tensions between South Korea and Japan have a deep, bitter history — a microcosm of which recently emerged in D.C., where the Koreans reclaimed a bit of their past by finally buying back the embassy they lost more than a century ago. PAGE 18

Spain inaugurates its cultural space with 17 Ibero-American photographers bursting with avant-garde originality. PAGE 29

he Washington area is more than a nexus of politics and government. In recent years, it’s become a haven for fine retailers and restaurants. It’s a center of culture, education and entertainment. It’s also home to some of the fittest, most health-conscious people in the country, attracting occasional thrill-seekers and exercise-devotees alike. In short, it has personality and style — and plenty of gifts to match Each year, to ease some of both. the stress of the gift-searching season, we scour the region ideas that appeal to all tastes for and budgets, from a $15 towel, to an almost six-figure futuristic jetpack, to a down-to-earth shopping trip with one of D.C.’s top interior designers. They up to some happy, healthy all add holiday-sharing in the nation’s capital. ■ INSIDE: Tysons Corner may be dropping


‘Transitional Bodies’ in Spain’s Culture Center

by Stephanie Kanowitz

EUROPE December 2012

Last month, Invisible Children held various events in Washington to refocus attention on its campaign to rid the world of Joseph Kony, though that campaign made the advocacy group almost as infamous as the notorious warlord it targeted. PAGE 10


Season for 2012 Shar■inDECEMBER g


PhIlIPPINES WaNtS PEacE On one front, the Philippines signed a peace deal with a Muslim secessionist group that could end one of Asia’s longest-running ethnic conflicts. On another front, though, Jose L. Cuisia Jr., Manila’s amiable ambassador, says his nation will defend its turf in the South China Sea, where tensions have churned and changed the region’s political dynamics. PAGE 15

Turkish Envoy Sees OIC As Voice for Islam Ufuk Gokcen, U.N. envoy for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, views the OIC as a voice for moderation in an often tumultuous Muslim world, though critics have accused the group of being a toothless cheerleader for Islamic interests. PAGE 6

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The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

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December 2012

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Capture Washington's attention. Highlight YOUR REGION through The Washington Diplomat.

Promote International Trade, Business Opportunities and Commerce. The Washington Diplomat is an exclusive venue for international news with a targeted readership in Washington D.C. that includes key constituencies: • Fortune 500 Companies • White House • All D.C. and N.Y. Embassies • Capitol Hill • U.S. Government Agencies • Multilateral Institutions

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The Washington Diplomat

December 2012


December 2012

Hungarian Ambassador György Szapáry

[ news ] 6

2012 holiday gift guide

“Ripple Effect”




iNTErNaTiONal affairS This year, Hungary has been celebrating 90 years of diplomatic ties with the U.S., but many of the nation’s 10 million inhabitants are more divided than ever.


iNTErNaTiONal affairS Eight months after Joseph Kony became a household name, the notorious warlord remains at large, though the group that made him a household name has resurfaced.


[ luxury living ] 21


As the Philippines winds down a guerrilla war, it’s facing down a resurgent China and finding friendship with the U.S. in the island disputes roiling the waters off Southeast Asia.


diPlOmaCy A stately redbrick house in D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood has become a powerful symbol in the difficult history that underpins relations between Japan and South Korea.

COvEr: Photo taken at the Embassy of the Philippines by Lawrence Ruggeri.

dEvElOPmENT Tysons Corner in Virginia is synonymous with many things these days — Beltway snarls, faceless office space, gargantuan malls, parking lots and roads, lots of them. But Fairfax County wants to change this retail corner into a new urban center.


COvEr PrOfilE: PHiliPPiNES

2012 HOliday GifT GuidE ‘Tis the season for searching for that perfect gift. Our guide takes the guesswork out of the annual hunt with finds that fit every personality and style.

The United Arab Emirates has quietly become one of the world’s largest foreign aid donors and one of D.C.’s biggest philanthropic givers.


mEdiCal Tantalizing news has emerged about the prospect of using stem cells to treat a rare, highly debilitating brain disorder that currently has no treatment or cure.

Ufuk Gokcen of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation spends an equal amount of time promoting the OIC’s work as he does dispelling misconceptions about the group.





[ culture ] 30

PHOTOGraPHy The former residence of the Spanish ambassador is now a cultural center that’s marking its debut with two exhibitions of stunning images from Iberian nations around the world.


fOOd Food is the common denominator that brings people together. It’s also one of the most effective tools in public diplomacy today — one that local embassies have been successfully brandishing for years.

arT “Ripple Effect” blurs the line between artistic creation and civic engagement, touching on divisive social issues by asking viewers to lend a hand and participate in the process.


arT Two different exhibits at the embassies of Argentina and Slovenia may be worlds apart, but they share an otherworldly connection that spans nothing less than the universe itself.


PHOTOGraPHy Ivan Sigal’s documentary-style photographs offer an honest, if obscure, glimpse into Central Asia’s harsh post-Soviet landscape.


diNiNG Chef Geoff Tracy is driven not by the creative side of the restaurant business, but rather by the business itself, understanding that at their core, restaurants are profit-driven ventures.


film rEviEWS A mad king, tortured queen and reformist doctor find passion and enlightenment in “A Royal Affair.”


CiNEma liSTiNG






WOrld HOlidayS




rEal ESTaTE ClaSSifiEdS

P.O. Box 1345 • Silver Spring, MD 20915-1345 • Phone: (301) 933-3552 • Fax: (301) 949-0065 • E-mail: • Web: Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Victor Shiblie director of Operations Fuad Shiblie managing Editor Anna Gawel News Editor Larry Luxner Contributing Writers Martin Austermuhle, Michael Coleman, Audrey Hoffer, Rachel Hunt, Stephanie Kanowitz, Ky N. Nguyen, Kate Oczypok, Dave Seminara, Gina Shaw, Gail Sullivan, Gary Tischler, Lisa Troshinsky, Karin Zeitvogel Photographer Jessica Latos, Lawrence Ruggeri account managers Chris Smith, Patrick Thomas Graphic designer Cari Bambach The Washington Diplomat is published monthly by The Washington Diplomat, Inc. The newspaper is distributed free of charge at several locations throughout the Washington, D.C. area. We do offer subscriptions for home delivery. Subscription rates are $25 for 12 issues and $45 for 24 issues. Call Fuad Shiblie for past issues. If your organization employs many people from the international community you may qualify for free bulk delivery. To see if you qualify you must contact Fuad Shiblie. The Washington Diplomat assumes no responsibility for the safe keeping or return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, artwork or other material. The information contained in this publication is in no way to be construed as a recommendation by the Publisher of any kind or nature whatsoever, nor as a recommendation of any industry standard, nor as an endorsement of any product or service, nor as an opinion or certification regarding the accuracy of any such information.

December 2012

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Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen

Envoy Looks to Moderate, Modernize Organization of Islamic Cooperation by Michael Coleman


fuk Gokcen, the permanent representative for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to the United Nations, seems to spend an equal amount of time promoting the group’s work and dispelling what he views as misconceptions about the organization.

The amiable Turkish career diplomat, who has held posts at Ankara’s embassies in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Syria, views the OIC as a forceful voice for moderation in an often tumultuous — and sometimes violent and extreme — Muslim world. Critics contend the OIC is an obstinate advocate for Islamic interests around the world. Still others say the OIC is a wellmeaning but toothless cheerleader for peace and social stability. In a Washington Diplomat interview, Gokcen, who assumed his post in 2010, explained that the 57-member OIC is essentially an extension of the United Nations in Muslim-majority countries, representing a population of some 1.5 billion people from Azerbaijan to Djibouti to Yemen. In recent months, the OIC has been active in trying to calm unrest in Myanmar (Burma), suspended Syria’s membership in an attempt to isolate the government, and also waded into international disputes over the definition of terrorism and the appropriate responses to religious hate speech. “Our work scope and agenda items are almost exactly in line with what the United Nations is doing,” Gokcen said. According to its own website, the OIC is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and aims to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people.” The group was established in Morocco in 1969 following the intentional burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. From its inception as a response to an incident of religious hatred (an Australian evangelical Christian was convicted of starting the blaze, reportedly to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ), Gokcen said the OIC’s mission has grown to include humanitarian assistance, conflict resolution, mediation, human rights and good governance advocacy, as well as combating poverty and disease. “We have quite a robust agenda,” Gokcen said. To date, 11 Islamic summits and 38 gatherings of foreign ministers have been held. The 11th Islamic Summit Conference in Dakar elected Senegal as the current chairman of the organization. The OIC secretary-general, Turkish professor Ekmeleddin

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İhsanoğlu, was also re-elected for a new term at the closing meeting of that summit. In a 2010 report, the Council on Foreign Relations said that under Turkish leadership, the OIC has moderated and modernized itself. “Turkey, which joined the OIC in 1995, has grown in influence and has taken an active role in attempting to make the conference more relevant and moderate,” wrote Toni Johnson of CFR, noting that İhsanoğlu, who has served as the secretary-general of OIC since January 2005, has increased Turkey’s profile among Arab nations. The report also quoted Ozan Örmeci of Caspian Weekly, who wrote that, “Under the leadership of Turkey, OIC can function as a bridge between West and East, and negate the ‘clash of civilizations’ discourse which claims to explain the recent developments in global politics especially after 9/11.” The group in fact adopted a 10-year plan in 2005 to address post-9/11 issues such as terrorism, Islamophobia, poor governance and economic disparities. “Poverty, illitera-

credits: UN Photo / Evan Schneider; (cover) UN Photo / Mark Garten

Since 1994, I was based in the Middle East and I’ve been able to observe the dynamics of reform in the Muslim world…. The OIC has become a focal point of this transformation by assuming increased responsibilities in terms of socioeconomic development and promoting human rights and good governance. — Ufuk Gokcen

permanent representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to the United Nations

cy, epidemics, corruption, and the lack of equal opportunity and equal distribution of wealth force people to look for answers in different places,” said İhsanoğlu in a prescient speech six years before the Arab Spring uprisings. “When these issues are not addressed properly by legitimate means, they are used as an excuse to push for extremist agendas.” Yet, as the Council of Foreign Relations

noted,“critics question whether [Western] engagement with the group is appropriate considering some of the positions it has taken on issues such as Islamic radical movements, Israel/Palestine, and the human rights records of its members.” Moreover, its impact on the ground remains questionable. Its role in the IsraeliPalestinian conflict and the more recent Arab Spring has been negligible, and the

group is rife with long-standing sectarian divisions among member states — notably between Sunni-majority members such as Saudi Arabia, where the OIC’s headquarters is located, and Shiite states such as Iran and Syria. Other member states disagree on whether the group should push a political agenda to unite disparate Islamic factions or stick to one focused on dialogue and cultural moderation. But Gokcen disputes claims of the group’s irrelevance and fractured nature. As the OIC’s permanent observer to the United Nations since 2010, he has helped to keep the organization’s finger on the pulse of rapid change in the Arab world as well as oversee a continual fine-tuning of the OIC’s mission and agenda. “It has been quite fascinating in terms of modern diplomacy and also witnessing firsthand a fascinating transformation of the organization,” he said. “Since 1994, I was based in the Middle East and I’ve been able to observe the dynamics of reform in the Muslim world….The OIC has become a focal point of this transformation by

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

assuming increased responsibilities in terms of as stated, aims to combat “intolerance, negative have been taught since we were children: just socioeconomic development and promoting stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimi- because we can do something, does not mean nation, incitement to violence and violence that we should. Freedom of speech is and must human rights and good governance.” remain a fundamental human right, but each one Gokcen first came to the OIC in 2005 as against persons based on religion or belief.” The initiative had been championed by the of us must remember that rights evolve from political advisor to the secretary-general in Jeddah. Shortly thereafter, the Muslim communi- Obama administration and some human rights responsibilities. “Condemnation of hate speech should be ty in Europe exploded with rage after a Danish advocacy groups as a landmark achievement that newspaper published 12 cartoon pictures of the sought to balance freedom of religion with free- seen as part and parcel to freedom of speech,” he Muslim prophet Muhammad. Such depictions dom of expression. But others, especially conser- added. “Is it not a contradiction to oppose conare considered highly blasphemous among fol- vative U.S. media outlets, denounced the resolu- demnation of hate speech on the grounds of tion as an attack on free speech and First freedom of speech?” lowers of Islam. Gokcen has also been vocal about condemnMuslim groups in Denmark complained and Amendment rights. “I have a personal interest in promoting the ing religious fanaticism, including the Taliban the issue eventually sparked protests across the Muslim world — mirroring similar protests that interfaith dialogue in terms of peacemaking in gunmen who, motivated by their fundamentalist have erupted in recent years in response to per- various parts of the world where there are direct view of Islam, shot Malala Yousafzai, a young ceived desecration of the Koran (in one instance conflicts,” Gokcen said. “The most important Pakistani schoolgirl, in the head in early October. by U.S. soldiers who burned copies of the holy thing is that there was a need to create a kind of Her crime? Speaking up for girls’ right to an edubook in Afghanistan) as well as to an American- mutual understanding among the grassroots…. cation. “As the world reels in the face of such sensemade video trashing Islam that caused wide- People in the Muslim countries have certain less brutality, it is easy to generalize the underlyconcerns, as do people in the West. spread upheaval in September. “The debate over expression and passions ing ignorance and intolerance that motivated After their initial run in Denmark, the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 was created on the part of some of those who this attack to the rest of the Muslim world,” other countries, escalating the controversy. think the First Amendment is under attack,” he Gokcen wrote in a Nov. 13 op-ed. “The small Demonstrations in early 2006 across the Islamic added.“There are different cultural ideas behind group of extremists, in contrast to 1.5 billion world devolved into violence, with instances of this. Europe has its own understanding, the U.S. mainstream Muslims, can not represent any police firing on crowds of protesters, resulting in has its own understanding, OIC countries also Islamic tradition. However, there is a danger. If not challenged, these inhuman terror methods more than 100 reported deaths, as well as attacks have theirs.” However, George Washington University law could be emulated elsewhere, such as West on the Danish Embassy in nations like Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Denmark’s prime minis- professor Jonathan Turley, writing in a 2011 Africa and Sahel.” To that end, he urged OIC member states to ter at the time,Anders Fogh Rasmussen, described op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, blasted both the it as the country’s worst international crisis since Obama administration and the resolution for be more pro-active in condemning such acts at containing a “disturbing agenda to establish the grassroots level, including civil society World War II. The uproar presented a challenge and an international standards for, among other things, groups, NGOs and clergy. Gokcen also noted that the OIC has long advocriminalizing ‘intolerance, negative stereotyping opportunity for the OIC, according to Gokcen. cated for women’s rights, establishing the OIC “This incident gave OIC extra responsibility to and stigmatization of … religion and belief.’” “The unstated enemy of religion in this con- Department of Family Affairs and an Islamic educate, restrain and calm, but at the same time to raise the views of the Muslims concerned,” he ference is free speech, and the Obama adminis- Network of Women Scientists to encourage said.“I was somehow involved in this entire pro- tration is facilitating efforts by Muslim countries greater involvement of women in scientific and cess, promoting tolerance and working toward to ‘deter’ some speech in the name of human technological fields. “The OIC has also partnered with the United rights, ” Turley wrote. the resolution preventing discrimination and is intolerance. NOTE: Although every effort made to Itassure your ad is free“Although of mistakes in spelling and speaks toto combating incitement to violence, States Departments of State and Health as well as was quite educational personally.up to thealso content itforisme ultimately customer make the final proof. “I got to know the underlying currents, or the core purpose behind this and previous meadynamics, of this kind of misunderstanding sures has been to justify those who speak against Thebetween first two faxed will be and made no costThe to the advertiser, members of the subsequent Organization ofchanges nations or changes groups of nations, this at religion. will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. work very much emphasized a kind of interac- Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, have been pushing tion between freedom of speech and religion for years to gain international legitimacy of their criminal prosecutions of ad. antireligious and promotionPlease of religion. ” check this ad carefully.domestic Mark any changes to your In 2008, after a Danish court rejected a lawsuit speech.” Gokcen, in needs an op-ed published by the from the cartoons, theto: OIC(301) said the If thestemming ad is correct sign and fax 949-0065 changes ruling could encourage Islamophobia, some- Huffington Post earlier this year, argued that the thing the organization said already existed in the OIC’s motivations with respect to the resoluThe Washington Diplomat (301) 933-3552 tions are consistently misrepresented. He also West. “The Danish ruling came as a surprise to the noted that the OIC condemned violence perpeOIC at __________________________________________________________ a time when almost all Western govern- trated by protestors of the Danish cartoons. Approved “Although instigated by a small minority, the ments including the U.S.A. had made categorical Changes ___________________________________________________________ statements rejecting any linkage between Islam OIC condemned the violence and upheld free___________________________________________________________________ dom of speech while still expressing an underand terrorism,” an OIC statement said. Gokcen said he was gratified that the U.N. standing of the deep hurt and widespread indigHuman Rights Council (itself a magnet for criti- nation felt in the Muslim World,” Gokcen wrote. cism for allowing perpetual human rights abus- “While this statement denounces the use of freeers to serve as members) eventually took a stand dom to communicate hate and inspire violent against religious denigration with the passage of action, it does not deny freedom of speech. In a high-profile resolution in 2011. The resolution, fact, it communicates something that most of us

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, civil society, and other international organizations to reduce the mortality rate of women during childbirth and to ensure children’s health,” he added. Yet the OIC has also tussled with the United States and other U.N. member nations over the definition of terrorism. Since 9/11, the United Nations has struggled to reach a consensus on what constitutes terrorism.The OIC has opposed some blanket definitions that have been proffered, arguing that there is a difference between terrorism and the struggle for the rights of selfdetermination by people under foreign occupation,an obvious reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has colored the Arab world’s engagement with the United States for decades. The debate still hasn’t been decided. In a 2010 speech, OIC Secretary-General İhsanoğlu said OIC member states supported the U.N.’s global counterterrorism strategy, but stressed “that the strategy must address the root causes of terrorism, including the unlawful use of force, aggression, foreign occupation, prolonged conflict of peoples and denial of the rights to self-determination living under foreign occupation.” Gokcen said the secretary-general “has taken a very principled position” on the matter — one that takes into account Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. “In very clear terms, the secretary-general has taken a position against any terrorist activity,” Gokcen said. “He has said there cannot be any justification for violence and terrorism, especially when it is committed in the name of religion. There are no ifs or buts that any terrorist activity is a terrorist activity.” Michael Coleman is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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December 2012

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International Affairs

Central Europe

Photo: Lawrence Ruggeri

After Historic Fight for Freedom, Hungarian Envoy Denies ‘Backsliding’ by Larry Luxner


his year, the Hungarian Embassy has been celebrating the 90th anniversary of diplomatic ties with the United States with a series of conferences, banquets, classical music performances and patriotic speeches.

And in October, the embassy sponsored a lavish “56 at 56” gala dinner marking the 56th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet domination.The dinner, held at the U.S. Institute of Peace, attracted high-profile U.S. political figures, many of them conservatives, such as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who toasted the Hungarian freedom fighters that stood up against tyranny. Yet today, the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who honored those fallen freedom fighters with a stirring 1989 speech in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square that catapulted him to prominence, is now accused of systematically chipping away at the very freedoms Hungarians clamored for in 1956. And many of Hungary’s 10 million

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inhabitants are more divided than ever on the future of the country, which even celebrated the anniversary of the 1956 revolution not with national unity, but with two competing mass rallies in the capital — one supporting the controversial prime minister and the other denouncing him. Indeed, the Magyar Republic, which for the last 23 years has been a solidly proWestern democracy, has been looking a little wobbly lately. Orbán has even compared Brussels to Hungary’s former communist overlord Moscow for trying to dictate how his government should handle a financial crisis that’s shaken the once-thriving Central European nation. This summer, the Hungarian economy slipped into its second recession in four years, with second-quarter GDP shrinking 1.3 percent compared to the same period

in 2011. Unemployment is nearing 12 percent. Hate speech and xenophobia are on the rise, incidents of anti-Semitism have increased, and press freedom groups worldwide have condemned a new Hungarian media law they say is politically motivated. György Szapáry, Hungary’s ambassador to the United States, agrees his country is in crisis, but blames external factors rather than his government’s own policies for its current predicament. “Hungary is so integrated into Europe that whatever happens in Hungary depends very much on what’s happening in the EU, particularly Germany, where more than a quarter of our exports go,” he said.“Hungary, being a small, open economy, is export-driven, so if there’s a slowdown or recession in the major European countries, Hungary will be very much affected. That’s mainly why our economy is not doing well.” Szapáry spoke to The Washington Diplomat from his ornate residence on 30th Street, NW, only two houses down from the Massachusetts Avenue home of Count László Széchenyi, who presented

his credentials as Hungary’s first minister to the United States on Jan. 11, 1922. “László married a wealthy lady, Gladys Moore Vanderbilt, and they had five daughters. One of those daughters married Antal Szapáry, an uncle of mine,” said the ambassador, who was born into a noble family in the village of Tizsabura as Count György Béla Mária József István Szapáry de Szapár, Muraszombat et Széchy-Szige. For obvious reasons, the amiable, modern-day diplomat does not use his formal name, which harkens back to a different era in history. At 74, Szapáry, an economist by profession, is old enough to remember the tail end of World War II as well as the hyperinflation that followed. Hungary still holds the record for the largest-denomination banknote ever put into circulation — a 1946 bill issued by the National Bank of Hungary for 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 pengo. Szapáry, who served as deputy governor of that bank, spent 27 years at the International Monetary Fund, both in Washington and Budapest. He’s also held key positions at the European Bank for

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

Reconstruction and Development, the Budapest Commodity Exchange,the European Commission, European Central Bank and the Hungarian Economic Social Council. “While the current prime minister, Viktor Orbán, won the election and formed a new government in June 2010, he asked me to be his chief economic policy advisor,” said Szapáry, who later became ambassador in early 2011, replacing Béla Szombati. Being Orbán’s official voice in Washington can’t be easy — especially given the anti-communist crusader’s growing reputation as an authoritarian figure given to venting rage against the 27-member European Union, which Hungary joined in 2004. By pushing through a new constitution and weakening the independence of the judiciary, central bank and media, Orbán’s detractors say he’s undermining democracy in a bid to consolidate his power. Frank Bruni, writing earlier this year in the New York Times, noted that, “Brussels and Budapest have clashed already over the Hungarian government’s attempts at tighter control of the news media, the judiciary and the central bank. Hungary could also be a window into just how potently economic anxiety fans the flames of bigotry. EU membership hasn’t brought Hungarians the broad prosperity they had hoped for; the country has had severe budgetary woes of late.” Bruni warned that the far-right Jobbik party — which currently has 46 of the 386 seats in Parliament — “has converted these disappointments into questions about the country’s orientation to the West and, for good measure, about its supposed coddling of Jews, gays and Roma: Hungary’s trusty trinity of scapegoats.” Earlier this year, Mark Palmer, who served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 1986 to 1990, went even further, telling Budapest opposition newspaper Népszabadság that Orbán — whose conservative Fidesz party won the 2010 elections with a two-thirds majority — is “abusing” his power and eroding democracy. “Hungary’s ejection from the EU is now no longer unthinkable,” Palmer said, adding that the country “won’t be tolerated if it no longer counts as a democracy.” Not true at all, Szapáry told The Diplomat. “When things get difficult, of course people look around and try to find culprits,” he said. “Sometimes, the frustration visibly shows without really understanding the relationship between their own difficulties and our membership in the eurozone. However, Europe has no alternative than to be integrated, and politicians on both the left and the right — with the exception of a few extremist parties — know that.” He added that “Jobbik is an extremist party with only 16 percent support. The extremist right is always stronger when there’s a leftist government, and it weakens with a right-center government. Jobbik is anti-Semitic and antiimmigrant, but they’re not in government and you don’t even need their support for anything. We have a two-thirds majority, so we don’t need anybody to pass legislation.” That super-majority, secured in the landslide 2010 victory, has allowed Orbán to muscle through not only political changes, but also unorthodox economic measures. Among them, he has nationalized pension funds, imposed taxes on banks, utilities and other big businesses, and forced lenders to absorb losses suffered by Hungarian homeowners on foreign currency-backed mortgages. The moves have rattled investors, driving up interest rates. They’ve also alarmed the European Union and International Monetary Fund, forcing Orbán to abandon plans to merge the nation’s central bank and its financial markets regulator earlier this year. Hungary is also still paying off a 2008 bailout from the IMF and the EU — which insist that the country dump its flat personal income tax system as part of any new loan agreement. (Hungary needs $15 billion to roll over its foreign debt.) Orbán says he’s simply trying to protect December 2012

Hungarians against the excesses of capitalism and against foreign interference in domestic affairs. He also insists he’ll continue to buck Western prescriptions for an economic crisis that started in the West, saying he was given a popular mandate by voters who rejected his predecessor’s austerity-driven cutbacks. “This is their problem, but in Hungary we refuse to build our policies on flawed recipes and austerity packages,” Orbán’s economic minister, Gyorgy Matolcsy, said on state radio in late October. To be sure, the brash prime minister has his

tural measures to improve the competitiveness of the economy, specifically in education and vocational training.” Because the government was able to bring down its budget deficit, in May the European Union rescinded an unprecedented threat to suspend $625 million in EU subsidies. In early October, Orbán’s government announced $3.5 billion worth of deficit cuts for next year to keep the budget deficit below the EU’s 3 percent of output level and avoid the kind of economic turmoil now enveloping Spain and Greece. “Hungary will not follow that path,” Szapáry

Europe has no alternative than to be integrated, and politicians on both the left and the right — with the exception of a few extremist parties — know that. — György Szapáry ambassador of Hungary to the United States

Photo: Beyond silence / Wikimedia Commons

The Hungarian Parliament, which sits on the banks of the Danube River, is one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings. The Gothic Revival architectural landmark is also the largest building in Hungary and a popular tourist destination.

supporters. Gabor Takacs, a think tank analyst, argued in the Financial Times that Orbán is a pragmatist who enacted overdue structural reforms such as restricting early retirement in the police and military and making the welfare system more transparent. Likewise, Szapáry defended his government’s decision to impose special taxes on banks and companies in order to slash the deficit. Before that, he said, Hungary’s corporate and bank taxes averaged 16 percent, the lowest in Europe. To raise revenue, Orbán hiked the value-added tax from 25 to 27 percent and slapped taxes on everything from unhealthy food to telephone calls. “This is the biggest recession since the Great Depression,” Szapáry conceded. “Before, both governments and households increased their debts quickly, and measures to increase competitiveness were neglected. Then suddenly, when the crisis came, people had to reduce debt, and that has had an impact on growth and unemployment.” We asked the ambassador and longtime economist how his government plans to lift Hungary out of its current mess. “Hungary inherited a debt-to-GDP ratio of 80 percent, which is one of the largest in Europe. It has set out to reduce that debt — and to do that, it has to reduce the fiscal deficit.This year it’ll be below 3 percent, one of the few countries in the EU that has such a low deficit. That, of course, affects consumption as well, but the current government is very much determined to reduce the debt,” he explained. “At the same time, Hungary has undertaken very significant struc-

vowed,“but it is affected by the confidence crisis that this creates in the markets.When people see what happens in Spain and Ireland, investors’ risk appetite decreases. Since Hungary has to rely on foreign savings, that comes at a higher cost.” In an article titled “Hungary’s Ailing Economy: Sickness on the Danube,” the Economist magazine warned that Hungary’s failure to finalize a funding deal with the IMF and the EU could leave Hungary “dangerously exposed to outside events” such as a bank crash in Spain or a disorderly Greek exit from the eurozone. But it added that the government, and not outside factors, are ultimately to blame for the current morass.“Eight years of Socialist sloth and corruption left Fidesz with a mess that has been made much worse by the euro crisis. But the excuses are wearing thin,” the Economist argued. “Mr. Orbán promised to sweep away corrupt Socialist-era networks. But one lot of Magyar oligarchs has been replaced by another, who are allies of Fidesz,” it said. “Corruption is now institutionalized, say watchdogs. And hardliners are ramming through their cultural agenda. Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s wartime leader and an ally of Hitler, is now celebrated with statues and a renamed square.” Perhaps one of the biggest controversies of all centers around Hungary’s media law, which has been roundly criticized by everyone from Germany’s Der Spiegel to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Szapáry said the new law was passed “because the old media law wasn’t working” — requiring the government to reform an obsolete, ineffi-

cient and nontransparent media system. “We made a little order, but did nothing that would influence the freedom of the media,” he told us. Yet opposition politicians describe the move as a “systematic political purge” of the state-run media. Said Attila Mesterházy, chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party: “The government is firing anyone who doesn’t work in line with its directives.” The law, which took effect in January 2011, establishes a Media Council appointed by Parliament, with members serving a renewable nine-year term. After Brussels objected, the Orbán government watered down the law this past May, but EU officials and watchdog groups are still unhappy. Szapáry discounts accusations that hundreds of reporters, editors and technicians at state-run newspapers and public TV networks got pink slips because they didn’t support Orbán and his Fidesz party. “If you lay off people, they’ll always say they were targeted for political reasons,” he argued. “But if you have to downsize, you have to downsize.” The ambassador admits that “changes were done very quickly, and when you do things very fast, some mistakes slip in.” But he says Orbán’s critics are exaggerating. “There’s a big perception gap between what’s happening in Hungary and media reports,” he insisted. “The media is entirely free and vibrant; 75 percent of it is owned by foreign investors, so I don’t think they can be influenced. Even Freedom House says the Hungarian media is vibrant, and that all opinions can be expressed.” Asked about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s reported concerns about the crackdown on democratic freedoms in Hungary, the ambassador said her comments were widely misinterpreted, and that “sometimes even the State Department gets it wrong too.” Nevertheless, Szapáry said ties with Washington are flourishing. “In Afghanistan, we have special troops fighting shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers.The U.S. government recently asked Hungary to take over the defense of Kabul Airport, which was a privilege. While other countries are reducing their military presence in Afghanistan, we’re increasing ours, because the defense of Kabul Airport requires additional troops.” In addition, said Szapáry, Hungarian soldiers serve as peacekeepers in the western Balkans and last year helped overthrow the Qaddafi regime in Libya. “The United States asked Hungary to represent its interests in Libya during the fight against Qaddafi, and we were instrumental in freeing several U.S. journalists from Qaddafi’s prisons,” he said. With Hungary’s 1956 revolt against the Soviet Union still fresh in the national consciousness, we asked Szapáry what the 56th anniversary of that event — the first serious blow to the Soviet bloc since Russian tanks drove the Nazis out of Central Europe in the waning days of World War II — means to him and his generation of Hungarians. He says that despite the current malaise, people have no desire to move backward. “For many people, it’s not communism they reminisce about. They reminisce about their youth, especially if they were not persecuted,” he said. “People hated Soviet rule, and after the 1956 revolution, the Soviets realized that they had to allow Hungarians a little more freedom if they didn’t want another revolution on their hands. Certainly nobody is nostalgic about that.” Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.

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International Affairs


Viral Video Put Kony on the Map, Though Warlord Remains at Large by Dave Seminara


ight months after Joseph Kony became a household name when the release of a video documenting his war crimes went viral, the indicted war criminal remains at large.

More than 100 million people have viewed the film “Kony 2012,” and its success has focused attention both on Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Invisible Children, the nonprofit group responsible for the film and campaign. The movement mobilized Millennials to care about a savage, long-running conflict most knew nothing about, but can Invisible Children and others keep the public focused on the LRA with Kony still at large? Kony is, by any measure, a monster. For more than two decades, the messianic, cult-like warlord has led a rebel group that’s kidnapped, mutilated, hacked, massacred and raped tens of thousands of people, turning girls into sex slaves and boys into wanton child killers. But Invisible Children has also come under intense fire for glossing over complexities (like the fact that Kony hasn’t even been in Uganda for six years) to create a slick Hollywood production that tugs at the heartstrings. Invisible Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that grew out of a trip its three co-founders, Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell, took to Uganda in 2003, in which they witnessed the devastating impact of the LRA, whose leader, Kony, became the first person to be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in 2005. Russell, then a recent film school graduate, directed the group’s first film,“Invisible Children: The Rough Cut,” and the group toured the country showing it to hundreds of schools and churches. Over the ensuing years, Invisible Children grew, producing 10 documentaries highlighting LRA atrocities in Central and East Africa and adding staff in Africa and at their home office in Southern California. When the group released “Kony 2012” on YouTube on March 5, their goal was for it to reach 500,000 page views for the year. But thanks to high-profile support from Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities, and nearly 10 million tweets in the first

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credit: UN Photo / Tim McKulka

Kony 2012 is a yearlong campaign that ends Dec. 31…. However, the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the LRA have been going on for over 26 years and we will not give up on our goal of stopping him if he is not captured before the end of the year. — Eleni Gianulis, spokeswoman for Invisible Children week of March alone, the video was viewed more than 40 million times in its first four days on the site. Since that initial burst of worldwide attention, Invisible Children has continued its work, though not nearly on the same scale. By comparison, the group released “Move,” a 30-minute follow-up film that addresses some of the controversy surrounding “Kony 2012.” As of Oct. 25, that film garnered just over 14,000 page views in its first eight days on YouTube. Invisible Children is also re-emerging on the political scene in Washington, D.C., where it called on thousands of young people to attend a Nov. 16 lobbying event with members of Congress, as well as a Nov. 17 rally and march on the White House. The summit did attract Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson and other U.S. officials, though it generated far fewer headlines than the original “Kony 2012” video did.

Ugandans criticized “Kony 2012” for leaving viewers with the impression that Kony and the LRA were still in northern Uganda and utilizing tens of thousands of child soldiers, when in fact the now much-depleted LRA is thought to consist of just three clusters of fighters, who may number no more than 200 men in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) — though they are still capable of wreaking havoc through occasional attacks. Critics also mocked Millennial “slacktivism” and the “Kony 2012” kits the group sold on its website, while others complained that only 37 percent of Invisible Children’s expenditures in 2011 went toward programs directly in Africa, with the group receiving a rating of just two stars out of five by the charity industry tracker GuideStar. Eleni Gianulis, a spokeswoman for Invisible Children, said that claims the

While Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a shadow of what it used to be, the warlord’s rebel group is still capable of wreaking havoc, displacing civilians such as these internal refugees from South Sudan.

organization spends too much on salaries and administrative costs are baseless. She noted that the salary of Ben Keesey, Invisible Children’s CEO, is just $88,000 and said that the organization “spends 81 percent on programs, which includes media, mobilization, protection and recovery.” At least one of the victims depicted in the film, Margaret Aciro, whose lips, nose and ears were mutilated by the LRA, told the Ugandan press that she felt the filmmakers used her suffering for profit. Gianulis expressed regret about Aciro’s charges but also noted that the individuals depicted in their films benefit through Invisible Children’s legacy scholarship program as well as a micro-economic program they run geared toward LRA victims. But critics like Michael Wilkerson, an American journalist based in Uganda who co-founded Own Your Own Boda, a for-profit social enterprise that helps motorcycle taxi drivers in Kampala buy their own bikes, says that many Ugandans will never get over the bad initial taste the film left. “It’s frustrating to have Uganda continually defined for millions of people in a misleading, superficial way, and I

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

think Invisible Children won the prize for that,” he said. “I don’t think anyone since [Ugandan military dictator] Idi Amin has hurt the perception of Uganda for as many people who can’t find it on a map.” As reported by the New York Times — though overlooked in the “Kony 2012” video — “the United States has also pumped in more than $500 million in development aid to northern Uganda, turning a former battlefield into a vibrant piece of the Ugandan economy with new banks and hotels.” The Ugandan government, in fact, pushed the LRA out of the country after peace talks collapsed in 2006. Many of the child soldiers Kony abducted have long since grown up, many still grappling with the scars of war. Since 2006, the Ugandan military has continued to hunt the notorious warlord, though with little success (in some cases failing miserably, such a 2008 operation that sparked retributions by the LRA against villagers). Other than a small blip in the film, however, “Kony 2012” gave the impression that the LRA continues to use Uganda as its stomping ground. Ten days after the video was released, as critiques of the film and the organization were amplifying, Jason Russell was hospitalized for exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition after a public meltdown in which he ran naked, screaming through the streets of San Diego. Despite the resulting bad publicity, even its harshest critics had to admit that Invisible Children managed to push the Kony issue into the mainstream. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called the criticism “the sneering scorn of donothing armchair cynics.” And some of Invisible Children’s defenders were quick to point out that much of the sniping came from other NGOs that were envious of all the attention and donations that were pouring into the group’s coffers. Invisible Children itself admitted it was unprepared to handle the deluge of attention that their video sparked. But how much of an impact has their campaign had now that 2012 is almost over? “There’s no question that they helped increase awareness, but it’s very hard to measure the impact of their campaign beyond that,” said Richard Downie, deputy director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I do think they’ve also been successful in engaging Congress and getting Congress to act on the issue.” Just a week after the release of the film, a Kony 2012 resolution with 124 bipartisan co-sponsors was approved in the U.S.House of Representatives and was later approved unanimously by the Senate. In March, the African Union announced the formation of a new joint force, led by Uganda, to track down the LRA. In April, the Obama administration extended the deployment

of 100 U.S. military advisors helping Ugandan troops in the region. And in May, the Ugandan army dealt a blow to the LRA by capturing Caesar Achellam, a major general in Kony’s army in the CAR. Weeks later, the Senate appropriated humanitarian aid for LRA-affected communities and $50 million for intelligence and surveillance of LRA activity. And in August, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Uganda and raised the LRA issue with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. A few weeks after Clinton’s visit, the African Union formally took command of a regional force of about 2,000 Ugandan and Sudanese troops tasked with tracking Kony and other LRA fighters in the region. A contingent of about 100 U.S. Army Special Forces have been providing tactical, intelligence and logistical support to the effort at four bases in Uganda, South Sudan, the CAR and the DRC since late 2011. Some in the advocacy community, such as the Enough Project, would like to see the U.S. contingent actively patrolling with regional troops, but Downie said the president’s approach not to involve U.S. forces in combat has had broad support. Other groups have floated the idea of providing additional arms to the Ugandan military, though that too is fraught with difficulty, given its spotty human rights record. Meanwhile, the AU force tasked with capturing Kony — which was supposed to number 5,000 but lacked countries willing to provide the additional soldiers — faces a challenge that may be just as daunting as the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which took nearly a decade. “It’s an incredibly difficult operation,” Downie said. “You’re dealing with a huge, remote area that is hard to access. There’s difficult terrain, poor infrastructure. And you’re dealing with a very small band of fighters, some of them active for well over 20 years. Kony is a smart operator — he knows how to evade capture.The fact that his group is now so small in number adds to the difficulty of getting him. It is like finding a needle in the haystacks.” The task is further complicated by the fact that the governments of the newly independent South Sudan, CAR and DRC each face their own serious security threats. Even if fighting the LRA were a top priority for any of these nations, they lack the capacity to get the job done. Meanwhile, Kony’s small army continues to commit atrocities, mostly in the DRC.According to the website, operated by Invisible Children and Resolve, another advocacy group, LRA forces killed 47 civilians in 2012 through October and abducted more than 400 others. Those figures represent a sharp decline — in 2010, more than 700 civilians were killed and in 2011, there were just over 150 civilian fatalities.




What does this mean? It means that, as a publication audited by Circulation Verification Council (CVC), we have a clear understanding of our impact, including the number of households we reach, how much we’re read and our influence on purchasing decisions. When it comes to serving readers and advertisers, CVC is the standard.


9 02


credit: UN Photo / Tim McKulka

After operating for years in Uganda, Joseph Kony and his band of fighters are today thought to be hiding in Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan, above, where they continue to terrorize and displace civilians.

Gianulis, the Invisible Children spokeswoman, said that the point of the group’s Nov. 17 rally in Washington is to recapture momentum for their campaign and to press for an international summit focused on coordinating efforts to catch Kony and dismantle the LRA once and for all.The group’s new film plays clips of television commentators mocking the Millennial generation’s supposed short attention span and challenges young people to stay involved and show their dedication to the issue by attending the D.C. rally. Gianulis couldn’t say whether the Kony 2012 campaign would be rebranded if Kony isn’t captured before the end of the year but insisted that the group’s efforts won’t stop on Dec. 31. “Kony 2012 is a yearlong campaign that ends Dec. 31,” she said in an e-mail. “However, the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the LRA have been going on for over 26 years and we will not give up on our goal of stopping him if he is not captured before the end of the year.” Wilkerson said that “Kony 2012” might have left people with the false assumption that cap-

turing Kony this year would be easy. “No matter how inspiring the music is, or how nice their wristbands are, or how many people you gather at a park in Washington, the extraordinarily difficult operational task of capturing Kony doesn’t get easier,” he said. “I see a disconnect between Invisible Children’s approach and that reality.” But Downie said that every advocacy group tries to create a sense of urgency for their campaigns. “They want to attract urgency to the situation, so I don’t blame them,” he said. “But it probably did lead to unrealistic expectations from people who weren’t aware of the LRA’s history. If you just watched the video, you could be led to believe that this is something that could be done easily if only we just tried a little bit harder and put more U.S. effort and resources to this.” Downie noted that the challenge of keeping the LRA hunt in the spotlight is daunting given the other headline-grabbing security problems in Africa and around the world that will take precedence over the long, arduous campaign to capture Kony. “The longer this goes on without any big headline success, people are likely to forget about it,” he said. “There are some big pressing challenges that are affecting more people in Africa right now, in places like Mali, Libya and the DRC, so the administration has to focus on those issues.” The tepid public interest in the follow-up video to “Kony 2012” appears to confirm that suspicion, but Invisible Children’s campaign will likely change how advocacy groups operate for years to come. And the hunt for one of history’s most notorious war criminals will go on, whether the American public is paying attention or not. Dave Seminara is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and a former U.S. diplomat.

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December 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page 11


United Arab Emirates

For UAE, It’s Better To Give Than to Receive by Gail Sullivan


n early October, a Pakistani schoolgirl was shot in the head by the Taliban for publicly supporting girls’ right to education. Since then, people around the world have been following the story of Malala Yousafzai, captivated by her courage and praying for her recovery. Leading the diplomatic response were the governments of Britain and the United Arab Emirates, which coordinated with Pakistani officials to evacuate Yousafzai in an air ambulance provided by the UAE to a hospital in Britain for further treatment. “Tolerance and respect are important aspects of Emirati society,” said Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador in Washington.“And it is important to stand with Malala and others who bravely stand up to extremism.” Yet this isn’t the first time the UAE — a federation of seven emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the latter being the source of most of the country’s oil and gas wealth — has played a major role in international crises. Working quietly behind the scenes, the UAE is one of the world’s largest donors of foreign aid in proportion to its gross national product, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In recent years, the UAE has made sizable donations to relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri, the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster, and the Haitian earthquake. But the government isn’t just in the business of doling out disaster aid. The UAE has also supported local communities throughout the United States, from Boys & Girls Clubs in Los Angeles and Miami to Chicago’s public schools. Much of this charitable giving is spearheaded and implemented by the UAE Embassy here in Washington, which has lent assistance to numerous local causes, many with a focus on children and health care. In 2009, the government of Abu Dhabi donated $150 million to build the Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center in D.C. Last year, the country gave a grant to the U.S. Institute of Peace to establish programming that highlights the role of women in peacemaking. Most recently, the UAE Embassy was among the lead contributors who provided $1.6 million in initial funding to help the nonprofit Fight For Children launch an early education program for at-risk D.C. children. Elsewhere, the UAE gave a $5 million grant to build the pediatric wing of Joplin’s Mercy Hospital and the hospital’s first neonatal intensive care unit, on top of other donations it made to the Joplin community as it sought to rebuild from a 2011 tornado that killed 161 people and caused billions of dollars in damages. Many of the UAE’s various community projects are modest in scale but make a big impact on the ground. For instance,Abu Dhabi issued a grant of up to $1 million to buy personal laptops for every student at Joplin High School to create virtual classrooms until

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Photo: Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

We are an open, tolerant and progressive country in a difficult neighborhood. The UAE’s philanthropy in the U.S. helps reinforce this story. It shows America and the world who we really are. — Yousef Al Otaiba

ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States

the town’s only high school could be rebuilt after the deadly twister. “I was very moved when I went down to Joplin just prior to high school graduation in May,” said Al Otaiba, noting that he “could see how the kids and community were healing, and the impact that our modest gift had made.” City Soccer in the Community is a project particularly close to the ambassador’s heart. In partnership with England’s Manchester City Football Club, the UAE Embassy has built soccer fields in L.A., Miami, Chicago and New York, in addition to setting up coaching programs for inner city youth. The ambassador hopes to establish the next soccer program here in D.C. in the spring. A die-hard soccer fan, Al Otaiba has long supported Barcelona’s soccer team but now shares his loyalty with Manchester City Football Club, which is owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family. “These efforts further understanding and collaboration among nations and help promote social and

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates Yousef Al Otaiba receives a gift from a child at the announcement of the UAE’s gift of $150 million to fund the Sheikh Zayed Institute of Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The donation is among the largest gifts ever given toward pediatric research and care.

economic development — both of which are pillars of the UAE’s foreign policy,” Al Otaiba told The Washington Diplomat. On Dec. 2, 2012, the UAE marked 41 years as a selfgoverning nation, having transformed from a tribal culture reliant on agriculture and fishing to an affluent, modern society (also see The Washington Diplomat’s UAE cover profile in the March 2010 issue). The strategically located desert country — the size of Maine with roughly 5 million inhabitants — boasts an annual per-capita GDP of nearly $50,000 and is a major oil and natural gas exporter, although the government has worked hard to diversify the economy away from energy reserves. Given its prosperity at home, philanthropy plays a large role in the government’s public diplomacy outreach abroad. Many of the diverse causes supported by the UAE are linked to personal connections or longstanding partnerships. For example, the UAE-backed Sheikh Zayed Cardiovascular and Critical Care Tower, a stateof-the-art $1.1 billion facility that opened earlier this year in Baltimore, Md., grew out of the nation’s longstanding partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine, which manages three medical centers in the UAE and is working to improve medical training and the health care system there. On a more personal level, the embassy sponsors the annual Healthy Kidney 10k, a fundraiser for kidney disease research, in honor of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, the UAE’s first president and a kidney transplant survivor.

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

Likewise, the UAE shares a personal linkage to Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC). “Hundreds of Emirati children come to CNMC each year to receive specialized care,” the ambassador said. “At home in the UAE, Children’s has worked for years to enhance the pediatric care by setting up an office in Abu Dhabi to assist families overseas and to coordinate conferences and continuing education courses for medical staff.” And the embassy’s support of the D.C.-based nonprofit Fight For Children stemmed from its connection to the late Joseph E. Robert Jr., the group’s founder and a local philanthropist who joined Al Otaiba in 2009 at the launch of the new pediatric institute at Children’s Medical Center. “Joe was a visionary and a friend. There is no better way to honor him than to help even more kids get a great start in life,” said Al Otaiba, remarking on the launch of Joe’s Champs, an initiative to provide specially trained teachers to at-risk D.C. pre-school children, a program that will eventually be expanded to more than 30 schools. The UAE also seeks philanthropic partners “who are thinking big and seeking to implement transformative and innovative projects,” the ambassador said. But not all of the UAEs charitable gifts are motivated by an existing relationship or an innovative purpose; sometimes they give because it “is simply the right thing to do,” Al Otaiba said. “The UAE has a long history of philanthropy that is deeply engrained in its culture,” he explained.“Charity is also an important element of Islam, instilled further by our families, and reinforced deeply by the leadership of the UAE.” While the UAE doesn’t use philanthropy to promote Islam — the ambassador described faith as a “very personal issue” — it does hope these philanthropic initiatives “demonstrate our commitment to our faith as well as our commitment to improving the lives of people across the

Photo: Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates Yousef Al Otaiba, right, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are greeted by children at the opening of a new soccer field in Chicago’s Haas Park as part of the UAE Embassy’s City Soccer in the Community Initiative.

globe.” However altruistic the motive, public diplomacy is ultimately a practical tool for shaping public perception to influence political realities. In managing its image abroad, the UAE is aware that, unfairly or not, attitudes toward the country, where Sunni Muslims are the majority, are shaped by perceptions of the Middle East and the region’s wealthy Arab monarchies. As the ambassador put it, “We are an open, tolerant and progressive country in a difficult neighborhood. The UAE’s philanthropy in the U.S. helps reinforce this story. It shows America and the world who we really are.” For instance, last year’s grant to the Institute of Peace to fund women’s programming as well

as a U.S. tour of the UAE women’s soccer team both speak to the country’s reputation as a leader in women’s rights in the Arab world. As ambassador, Al Otaiba says his most important job “is to make sure that Americans have a correct picture of the UAE.” The young, media-savvy envoy had his work cut out for him when he assumed his post in 2008. Two years prior, the American public, fueled by post-9/11 suspicion of the Mideast, rallied behind congressional leaders who raised national security concerns over the sale of port management authority in six major U.S. seaports to Dubai Ports World, a UAE-based company.The Ports World controversy exposed a fissure in UAE-U.S. relations, with both Democrats and

Republicans at the time warning that the deal could make the United States more vulnerable to terrorism. But diplomatic relationships, like romantic ones, often survive trying times with effort and commitment. The ambassador called the Ports World incident an “unfortunate misunderstanding.” Navigating such a large and complex democracy like the United States,Al Otaiba observed, is no easy task, especially for smaller nations.“One of the great challenges,” he said,“is the sheer size and scope of the U.S. government and all the different groups and players that influence policy here.” But in more instances than not, the UAE-U.S. relationship is a relatively smooth one.“I believe that the UAE is among America’s closest allies in the region because the relationship stands on three strong pillars: mutual security interests for peace and stability in the Gulf; deep and expanding commercial and trade ties; and enduring and familiar cultural links,”Al Otaiba said. Since its was established in 1974, the UAE Embassy in D.C. has helped to further strengthen that relationship. “Our efforts have included conventional efforts like delegation visits and speeches, but what has really connected with Americans have been original programs like the tour of the UAE women’s soccer team to the U.S., the opening of the [New York University] Abu Dhabi campus, the launch of new air routes, and our philanthropic projects like those in Joplin, Missouri, and at Children’s Hospital in Washington,” the ambassador explained. “The UAE believes that charitable giving, coupled with strong partnerships, helps deepen existing relationships and forge new connections, while promoting social and economic development for all people.” Gail Sullivan is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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December 2012


Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr.

As Tensions Churn on the High Seas, Filipinos Find Peace on Another Front by Larry Luxner


n Oct. 7, 2012, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III announced the signing of a peace agreement between his government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The deal, which paves the way for a settlement to one of Asia’s longest-running ethnic conflicts, may turn out to be the crowning achievement of the Aquino presidency — one that’s eluded half a dozen presidents before him.

Jose L. Cuisia Jr., Manila’s ambassador to the United States, said the secessionist guerrilla war has killed an estimated 120,000 people since the early 1970s and has impoverished millions more on the southern island of Mindanao, whose Muslim residents have long chafed under rule by the Christian-dominated central government. Under the complicated settlement — which took years of countless back-andforth negotiations to achieve — the Aquino government and MILF leaders agreed to create a new political entity, called Bangsamoro, that will offer the region autonomy but not full indepedence. It also provides for a transition period over the next few years to establish this new entity, as well as passage of a “basic law” that would define the scope of power and wealth-sharing between the national government and Bangsamoro. “The Muslims living there will enjoy more rights under the government’s new setup, although there will be certain functions still retained by the central government — for example, defense, security and monetary and fiscal policy,” Cuisia told The Washington Diplomat in an interview three days after Aquino’s announcement. “They will be allowed to raise tax revenue in their particular area, take on subsidies from government grants and get revenue allotments from the central government. “It’s still a work in process, but the important thing is that there’s an agreement in principle,” the ambassador added. “I think it’s a fantastic develALSO SEE: opment. This is why our government immediately New U.S.- Philippines expressed its congratulaSociety Refocuses tions.” Attention on Region’s So did U.S. Secretary of Newest ‘Tiger’ State Hillary Clinton, who PAGE 17 called the accord “a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the southern Philippines.” In a press release issued hours after Aquino’s declaration, Clinton said “the next steps will be to ensure that the framework agreement is fully implemented. We encourage all parties to work together to December 2012

build peace, prosperity and greater opportunities for all the people of the Philippines.” Peace, prosperity and opportunity — these days, the Philippines seems to be enjoying a little of all three. “Times are pretty good in the Philippines if you are young, skilled and live in the city. Young urban workers are helping to give the country its brightest prospects in decades,” wrote Floyd Whaley in an Aug. 27 New York Times article. “With $70 billion in reserves and lower interest payments on its debt after recent credit rating upgrades, the Philippines pledged $1 billion to the International Monetary Fund to help shore up the struggling economies of Europe.” The article also noted that by HSBC estimates, the Philippines could become the 16th-largest economy in the world by 2050 if current trends hold. Geopolitically, as tensions roil the waters of the South China Sea, where nations compete for territory and resourcPhoto: Lawrence Ruggeri

We believe it is important that we have a rules-based system anchored in international law, and that [the South China Sea disputes] should be settled peacefully and diplomatically if possible.

— Jose L. Cuisia Jr., ambassador of the Philippines to the United States es, the Philippines is also capitalizing on the Obama administration’s military and economic “pivot” to Asia as a counterweight against growing Chinese assertiveness in the strategic waterways.That pivot was in full view as a newly re-elected President Obama made a historic visit to Burma (Myanmar) during a swing through Asia last month. Although Manila wasn’t one of the stops on the president’s agenda, the Philippines has been one of the most vocal supporters of America’s foray back into the Asia Pacific. In fact, U.S. foreign military financing for the Philippines nearly tripled in 2012 over the previous year, from $12 million to around $30 million,

and since 2002, the Philippines has received nearly $500 million in military assistance from the United States, according to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The ambassador said his country’s long relationship with the United States — which ruled the Philippines from 1898 to 1946 — has had its share of ups and downs, “but this is the best we’ve ever seen.” Bilateral ties took a nosedive in 1991 when, in the face of strident nationalism and anti-American sentiment, the Philippine Senate rejected a deal that would have turned over Clark Air Base to the Philippine government the following year while allowing the Pentagon to

remain at Subic Bay Naval Base for another 10 years. Instead, the United States had to turn over Clark, one of its oldest overseas bases, to the Philippine government two months after the senate’s decision; Subic Bay closed the following year. “It was probably only in 2002 that we saw some improvement, when we joined the Coalition of the Willing in the Iraq War,” Cuisia said. More recently,“we’ve seen a resurgence in the relationship between the Philippines and the United States. Secretary of State Clinton has had a key role in formulating that policy, and we also give credit to the assistant secretary of state [for East Asian and Pacific affairs], Kurt Campbell. He’s the one pushing for a greater role for ASEAN in the U.S.,” Cuisia said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. President Obama met with the 10-member bloc for the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, last month, and his administration has increasingly turned

Continued on next page The Washington Diplomat Page 15

Continued from previous page to ASEAN to settle the various territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Beijing prefers to handle the disagreements through direct negotiations, where it will wield more power. But the United States — declaring that freedom of navigation in the economically vital waters is in its “national interest,” much to China’s ire — has pushed for the standoff to be addressed peacefully in a multilateral setting. The focus of all the competing claims are hundreds of rocky outcroppings that make up the Spratly Islands, which didn’t attract much international attention until the late 1990s, when surveys indicated the possibility of large oil and gas reserves underneath the seabed. Four of the six claimants to the Spratlys — Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines — are ASEAN member states; the other two are China and Taiwan. “But it’s only Vietnam and the Philippines which have experienced incursions by Chinese fishing vessels and marine surveillance vessels,” said Cuisia, noting a 1988 confrontation between China and Vietnam that killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers. And in March 2011, Chinese patrol ships harassed a Philippine scientific vessel and fired across the bows of Philippine fishing boats in waters within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone covering the Spratlys. In April of this year, however, Philippine Navy personnel boarded Chinese fishing vessels at Scarborough Shoal, claiming they had found illegally harvested coral and marine life. The move quickly drew Chinese surveillance ships and eventually gunboats from both sides to the tiny band of coral rocks and reef in a dangerous escalation that lasted two months. Asked about such skirmishes, the ambassador said:“Our claim is with reference to our 200-mile exclusive economic zone as specified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. If it is within our 200-mile EEZ, we will defend


credit: DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen

President of the Philippines Benigno S. Aquino III, right, meets with U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint of the Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. in Manila on June 4, 2012.

that.” But experts say that kind of thinking could spark a major conflict that entangles many players. “The United States could be drawn into a China-Philippines conflict because of its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines,” Bonnie S. Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out in the report “Armed Clash in the South China Sea.” One potential flashpoint, for example, could be natural gas drilling in the area of Reed Bank. “Oil survey ships operating in Reed Bank under contract have increasingly been harassed by Chinese vessels,” Glaser wrote, noting that Manila intends to award 15 exploration contracts over the next few years for offshore exploration near Palawan Island.“Reed Bank is a red line for the Philippines,

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Page 16

so this contingency could quickly escalate to violence if China intervened to halt the drilling.” In the report “Stirring up the South China Sea: Regional Responses” released over the summer, the International Crisis Group argues that there’s plenty of blame to go around for stoking tensions. “Increasingly assertive positions among claimants have pushed regional tensions to new heights. Driven by potential hydrocarbon reserves and declining fish stocks, Vietnam and the Philippines in particular are taking a more confrontational posture with China,” the International Crisis Group said. “All claimants are expanding their military and law enforcement capabilities, while growing nationalism at home is empowering hardliners pushing for a tougher stance on territorial claims. In addition, claimants are pursuing divergent resolution mechanisms; Beijing insists on resolving the disputes bilaterally, while Vietnam and the Philippines are actively engaging the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.” But the issue has split ASEAN. At the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh last month,the Philippines and summit host Cambodia butted heads over bringing the issue up at the regional gathering, with Cambodia, an ally of China, refusing to “internationalize the South China Sea from now on,” according to a foreign ministry official. That prompted a blunt response from President Aquino, who tersely challenged that statement, saying, “For the record, this was not our understanding. The ASEAN route is not the only route for us.As a sovereign state, it is our right to defend our national interests.” The kerfuffle mirrored an earlier breakdown at a July gathering of ASEAN foreign ministers in Cambodia, where the bloc failed to agree on a joint communiqué for the first time in its 45-year history because of the South China Sea impasse. The Philippines had wanted a communiqué to mention the confrontation between Manila and Beijing at Scarborough Shoal, but Cambodia seemed to bow to Chinese pressure to shelve the draft, saying the island disputes were bilateral issues. “This was a spectacular failure for the regional grouping and an outcome that, on the surface, seemed not to be in any nation’s interests,” wrote Ernest Z. Bower of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a July 20 commentary. “Fundamentally, the chaos at the [meeting] appears to be an outcome manipulated by a China that has decided that a weak and divided ASEAN is in its national interests. Understanding that fact, and the fact that ASEAN has the capacity and commitment to overcome China’s shortsighted campaign to break its ranks, is a necessary condition for advising the policies of countries that want to advance regional structures that will promote peace, security and prosperity in the

Asia Pacific.” That’s precisely why Cuisia says ASEAN needs to adopt a code of conduct to minimize the shortterm risks of a flare-up and ultimately resolve the various sovereignty claims. The bloc has formally asked China to start talks on such a code, but whether any kind of multilateral legal framework can be established — it’s been talked about for years — is highly doubtful. “We have had diplomatic protests but we’ve not been able to resolve the issue. We’re hoping that a code of conduct will be discussed with China and agreed upon, which would then guide all the countries of the region,” Cuisia said. “We believe it is important that we have a rules-based system anchored in international law, and that this issue should be settled peacefully and diplomatically if possible. We want to ensure freedom of navigation and unimpeded, lawful commerce. Those are the same objectives of the U.S. government.” Indeed, both Washington and Manila see eye to eye when it comes to the foreign policy dilemma in the South China Sea (which Manila unilaterally renamed the West Philippine Sea this September, one of many names competing countries have given the waterway). When Aquino visited the White House in June after the Scarborough Shoal faceoff, President Obama said the Philippines and United States would “consult closely together” as part of the pivot back to Asia,” which he said should serve as a reminder that “the United States considers itself, and is, a Pacific power.” And in October, U.S. Marines joined their Philippine counterparts for 10 days of joint exercises in the South China Sea. As the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard — which once docked in Subic Bay — cruised through the disputed waters, the show of military might annoyed Chinese officials but reassured Southeast Asian allies such as the Philippines and Vietnam of American support. But in a speech at the D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario said that the United States could lend even more support. He lamented that the overall share of U.S. military funding to his strategic nation has actually dropped, with Manila’s portion of funding accounting for 35 percent of the total given to East Asia this year, compared to more than 70 percent in 2006. Del Rosario, who served as Manila’s envoy in Washington from 2001 to 2006 (and was profiled in the September 2003 issue of The Washington Diplomat), also urged the United States to lift conditions on military financing because of concerns over human rights violations and extrajudicial killings, saying his government has been addressing those concerns. Overall, however, bilateral military ties are stronger than ever, with Washington sharing data with Manila, which in turn has given U.S. forces greater access to its airfields and ports. In fact, these days, both the Clark and Subic Bay bases, once the source of strife between the two nations, are thriving economic zones. “When the U.S. bases were there, they had 40,000 military and civilian personnel working there. Now they have 160,000,” Cuisia pointed out.“We are the fourth-largest shipbuilding industry in the world, and a lot of Taiwanese companies are located at Subic. At Clark, we have Samsung, and Yokohama will build the world’s largest tire factory there.” Just as the Philippines has patched up its once rocky alliance with the United States, paving the way for greater economic cooperation, the government is hoping that peace on its southern front will usher in newfound prosperity. The roots of the Muslim uprising on the southern island of Mindanao reach back to the U.S. colonization of the Philippines in the late 19th century and escalated following Philippine independence in 1946. For decades, Muslims living in the area had complained of official discrimination against the native Moro population in housing and education, as well as an official government policy of settling Catholic Filipino emigrants in

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012


New Society Refocuses Attention on Latest ‘Tiger’ For a country of nearly 100 million inhabitants that is vital to American interests in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines doesn’t always get the level of attention in Washington that’s commensurate with its growing weight. Retired diplomat John F. Maisto would like to change that. Maisto, a 74-year-old former Foreign Service officer, represented the United States as ambassador to Venezuela, Nicaragua and finally the Organization of American States. The Spanishspeaking diplomat also served at U.S. missions in Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica and the Philippines throughout his 40-year career. That career ended precisely at 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2006. “I got home just in time to celebrate the New Year,” he recalled with no hint of regret. “My definition of retirement is doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.” But Maisto couldn’t sit still for long. Now, as president of the newly established United StatesPhilippines Society, the focus of Maisto’s efforts is an Asian country he grew to love while stationed in Manila as a political officer in the early 1980s. Maisto said the society was formed in May 2012, and its first event was a gala dinner in honor of President Benigno S. Aquino III. Its U.S. chairman is fellow diplomat John Negroponte, its Philippine chair is Manuel Pangilinan, and it has a 25-member board of directors that represent a range of Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola, General Electric, J.P. Morgan, Procter & Gamble and Chevron. “We’re of the view that with the new administration [in Manila], there should be a new focus on the Philippines in the United States,” said Maisto, one of a number of diplomats who helped establish the organization, along with former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Thomas C. Hubbard and former Philippine Ambassador Roberto Romulo.

Mindanao. The early 1970s saw the rise of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and soon after, the more conservative Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which broke away from the MNLF in 1978. The MILF dreamed of establishing an independent homeland governed by Islamic Sharia law — and received help from both Malaysia and Libyan strongman Muammar alQaddafi — though by the early 1990s, that support had pretty much dried up. In 1997, months after the MNLF signed a peace accord with the government, talks began with the MILF aimed at resolving the conflict. But peace remained elusive until Aug. 4, 2011, when the newly elected Aquino met secretly with MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo, marking the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since the beginning of peace talks in 1997. Exploratory negotiations were held in Kuala Lumpur, leading to formal talks and finally the “framework agreement” reached in October. “This conflict has been going on through the second half of the 20th century,” said Hank Hendrickson, executive director of the recently formed U.S.-Philippines Society (see sidebar). “The issue hasn’t really been a question of a separate state but degrees of autonomy. This Kuala Lumpur agreement is a new and hopeful effort to establish autonomy in the region.” The society’s president, John F. Maisto, said the credibility of the Aquino government is what’s really changed. “When you’re dealing with a government that makes under-the-table deals based on politics — as you had in the Philippines throughout the 20th century — it gets very messy. So this is a welcome turn of events,” he told The Diplomat. “It’s certainly a step in the right direction, and it’s going

December 2012

“Our society is more like the U.S.-Japan Society or the U.S.-Korea Society,” Maisto explained during an interview at the group’s headquarters off Dupont Circle. He said the society is independent and nonpartisan. It doesn’t receive a dime from either the U.S. or Philippine governments; rather, it’s sustained by donations from the private sector. Annual membership in the U.S.-Philippines Society ranges from $25 for students to $15,000 for corporations (and $25,000 for corporate patrons). Maisto said his mission is clear: to elevate Manila’s profile on Capitol Hill, K Street and throughout corporate America, and to promote Filipino culture in this country. “There’s been a long, rich and historic relationship between the Philippines and the United States, and between Filipinos and Americans. The objective of our society is to call attention to the contemporary Philippines, which is improving its government, growing economically, and dealing with security issues at a time when the United States is putting renewed emphasis on Southeast Asia in general,” he said. “When it’s not in the news, if there’s not an actual disaster or a man-made political disaster, people tend to forget about it, in spite of our rich historical ties. But Southeast Asia is very important to the United States, as reflected now with the rebalancing of U.S. interests in the post-Iraq, postAfghanistan world.” Maisto and the organization’s executive director, Hank Hendrickson, worked together at the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Maisto, who first came to the Philippines in 1978, has an enduring personal interest in the country; he met his

Filipina wife, Maria Consuelo Gaston, while both were students at Georgetown University. Later on, he headed the State Department’s Office of Philippine Affairs during the country’s dramatic transition from the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship to democratic rule under the late Corazon Aquino, mother of the current president. Maisto said it’s easy to forget how central the Philippines once was to U.S. foreign policy — especially at the time of the Spanish-American War of 1898, which ultimately led to the country’s independence in 1946. “If you were interviewing me 100 years ago, we’d be talking about the Philippines the way we talk about Israel today,” Maisto told The Diplomat. “We were involved in a guerrilla war with Spain, and we took it over and imposed a colonial system which in many ways benefitted the Philippines in terms of institutions and legal systems — and even the notso-positive ways like the opportunity for corruption.” Maisto said that today, the Philippines and Indonesia are emerging as the region’s newest “economic tigers” in addition to China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Yet over the last several years, the Philippines has been neglected, he said. “Part of this has to do with governments that left a lot to be desired in terms of their own credibility at home and abroad,” Maisto suggested. “The election of Benigno Aquino III has refocused what people power is all about — a decent, believable, credible government that would be serious about fighting corruption.” He added: “Corruption has always been an issue in Philippine politics. I can’t think of an election there in which graft and corruption has not been front and center. But today, the president has an approval rating of 70 to 75 percent. Why? Because he’s delivering on fighting corruption. Two examples: About five months ago, the chief justice of the Supreme Court

credit: DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen

U.S. service members brief U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during his visit to Camp Navarro in the Philippines, which has increased its military ties with the United States in the wake of the various island disputes in the South China Sea.

to depend upon evidence of good faith on both sides as they move this process along.” Joshua Kurlantzick, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, cites four specific reasons to believe that this time, the peace is for real. “For one, the Philippine armed forces increasingly realize that they have other threats to focus on, namely China — a threat for which they are woefully unprepared, as reflected by the horrendous state of the Philippine Navy, which has been exposed in the current crisis over the South China Sea,” said Kurlantzick, writing Oct. 9 on the deal.

“Secondly, the agreement offers people in the south more than previous negotiations, promising them a potential Muslim autonomous region in the south that would be better governed, and less likely to descend into a mafia state than previous efforts at autonomy,” he said. “Third, President Aquino seems to enjoy more genuine trust from rebel leaders, and people in the south, than previous presidents dating back to Joseph Estrada,” added Kurlantzick. “Finally, this proposed peace deal, by creating the possibility for real economic development, offers the chance

was impeached by the lower house, tried in the Philippine Senate and convicted because he had failed to register a $2 million bank account in his annual declaration of assets. This had never happened before. And right now, the head of the National Bureau of Investigation is undergoing a similar situation.” In addition, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a member of Congress and the country’s president from 2001 to 2010, was arrested in October on charges of misusing $8.8 million in state lottery funds during her administration. Meanwhile, the country’s GDP has been growing at a healthy 6 percent annual clip, and U.S. companies continue to invest there — led by the shipbuilding, call-center and light-manufacturing industries. The fact that English is widely understood and spoken throughout the Philippines is another plus. To spur that investment along, the society is promoting Philippine design in furniture, lighting and fashion through New York businesswoman Josie Natori, who describes the Philippines as the “Italy of Asia.” It has also sponsored a series of events such as a Nov. 1 conference at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies titled “Philippines in the Aquino Generation: Governance, Growth and Security,” as well as a packed Nov. 3-4 performance by Bayanihan — the country’s national dance company — at the Kennedy Center. “I have not met one American who’s visited the Philippines, either as a tourist or who has lived there, who was not absolutely taken with the country. They’re hospitable people in every way and they like the United States,” said Maisto. “There’s a welcoming atmosphere, and a government that wants American investment and will work with you.”

— Larry Luxner

to reduce inequality in the south, and reduce the anger among poorer Muslim groups in the south against the generally wealthier Christian minority in Mindanao.” The ambassador agrees that Aquino’s popularity was crucial to getting the job done. “The United States has, of course, been pushing for a peace agreement, but it was really the leadership of our president, who met with the vice chairman of the MILF in Tokyo to discuss principles, which has resulted in this agreement,” he said. “They saw that the president is sincere and enjoys unprecedented trust. His popularity ratings are at 77 percent, and he’s been in office just over two years,” Cuisia added. “He realizes that unless we have peace in that area, we cannot have sustainable economic development.” To that end, said Cuisia,“Mindanao has tremendous economic potential — it has lots of mineral deposits and very fertile land, and they don’t get typhoons.” Roughly the size of Indiana, 37,660-square-mile Mindanao is the easternmost of the 7,107 islands that comprise the Philippines. With 21.5 million people, it’s home to nearly a fourth of the country’s population.Yet the island’s agriculture-based economy — dominated by bananas, pineapples, palm oil and other plantation crops — has left the vast majority of Mindanao’s people impoverished for the benefit of a relative few. The peace agreement, assuming it holds, is one of several bright spots in an economic outlook that until just a few years ago seemed rather grim. “When we look back at the [Ferdinand] Marcos years, martial law was imposed in 1972 and lasted

See Philippines, page 46 The Washington Diplomat Page 17


Washington, D.C.

Korea Reclaims Former Embassy Lost to Japan Over 100 Years Ago by Martin Austermuhle


n diplomacy, history and symbolism count for a lot. Countries can maintain longstanding feuds over isolated pieces of land that they’re not even sure they need, decade-old wrongs can color even the most strategic of relationships, and small gestures can either imperil or vastly improve how two countries get along. In that, a stately redbrick house in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., has proven to be a powerful symbol in the difficult history that underpins — and continues to shape — the relationship between Japan and South Korea. In mid-October, South Korean officials took part in a ceremony at the National Press Club in which they reacquired the 135-year-old home that served as the then-kingdom’s first embassy starting in 1891, when the Joseon Dynasty purchased the building for $25,000. What’s newsworthy is not the fact that the South Koreans reacquired their former de facto embassy, but rather how Japanese and Korean history played a role in determining its fate. In the midst of annexing the Korean Peninsula in 1910, the Japanese empire purchased the home of the Korean legation from the Joseon Dynasty for $5, effectively erasing Korea’s diplomatic presence in Washington. When the annexation was completed later that year — Korea would remain part of Japan until the end of World War II in 1945 — the Japanese sold the 6,300-square-foot, seven-bedroom home to private owners. To Koreans, the sale — for $10, no less — was seen as an additional indignity they would have to suffer. Within the next few months, though, the house will again be in Korean hands, correcting — at least symbolically — one of the many wrongs that many Koreans still lay at the feet of the Japanese. “Although we’re not able to recover all history stolen from us by Japanese imperialists, this Korean Empire legation building miraculously survived. For us, this is a very meaningful and historic day,” said Kim Chan of the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea at the

Page 18

Photos: Embassy of the Republic of Korea

The South Korean government recently purchased the home that once served as its legation in D.C. up until 1910, when the Japanese empire bought the building from the Joseon Dynasty for $5, effectively erasing Korea’s diplomatic presence in Washington. Shortly afterward, the Japanese sold the 6,300-square-foot, seven-bedroom home to private owners for $10, no less — a slight that has long tainted bilateral relations.

National Press Club ceremony, where the announcement of the coming transfer of ownership was announced. The house’s history, before and after it belonged to Korea, is in and of itself interesting. It was built in the late 1870s by Civil War Navy Officer Seth Ledyard Phelps, who served as one of

climbing all of these stairs. It is a beautiful house and we have loved being here.” While Lauretta and her husband — former acting head of the University of the District of Columbia — were aware of the house’s history, she said, its importance in Korean lore became

Although we’re not able to recover all history stolen from us by Japanese imperialists, this Korean Empire legation building miraculously survived. For us, this is a very meaningful and historic day. — Kim Chan

administrator of the Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea

the first presidentially appointed commissioners for Washington before being dispatched to serve as U.S. ambassador to Peru. After the property, commonly known as Phelps House, was sold off by the Japanese, it was used for a variety of purposes — including as a Teamsters Union hall — before being purchased by Timothy and Lauretta Jenkins in 1977, where they have been since. “We’ve lived in the house for almost 35 years, and almost from the beginning Koreans would stop by the house to ask us if we were interested in selling it,” Lauretta Jenkins told The Diplomat. “Needless to say, we were not. Even now we leave somewhat reluctantly. Even though our family has grown, we don’t need all of this space and our knees are getting tired of

evident when they were visited, some 25 years ago, by a former Korean general and descendent of the country’s first ambassador to the United States. “He walked around so reverentially that it struck a note with us,” she said. In the intervening years, she said, they received a variety of offers from Korean businessmen, but none convinced them it was the right time to sell.“Who knows what they would do? Sell it into someone else’s hands, break it up into condos — we didn’t want that to happen,” she said. Earlier this year, the Jenkins’ were invited to dine with the South Korean ambassador, and though the house didn’t come up, it seemed the government had more serious plans for reclaiming the long-lost house. After that, a real estate agency representing

the state-run Cultural Heritage Administration — formed explicitly to restore Korean ownership of the building — contacted the Jenkins’ about selling, which they agreed to do. “We could see they were seriously interested in it, and not for profit or for changing it into something else but to restoring it and keeping it as the beautiful and graceful place it is,” she said.The purchase price is said to be above $3.5 million. According to Korean officials, there are no plans to use the house as a residence for the ambassador or as a chancery. Rather, they said, it will likely play host to Korean cultural gatherings and events. “The building will be used as bridgeheads to let the American public learn about our cultural heritage and to teach Koreans a historic lesson,” said Kim during the National Press Club event. That historic lesson, and many others, have infused relations between Japan and Korea over the years, for better or worse. While policy experts say that the two countries generally share a stable and strategic relationship — in particular as two of America’s most critical allies in the Asia-Pacific region — the kinship can often be cast aside by what either side views as a symbolic slight rooted in a complicated past. Those deep-seated tensions have been exacerbated by the recent spat over tiny islands — referred to as Dokdo by the Koreans and Takeshima by the Japanese — that both nations claim as their own. Like the former embassy building, the remote rocky outcroppings have taken on an over-

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

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The Joseon Dynasty purchased what is today known as Phelps House for $25,000 in 1891. After losing the historic Logan Circle property for more than 100 years, the South Korean government bought it back from Timothy and Lauretta Jenkins reportedly for more than $3.5 million.

size symbolism as a source of national pride. During an event in August marking the anniversary of the end of Japanese rule, outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Japan’s historic transgressions continue to dog the countries’ relations. “Japan is a close neighbor, a friend that shares basic values and an important partner that we should work with to open the future. However, we have to point out that chain links tangled in the history of Korea-Japan relations are hampering the common march toward a better tomorrow in the Northeast Asian region, as well as bilateral ties,” he was reported as saying. President Lee said one of the outstanding issues that remain is a Japanese apology and compensation over the use of Korean women — known as “comfort women” — as sex slaves during World War II. Only days later, he visited a tiny and largely uninhabited collection of islands claimed by both countries; a small dip-

lomatic row ensued. As for Lauretta Jenkins, though she says she’ll miss the house where she raised her children, she also understands why it’s important that it be returned to Korea — and why Korean history remains so intertwined with current-day relations. “Those of us who know the history of oppressed people in the world — some of our own people have been oppressed and their culture ignored over the years — we relate to people who have those feelings about how they’ve been treated. We understand how the Korean people feel. Their house was taken from them in an act of war, and they had nobody standing up for them or coming to their aid. It makes sense to us that they would have those kind of feelings.” Martin Austermuhle is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and editor in chief of

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December 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page 19


Stem Cell Research

Neural Stem Cells Show Promise In Treating Rare Brain Disease by Gina Shaw


antalizing news about the prospect of using stem cells to treat neurological disorders comes from a pair of related studies published in early October in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Scientists from the University of California in San Francisco were successfully able to transplant neural stem cells into the brains of four little boys with the most severe form of an inherited brain disorder called Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease. Virtually all people with this disease (known by the shorthand PMD, for obvious reasons) are male — like hemophilia, it’s an “X-linked” disease, passed down by asymptomatic mothers to their sons on the X chromosome. When a baby is born with PMD, everything seems normal at first. But by the time he is six weeks old, his parents will notice that their little boy’s eyes frequently seem to be doing a strange sort of back-and-forth dance, as if he’s watching a very fast tennis game.As he grows, he stops meeting the normal baby milestones — he can’t hold his head up, or roll over, or sit up, or crawl. And he will never get any better. In most cases of this form of PMD, he will only continue to get worse, and ultimately die. This is because PMD is a dysmyelinating disease — meaning that boys with the condition have virtually no myelin, the fatty sheath that insulates brain cells and helps them transmit signals more smoothly. Unlike multiple sclerosis, which worsens unpredictably as inflammation destroys existing myelin over time, patients with PMD never have any myelin at all. PMD is rare, and until now there has been no treatment or cure, especially for the most severe type. But using a type of neural stem cell that is known to tend to turn into oligodendrocytes — the kind of brain cell that produces myelin — the researchers were able to spark the growth of new myelin in the boys’ brains. Over the course of the yearlong study, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) findings showed that myelin levels in three of the boys increased by about 6 percent — about half of what would be expected in a normal child, but a vast improvement over the 0 percent that is usual for most boys with severe PMD. Even more exciting, these MRI findings appeared to translate into small, but unmistakable signs of improvement in the three boys. (The fourth child appears to be “stable,” according to the study.) “These kids are severely disabled — they don’t have fine motor movements, they have difficulty controlling their heads and looking around, and they cannot do basic things for themselves,” said Dr. Nalin Gupta, associate professor in the

Page 20

A pair of related studies recently showed promise in transplanting neural stem cells to treat the most severe form of an inherited brain disorder called Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease.

Photo: Nissim Benvenisty / Follow the Money – The Politics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

These kids are severely disabled — they don’t have fine motor movements, they have difficulty controlling their heads and looking around, and they cannot do basic things for themselves. — Dr. Nalin Gupta

chief of pediatric neurological surgery at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California in San Francisco

Department of Neurological Surgery and chief of pediatric neurological surgery at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California in San Francisco, who led the study there.“They’re not standing up and walking down the hall now, but their head control has improved, their eye control has improved, and their general motor function has started to get better. One is even starting to walk with a walker. Now, this is a very small study and you can’t make any sort of conclusions based on it, because this could be a fluke. But it’s very unexpected, to say the least, to have children like these improve.” And the procedure overall appears to be safe, without any major side effects, which is one of the biggest worries involved with something as risky as suppressing a critically ill child’s immune system and then transplanting foreign cells directly into his brain. The next step, assuming that the study’s sponsor — California-based StemCells, Inc. — decides to move forward with one, would be to do a larger Phase II study, involving closer to 30 or 40 children. That would likely take another two years, says Gupta. Considering how rare the disease is, it’s unlikely that scientists could find enough children who qualify to participate in a standard, large Phase III trial, but if a Phase II shows enough promise, it’s possible that the Food and Drug Administration might consider confirming its results with small studies in a more common demyelinating disease, such as multiple sclerosis. All of this involves a lot of guessing and speculating. Gupta strongly stressed that the study results so far, however encouraging, are very limited and really only illustrate the apparent safety of the procedure and the fact that the growth of the myelin after the transplant can be tracked with MRI. Still, it’s a real and significant step forward.The same company also recently announced the first successful transplant of stem cells into patients in a trial treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as a new trial of stem cell transplants in spinal cord injury. It’s still in the early days, and such transplants are fraught with pitfalls. But the fact that there is even the possibility of a treatment for a rare and devastating disorder like this one is exciting — and the potential that it could be tried in many other myelin-related disorders is even more so. We’ll be watching to see if StemCells, Inc. moves ahead with a Phase II trial. Gina Shaw is the medical writer for The Washington Diplomat.

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012


■ A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

■ December 2012

‘Tis Time to Give and Receive With Style and Creativity

Season for Sharing T

by Stephanie Kanowitz

he Washington area is more than a nexus of politics and government. In recent years, it’s become a haven for fine retailers and restaurants. It’s a center of culture, education and entertainment. It’s also home to some of the fittest, most health-conscious people in the country, attracting occasional thrill-seekers and exercise-devotees alike. In short, it has personality and style — and plenty of gifts to match both. Each year, to ease some of the stress of the gift-searching season, we scour the region for ideas that appeal to all tastes and budgets, from a $15 towel, to an almost six-figure futuristic jetpack, to a down-to-earth shopping trip with one of D.C.’s top interior designers. They all add up to some happy, healthy holiday-sharing in the nation’s capital. Continued on next page

■ INSIDE: Tysons Corner may be dropping the “corner” from its name, but it’s not cutting any corners when it comes to its grand vision for the future. PAGE 27 ■

LUXURY LIVING December 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page 21

e d i u G t f i G y a d i l Ho

Food and Drink

Low: For wannabe sommeliers and wine enthusiasts, Brent Kroll, wine director of Adour at the St. Regis hotel (923 16th Street, NW), is offering a class Dec. 20 on sparkling wines from around the world ($60). Sip with the expert sommelier — who previously served as wine director of the Oval Room and Ardeo/Bardeo in D.C. — while enjoying the modern elegance of chef Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, which specializes in contemporary French-American cuisine.

Photo: St. Regis, Washington, D.C.

Middle: Time is something everyone could use more of. The “meals to go” option ($80) at Praline Bakery & Bistro (4611 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, Md.) buys just that by taking the planning and preparation out of five meals. Options, prepared by executive chef Christian Gautrois, include coq au vin, salmon with ratatouille, veal banquette, seafood paella, duck confit and beef tenderloin. The dishes will be available for pickup at the bakery until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. on weekends.

Photo: Robert Radifera

Sommelier Brent Kroll

High: “Got Brothers Grimm fans in your life? Turn them into Hansel and Gretel — minus the threat from an evil witch — with dinner in a real life-size gingerbread house at the Ritz-Carlton (1150 22nd St., NW). From Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, the first-ever Gingerbread House & Boutique is offering executive chef Yves Samake’s gingerbread-inspired menu for $110 per person. It includes foie gras and spiced bread for the amuse bouche, spiced bread-crusted scallops wrapped in Kataifi pastry as a first course, butternut squash soup, four-spice and chestnut-roasted duck breast as the entrée, and a Jivara chocolate and gingerbread mousse bar for dessert. The gingerbread-encased room can accommodate up to six people for dinner — the only meal served in the 200-square-foot house — but it is open during the day for guests to view and purchase holiday tarts, cakes and cookies by executive pastry chef Nelson Paz. There’s also a gingerbread house decorating class for children on Dec. 9 ($75). Or, to make an entire getaway of it, the Ritz is offering a “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These” holiday package with overnight accommodations in a luxury suite, four-course dinner for two in the Gingerbread House, evening holiday tour of D.C., a $2,000 gift card to Saks Fifth Avenue, 80-minute couples massage and other extravagant goodies (starting at $10,000 per night).

Photo: Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.

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LUXURY LIVING The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

Holiday Gift Gu i de

Soul and Body

Low: Mommy Bootcamp (21770 Beaumeade Circle, Suite 130, Ashburn, Va.) is sort of a misnomer for Kathy Corbey’s classes. Although they cater to moms’ needs by incorporating kids into the workout (think bicep curls using your 20-pound baby), plenty of dads sweat out their parental frustrations here, too. Workouts involve cardio drills, strength training, core work and interval training. A 10-class pass costs $100, a 20-class pass is $160 and a monthly unlimited pass is $75 per month. All are good at the Ashburn headquarters and facilities in Chantilly, Springfield and Vienna. Holiday specials include free enrollment in December — a savings of $25 — for new members and two months of unlimited classes for $160.

Middle: Shimmy and shake into 2013 with Saffron Dance (3260 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.), which specializes in different forms of belly dancing. Classes, including Latin fusion and Oriental techniques, are available for beginners and experienced dancers. Classes meet weekly and run 14 weeks for costs ranging from $260 to $280. Owner Saphira is offering a four-week crash course in January for $75 that includes a hip scarf. High: For someone looking to take adrenaline rushes to new heights, there’s Skydive Orange (11339 Bloomsbury Road, Orange, Va.), a member of the U.S. Parachute Association that has been in operation for more than 35 years. Its Deluxe Tandem Package I ($380 cash or $395 credit) includes a tandem jump with a professional instructor; equipment such as goggles, helmet and jumpsuit; training; a 15- to 20-minute plane ride; a dive from 13,500 feet; a DVD of the experience; a CD of still pictures; and a skydiving certificate.

Photo: bigStock

Home Goods

Low: Usually reserved for covering boxes, wrapping paper can be a gift in and of itself. Design Army, a graphic design firm (510 H St., NE), offers four styles of one-of-a-kind wrapping paper ($15 each). The “Holiday Techna” set of four sheets features patterns of pine, circuit, ornament and lights in purples, oranges, aqua and red. The “To From V2” eliminates the need for a gift tag because the “to” and “from” lines are right there on the paper. Each set comes with three sheets of each design.

Photo: Apple

Photo: Design Army

Middle: Towels aren’t just for drying off anymore. Authentic, handwoven Turkish towels ($15 to $17 for small ones and $36 to $56 for large) can be used as table runners or even scarves, according to Amanda McClements, owner of Salt & Sundry (1309 5th St., NE), which opened this month just in time for the holidays. Known as peshtemal, the towels are lightweight cotton wraps like the ones used at Turkish

Photo: Salt & Sundry


Low: An Apple Inc. product for less than $50 is music to many a recipient’s ears. The screen-less, two-gigabyte iPod shuffle (PRODUCT) RED — yes that’s the name of it — is available for $49 in Apple stores throughout the area, including those in Georgetown, Arlington, Tysons Corner Center and Bethesda. Able to store hundreds of songs, the sleek little shuffle is about one inch by one inch, can clip on for easy portability, and offers 29 voice-over languages, including Cantonese, Finnish, Slovak and Thai. The rechargeable battery lasts for up to 15 hours. Bonus: A percentage of the profits from Apple’s RED line goes to the Global Fund to support AIDS programs in Africa. Middle: Turn a run-of-the-mill couch potato into the ultimate loafer with the Zeiss Cinemizer OLED ($749). The futuristic-looking goggles (technically called multimedia video glasses) take media watching up a notch by offering a three-dimensional viewing experience — at home or on the go. The glasses can connect to iPhones, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles and computers so users can watch movies or become one with their favorite videogames. Its rechargeable battery lasts up to six hours, so you can even watch several movies on a long flight.

bath houses for centuries. High: Know someone looking to redo a room? Interior designer Kelley Proxmire (4519 Wetherill Road, Bethesda, Md.), a member of the Washington Design Center Hall of Fame, is providing two-hour shopping tours ($500). Visit some of her favorite shops, including Amano, Comer & Co. Antiques and Interiors, Marston Luce Antiques in Georgetown, and J. Brown & Co. in Alexandria, Va. Before shopping, Proxmire will either visit the shopper’s home if it’s within about 10 miles of Washington to study one room to make over or she will examine photos of the room.


High: The traffic in this area is enervating, to say the least. Rise above it with the JetLev R200 ($99,500 at Nieman Marcus). The package includes a 30-pound waterpropelled jetpack, boat unit, jetpack stand, hose and control cable assembly, radios, and a pilot certification training and safety course. JetLev can take you as high as 30 feet at a top speed of 32 miles per hour, and it can last for four hours and 80 miles on one tank of high-octane gas. Bonus: For every JetLev R200 sold, Neiman Marcus will donate $2,500 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, Fla.;

Continued on next page

Photo: Angie Seckinger

LUXURY LIVING December 2012

Photo: JetLev

The Washington Diplomat Page 23

e d i u G t f i G y a d i l o H Pets and Pet Lovers Continued from previous page

Low: Keep Fido or Fifi warm with a Chilly Dog pet sweater ($34.49 at Metro Mutts, 508 H St., NE). Styles available in the store include Tan Plaid, Little Monster, Gray Argyle, Pink Flower Skirt with a ruffle, Pink Aspen and Ski Bum Hoodie, but the store can special order any pattern or size. Chilly Dog works with Incan artsans in South America who hand-knit the wool sweaters. Middle: The animals might not be allowed on the couch, but a cushion depicting them should be. Urban Country (7117 Arlington Road, Bethesda, Md.), a luxury interior design and fine furnishings store founded in 1991, offers personalized 20-inch-by-20-inch pet pillows ($140) that are custom-designed and eco-friendly, made of natural linen and cotton. Pet lovers (or the friend buying this for them) can choose from 48 colors and specify the type of animal and the name to use on the pillow.

Photo: Chilly Dog

Photo: Urban Country

High: Pets not only enjoy a good lap but the lap of luxury. Tote your travel companion around in style with a Louis Vuitton pet carrier ($2,590). The leather case with the signature LV pattern is water and scratch resistant and includes a double zip-up enclosure and a breathable mesh window. Personalization is available in nine colors.

Photo: Louis Vuitton


Low: Hasbro’s Furby ($59.99) is back. A craze in 1998, the furry rabbit-owl combination is now interactive. For instance, the toy starts out by being able to communicate only in its own language — Furbish — but as you engage with it, the toy begins to learn English. The cute critter comes in eight colors, including teal, yellow, white and purple (available at local Toys “R” Us locations.) Middle: Although sleeping is not a huge part of most kids’ sleepovers, there’s the P’kolini pullout bed ($115 at Urban Country) for when playtime finally ends. It’s made with a microfiber cover and foam polyurethane filler and best suits toddlers.

Photo: Hasbro High: How does every kid want to celebrate the holidays or any day, for that matter? By going to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Vacation packages include six nights and seven days with tickets to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom Park and Hollywood Studios. Prices start at about $2,000 for a family of four, plus airfare and meals. vacation-packages

See gift guide, page 26 Glashutte_WashingtonDiplomat_PerpetualCalendar_DDFS.indd 1

Page 24

Photo: Gene Duncan / Walt Disney World


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December 2012

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LUXURY LIVING December 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page 25

e d i u G t f i G y a d i l o H Women

from page 24

Gift Guide

Low: For the woman who recognizes the value of the written word in this age of electronic messaging, the new floral motif collection of notepaper ($40 each for a box of 10 cards and lined envelopes) from Thornwillow Press is a lovely choice. Thornwillow Press, a publisher, custom bookbinder and bespoke stationer, sits inside the lobby of the St. Regis hotel in Washington, D.C. (923 16th Street, NW). The stationery is hand-engraved and features a variety of motifs and illustrations, from flying grasshoppers to bunnies and bumblebees. thornwillow-st-regis

Photo: Thornwillow Press

Middle: Few things boost one’s confidence like an updated look. And even fashion stores need a makeover every now and then. The new Ann Taylor Concept Stores at Tysons Galleria (2001 International Drive, McLean Va.) and Union Station (50 Massachusetts Ave., NE), which opened in the past few months, offer clothes such as the soiree dress ($198) that tweaks the little black dress with dainty details and a pleated skirt, as well as accessories, such as a flower pearl necklace ($88) that works seamlessly for the office and the office party. The new shops are designed to feel homey with crystal chandeliers, hardwood floors and plush ottomans (there’s even a proprietary lighting system with flattering backlit mirrors). And the looks have been sported by the likes of first lady Michelle Obama, actresses Angelina Jolie and fashionista Heidi Klum. High: Keep time with precision and elegance thanks to the Omega De Ville Ladymatic watch ($20,000 range), the reintroduction of a style originally launched in 1955. The Ladymatic was one of the brand’s first self-winding watches to be designed specifically for women and it featured the smallest automatic movement Omega had ever made. The classically designed timepiece features 18-karat red or yellow gold Photo: Ann Taylor (or stainless steel) and your choice of polished or snow-set diamond-paved bezels, while the polished caseback has a sapphire crystal that reveals the movement that powers the wristwatch.


Low: For the man on the move, the Billy Jealousy Wanderlust Travel Kit ($36) at Nectar Skin Bar (1633 Wisconsin Ave., NW) is a go-to must-have for out-of-town trips. The five-piece set includes hair gel, body wash, shampoo and shave cream. Bonus: For every product sold, Billy Jealousy donates a portion of the proceeds to organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Green Corps. Middle: Neckties are almost cliché as a holiday gift unless they come from D.C.-based Read Wall. The brand — and the man who created it — has added outerwear, pants and accessories to his line of shirts. A wool stripe tie ($110) in navy or gray is modern, fresh and definitely not typical. All pieces are handmade in the United States.

Photo: Read Wall High: New to D.C. as of late October is Michael Andrews Bespoke (1604 17th St., NW), which specializes in slim-fit suits, shirts, tuxedos, sports coats, trousers and overcoats for men. Lauded in New York City, MAB will cater to clients here through its skilled stylists, who help navigate 10,000 fabrics from the world’s finest mills. Andrews himself measures each customer, who chooses the inner and outer patterns as well as thread color and button type (wood, horn or mother-of-pearl).

Photo: Jeff Martin / Michael Andrews Bespoke

The ultimate MAB suit starts at $2,395, although less expensive options, including the Primo ($1,395) are available. From Dec. 1 to March 1, MAB is also offering a holiday “His & His” package for men who make an appointment for two, offering two complimentary shirts with the purchase of two suits. Shopping is by appointment only, and plan extra time to enjoy the fireplace and eight-foot bar with its variety of select scotches, whiskies, bourbons, craft beers and homemade cocktails (all complimentary).

See gift guide, page 28

Photo: Omega

Page 26

LUXURY LIVING The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

[ development ]

More Than a Mall In Tysons Redevelopment Plans, Officials Cut ‘Corner,’ Not Corners

Photo: Fairfax County Government

by Karin Zeitvogel


ysons Corner in Virginia is synonymous with many things these days, few of them positive. There are the Beltway snarls caused by seemingly never-ending construction to accommodate a new Metro line.There is the absolute need for a car, even to go a couple of blocks for lunch. And there’s the facelessness of an urban environment defined by high-rise buildings, two huge shopping malls, offices, thousands of parking spaces, and roads, roads, roads. Tysons Corner is seen as a place that people come to briefly, for work or some upscale shopping, before heading home to pleasanter places, usually somewhere else. But Fairfax County wants to change that. The first concrete move toward that change will be the arrival of the Metro Silver Line in Tysons Corner, starting next year. As part of the multibillion-dollar project, four Metro stations, which are set to open in Tysons Corner in the next couple of years, will anchor a wave of development that envisions the population of the area to grow almost five-fold, from about 17,000 today to 100,000 residents by 2050, bringing with it 200,000 jobs. The goal is to turn the congested, sprawling office and retail park just outside the Beltway into a walkable, green urban center. In fact, before we go on, we’re overlooking one thing here: It’s not Tysons Corner anymore. It’s just Tysons — unofficially, that is. A new marketing campaign spearheaded by the Tysons Partnership, a nonprofit association that represents Tysons businesses, is aiming to take out the “Corner” and the apos-

This rendering shows how Fairfax County wants the future of Tysons Corner to look like: a walkable, green urban center filled not with cars but with pedestrians, Metrorail stations and transit-oriented development.

trophe — part of the area’s renaissance. As Tysons grows from a shopping “corner” into a livable hub, developers and planners in Fairfax County want to turn it into a community where everything is within easy reach without a car. They want to do to Tysons what Montgomery County is doing to the White Flint part of Rockville: transform it from primarily a business and shopping destination to a place where people live, work, shop and play (also see “Extreme Mall Makeover: White Flint Redevelopment Aims to Bring European Style to Suburbia” in the June 2012 issue of The Washington Diplomat). There have been studies on how to develop Tysons since the mid-1970s, but the changes that are happening now were kick-started in 2004, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed a task force to study how to redevelop Tysons Corner, as it was still called then. Made up of neighborhood representatives, business leaders and developers, the task force looked at everything from parking and housing to drainage, buses and greenery. In June 2010, the task force released a voluminous report on how to transform the 2,000 acres (809.4 hectares) that make up Tysons into a walkable, sustainable, 24-hour urban center “where people live, work and play; where people are engaged with their surroundings; and, where

LUXURY LIVING December 2012

Continued on next page

The Washington Diplomat Page 27

Four Metro stations, which are set to open in Tysons Corner in the next couple of years, will anchor a wave of development that envisions the population of the area to grow almost fivefold, from about 17,000 today to 100,000 residents by 2050, bringing with it 200,000 jobs.

e d i u G ft i G y a d li o H

from page 26

Gift Guide

Continued from previous page

Good All Around

(Because charitable giving can run from a dollar to a million dollars, we grouped this category from local to international.)

Photo: DC Central Kitchen

Local: Hunger in America is very real, affecting roughly one in every seven families. And in these tough economic times, many families right next door are struggling to feed themselves. Since 1989, DC Central Kitchen has prepped 25 million meals for low-income and atrisk neighbors in Washington, D.C. But DC Central Kitchen is more than just a soup kitchen. It offers culinary job training for unemployed men and women, locally sourced meals to D.C. school children, and a variety of programs and partnerships with local businesses that aim to break the cycle of hunger, poverty and poor health. National: One of the first responders to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast — and the familiar face at so many national disasters — is the American Red Cross. From blankets and blood donations, to shelter and mental health services, the Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the United States every year. These can include home fires that affect a single family, to hurricanes that affect tens of thousands, to earthquakes that impact millions. International: Five years ago, Lawrence Dunham, the former assistant chief of protocol at the State Department, introduced The Washington Diplomat to Nyumbani, Kenya’s first and largest facility for HIVinfected children. Nyumbani, which is Swahili for “home,” does just that — provide a home for abandoned orphans, along with community outreach programs, state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and other services. Under its executive director, Sister Mary Owens, the organization has steadily expanded its reach and won devoted fans in Washington, D.C., including Chris and Kathleen Matthews. It’s also won over The Diplomat, which has covered Nyumbani’s progress over the years, including in the latest edition of the Diplomatic Pouch (see Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

Page 28

Photo: Nyumbani:

people want to be.” In fact, county officials have set their sights on rivaling Washington, D.C., as a major U.S. city, citing the presence of Fortune 500 companies in Tysons (nine), abundance of pricey office space and the addition of 20- to 30-story highrises, some housing corporate heavyweights such as SAIC and Capital One, that dwarf buildings in the height-restricted District. In an October meeting, Gerald L. Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, even declared: “Fairfax County is now the downtown. D.C. just became our suburb.” Of course, the idea that the nation’s capital is the suburb of an unincorporated entity that just got its own zip code earlier this year is a bit far-fetched. But in the future, Tysons will be a major economic draw in the region, with plenty of room for businesses and residents. Between now and 2050, 113 million square feet of space (10.5 million square meters) is expected to be developed in Tysons, the Fairfax County website says. Sometimes, when you’re stuck in traffic on the Beltway at Tysons, or get lost in the maze of overpasses, underpasses and temporary on- and offramps, you get the feeling that someone’s trying to develop all 113 million square feet at once — and that all 113 million square feet slated for development will become roadways. But community watchdog groups and local officials have made sure that won’t happen. They have worked together to set conditions that dictate, among other things, that the area’s renaissance will follow what’s called transitoriented development principles. That means high-density population areas will be set around the four Metro stations that will call Tysons their home (75 percent of all development will be within a half-mile walk of a Metro stop). Transit-oriented development also calls for a lot of mixed-use development “in order to achieve greater sustainability and balance between land use and transportation,” according to the Urban Design Guidelines for Tysons, released earlier this year by Fairfax County’s Office of Community Revitalization and Reinvestment (OCRR). To that end, county officials are looking at proposals for how to fund more than $2 billion in transportation improvements, and they’re eyeing landowners and developers to shoulder about $1 billion of the costs, including new road projects and street grids inside Tysons. The rest of the money would come from taxes on commercial landowners and county residents, as well as the state and federal governments. Planners and experts say the challenge of redesigning Tysons’ sprawling layout into a more urban-oriented street grid is a daunting one. “To avoid building something resembling a monster Crystal City, officials and landowners also must provide for a street grid of small blocks, which will add to their cost,” wrote

Jonathan O’Connell in a 2011 article for the Washington Post. “This will mean that the original developers of Tysons will need to rip up lots and buildings they painstakingly designed for a car culture a generation ago.” But the point is to do away with the car culture that has shaped Tysons for the last 50 years. In the grand scheme of things, the plan also sets aside certain patches of land that must be turned into parkland, and cites lofty ambitions for doing so. “The best cities in the world … include a cohesive and comprehensive urban park network,” the OCRR report says.“To be successful, Tysons must include a comprehensive park network.” Fairfax County also plans to plant up to 20,000 trees in Tysons, as part of a broader strategy to increase the overall tree canopy in the county by 2037. Each new development in Tysons would be required to have 10 percent tree canopy coverage.

Photo: Patrick Neil / Wikimedia Commons

The Gannet/USA Today headquarters in McLean, Va., is among the various corporate buildings and offices that have sprouted up in Tysons Corner over the last few decades.

“The urban landscape in Tysons provides a unique opportunity to contribute to Fairfax County’s tree canopy by replacing parking lots and treeless street edges with well-designed blocks that accommodate a planted pedestrian realm,” the OCRR report says. In pushing for a more natural environment, Tysons is in a sense going back to its roots. In the 1950s, the area was a sleepy, rural outpost, where farms surrounded a general store at the intersection of Routes 7 and 123. In the 1960s, with the construction of the Capital Beltway, Dulles, the CIA headquarters and the Tysons Corner Center shopping mall, farmland gave way to asphalt. The next phase of Tysons’ evolution would see the parking lots give way to tree-lined sidewalks, bike lanes and gleaming, mixed-use highrises in place of the rundown strip malls and car dealerships that dot the current landscape. The vision Fairfax County has for Tysons recalls Joni Mitchell’s hit song “Big Yellow Taxi” — but with the lyrics reversed. Mitchell sang about how “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot” and “took all the trees and put ‘em in a tree museum” before charging folks a dollar to see them. If the vision for Tysons is realized, in 38 years, “Big Yellow Taxi” will have to be rewritten and re-released. Karin Zeitvogel is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

LUXURY LIVING The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

culture & arts







Eating It Up Embassies know that food is a recipe for public diplomacy success, and Washington audiences are eating it up, from wine tastings to culinary cookoffs. PAGE 31 Photo: Dakota Fine / embassy oF sweDen


Spacey Pair


At the Argentine Embassy, Franco Lippi’s paintings explore the “Big Bang” moment of creation, while at the Slovenian Embassy, Michael Benson looks “Beyond” the origins of the universe to explore everything that’s happened since then. PAGE 34


Rough Road In “White Road,” which means “safe journey” in Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek, Ivan Sigal captures the travails of Eurasians living in a rough-and-tumble post-Soviet landscape littered with uncertainty and fortitude. PAGE 35

Xavier Ruiz, cultural coordinator of the Spanish Embassy, says one of the best things about Spain’s new cultural space — formerly the ambassador’s residence — is that it’s next to the Mexican Cultural Institute. “We want to become a hub of Spanish and Latin art in Columbia Heights,” he said. That shouldn’t be a problem judging by the sensational exhibits that mark the center’s debut. PAGE 30



Robotic precision has helped chef Geoff Tracy engineer a thriving restaurant empire. PAGE 36

“A Royal Affair” brings angst, enlightenment and possibly an Oscar Award to Denmark. PAGE 37

[ photography ]

Spain’s New Space Iberian avant-garde Finds Home in new Cultural Center Photo: Carlos Pérez siquier

by Audrey Hoffer


[ Page 30

Beaux-Arts mansion sits majestically on the corner of 16th Street, the city’s Embassy Row of the early 19th century and today’s direct thoroughfare to the White House. This former residence of the ambassador of Spain and now the Spanish Cultural Center is hosting two photography exhibits from renowned and emerging artists of the Iberian countries — Spain, Portugal, Latin America and the Spanishspeaking Caribbean. Presented as part of FotoWeekDC 2012, an annual citywide photography festival now in its fourth year, the exhibits mark the official launch of the building’s transformation to a cultural space. “One of the main assets of this building is that we’re next to the Mexican Cultural Institute,” said Xavier Ruiz, cultural coordinator of the Spanish Embassy. “We want to become a hub of Spanish and Latin art in Columbia Heights.” That is a short order given the exceptional exhibits bursting with originality, passion and avant-garde edginess. In the ballroom,“Transitional Bodies” comprises the work of 17 Ibero-American photographers. Argentinean curator Fabián Goncalves Borrega looked for a theme in the photos that landed on his desk following the Ibero-American Cultural Attachés Association’s call for entries. “I found a majority talking about the human body, about different approaches to our own physicality and existence,” he said. So he divided the exhibit into five groups.“Body, beliefs and society” showcases Chilean photographer Cecilia Avendaño’s sad faces of tattooed girls. One girl is set against a red background, the other one green. Both are skinny, highly sexualized children with vacant stares.“They express the peer pressure that young ladies suffer all over the Americas,” said Goncalves. Photographers in the group “Adaptation, roughness and resistance” demonstrate that living in poor conditions demands determination. Paraguayan Carlos Bittar depicts a little boy squatting on a tree stump beside a river while pouring water over his head.When the city dumped trash into the river, the village way of life was destroyed. “Villagers quit fishing, collected the trash, and now sell it as recyclables,” said Goncalves. He strived to maintain a consistent mood throughout the exhibit and succeeded. The result is not upbeat but provocative and striking. In “Underworld, a legal marginality,” Argentinean Marcelo de la Fuente casts a Transitional Bodies woman in black fishnets from the back, and sitting cross-legged on a bed. The scene is Connections and Confrontations a haunting monochromatic red, redolent through Dec. 9 of a dingy red light district. He explores a former residence of the Spanish ambassador sexually charged situation that doesn’t reveal anything but brings the viewer into 2801 16th st., nw intimate contact with the woman, For more information, please call (202) 728-2334 explained Goncalves. or visit Across the ground floor, in the Moorishstyle room with blue-tile walls, a central fountain and panoply of arches, hangs the exhibit “Connections and Confrontations.” Exploring the work of more than a dozen photographers awarded the Spanish National Prize for Photography, the exhibit showcases styles that have emerged over the past 60 years in Spanish photography, from realism to conceptual to journalistic to surreal, in black and whites and color, Polaroid and digital images. A fascinating aspect of the collection is the different character of pictures taken during the Francisco Franco dictatorship from 1936 to 1975 and afterward. Joan Colom and Gabriel Cualladó, shooting in the 1950s, captured stark city landscapes and the paucity of vibrant life. “After Franco died in 1975 there was an explosion of creativity and artistry,” said Carmen de la Guerra, a curator.


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Rodrigo Dada’s “Voragine,” above, as well as Cecilia avendaño’s vendaño’s image from her “Pride (orgullo)” series, pictured on the culture cover, are among the works by 17 ibero-american photographers in “transitional bodies” at the new spanish cultural center. a complementary exhibit “Connections and Confrontations” features photos such as Carlos Pérez siquier’s “el color del sur,” top, and Pablo Pérez siquier’s “Pedro Drag,” right.

Photo: embassy oF sPain

The 1980s ushered in the countercultural movement La Movida Madrileña across society, reviving the economy and forging a new Spanish identity. It was now acceptable to show nudes, such as in Carlos Pérez Siquier’s photograph “Agua dulce,” in which a big woman sleeps nearly naked on the sand, as well as Toni Catany’s “El niño de arena,” a sensual photo of a man/woman’s body photographed so that the gender is ambiguous. Ouka Leele, one of the most important photographers Photo: Pablo Pérez siquier during the La Movida Madrileña period, is as emotional and diverse an artist as Pablo Picasso, taking realistic, abstract, playful and surreal pictures. Asked what sparks her imagination, she replied:“I am a fighter. And I fight for freedom. If the artist isn’t free, who will be then? I like to taste every way of expression and I need to take risks to feel alive. My inspiration is a source that springs from my inner self. Inspiration is like a clear water river in which once you’re entered, you never leave.” Today, Spanish photographers remain at the vanguard of creativity. Chema Madoz, a conceptual artist who finds inspiration in everything that surrounds him, shoots fanciful pictures that elicit a laugh. Barbed wire in a flowerpot appears on first sight as a cactus, while a cylindrical wire birdcage floating in the sky precisely over a cloud seems as if the cage has caught the cloud. “I am aware that a common first reaction when seeing my pictures invites smiles,” wrote Madoz in e-mail, “but it is not something you chase. I think rather that it is the uncertainty of the audience to see something unexpected in the everyday.” Likewise, Spain’s new cultural center, inside the historic mansion designed by architect George Oakley Totten, is an unexpected break from the everyday. Meandering the highceilinged rooms is reminiscent of wandering the Museo del Prado in Madrid or the Guggenheim Bilbao. Here in the middle of America’s capital city,Washingtonians are transported to an oasis of Spanish imagination and ingenuity. Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

December 2012

[ food ]

In Good Taste Embassies Master All-Important Ingredient of Diplomacy by Kate Oczypok


rom Azerbaijan to Spain to Zambia and everywhere in between, D.C. is home to dozens and dozens of embassies from vastly different cultures. With so many divergent interests in one city, what’s the common ingredient that binds this multicultural melting pot together? The answer is simple: food. Food is the common denominator that brings people together. It’s also one of the most effective tools in public diplomacy today — who doesn’t want to sample an exotic meal or sip an unfamiliar wine? Washington’s embassy community has been wise to this trick for years (also see “Delectable Diplomacy: Embassies Cleverly Offer Taste of Culture With Cuisine” in the September 2011 issue of The Washington Diplomat). The State Department has also gotten in on the act with its new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership (see “Hungry to Serve: State Department Dishes Up Smart Power on a Platter” in the November 2012 issue). On practically any given week in the nation’s capital, there’s some kind of culinary showcase, wine tasting or other gastronomic event connected to an embassy that’s usually open to the public. Some focus on centuries-old culinary traditions, others on newer movements taking the food world by storm, while others spotlight signature dishes or spirits for which a particular country is famous. Nathan Keegan, who’s in charge of cultural media for the Embassy of Mexico, said the dining experience is considered “a critical component of modern diplomacy.” “As Mexicans, we’re quite fortunate to have such a storied and diverse national cuisine to aid in such endeavors, and we try our best to feature it here at the Mexican Embassy in creative, unique ways every year,” Keegan said. Photo: Anna Gawel For instance, Patricia Jinich, host of the popular Above, Viktor Merényi, chef for the Hungarian Embassy, prepares soup for the launch of a new intercooking program “Pati’s Mexican Table,” has been active cooking series called Culinary Corner that the embassy is offering to local charities and nonprofteaching audiences at the Mexican Cultural its. At left, chef Young A. Byeon Lee of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea was among more than a Institute about the nuances of Mexican cooking for dozen embassy chefs who participated in the 2012 Embassy Chef Challenge, which Merényi won. the last five years. Mexico has plenty of company. Thailand’s embassy in Washington partners with various area of the cultures and food make us an exciting place to visit and a mecca for interrestaurants for Thai Restaurant Week each year. national foodies.” Likewise, the Greek Embassy partners with Kellari Another culinary mecca is Spain, which boasts a multitude of regions and Taverna restaurant for a monthly happy hour styles of cooking, said Guillermo Corral, cultural counselor at the Embassy of showcasing native wines. The French, no stranger Spain. Perhaps the best-known Spanish staples are paella, gazpacho and, of to wine, also frequently hold tastings at their course, tapas, or small plates. Corral noted that the embassy often introduces Maison Française (i.e. embassy), including “Le techniques for cooking paella, jamon (ham), tortilla and croquetas at its events. Studio: Wine Tasting 101” lessons and a recent “Spanish food is varied, healthy — we use always olive oil, a lot of vegetables Champagne Ball on Nov. 9. and fish — and overall, it’s very creative,” he said. French Ambassador François Delattre said food If you’re looking for authentic Spanish restaurants in town, Corral recomis deeply entrenched in the national psyche. mends Taberna Del Alabardero, Estadio and Jaleo.The latter, created by celebrity Photo: Gail Scott “Beyond the delicacies France is famous for, the chef and restaurateur José Andrés, introduced the area to the tapas concept. tradition of meal sharing is something the French Andrés is a participant in the State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership population is very attached to,” Delattre said.“A great French meal is not only synonymous and is also well known to the Spanish Embassy; he hosted a farewell reception at one of of good food, but also engaging discussions and having good company — we just love his Jaleo eateries for former Spanish Ambassador Jorge Dezcallar. that.” Like their Spanish counterparts, the Peruvians regularly showcase their culinary heriThe ambassador added that French people are always proud to foster cultural aware- tage — namely two delights for which they’re renowned: ceviche, a raw seafood dish ness by sharing their diverse culinary tradition with others — just as they are thrilled to marinated in citrus juices and spiced with peppers, as well as pisco, a grape brandy prodiscover new and foreign ones. duced in Peru’s winemaking regions. Likewise, New Zealand Ambassador Michael Moore said his homeland — while primarIn October, the Embassy of Peru partnered with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and ily known for its acclaimed lamb and wines, which the embassy often highlights at its Tourism and the group PromPerú to host a cebiche and pisco party. The event, which functions — has become an amalgamation of culinary inspirations. featured chef demonstrations and the short film “You will remember Peru,” also launched “New Zealand food has undergone a revolution over the past generation.That’s a func- a national branding campaign to promote tourism to the country. tion of major changes in migration and Kiwis traveling and wanting the overseas experiPeru’s marketing campaign reflects how food can impact the bottom line — bringing ence at home,” he told The Diplomat. in tourists and building an international reputation that goes far beyond the dinner “Our wines are medal winners and as a major agricultural exporter we have an abun- table. dance of fresh ingredients. While dairy, sheep meat, beef and fish are important to us, Food has helped to put Denmark on the map. Noma in Copenhagen has been hailed serious diversification into venison, olives, exotic fruits and vegetables has taken place,” the ambassador added, noting that “all cultures find a home in New Zealand and the fusion Continued on next page

December 2012

The Washington Diplomat Page 31

Photo: Cultural tourism DC

From left, Viktor Merényi of the hungarian embassy, the Judges Choice winner; sondre bruvik ellingstad of the norwegian embassy, the Challenge Denmark winner; and Devin e. Johnson of the bahamas embassy, the People’s Choice winner, were the chefs who took top honors at the 2012 embassy Chef Challenge held at the ronald reagan building and international trade Center.

Continued from previous page as one of the most innovative restaurants in the world, drawing attention to the growing popularity of Scandinavian haute cuisine. Danish Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen said tourists are traveling to Copenhagen for the food — a trend that would’ve been unimaginable just five years ago. “Clearly our new position on the food map helps create awareness about our culture and what Denmark is about — a small, modest country where equalitarianism and democratic principles are key,”Taksøe-Jensen told us. Not surprisingly, some of the most active embassies on the Washington dining scene are the Nordic missions. The Swedish Embassy, in fact, earned a spot on the Travel Channel in a special embassy-focused episode of Andrew Zimmern’s show “Bizarre Foods.” The Icelandic Embassy hosts the annual “Taste of Iceland” to promote itself as a unique travel destination, highlighting the volcanic island’s pure glacial water and fresh fish, as well as other aspects of its culture, such as its thriving music and film industries. Last year, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden also teamed up for a popular Nordic food festival. Staff from all five embassies brought healthy Nordic delicacies to 45,000 students as part of the D.C. Public Schools system’s first-ever celebration of international food and culture. “Come February, the ‘Nordic Cool 2013’ festival at the Kennedy Center will focus on our country’s cultural heritage,” the ambassador added. So what constitutes Nordic cuisine? TaksøeJensen said the most popular dish in Denmark depends on whom you’re asking, but “clearly ‘smørrebrød,’ or open sandwiches, are very popular.” The Danish people also eat rye bread with cold cuts, fish, egg and the like for lunch. Breakfast is mostly rye bread with cheese. “Many Danes still love to eat very traditional foods like porridge, open sandwiches and the classic roast pork with parsley sauce — of course served with a glass of good Danish beer,”Taksøe-Jensen said. Indeed, although nouveau cuisine attracts tourists and accolades, it’s often the hearty, oldfashioned meals that satisfy the soul. Viktor Merényi, the Hungarian Embassy’s chef for the past four years, says he enjoys putting a mod-

Page 32

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ern twist on the comfort foods he grew up with, such as homemade soups, a quintessential family ritual back in Hungary, and his grandmother’s apple pie. Merényi’s talents will be on display at a new interactive cooking series the embassy has launched called Culinary Corner, which is being offered to local charities and nonprofits. The chef’s penchant for tradition also won over audiences at the 2012 Embassy Chef Challenge, hosted by Cultural Tourism DC earlier this spring. His slow-cooked beef with traditional Hungarian accompaniments such as paprika, bell peppers and onions took top honors at the “Top Chef”-style culinary competition that draws chefs from more than a dozen

Photo: traVel Channel meDia

The Swedish Embassy was part of a special embassy-focused episode of andrew zimmern’s travel Channel show “bizarre Foods.”

embassies each year. Some 600 people came out to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center for this year’s challenge, along with star judges such as “Top Chef” finalist Carla Hall and the Washington Post’s Tim Carman. Merényi will be back for next year’s Embassy Chef Challenge — this time as a judge. And as the winner of the 2012 contest, he’ll determine the secret ingredient all of the embassy chefs have to dish up in a preliminary cook-off that takes place before the main challenge. The event raises funds for Cultural Tourism DC, a nonprofit coalition of more than 230 local organizations. It’s also a prelude to Cultural Tourism DC’s even bigger extravaganza, Passport DC, a citywide series of international cultural events and embassy open houses in May. And guess what’s usually the main attraction at all those embassy open houses? What else? The food. Kate Oczypok is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

December 2012

[ art ]

Hands-On Art Viewers Touch on Social Issues to Create ‘ripple Effect’ by Gail Sullivan



ften museum-goers are passive observers, silently contemplating works of art at a safe distance from the buffer zone established by a security alarm. But the current exhibit at the Art Museum of the Americas is anything but hands-off. “The Ripple Effect: Currents of Socially Engaged Art,” presented in partnership with the Washington Project for the Arts, blurs the line between artistic gesture and civic engagement. The 10 featured artists address social issues that range from immigration and the environmental impact of illegal dumping, to the social stratification of Washington, D.C., and the ongoing struggle against violence in Mexico. But they do so by incorporating viewers as direct participants in the creation of their work.This outside-the-studio,exchange-based approach to creating art is known as “social practice,” a trend in contemporary art that emphasizes collaboration and dialogue with the public. Through their work, the artists create entry points for conversation that circumvent the “for/against” dynamic typitypi cal of public discourse on controversial social issues, introducing an alternate viewpoint that allows for thoughtful reflection. Entering the exhibit, the eye is immediately drawn to what appears to be tiny gardens floating in mid-air. In terrariums suspended from the ceiling, artist Olivier Giron has created micro-ecosystems using discarded objects found at illegal dumping grounds. Viewing waste in that context suggests the possibility of renewal and encourages reflection on solutions to excessive consumption.The terrariums correlate to a public online map — managed by the volunteer environmental group Let’s Do It VA! — on which Giron, who is based in Arlington, has geo-tagged photographs of illegal dumpsites throughout Virginia. Several projects are works in progress that ask viewers to shape in their evolution. Artists Annie Albagli and Vadim Ogievetsky invite viewers to create an interactive love letter. An iPad mounted on a wall asks:“In what way is or does DC symbolize your personal paradise?” Viewers can use the iPad to respond anonymously and read what others have written. Using technology as a catalyst for engageThe Ripple Effect: ment, the project attempts to remedy the city’s splintered demographics by creating a Currents of Socially Engaged Art virtual space where the personal pleasures through Jan. 13 that individuals derive from being part of a Art Museum of the Americas community are reinvested in, and shared by 201 18th st., nw the community as a whole. Personal correspondence is also a feature For more information, please call (202) 458-6016 of “Write Home Soon,” an interactive public or visit installation by Mark Strandquist. Participants in citywide workshops were given blank postcards and asked to describe in words or pictures a place that was important to them, but to which they lost access. The participant-created postcards are on display in the museum, with blank postcards available to visitors who wish to submit their own. “It’s not about giving voice to the voiceless. It’s not a charity project,” Strandquist said at an artist discussion in October. “It’s about redefining whose voices and whose histories our museums and public spaces reflect.” “Write Home Soon” is an outgrowth of “absence/occupied,” a project inspired by imprints left on the ground after Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from McPherson Square almost a year ago. For “absence/occupied,” Strandquist installed

December 2012


From clockwise top, olivier Giron’s “Phytoremediation, site # 43074” made of glass, plastic, metal, plants and soil; Ghana think tank’s “immigrant actions: legal waiting zone sign; and asChoy Collective’s performance documentation “the mask of the shoe shiner” are among the contemporary artworks that invite viewer interaction in “the ripple effect: Currents of socially engaged art.” Photos: Courtesy oF the artists

images of the dismantled encampments on the façades of vacant buildings as a temporary memorial to a historical moment. Other works in the exhibit delve into the psychogeographic realm. Using a jacket that can be taken off and made into a tent, artist Lina Vargas De La Hoz explores the adaptability and instability of migration. Meanwhile, with its own version of the device NASA used to document the moon’s surface on the Apollo 14 mission, Floating Lab Collective created a map of D.C. by asking residents to pose questions beginning with “why?” as they walked from Mt. Pleasant to Anacostia, mapping their responses to corresponding physical locations. A variety of public events are happening in conjunction with the exhibit, including a Dec. 4 tree-planting ceremony with Organization of the American States Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza for Pedro Reyes’s “Palas por Pistolas” project, and a workshop for “Write Home Soon” on Dec. 15 with artist Mark Strandquist. The weekend before the presidential election, artist Miguel Luciano and a group of local undocumented youth gathered on the National Mall to fly kites depicting the children’s faces, symbolically transgressing border fences and entering the political arena to make the voices of undocumented immigrants heard. Children will enjoy the interactive nature of the exhibit, which is intellectually provocative without being inaccessible to them. Adults, too, will find the artistic participation stimulating and — especially in the wake of a rabid political season in which both parties thought they had a monopoly on being right — they will appreciate giving their input on weighty social issues in a thoughtful, nuanced manner. Gail Sullivan is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

The Washington Diplomat Page 33

[ art ]

Otherworldly Universe ‘Beyond’ and ‘Big Bang’ Probe depths of unknown by Gary Tischler



Page 34

t the modernistic Embassy of Slovenia, sunlight pierces through the windows of one of the larger rooms and plays off the images of moons, planets, rings and craters on the walls, giving the out-of-this-world photographs yet another dab of otherworldliness. Meanwhile, at the Embassy of The Embassy of Argentina is the site Argentina, in a room that seems to be on of Franco lippi’s paintings of the “big fire with thick acrylics heaped onto the bang,” above and left, while the canvas in a knowing frenzy, the paintings embassy of slovenia is featuring michael on the wall appear to blot out any sunbenson’s photography series “beyond.” light in the world, circling the room like a halo of pent-up emotion. work, you see the inside of everything, The art differs between photographer the moment — as big as heartbreak, Michael Benson’s exhibition “Beyond” at birth, breath — when each and everythe Slovenian Embassy and Franco Lippi’s thing began.” “Big Bang” at the Argentine Embassy. Lippi himself did not begin his career One is nothing less than an exploraas a painter. “I am a person of the thetion of our universe, the solar system and ater. I worked in design in Argentina,” he beyond in vividly realistic photographs said. crafted out of data and images from But art was in his blood. His photogrobotic missions in outer space. The rapher father “worked in portraits, wedother is an abstract, heatedly defiantly dings, things like that, but he had his series of paintings that seem to plumb Photos: embassy oF arGentina secret moments when he created art,” some other universe — absent of planets Lippi said.“He showed me what he did and moons, but full of the wounds and when I was a boy, and my response was to try and triumphs of the human heart and its passions. color the negatives. I don’t think he liked that at Still, in a way, there is a connection. Both Benson and Lippi’s first, but I think he understood finally.” creations are all about impulse, vision and the melding of art That spirit of experimentation now colors with the unknown in works that are as boundless as the uniLippi’s canvases. Chief curator Alfredo Ratinoff verse yet at the same time deeply personal. said that “Big Bang” is a “statement through which Space is the starting point for Benson, a photographer, he reveals the moment at which everything came writer, filmmaker, book designer and to be, in which everything is possible, each susexhibitions producer who in the last Big Bang pended in time for us to explore the immensity of decade has staged a series of large-scale through Jan. 30 his work.” exhibitions of planetary photography. Embassy of Argentina In “Beyond,” mankind’s exploration of everyThe ongoing project, titled “Beyond,” thing that happened after the “Big Bang” is the takes raw data from NASA and European 1600 new hampshire ave., nw source of Michael Benson’s own explosive Space Agency archives and recreates it For more information, please call works. into mosaics of individual spacecraft (202) 238-6400 or visit Photo: embassy oF sloVenia Benson has said he operates at “the intersecframes, producing seamless, large-for tion of art and science,” which is to say that he edits, selects, mat digital prints of landscapes that have never Beyond rearranges and reimages what’s brought back down to been experienced in the flesh by human beings. through Jan. 30 earth by unmanned robotic cameras and vehicles sent into Buenos Aires-born Lippi takes as his starting point the starting point Embassy of Slovenia outer space. for everything, literally. His “Big Bang” references the precise moment 2410 California st., nw “All of the images,” he explained, “were produced using when the universe came into being. For more information, please raw spacecraft data, which was then assembled and comBenson shows us the moons of Jupiter, the abstract shapes of cracall (202) 386-6601 or visit posited using digital processing techniques.” ters and patterns of planetary dust that possess an amazing grace, yet Benson — who worked on his project in Slovenia for a also reveal the primordial vastness of space. number of years and whose work has been displayed at the Lippi’s canvases are just as expansive and enigmatic, delving into the limitless possibilities of the unknown, with humans as mere specks in a spectacular Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum — is for sure technically proficient at universe.There are no quiet moments in “Big Bang” (it’s a big bang, after all), but plenty understanding the raw and immense volume of data he collects. But he also has an artist’s eye, an abstract artist’s eye that produces awe-inspiring images that stretch the of roiling imagery that seems to move, as if in the process of becoming. Lippi’s work reminds you a bit of Jackson Pollock’s thick, abstract creations, full of frontiers of creation in more ways than one. A New York Times writer called them “celestial photographs,” and that’s true, in the jubilant as well as agonizing acrylics. Lippi, who spoke to us through a translator, smiled at the comparison. “Pollock, ah sense that there is something profoundly magical about them.They depict a realm out well, what an honor,” he said.“He was a great painter, certainly, and perhaps, but I can- of the reaches of mankind. Yet it’s also a realistic realm, one swirling with the fury of the sun, dust on Mars, the colorful gas giant that is Jupiter. not say I was inspired by him. I love his work, but I don’t work like him.” In that way, Benson captures both the real and imagined — just as Lippi imagines a Lippi is of Italian and Argentine heritage, a potentially volatile mixture that seems to have worked its way into his work.“Yes, much passion — it’s about what I feel … who moment none of us could ever witness, but one that gave birth to the reality all around we are. It comes from a bottomless place,” he said.“We are mixtures, explosions.This is us. what is in the work here.” He added:“It’s a little like [Walt] Whitman on canvas. We contain worlds, and in his Gary Tischler is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


The Washington Diplomat



December 2012

[ photography ]

Long, Windy Road Sigal gives Honest, Chaotic glimpse into Post-Soviet Landscape by Lisa Troshinsky



van Sigal’s documentary-style photographs on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art give an honest, if obscure, glimpse into Central Asia and the former Soviet Union. A D.C.-based journalist and media trainer, Sigal lived and traveled in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, among other nations, between 1998 and 2005. He used this time, in part, to photograph the unsettled lives of Eurasians in provincial towns and cities.The rest of the time he collaborated with local communities to set up radio and TV stations, create current affairs programming, and train journalists. The title of Sigal’s first solo museum exhibition, “Ivan Sigal: White Road,” is (possibly intentionally) ironic. “White road” means “safe journey” in Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek, a well-meaning message imprinted on road signs at the edges of Central Asian towns before travelers enter the vast and vacant Asian steppe. Given the harshness of life depicted in Sigal’s grainy black-and-white images, and the seemingly disordered way the images have been arranged on the walls, observers are left to wonder if sojourns through this part of the world would, in fact, be safe — and whether “safe journey” is a euphemism for “good luck.” Sigal’s project takes us “from encounter to encounter and from place to place, in a destabilized and uncertain time,” wrote curator Paul Roth in a press release. Our eyes jump from a young woman, incongruently dressed in an ’80s-looking white dress, standing next to what looks like a makeshift bus stop and telephone pole in front of a sea of nothingness, to another image depicting a jumbled mass of people standing behind a prison-looking bar. Another shot shows two dark-skinned girls almost in fear of a large, blonde doll; in other photos, a boy missing an arm glares into the camera, dogs fight in the street, and horses lie dead on the ground from what looks like malnutrition. Sigal is clearly a gifted artist who captures a raw perspective through his creative lens, revealing the mood and tempo of a landscape that few Westerners have witnessed. It is a rough, unforgiving landscape, one inhabited by resilient people who have endured political upheaval and economic hardship. Indeed, a central question Sigal seeks to address is, “What was left behind when the Soviet Union’s ideological superstructure was dismantled, eliminating the grand narrative that once Ivan Sigal: White Road imposed meaning on people’s lives?” through Jan. 27 Yet the fact that so little information is given about the photos — only country locations and years — is a Corcoran Gallery of Art double-edged sword. On the one hand, the lack of clar500 17th st., nw ity forces onlookers to lose themselves in the people For more information, please call and land and experience Sigal’s wanderings through (202) 639-1700 or visit fresh eyes. On the other hand, it leaves viewers without a compass to navigate intelligently through the exhibit. Those unfamiliar with Central Asia might not recognize that the bearded man in one photo with his tattered, outstretched arm is likely a falconer (who trains falcons to hunt for prey). Or that a pregnant woman in another image standing near a tank with a bucket and a young child is likely there to collect water or milk from the government. More insight can be gleaned from an accompanying two-volume book of the same title. But the exhibition’s ambiguity and haphazard organization may be intentional on the part of Sigal, who wanted to make his photographs more allusive than descriptive to convey the enigmas of daily life in this far-reaching region of the world.

December 2012


Photos: iVan siGal

Among the eye-opening, enigmatic photographs by ivan sigal chronicling post-soviet life in Central asia in the exhibit “ivan sigal: white road” are, from clockwise top, “murghab, tajikistan,” “Gorno-badakshan, tajikistan,” and “Verkhneimbatsk, russia.”

“White Road upends the traditional narrative structures used by documentary photographers,” says curator Roth. “Normally we might see photographs from Central Asia illustrating an urgent news account in a magazine, or sequenced to tell a story in an online slideshow. By ordering the images more rhythmically than narratively, however, Sigal is trying to establish a richer, deeper connection between the viewer, his subjects, and himself, so that we start to see the commonality between our experience and those of the people in the photographs.” Although deeper knowledge of the subjects might result in even more commonality with the viewers, one does become engrossed in the raw slices of life revealed, and on closer inspection, a subtle pattern of sporadic, rhythmic images of joy emerges. Three sequential snapshots capture men downing shots at a café; another series depicts religious celebrations and a baby’s baptism; while another shows men and boys fishing with nets. What Roth terms “pictorial echo” is illustrated by a common theme of rudimentary entertainment in the form of amusement park rides, kite running, circus acts and even boys playing on the wing of a bombed-out airplane. The disjointed, restless way the images are presented ultimately speaks to the fractious lives of their subjects. For better or worse, Sigal does not play it safe, deciding to let the pictures speak for themselves. And, as is often the case in life, his images and the feelings they evoke are mystifying, their meaning as elusive as the roads these nations and people have traversed. Lisa Troshinsky is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

The Washington Diplomat Page 35

[ dining ]

Tight Ship geoff Tracy applies Statistician’s Eye To replicate Success of Chef geoff’s by Rachel G. Hunt


n September, Geoff Tracy expanded his growing culinary imprint with Chef Geoff’s Rockville, bringing his hard-nosed business approach that has built up a string of successful area restaurants to a location that could use it. Chef Geoff’s Rockville fills a void in the old space that once housed Houston’s restaurant for many years, and more recently was the site of the defunct British gastro pub Againn Tavern. The expansion of Tracy’s evolving dining empire to the Maryland suburbs (there are two other Chef Geoff’s in Washington, D.C., and one in Tysons Corner, Va., as well as Lia’s in Chevy Chase, Md.) will introduce Rockville diners to the casual-fine dining formula, dictated by exacting standards, that has made his other restaurants popular hotspots. Located on Rockville Pike, the formerly dark space has been transformed with a soothing cream-and-gold color scheme that is brightened by white tablecloths and whimsical mason-jar light fixtures.The rectangular bar has been reconfigured to run the full length of the bar area, offering plenty of seating. The rest of the space is equally comfortable, with booth and table seating, though the tables are a bit crammed together. As with the other Chef Geoff’s, the menu is extensive and eclectic, accommodating those looking for a quick snack as well as diners seeking a formal multi-course meal, a hallmark of the Chef Geoff’s brand. Snacks and appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, soups, big salads, pizzas, elegant entrées, and a nice list of vegetable sides vie for attention and can make choosing difficult. Tracy and executive chef Santos Fuentes have rounded up the most popular dishes from the other Chef Geoff’s in creating the Rockville menu so diners who’ve visited the other locations will be on familiar ground. Because consistency is one of the values that Tracy works hard to achieve, preparations for shared dishes do not vary from location to location — except when it is on purpose.The Chef Geoff burger, one of the signature dishes that helped establish the reputation of the first Chef Geoff’s, is done differently at each location. In Rockville, the burger is an excellent variation, prepared with cheddar, bacon and green chili aioli, as well as horseradish havarti, frizzled onions, and steak sauce. Tracy’s underlying concept for all of his restaurants veers from the heavy focus on innovation that dominates D.C.’s dining scene. Despite the fact that Tracy finished first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America, he is not driven by the creative side of the business, but rather by the understandChef Geoff’s ing that at their core, restaurants are profitdriven ventures. Unlike many newly minted 12256 rockville Pike, chefs,Tracy has said he was not motivated by rockville, md. the desire to display his culinary talents, but (240) 621-3090 rather by the challenge of maintaining quality in all aspects of an operation, even in a highvolume business. Lunch: mon.- sat., 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. He set that as a goal with his first restauBrunch: sun., 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. rant, and it has intensified with the addition of each new location. Tracy’s program to Dinner: Daily, 4 - 10 p.m. ensure quality throughout his restaurants is Starter plates: $3.95 - $14.95 comprehensive and impressive. Performance data is derived from customer satisfaction Burgers, Sandwiches, Pizza: $11.95 - $18.95 surveys, reports of anonymous reviewers Main plates: $16.95 - $29.95 provided by a New York-based firm who visit Desserts: $6.95 - $7.95 each location monthly to assess of adherence to quality standards, and regular internal Reservations: available reviews.This is compared against a list of 800 Dress: Casual — yes, 800 — performance standards that address practically every conceivable aspect of restaurant operations from the quality of each dish, to the table setting, to the exact temperature of the food going into the refrigerator. In “Everywhere at Once: Chef Geoff Tracy’s Data-Driven Empire,” Todd Kliman of Washingtonian magazine wrote that “unlike most restaurateurs, Tracy places his faith in a highly unorthodox system that confounds many of his brethren in the business, a system

[ ] want to


Page 36

The Washington Diplomat

Photos: JessiCa latos

Chef Geoff’s Rockville is the latest addition to Geoff tracy’s expanding culinary franchise in the washington area, built around his business-oriented model of efficiency, precision and consistency.

that invites comparisons with the corporate tech world in its devotion to data collection and with baseball’s current crop of Moneyball GMs in its reliance on metrics and efficiencies.You’ve read about artist chefs, businessmen chefs, and even CEO chefs. Meet the chef as engineer.” Tracy, in fact, engineers detailed rules such as the time it should take to relight a candle when it goes out (two minutes). Much of this minutiae is invisible to diners, but Tracy and his staff say the rigorous approach ensures the uniformity, efficiency and customer satisfaction that characterizes Chef Geoff’s. While some may see Tracy as more control freak than chef, he created this business model in part to alleviate the need for micro-managing after realizing that he couldn’t be everywhere at once. To that end, Chef Geoff’s provides extensive and ongoing training to staff as a key part of its quality control program. As Kliman wrote in his profile, “Most restaurants train employees for two weeks.At Tracy’s restaurants, education is constant. Every dish at every restaurant — more than 1,685 items — is digitized, with links to recipes and information for servers. There are custom-made training videos on everything from how to tourné a potato to how to enter an invoice. The emphasis on doing things precisely is one reason you’ll never hear a server say, ‘Are you finished with that?’ The gracious ‘May I clear the plate?’ is drilled into all waiters.” But even the most well-oiled machines get clogged every once in a while. Recent experiences at the Rockville location suggest the training hasn’t sunk in yet with all the staff. While waiters are uniformly agreeable, they are not all equally skilled. Switched orders, spilled drinks, plate stacking and other small missteps may simply be the result of having to bring on many new employees to open the Rockville location who are not yet fully trained.Time will tell. Tracy’s approach is somewhat of a novelty for independent restaurants of this caliber (many of which tend to be more free form in operation and seem to leave success to chance rather than control). However, similar data-driven approaches are the basis of many

see DInInG, page 44 December 2012

[ film reviews ]

History-Making ‘Affair’ Royal Hanky Panky Thrusts Denmark into Age of Enlightenment by Ky N. Nguyen

O [

nce again, the end of the calendar year design and believably authentic costume brings the beginning of the annual design. film awards season, often likened to a race. “A Royal Affair,” Denmark’s Coked-Up Generation official submission to the Academy Awards for the Best Foreign With the saucy comedy-drama“Generation Language Film Oscar, explodes off the P,”Russian director/co-writer Victor Ginzburg starting line in a strong position. The audaciously attempts to translate to the big exciting romantic costume drama from Danish screen Russian author Victor Pelevin’s welldirector/co-writer Nikolaj Arcel (writer of the origiread novel of the same title, which referencnal Danish film of “The Girl With the Dragon es the embrace of the iconic Western brand Tattoo”) leverages a big budget, at least for a nonPepsi-Cola by an emerging Russian demoHollywood film. graphic after the fall of communism.The film Danish star Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale,” achieves a significant degree of success, “Clash of the Titans,” “After the Wedding”), an overcoming the doubts of many naysayers, increasingly familiar face to both art house and including the novelist himself, who didn’t mainstream audiences, commands the screen with think a cinematic version could ever work. his always-powerful presence as a reformist bringVictor and Djina Ginzburg’s irreverent ing the Age of Enlightenment to a politically resisscreenplay manages to pull enough semtant Denmark. blance of a story out of Pelevin’s fairly plotPhoto: Magnolia Pictures In a remarkable feature debut, Danish newcomer less book.The biting sociopolitical satire still Mikkel Boe Følsgaard’s startling, often humorous Alicia Vikander, left, and Mads Mikkelsen embark on an affair that takes 18th-century Denmark packs a punch, even though some specific portrayal of a mad monarch earned a Silver Bear at by storm in the romantic costume drama “A Royal Affair.” local elements may be a bit too obscure for the Berlin Film Festival. Rounding out the trio of non-Russian audiences.Any confusion might leads is upcoming Swedish actress Alicia Vikander (“Anna Karenina”). While she cannot match actually amplify how audiences empathize with the characters struggling to navigate the wide her male counterparts’ intensity, her glowing turn convincingly evokes a wide range of emotions cross-cultural divide between East and West.The kinetic direction stylishly depicts the chaos folas a suffering, passionate queen. lowing the collapse of the U.S.S.R., often vividly illustrated by psychedelic pieces fittingly borIn 1766, 15-year-old British princess rowed from the novel’s postmodern text. A Royal Affair Caroline Matilda (Vikander) has come from Beginning in the early 1990s, Russia’s brave new world Generation P (En kongelig affære) Britain to Denmark to marry her cousin, King comes to be dominated by the growth of power-wielding Christian VII (Følsgaard), a couple of years (Russian with English subtitles; (Danish, German, French and English with groups, including insincere politicians, cutthroat Russian older. Alas, he ignores his new queen, now mafia, flaunting nouveau riche, and crafty ad executives. A English subtitles; 137 min.; scope) 112 min.; scope) known in Denmark as Caroline Mathilde, pre- random encounter with an old buddy offers aspiring poet Angelika Film Center Mosaic Landmark’s E Street Cinema ferring the company of prostitutes. Babylen Tatarsky (Vladimir Yepifantsev), whose name alludes Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Dec. 7 Furthermore, his erratic behavior has reached to Lenin and Babylon, a chance to finally leave his tedious day the point that he’s acknowledged to be truly ★★★★✩ job at a dreary convenience store. Once a student of litera★★★✩✩ insane. ture, now jaded, he redeploys his writing talents to the newly When Christian suddenly decides to embark on a grand tour of Europe, senior members of the essential field of advertising, pitching the sudden influx of formerly banned Western goods to Danish court send German physician Johann Friedrich Russian consumers. Struensee (Mikkelsen) along to treat the king.The royal doctor Babylen rapidly develops into a rising star, leveraging achieves some success in moderating Christian’s excesses and his knack for knowing how to make Russians want to comes to care for his patient, a feeling which is reciprocated. buy his clients’ products. When he runs out of ideas, he After two years of travels, Christian returns to Copenhagen, still seeks to overcome his writer’s block by fueling his accompanied by Struensee. imagination with vodka, acid, magic mushrooms, As a rational scientist, Struensee is a true man of the Age of cocaine and the occult. He becomes immersed into a Enlightenment who reads Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire. secret society that appears to be orchestrating, behind Such modern thinking excites Caroline and convinces Christian, the scenes, the revolutionary movements of the rapidly who even gives Struensee a power of attorney. The king prochanging post-Soviet society.And his indoctrination into poses reforms like repealing censorship, limiting the Church’s the mysterious Babylonian cult leads to an opportunity power, ending torture, public vaccinations, giving rights and for yet another new beginning. even freedom to serfs, etc.The radical initiatives are continually blocked by reactionary, Church-influenced nobles unwillingly Revenge of ‘Tristana’ to give up their privileges and riches. Meanwhile, in their personal lives, Struensee falls passionNo dedicated cineaste should miss Spanish surrealist ately in love with Caroline, who has stoically suffered through filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s classic “Tristana” in its current Photo: New World Distribution her husband’s madness and indifference. The love triangle re-release, sporting a sparkling new digital restoration might be more awkward if Christian cared, but the gossip is Pepsi cans fill Moscow’s Red Square in the saucy comedy-drama after years in which only well-faded prints were available undoubtedly damaging. Certainly, the illicit affair provides fuel “Generation P.” on the repertory circuit. for Struensee’s deposed political enemies to attack him in the Often considered one of the director’s best works, court of public opinion, using the new reach of the printing press, in their effort to regain author- “Tristana” was originally distributed in 1970, near the end of Buñuel’s lengthy career, which ity over Denmark. started in the silent era of the 1920s. At the height of his powers, Buñuel deftly helms the wellThe three leads are supported by strong performances from a solid ensemble cast. Perhaps structured screenplay, elegantly adapted from Benito Pérez Galdós’s 1892 novel, carefully most importantly,Arcel’s direction is made much easier by the refined screenplay he wrote with addressing a good number of unpleasant themes. Rasmus Heisterberg, which won them a Silver Bear at Berlin.Arcel’s steady direction also benefits See film reviews, page 44 from gorgeous cinematography, stirring original music, crisp film editing, sumptuous production

December 2012




The Washington Diplomat Page 37

[ film ]

CINEMA LISTING *Unless specific times are listed, please check the theater for times. Theater locations are subject to change.



December 2012

“Hitchcock” is a love story about one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins), and his wife and partner, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren).

romantic rivalry for the love of an adored courtesan of the boulevard. National Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 23, 2 p.m., Sun., Dec. 30, 2 p.m.

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Port of Shadows (Le quai des brumes)

The House of Fear

House (Dom) Directed by Zuzana Liová (Czech Republic/Slovakia, 2011, 100 min.)

Ambitious teen Eva, about to graduate from high school, is prone to taking romantic risks and eager to leave her bleak hometown for glamorous London, while her controlling father painstakingly builds her a house on the family property — his modest effort to hold onto his family (Czech and Slovak). The Avalon Theatre Wed., Dec. 12, 8 p.m.

Directed by Roy William Neill (U.S., 1945, 69 min.)

Directed by Marcel Carné (France, 1938, 91 min.)

Sherlock Holmes heads to a castle in Scotland, where the members of the Good Comrades Club see their number diminish one by one, each victim’s murder preceded by delivery of a menacing letter containing a number of orange seeds predicting their declining membership (followed by “The Woman in Green” (U.S., 1945, 68 min.) in which a series of mysterious murders of young women, each with a single finger severed, has the London police searching for a madman).

National Gallery of Art Sat., Dec. 22, 2 and 4 p.m.

A waterfront café in the depths of Le Havre becomes a shadowy backdrop for criminal low-lifes and the ill-fated love between a despairing army defector and a restless beauty.

German Photo: Laurie Sparham / Focus Features


AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Dec. 8, 1:10 p.m., Wed., Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m.

Alicia Vikander, left, stars as Kitty and Domhnall Gleeson as Levin in director Joe Wright’s theatrical film version of Leo Tolstoy’s epic love story “Anna Karenina.”

A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære)

Hyde Park on the Hudson

by “The Pearl of Death” (U.S. 1944, 69 min.) in which Holmes must identify the link between the theft of a possibly cursed pearl and a series of brutal murders).

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel (Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic, 2012, 137 min.)

An intriguing love triangle between a young but strong queen, an ever-more insane Danish king, and the idealistic royal physician sparks a revolution that forever changes a nation (Danish, English, German and French). Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The love affair between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley plays out over a weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of Britain visit upstate New York.

AFI Silver Theatre Sun., Dec. 2, 8:30 p.m., Tue., Dec. 4, 4 p.m., Wed., Dec. 5, 4 p.m.

Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Dec. 14

Sherlock Holmes

Life of Pi Directed by Ang Lee (U.S., 2012, 127 min.)

English Anna Karenina Directed by Joe Wright (U.K., 2012, 129 min.)

Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the attractive Count Vronsky. AFI Silver Theatre Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Chasing Ice Directed by Jeff Orlowski (U.S., 2012, 75 min.)

In 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a National Geographic assignment to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate, a trip that opened the skeptic’s eyes to the biggest story in human history. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Directed by Peter Jackson (U.S./New Zealand, 2012)

A curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug. Various area theaters Opens Fri., Dec. 14

Hitchcock Directed by Sacha Gervasi (U.S., 2012, 98 min.)

Page 38

Directed by Roger Michell (U.K., 2012, 95 min.)

Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zookeeper, and his family decide to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.

Directed by Guy Ritchie (U.S./Germany, 2009, 128 min.)

Director Guy Ritchie interprets Sherlock Holmes as a mystery- solving action hero, persuasively played with a louche foxiness by Robert Downey, Jr., with Jude Law as a sturdy, war-hardened Dr. Watson. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Dec. 14, 9:30 p.m., Tue., Dec. 18, 9 p.m.

Sherlock Holmes in Washington

Various area theaters

Directed by Roy William Neill (U.S., 1943, 71 min.)

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

After a British agent carrying a top-secret dossier is kidnapped en route to the U.S. during World War II, the British government summons the services of Sherlock Holmes, sending him to D.C. to investigate the man’s disappearance (followed by “The Spider Woman” (U.S., 1944, 63 min.) in which the inexplicable deaths of several prominent London men puzzle Scotland Yard and electrify the press).

Directed by Billy Wilder (U.K., 1970, 125 min.)

In this cheeky portrayal of the Great Detective, Billy Wilder has him making mistakes, falling in love and joking about the Watson relationship. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Dec. 15, 4 p.m.

Red Dawn Directed by Dan Bradley (U.S. 2012, 94 min.)

AFI Silver Theatre Fri., Dec. 7, 2 p.m., Tue., Dec. 11, 4 p.m., Thu., Dec. 13, 4 p.m.

A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.

Terror by Night

Various area theaters

While traveling by train from London to Edinburgh, Lady Carstairs, owner of the fabled Star of Rhodesia diamond, loses both her prized jewel and her son, murdered during the robbery that Sherlock Holmes must now investigate (followed by “Dressed to Kill aka Prelude to Murder” (U.S., 1946, 72 min.) in which Holmes suspects that the death of Watson’s old school chum is related to his recent purchase of a

The Scarlet Claw Directed by Roy William Neill (U.S., 1944, 74 min.)

On a visit to Quebec City, Sherlock Holmes and Watson are summoned to the nearby village of La Mort Rouge, where a local matron, Lady Penrose, has been found murdered with her throat torn out (followed

Directed by Roy William Neill (U.S., 1946, 60 min.)

music box). AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Dec. 1, 11 a.m., Mon., Dec. 3, 3:45 p.m., Thu., Dec. 6, 3:45 p.m.

They Might Be Giants Directed by Anthony Harvey (U.S., 1971, 98 min.)

George C. Scott plays Justin Playfair, a New York City psychiatric patient who believes he’s Sherlock Holmes. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Dec. 15, 11:05 a.m., Sun., Dec. 16, 11:05 a.m.

The Waiting Room Directed by Peter Nicks (U.S., 2012, 83 min.)

This riveting documentary was filmed over 24 hours at Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., where uninsured patients come to the ER of the nearly overwhelmed hospital and wait to be seen. Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Without a Clue Directed by Thom E. Eberhardt (U.K., 1988, 107 min.)

In this inspired parody, Michael Caine plays a clueless Sherlock — actually, a drunken actor named Reginald Kincaid — hired to front for the real brains of the operation, doctor/detective/crime novelist Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley). AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Dec. 8, 11 a.m., Sun., Dec. 9, 11 a.m.

French Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis) Directed by Marcel Carné (France, 1945, 190 min.)

A celebration of theatrical life on the famous Boulevard du Crime — once the site of small playhouses, where Parisians strolled nightly, until the city was rebuilt in the 1860s — the tale unfolds around a

Barbara Directed by Christian Petzold (Germany, 2012, 105 min.)

A doctor working in 1980s East Germany finds herself banished to a small country hospital. Theater TBA Opens Fri., Dec. 21

Dress Rehearsal (La Répétition generale) Directed by Werner Schroeter (W. Germany, 1980, 88 min.)

Werner Schroeter elevates dance and theater performances by Pina Bausch, Kazuo Ohno and Reinhild Hoffmann into an exhilarating essay on love and desire, feelings and expression, the artist and society (German, French and English). Goethe-Institut Mon., Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m.

Puss in Boots (Der gestiefelte Kater) Directed by Christian Theede (Germany, 2009, 59 min.)

When the miller dies, his youngest son Hans inherits only the old male cat, while Hans’s brothers get the mill and the donkey. Hans decides to make fur gloves out of the pet, but the cat persuades him to buy a pair of boots instead. Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Sun., Dec. 2, 2 p.m.

The Smiling Star (Der lachende Stern) Directed by Werner Schroeter (W. Germany, 1983, 108 min.)

As a guest of the Manila International Film Festival, Werner Schroeter was horrified to discover the yawning gap between rich and poor in the Philippines. He began to clandestinely film and research the legacy of colonialism through archival footage, producing an extraordinary collage documentary on Marcos’s corrupt regime in the Philippines (German, Tagalog and English). Goethe-Institut Mon., Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m.

Willow Springs Directed by Werner Schroeter (W. Germany, 1973, 78 min.)

A feminist cult that survives by robbing and killing passersby in the isolation of the

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

California desert find their communal life threatened by the arrival of a strange man.

Giuseppe Bertolucci (Italy, 1963-2008, 84 min.)

Goethe-Institut Mon., Dec. 3, 6:30 p.m.

This 1963 feature essay — a compilation of moments caught on newsreels, including the revolution in Cuba, workers at a Fiat plant, floods in Europe, even the death of Marilyn Monroe — was originally stripped of its radical undertone. In 2008, 30 years after the filmmaker’s death, Giuseppe Bertolucci recaptured his friend’s original purpose.

The Wishing Table (Tischlein, deck’ dich) Directed by Ulrich König (Germany, 2008, 59 min.)

Max is the youngest of three brothers, and so clumsy that his father sends him to the fields to herd goat. But Max just wants to go out into the world like his brothers. Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital Sun., Dec. 9, 2 p.m.

Hungarian There Was Once… Directed by Gabor Kalman (U.S./Hungary, 2011, 103 min.)

A Hungarian Catholic high school teacher striving to chart a new course of tolerance in her conflict-ridden hometown, Kalocsa, Hungary, discovers a forgotten part of local history: the Jewish community that once thrived but is now nonexistent in her city (Hungarian and English). Washington DCJCC Mon., Dec. 10, 7 p.m.

Italian Hawks and Sparrows (Uccellacci e uccellini) Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy, 1966, 86 min.)

This madcap fable features the incomparable “prince of laughter” Totò, young comic actor Ninetto Davoli, and an officious talking crow who recites a tale of two friars (also Totò and Ninetto) asked by Saint Francis to preach a doctrine of love to the overbearing hawks and lowly sparrows of the field. National Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 16, 4:30 p.m.

La Rabbia: The Rage of Pasolini Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and

National Gallery of Art Sat., Dec. 29, 3:30 p.m.

Death Row Woman (Onna shikeishû no datsugoku) Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa (Japan, 1960, 76 min.)

Arrested for the murder of her wealthy businessman father, convicted on false evidence, and sentenced to death, Kyoko makes a daring escape and reunites with her fiancé to unmask the real killer. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 16, 2:30 p.m.

Ghost Story of Yotsuya (Tôkaidô Yotsuya kaidan)

Yellow Line (Ôsen chitai)

Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa (Japan, 1959, 76 min.)

Directed by Teruo Ishii (Japan, 1960, 79 min.)

Nobuo Nakagawa’s film is among the most faithful of many screen adaptations made since the silent era of a kabuki play by Nanboku Tsuruya that was first staged in 1825.

A hit man betrayed by his employer grabs a dancer at Tokyo Station to serve as a hostage/cover and hops a train to Kobe, where her reporter boyfriend follows the pair, suspecting she may have walked into a trap set by a Kobe-based prostitution ring.

The Horizon Glitters (Chiheisen ga giragira) Directed by Michiyoshi Doi (Japan, 1961, 89 min.)

A motor-mouthed proto-punk who breaks out of prison with his cellmates in search of a large cache of diamonds. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Dec. 14, 7 p.m.

Revenge of the Pearl Queen (Onna shinju-ô no fukushû) Directed by Hideo Shimura (Japan, 1956, 90 min.)

Flesh Pier (Nyotai sanbashi) Directed by Teruo Ishii (Japan, 1958, 73 min.)

Ken Utsui stars as an undercover cop investigating a call-girl ring operating out of a Ginza nightclub called the Arizona. When he visits the club, however, he is surprised to discover the boss’s moll is his long-lost love. Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 16, 1 p.m.

Voluptuous sensation Michiko Maeda becomes embroiled in a robbery and murder plot, falls off a ship to escape a wouldbe rapist, and finds herself a castaway among a crew of hungry-eyed men. When she discovers enough pearls to make a fortune, she schemes to trap the criminals who sent her overboard. Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Dec. 21, 7 p.m.

Vampire Bride (Hanayome kyûketsuma) Directed by Kyotaro Namiki (Japan, 1960, 80 min.)

Ghost Cat of Otama Pond (Kaibyô Otama-ga-ike) Directed by Yoshihiro Ishikawa (Japan, 1960, 75 min.)

A young couple is caught in a web of ghostly revenge, with a black cat serving as a conduit between the worlds of the living and dead.

Desperate for relief from the pain of her life, a dance student with a horrific facial scar visits a sorceress in the mountains, where she becomes transformed into a fanged, hairy monster — reacting at first with disgust to her new body, but then reveling in her newfound power.

woman in need of a green card to assuage his tradition-bound parents. There’s just one problem: The parents insist on flying in from Taiwan to throw an elaborate banquet that will severely test their son’s ruse and strain his relationship with his actual lover (Mandarin and English). Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 2, 3 p.m.


Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 16, 4 p.m.

Generation P


In a world populated by gangsters, freshly minted millionaires and virtual politicians, Babylen Tatarsky works in a drab convenience shop when a chance run-in reveals an exciting career opportunity pitching Western products to Russian consumers.

Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Eat, Drink, Man, Woman) Directed by Ang Lee (Taiwan, U.S., 1994, 124 min.)

Generations clash around the dining table in Ang Lee’s charming comedy-drama about widowed master chef Chu (the extraordinary Sihung Lung) and his three thoroughly modern daughters (Mandarin and English). Freer Gallery of Art Fri., Dec. 7, 7 p.m.

Pushing Hands (Tui shou) Directed by Ang Lee (Taiwan, 1992, 105 min.)

In Ang Lee’s debut feature, Mr. Chu, a retired tai chi master, moves in with his son and American daughter-in-law in New York State, leading to a clash of cultures and generations (Mandarin and English).

Directed by Victor Ginzburg (Russia/U.S., 2011, 112 min.)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema Opens Fri., Dec. 7

Silent Sherlock Holmes Directed by Albert Parker (U.S., 1922, 109 min.)

Screen legend John Barrymore chews the scenery as Sherlock Holmes and matches wits with arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty in this entertaining silent interpretation. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., Dec. 1, 2 p.m.


Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 2, 1 p.m.


The Wedding Banquet (Xi yan)

Don Lope, a Mephistophelean, anti-clerical socialist, seduces his innocent and beautiful young ward Tristana, becoming her lover/ father figure in this perverse, haunting study of power shifts in an obsessive relationship.

Directed by Ang Lee (Taiwan/U.S., 1993, 106 min.)

A gay Taiwanese entrepreneur living in New York agrees to marry a Chinese

Directed by Luis Buñuel (Spain/Italy/France, 1970, 98 min.)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema

by Washington Diplomat film reviewer Ky N. Nguyen

Please see International Film Clips for detailed listings available at press time.

National Gallery of Art The program “On Pier Paolo Pasolini” (Dec. 15-29) commemorates what would have been the 90th birthday of Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), the Italian poet, philosopher, painter, intellectual, novelist, and filmmaker. Art historian David Gariff’s illustrated lecture “From Giotto to Pasolini: Narrative in Fresco and Film” (Sat., Dec. 15, 4 p.m.) discusses Pasolini and his work, particularly the influence of Italian Renaissance and Medieval paintings. Screenings include Pasolini’s purported favorite of his films, “Hawks and Sparrows” (Sun., Dec. 16, 4 p.m.), and 1963’s feature essay “La Rabbia: The Rage of Pasolini” (Sat., Dec. 29, 3:30 p.m.), reconstructed to his original vision 30 years after his death by his friend Giuseppe Bertolucci for a 2008 re-release. The series “Marcel Carné Revived” (Dec. 22-30) showcases new digital presentations of two of the French poetic realism master’s most legendary films: “Port of Shadows” (Sat., Dec. 22, 2 and 4 p.m.) and “Children of Paradise” (Sun., Dec. 23, 2 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 30, 2 p.m.). The series “From Tinguely to Pipilotti Rist – Swiss Artists on Film” (through Dec. 29), organized in association with the Embassy of Switzerland, concludes its presentation of recent works by Swiss documentary filmmakers. (202) 842-6799,

Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 9, 4 p.m.

Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 9, 1 p.m.


Repertory Notes

Freer Gallery of Art Sun., Dec. 9, 2:30 p.m.

American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theatre The retrospective “Sherlock Holmes and the Cinema” continues through Dec. 18. The ongoing “Ballet in Cinema” series showcases Moscow-based Bolshoi Ballet’s “The Pharaoh’s Daughter” (Tue., Dec. 4, 7 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 5, 12:30 p.m.) and the Royal Ballet of London’s classic production of “The Nutcracker” (Sun., Dec. 23, 11 a.m.; Mon., Dec. 24, 11 a.m.). The ongoing “Opera in Cinema” series offers David McVicar’s production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” (Sat., Dec. 1, 10 a.m.; Tue., Dec. 4, 12 p.m.) from the Royal Opera House in London. The retrospective “Lyle Talbot, ‘The Entertainer’” (Dec. 1-19) looks back at the career of American B-player great Lyle Talbot (19021996), focusing on pre-Code movies. His daughter Margaret Talbot appears in person at the opening film, “Three on a Match” (Sat., Dec. 1, 4 p.m.). (301) 495-6700,

(202) 357-2700, (301) 495-6700,

‘Nudes! Guns! Ghosts! The Sensational Cinema of Shintoho’ at Freer The Freer Gallery of Art’s retrospective “Nudes! Guns! Ghosts! The Sensational Cinema of Shintoho” (Dec. 9-21) showcases the Japanese studio Shintohi’s brief history churning out low-budget exploitation flicks that became cult classics. (202) 357-2700,

Werner Schroeter at Goethe-Institut “Werner Schroeter” (through Dec. 17), the retrospective of the influential German alternative filmmaker, continues at the Goethe-Institut on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. with “Willow Springs” (Dec. 3), “Dress Rehearsal” (Dec. 10) and “Smiling Star” (Dec. 17).

The Films of Ang Lee

(202) 289-1200,

Cosponsored by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington, the Freer Gallery of Art and the AFI Silver Theatre conclude the complete retrospective of Taiwaneseborn director Ang Lee’s films before “Life of Pi,” currently in theatrical release. The Freer shows Ang Lee’s feature debut “Pushing Hands” (Sun., Dec. 2, 1 p.m.), his breakthrough box office hit “The Wedding Banquet” (Sun., Dec. 2, 3 p.m.), and “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” (Fri., Dec. 7, 7 p.m.). AFI Silver plays “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Dec. 8-11) and “Brokeback Mountain” (Sun., Dec. 16, 1 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 19, 6:45 p.m.).

Family-Friendly Fairy Tale Films

December 2012

Marking the 200th anniversary of the first publication of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” in 1812, the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital — in partnership with the Goethe-Institut — completes the series “Family-Friendly Fairy Tale Films” (through Dec. 9). On Sundays at 2 p.m., kids and adults can catch “Puss in Boots” (Dec. 2) and “The Wishing Table” (Dec. 9), contemporary one-hour versions from ARD, the German public television network. (202) 549-4172,

The Washington Diplomat Page 39

[ around town ]

EVENTS LISTING **Admission is free unless otherwise noted. All information on event venues can be found on The Diplomat Web site at www.washdiplomat. com. Times and locations are subject to change. Unless listed, please call venue for specific event times and hours of operation.

ART Opens Sat., Dec. 1

Promise of Paradise: Early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture The Freer’s impressive collection of stone and gilt bronze Buddhist sculptures highlights two flourishing ages, the sixth century and the High Tang (sixth to eighth century). Freer Gallery of Art Through Dec. 2

The Image of Strindberg

Today, 100 years after the death of Swedish dramatist and author August Strindberg (1849-1912), there are many different images of the man: genius, madman, jealous man, woman hater, anarchist, vain man, vagabond and brazen man. But who was August Strindberg and how do we remember Sweden’s most famous writer and dramatist? House of Sweden Through Dec. 9

African Cosmos: Stellar Arts

In the first major exhibition to explore the historical legacy of African cultural astronomy and its intersection with traditional and contemporary African arts, some 100 objects consider how the sun, moon and stars and celestial phenomena such as lightning and rainbows serve as sources of inspiration in the creation of African art from ancient times to the present. National Museum of African Art Through Dec. 9

Connections and Confrontations

This anthology of the history of Spanish photography across the last 60 years visualizes unsuspected links among the works of different artists who’ve won the Spanish National Photography Prize. For more information, visit

Through Dec. 16

Ivan Pinkava / Remains (1997-2011)

Czech photographer Ivan Pinkava’s “Remains” employs generally comprehensible cultural codes to make merciless reference to the state of the human spirit of the individual in “Western” culture. Through Dec. 16

Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski

American University Katzen Arts Center

Dan Steinhilber: Marlin Underground

Dan Steinhilber, known for his ability to transform mundane materials into extraordinary experiences of art, presents a new body of work in response to architect Philip Johnson’s celebrated design for the Kreeger home as a space for art and musical performance. The Kreeger Museum Through Dec. 30

Growing up AFRO: Snapshots of Black Childhood from the Afro-American Newspapers

In honor of the 120th anniversary of the Afro-American Newspapers, this pictorial exhibition features 120 images from the AFRO’s archive collections that demonstrate the vital role young people played in African American history. Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, Md. Through Dec. 30

Prêt-à-Papier: The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

A selection of iconic costumes and haute couture dresses — reflecting the rich history of fashion in European paintings and designs of the grand couturiers — are reinterpreted in trompe l’oeil paper masterpieces by Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens

Dec. 12 to Jan. 28

Through Dec. 31

Award-winning painter Anastasia Rurikov Simes, who received the Helen Hays Award for Outstanding Costume Design in 2011 for her work with the Synetic Theater, composes rich, bold paintings that touch on her subjects of love and war with beautiful complexity and depth.

Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475–1540

Focusing on drawings, prints, illustrated books and innovative printing techniques, this exhibition — the first of its kind in America — serves as an introduction to Augsburg, which enjoyed a golden age in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

International Visions Gallery

National Gallery of Art

Through Dec. 14

Through Dec. 31

Once Upon a Time in Almería

During the 1960s and 1970s, the region of Almeria, Spain, was host to dozens of filmmakers who constructed elaborate movie sets, invoking locations from the American Southwest to Bedouin Arabia for films such as “Cleopatra” and “Patton.” D.C.-based photographer Mark Parascandola revisits the architecture and locations used in these classic films over the years. Embassy of Spain

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The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years

Through Jan. 13

Through Feb. 10

Picturing the Sublime: Photographs from the Joseph and Charlotte Lichtenberg Collection

Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne Al-Ani

The Phillips Collection

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Through Jan. 13

Through Feb. 24

Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective

“Revelation” draws together more than 30 monumental canvases by Russian-born artist Jules Olitski, renowned as one of America’s last classic modern painters. Through Dec. 29

December 2012

Eleven photographs document how artists use the camera to capture the sublime beauty and human destruction of the natural world.

American University Katzen Arts Center

Former Spanish Ambassador Residence

Love and War


Photo: Ivan Pinkava

“They shall look on Him whom they pierced…” by Czech photographer Ivan Pinkava is among the works on display at the American University’s Katzen Arts Center. Through Jan. 6

Dragons, Nagas, and Creatures of the Deep

In the Spirit of the East Asian calendar’s Year of the Dragon, this exhibition highlights objects drawn from cultures as diverse as the ancient Mediterranean world, imperial China and contemporary South America, portraying dragons as everything from fire-breathing beasts to beneficent water gods. The Textile Museum Through Jan. 6

Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture

One of Europe’s most celebrated living artists, Per Kirkeby is a Danish painter, sculptor, geologist, filmmaker, writer and poet. In the most comprehensive display of his work in the U.S. to date, 26 richly layered paintings and 11 striking bronze models reveal Kirkeby’s belief that art, like science, is constantly in flux. The Phillips Collection Through Jan. 6

Very Like a Whale

Rare books and manuscripts from the Folger collection are juxtaposed with natural objects and the contemporary photography of artist Rosamond Purcell to evoke the restless energy of Shakespeare’s language and capture the real world that shaped his imagination. Folger Shakespeare Library Through Jan. 6

Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power

Organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the exhibition highlights the flashpoints, the firsts, the celebrated, and the lesser-known women who have influenced the genre from its inception through today.

In the first major exhibition since Roy Lichtenstein’s death in 1997, more than 100 of the artist’s greatest paintings from all periods of his career will be presented along with a selection of related drawings and sculptures. National Gallery of Art Through Jan. 27

Ivan Sigal: White Road

From 1998 to 2005, American photographer Ivan Sigal traveled in Central Asia, using his camera to record the unsettled lives of Eurasians in provincial towns and cities. Using images and text, this unconventional narrative reveals a diverse population adapting to extraordinary times. Corcoran Gallery of Art Through Jan. 27

Shock of the News

This exhibit traces how visual artists in Europe and America after the turn of the 20th century began to think about the newspaper more broadly — as a means of political critique, as a collection of readymade news to appropriate or manipulate, a source of language and images, a typographical grab bag, and more. National Gallery of Art Through Jan. 30


Inspired by archival archaeological and aerial photographs, as well as contemporary news, Jananne Al-Ani’s video works examine enduring representations of the Middle Eastern landscape.

Enlightened Beings: Buddhism in Chinese Painting

Buddhism arrived in China during the first century and quickly grew in popularity, exerting a profound impact on all aspects of Chinese art and culture. Freer Gallery of Art Through Feb. 24

Lalla Essaydi: Revisions

Lalla Essaydi, a Moroccan-born, New Yorkbased artist, pushes the boundaries of Arab, Muslim and African perceptions of women’s identities with her art, which includes themes of feminism, gender, identity and the private inner lives of women while drawing on Arabic calligraphy for its decorative and communicative potential. National Museum of African Art Through Feb. 24

Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

An eye-opening look at the largely unknown ancient past of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, this exhibition draws on recently excavated archaeological material from sites throughout the Arabian Peninsula, tracing the impact of ancient trade routes and pilgrimage roads stretching from Yemen in the south to Iraq, Syria and Mediterranean cultures in the north. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

A photographer, writer, filmmaker, book designer, and exhibitions producer, Michael Benson’s work focuses on the intersection of art and science in large-scale exhibitions of planetary landscape, mostly under the title “Beyond.” He takes raw data from NASA and European Space Agency archives and individual spacecraft frames to produce seamless, large-format digital prints of landscapes currently beyond direct human experience.

Through Feb. 24

Embassy of Slovenia

Through February 2013

Through Jan. 30

Big Bang by Franco Lippi

According to chief curator Alfredo Ratinoff, “Franco Lippi’s ‘Big Bang’ is a statement through which he reveals the moment at which everything came to be, in which everything is possible, each suspended in time for us to explore the immensity of his works.”

Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII

Taryn Simon produced this 18-chapter series over a four-year period (2008-11), during which she traveled around the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. Corcoran Gallery of Art

Ai Weiwei: According to What?

This major survey of Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most prolific and provocative artists, aims to reveal the rich and varied contexts that he has interwoven within the broad spectrum of his work, from sculpture, photography and video to site-specific architectural installations. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Embassy of Argentina

Through March 2

Some 150 works reveal how 20 photographers responded to older portrait conventions and imagined new ones by exploring the same subjects — primarily friends, family, and themselves — over the course of days, months, or decades.

Through Jan. 13

Through Feb. 10

Luces y Sombras: Fourteen Travelers in Mexico

National Gallery of Art

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Dark Matters

“Dark Matters” brings together works from the Hirshhorn’s collection that draw upon the associations and implications of darkness and its notions of mortality, silence, solitude and loss.

NOW at the Corcoran – Enoc Perez: Utopia

Enoc Perez’s lushly figured paintings of modernist buildings at once exploit and question the seductions of architecture as well as painting itself. Corcoran Gallery of Art

The 20th century saw many internationally acclaimed photographers travel through Mexico to document the country from their unique perspectives. This exhibition focuses on 20 hand-pulled photogravures comprising Paul Strand’s seminal 1933 “Mexican Portfolio,” along with renowned

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

photographers Edward Weston, Wayne Miller, Aaron Siskind and others who captured the sociopolitical realities, local architecture, and startling landscapes of 20thcentury Mexico through a patently American lens. And accompanying exhibit, “Visions of Mexico: The Photography of Hugo Brehme,” presents 40 works from Hugo Brehme on loan from the Throckmorton Gallery in New York City.

Embassy will give a Christmas tree to the people of Washington, D.C., as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Norway. The Children’s Chorus of Washington will be singing Christmas carols and the embassy will serve treats and gløgg to warm the audience during the tree-lighting ceremony, which is open to the public. Union Station West Terrace

Mexican Cultural Institute Through March 10


The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art

Sat., Dec. 1, 8 p.m.

More than 50 sumptuous textiles and other works of art illustrate the stylized floral designs that became synonymous with the wealth, abundance and influence of one of the world’s greatest empires. The Textile Museum Through March 16

Words Like Sapphires: 100 Years of Hebraica at the Library of Congress A century ago, New York philanthropist Jacob H. Schiff purchased an initial collection of nearly 10,000 Hebrew books and pamphlets for the Library of Congress. This gift formed the nucleus of what is today one of the world’s greatest collections of Hebraic materials, comprising some 200,000 items. Library of Congress Through March 31

Pissarro on Paper

French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro first tried printmaking in his early thirties, and though he never stopped painting, printing became vital to his artistic enterprise. National Gallery of Art

DANCE Through Dec. 23

The Nutcracker

The Washington Ballet’s one-of-a-kind “Nutcracker,” set in 1882 Georgetown, stars George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker, King George III as the villainous Rat King, Anacostia Indians, frontiersmen, and many other all-American delights. Tickets are $34 to $101. Warner Theatre

DISCUSSIONS Mon., Dec. 3, 6:30 p.m.

Mexico and Mexicans: In the Making of the United States

Editor John Tutino and contributing authors Katherine Benton-Cohen and Jose Limon discuss their new book “Mexico and Mexicans in the Making of the United States,” which aims to shift the conversation from the “problem” of Mexicans — citizens and migrants — in the U.S. to focus on how Mexico and Mexicans have contributed in pivotal ways to creating and shaping the United States. Mexican Cultural Institute

Christmas in Ireland: An Nollaig in Éirinn

One of the most acclaimed traditional music ensembles in Ireland, Danú performs a heartwarming and high-energy Celtic Christmas celebration. Tickets are $23 to $46. George Mason University Center for the Arts

Through Dec. 30

Les Liaisons Dangereuses


Enter the world of the opulent French youth who treat romance as a game and wield sex as a weapon in Théâtre de l’Atelier’s production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” a French-revival stage-play directed by John Malkovich that’s been adapted to a 21st-century setting (contains nudity and explicit situations). Tickets are $60 to $75. The Shakespeare Theatre

Thu., Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.

John Hébert Trio

Fri., Dec. 7, 8 p.m., Sat., Dec. 8, 8 p.m.

Through Dec. 9

Fri., Dec. 14, 8 p.m.

Dec. 6 to 8, 7:30 p.m.

Vienna Boys Choir: Christmas in Vienna

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Revered as one of Cuba’s greatest jazz pianists, Chucho Valdés creates an exciting blend of Cuban music with African roots and North American jazz. Tickets are $30 to $46.

Luxembourg at Holiday Time For the third year in a row, the Embassy of Luxembourg and Embassy Series host a holiday celebration of baroque music featuring Marc Weydert and pianist Maurice Clement from Luxembourg, as well as holiday favorites such as “The Trumpet Shall Sound” from “Messiah,” along with carolers, champagne, wine, hors d’oeuvres, a grand buffet dinner and lots of surprises. Tickets are $140 (Thursday) or $150 (Friday and Saturday). For information, visit Embassy of Luxembourg Thu., Dec. 6, 8 p.m.

Natalie MacMaster: Christmas in Cape Breton Canadian fiddler Natalie MacMaster performs traditional Scottish and Irish holiday tunes that invoke the traditions of her native Cape Breton and illustrate how it influenced New England music tradition with heart-wrenching ballads and worldclass step dancing combined with fiddling. Tickets are $28 to $58. Music Center at Strathmore Thu., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.

From Psalm to Lamentation: A Concert of Cantorial Masterpieces The first of a new annual series of Hannukah-time Pro Musica Hebraica presentations, this concert pays homage to the golden age of cantors and to the liturgical music of modern times. Tickets are $38. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

La Maison Française

True to tradition, the Royal Norwegian

Dec. 6 to 9

La Maison Française

Chucho Valdés

For its 30th annual celebration of the winter solstice, the Washington Revels calls upon well-loved elements of “Christmas Revels” past to renew the seasonal spirit of joy. Enjoy favorite Revels sing-alongs, a madcap “Twelve Days of Christmas,” new music of the season, lively country and Morris dancing, a Mummer’s play with a surprise ending, and a special Revels evocation of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” Please call for ticket information.

Christmas Tree Lighting

Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre

George Mason University Hylton Performing Arts Center

Sun., Dec. 2, 7 p.m.

Dec. 8 to 16

Tue., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.


Entrada Gratis

Tour de France Wine Tasting


Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel,” starring current singers and alumni of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program in a candy-colored production directed by David Gately. Please call for ticket information.

If you’ve seen a New York City jazz show in the last few years, there’s a good chance John Hébert’s dominating bass sound was pulsating from the stage. A Louisiana native transplanted to New York, Hébert is a bassist, bandleader, and composer who grew up with an abiding admiration for a variety of musical perspectives. Tickets are $25.

Tue., Dec. 4, 7 p.m.

These monthly “Wine Tasting 101” soirées — with veteran wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg — explore the regions and vineyards in France, as well as tasting techniques. December’s tasting profiles Château Raymond-Lafon with owner JeanPierre Meslier. Tickets are $70.

Photo: Lukas Beck

The Vienna Boys Choir performs “Christmas in Vienna” at the George Mason University Center for the Arts on Dec. 14.

empty? This staged reading celebrates the 25th anniversary of Scena Theatre and is followed by a discussion and reception. Admission is free but reservations can be made at (202) 289-1200 ext. 175 or rsvp@

Washington Revels 30th Annual Christmas Revels

Lisner Auditorium

Nothing evokes the joy and magic of the Christmas season quite like the celestial voices of this extraordinary group of Austrian youngsters. Tickets are $25 to $50. George Mason University Center for the Arts Sat., Dec. 15, 4 p.m., Sun., Dec. 16, 4 p.m.

The Joy of Christmas

Join the Cathedral Choral Society, Washington Symphonic Brass, guest choir the Langley High School Madrigals, and the cathedral’s Great Organ for choral gems and sing-alongs of favorite carols. Also enjoy the traditional Advent wreath procession and hear the world premiere of “Magi” by British composer Ben Parry, commissioned for these concerts. Tickets start at $30. Washington National Cathedral Dec. 15 to 22

The Washington Chorus: A Candlelight Christmas

Celebrate the splendor of the season with the Washington Chorus’s beloved holiday event and an annual favorite with Kennedy Center audiences. Tickets are $18 to $70. Kennedy Center Concert Hall Sun., Dec. 30, 3 p.m.

Written and performed by Colombian Saulo García, one of the hemisphere’s most popular comedians and social commentators, “Entrada Gratis” ventures from political satire to an absurdist dramatic landscape. Tickets are $20 (in Spanish only). GALA Hispanic Theatre

The Shakespeare Theatre Company brings a second production from the National Theatre of Scotland to D.C. audiences, a play inspired by the Border Ballads of Scotland that follows an academic on her supernatural and affirming Midwinter’s Eve journey through a world of Scottish nostalgia. Tickets are $55. DuPont Circle’s Bier Baron Tavern Dec. 11 to Jan. 6

Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’

Featuring classic Berlin hits like “Blue Skies” and “How Deep is the Ocean?,” the North American tour of the famous holiday movie tells the story of two buddies putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the process. Tickets are $25 to $150. Kennedy Center Opera House Dec. 13 to 30

Les Misérables

Cameron Mackintosh’s new 25th anniversary production of “Les Misérable” features glorious new staging and spectacular reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Tickets start at $58. The National Theatre Dec. 21 to 23

Hansel and Gretel

Washington National Opera begins a new tradition of holiday opera with Engelbert

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical “Cinderella” adds warmth and a touch of hilarity to the enduing fairytale. Tickets are $26 to $54. Olney Theatre Center Through Dec. 30

A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas

Rediscover the vibrancy and joy of this immortal classic as Dickens originally intended — in his own words — and experience his unforgettable characters and imagery in a masterful solo performance by Olney Theatre Center favorite Paul Morella. Tickets are $26. Olney Theatre Center Through Dec. 30

A Christmas Carol Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Charles Dickens’s Yuletide classic as the the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (acclaimed Washington stage actor Edward Gero) on a journey of transformation and redemption. Tickets are $22 to $89. Ford’s Theatre Through Dec. 30

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Director Ethan McSweeny takes a fresh approach to this well-loved play filled with mismatched lovers who flee to the forest outside Athens, but run into a supernatural squabble that will alter their destinies forever. Tickets are $43 to $105. Sidney Harman Hall Through Dec. 30

Young Robin Hood

Derek Goldman directs this stirring new take on the legendary adventure story that’s swashbuckling fun for the entire family this holiday season. Tickets are $10 to $61. Round House Theatre Bethesda Through Jan. 6

My Fair Lady

When Professor Henry Higgins wagers he can transform a Cockney flower girl into an aristocratic lady, he never guesses that Eliza Doolittle will in turn transform him. Tickets are $45 to $94. Arena Stage

Salute to Vienna – New Year’s Concert 2012

Welcome the New Year with “Salute to Vienna,”patterned after Vienna’s world famous “Neujahrskonzert,” returning for a glorious 14th season with a fresh program featuring a brilliant new cast of more than 75 musicians, stellar European singers and dancers in beautiful costumes. Please call for ticket information. Music Center at Strathmore

THEATER Tue., Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m.

A Little Calm Before the Storm (Ein bisschen Ruhe vor dem Sturm)

Three actors prepare for a panel discussion on how to portray Hitler as a theatrical character, chatting about their profession on the empty stage. But is the stage really

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December 2012



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December 2012

Eleanor Roosevelt Dialogue

1956 Hungarian Revolution

Photos: joanne ke

Photos: Peter Alunans / hungarian embassy

From left, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), former New York Gov. George Pataki, Hungarian Embassy Political Attaché and Congressional Liaison Anna Stumpf, Hungarian-American rower and London Olympics Gold medal winner Zsuzsanna Francia, Consul General of Hungary Károly Dán, and Defense, Military and Air Attaché of the Hungarian Embassy Col. Zoltán Bóné attend the gala dinner celebrating the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

From left, former International Monetary Fund First Deputy Managing Director and Mrs. John Lipsky join Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary and Mrs. János Martonyi at the gala dinner at the U.S. Institute of Peace celebrating the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) talks to guests at a gala dinner held at the U.S. Institute of Peace commemorating the 56th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution against Soviet control as well as the 90th anniversary of U.S.-Hungarian diplomatic relations.

From left, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Ambassador of Hungary György Szapáry, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Lee Edwards, and Ambassador of Austria Hans Peter Manz attend a gala dinner honoring the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Photo: anna gawel Photo: anna gawel

From left, Hungarian Embassy Political Attaché and Congressional Liaison Anna Stumpf welcomes Ambassador of Cyprus and Mrs. Pavlos Anastasiades to the gala dinner celebrating the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Jamaican Embassy Community Support

From left, Thomas Olmstead of the U.S. Institute of Peace joins Ambassador of Latvia and Mrs. Andris Razans at the gala dinner marking 56 years since the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet control that killed an estimated 2,500 and wounded 13,000 Hungarians.

Lisa Vasciannie, wife of Jamaican Ambassador Stephen Vasciannie, right, presents a Jamaica 50th anniversary commemorative doll to Heather Dawson, teacher of the junior kindergarten class at the Congressional School of Virginia, as teacher Jason Lee, far right, looks on. Vasciannie read to the students at the conclusion of their international week, in which Jamaica was one of eight countries featured.

Photos: Derrick A. Scott

Patron of the St. Patrick’s Foundation Lady Allen, third from right, welcomes Ambassador of Jamaica and Mrs. Stephen Vasciannie, center, to the Jamaica Night Dinner and Silent Auction, along with members of the event’s planning committee: from left, Kevin Fay, Planning Committee Chair Margo Field, Nancy Fay, Pat McCullough, Ann-Marie Fay and St. Patrick’s Foundation Chairman Marlon Creary. The Annual Jamaica Night and Silent Auction, held at the Flaherty Hall of St. Luke’s Catholic Church in McLean, Va., supports the work of the St. Patrick’s Foundation.

Photos: Derrick A. Scott

Jamaican-born pilot Captain Barrington Irving, center, the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world, accepts a copy of the book “Jamaica by Air” from Minister Counselor for Trade at the Jamaican Embassy Ariel Scott Bowen, second from left, along with fellow embassy staff. Capt. Irving plans to once again make history when he flies around the world next October 2013 in a jet transformed into a flying classroom.

Page 42

Ambassador of Hungary György Szapáry, left, welcomes former New York Gov. George Pataki to the gala dinner at the U.S. Institute of Peace celebrating the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the 90th anniversary of U.S.-Hungarian ties.

Ambassador of Jamaica Stephen Vasciannie, second from left, presents Jamaica ’s Golden Jubilee photo album “Snapshots of Post Independent Jamaica,” to Assistant Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Albert Ramdin following a meeting on entrepreneurship, democracy and Jamaica ’s possible participation in an OAS Forum on Youth in 2014. Looking on are Jamaican Alternate Representative to the OAS Marsha Coore Lobban, left, and Shelly Dass, personal assistant to Ambassador Ramdin.

From left, Ambassador of Norway Wegger Chr. Strommen, President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) John Hamre, and Rev. Dr. Cecilie Strommen attend the CSIS Eleanor Roosevelt Dialogue at the Norwegian Residence, which featured a panel discussion on oil and gas issues and how they affect the politics of regional hotspots.

Judge Aminatta N’gum of Gambia, who is also the wife of the Gambian ambassador, left, joins wife of the Norwegian ambassador Cecilie Strommen at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Eleanor Roosevelt Dialogue held at the Norwegian Residence.

Celebrating Women

Ambassador of Jamaica Stephen Vasciannie, left, poses with renowned Jamaica artist and attorney Donnett Cooper, in front of one of her pieces featured in an exhibition of Jamaican art and photographs at the Fondo Del Sol Visual Art Center in D.C. in honor of Jamaica’s 50th year of independence and in tribute to the late Professor Rex Nettleford.

Ambassador of Jamaica Stephen Vasciannie, center, is flanked by members of the AJR Folk Singers of Richmond, Va., on his arrival to “An Evening of Caribbean Culture,” hosted by the Virginia Caribbean Exchange Foundation (VCEF) at the Gottwald playhouse in Richmond. This event was one of many staged in Virginia’s capital to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th year of independence.

President and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) Joan Wages, left, presents Gloria Herndon, president and CEO of G.B. Energie, with the Gwendolyn Brooks Living Legacy Award on behalf of her cousin, Dr. Maya Angelou. Herndon, who recently hosted the first International Leadership Conference in Equatorial Guinea, flew in from Senegal for second annual Christine de Pizan Honors Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to honor NWHM, a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the diverse historic contributions of women.

Ambassador of Jamaica Stephen Vasciannie, left, greets newly appointed Permanent Representative of Paraguay to the Organization of American States Martin Sannemann on his arrival at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington during a recent courtesy call.

The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

Bayanihan at Kennedy Center

Below, from left, Ambassador of Vietnam Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Ambassador of Brunei Dato Paduka Haji Yusoff 
bin Haji Abdul Hamid, Ambassador of the Philippines Jose L. Cuisia Jr., Ambassador of Cambodia Hem Heng, and Ambassador of Laos Seng Soukhathivong attend a performance of the Filipino dance company Bayanihan sponsored by the Philippine Embassy as well as the U.S.-Philippines Society.

Photos: thomas coleman

From left, Ambassador of Brunei Dato Paduka Haji Yusoff 
bin Haji Abdul Hamid, wife of the Singaporean ambassador Gouri Mirpuri, Ambassador of the Philippines Jose L. Cuisia Jr., Maria Victoria J. Cuisia, wife of the Brunei ambassador Datin Mahani binti Dato Abu Zar, and Jan Du Plain of Du Plain Enterprises attend a reception following the performance of Bayanihan, the national dance company of the Philippines, pictured at right, at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

Above, from left, Ambassador of Peru and Mrs. Harold Forsyth join Mrs. and Dario G. Bauder at a post-performance reception held at the Roof Terrace Restaurant of the Kennedy Center.

Liechtenstein Embassy

From left, International Monetary Fund Executive Director and IMF Executive Board member René Weber, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein Aurelia Frick, and Ambassador of Liechtenstein Claudia Fritsche attend a reception celebrating the 10th anniversary of Liechtenstein’s embassy in Georgetown.

St. Vincent Independence

Photos: thomas coleman

From left, Pakistani Ambassador-at-Large Ray Mahmood, Willee Lewis, Shamim Jawad, and former Ambassador of Afghanistan Said Tayeb Jawad attend a reception celebrating Liechtenstein’s embassy and residence, which overlooks the Georgetown Waterfront.

From left, Ambassador of Monaco Gilles Noghès and his wife Ellen Noghès join Ambassador of Brazil Mauro Vieira and Ambassador Stuart Holliday, president of the Meridian International Center, at the reception marking 10 years since the Embassy of Liechtenstein opened in Georgetown.

Photos: Thomas coleman

Former Ambassador of Bolivia Jaime Aparicio, now with Aparicio, Arp, Schamis and Associates, left, joins Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines La Celia A. Prince (also permanent representative to the Organization of American States) at a reception marking the 33rd anniversary of independence for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Photo: Morris Simon for the Embassy Series

World Music Day for Daniel Pearl

From left, Ina Ginsburg, Ambassador of Austria Hans Peter Manz, Shelia Saleh and Peter Saleh attend a reception celebrating the Liechtenstein Embassy, which opened 10 years ago at 2900 K St., NW.

From left, Ambassador of Norway Wegger Christian Strommen, President of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group Patricia Ellis, Ambassador of Sweden Jonas Hafström, and Glynn Jones of Jolt Productions attend a reception celebrating the 10th anniversary of Liechtenstein’s embassy.

From right, Len Garon, an artist in Alexandria, Va., and Jerome Berry, artistic director and co-founder of the Embassy Series, present Sarit Arbell, director of cultural affairs at the Israeli Embassy, with a commemorative poster at a “World Music Day” concert held at the Embassy of Israel and hosted by the Embassy Series to commemorate the life of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter and a professional violinist who was killed by al-Qaeda-affiliated militants while on assignment in Pakistan in 2002.

Nyumbani Benefit

Photos: richard latoff

From left, Sister Mary Owens, executive director of Nyumbani, joins supporters James and Prissy Ryan at Nyumbani’s annual benefit dinner and auction, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Nyumbani, which is Swahili for “home,” is Kenya’s largest facility for HIV+ children.

Nyumbani Vice President and former U.S. Assistant Chief of Protocol Lawrence Dunham, left, talks with Kathleen Matthews, right, a former TV news anchor who is now chief communications and public affairs officer for Marriott International, as MaryLynn Qurnell, president of the Nyumbani U.S. Board of Directors, looks on at the annual Nyumbani benefit dinner, which was emceed by Matthews.

From left, Ambassador of Peru Harold Forsyth, Lucia Parsan, Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago Neil Parsan, and Ambassador of Dominica Hubert John Charles attend the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Day reception.

Photo: thomas coleman

Former Ambassador of Macedonia and President of Pencils4Kids International Ljubica Z. Acevska, left, joins psychiatrist Joseph Novello at Nyumbani’s annual benefit dinner “From Vision to Reality: A 20-Year Journey,” which celebrated the 20th anniversary of Nyumbani, founded in 1992 by the late Rev. Angelo D’Agostino.

From right, Ryan N. Burnette, director of Richmond-based Alliance Biosciences, joins his fiancée Kady Dudley and father Jim Burnette, president of Alliance Engineering Inc., at the annual Nyumbani benefit dinner. Alliance Biosciences helped to build and certify the Nyumbani Diagnostics Laboratory that opened in 2011.

December 2012

From left, Ambassador of Jamaica Stephen Vasciannie, Ambassador of Guyana Bayney Karran, and O. Hilaire Sobers, a human rights specialist with the Organization of American States (OAS), attend the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Day reception held at the OAS.

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Rachel G. Hunt is the restaurant reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.

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successful commercial chain restaurants. With his current plans to open five more venues in the area before 2020, Tracy will face an even greater test in maintaining both the precise standards and unique character of his brand. With such a tightly controlled ship, one might expect Tracy’s restaurants to feel constrained, robotic and unoriginal, but that is not the case. While Tracy is not trying to attract the narrow segment of the dining population that seeks out the newest and the best, many of his dishes would surprise even those discerning, demanding palates. The pear and gorgonzola agnolotti ravioli, swimming in a bath of amaretto butter sauce and sprinkled with almond cookie crumbles, is on par with dishes coming out of even one of Roberto Donna’s kitchens. Interestingly, Tracy did an externship at Donna’s former flagship restaurant Galileo while at the Culinary Institute of America, an experience he says provided him with an example of how not to run a business. (The gifted but financially inept chef’s comeback restaurant,Al Dente — which opened as La Forchetta some months ago — is next door to the original Chef Geoff’s, which opened in the space vacated by of one Donna’s earlier ventures.) Other highlights at Chef Geoff’s Rockville include the shrimp and Gouda grits, prepared with andouille sausage, tomatoes, peppers and onions — a guest favorite, for good reason. Meanwhile, the Chesapeake stew, a seafood medley served over finely textured cornbread with a sherry cream, is an inventive, refined take on more traditional seafood stews. On the other hand, the meatballs, served over nicely chewy spaghetti with a dollop of ricotta, basil and grana padano, taste strikingly like the little meatballs in a can of Campbell Soup’s Spaghettios. It’s comfort food that’s perhaps a little too comfortable. Tracy is not above capitalizing on dining fads when they make sense for his operation. He’s responded to the recent resurgence of pork by creating a Bacon Bar, a special pork-laden menu available at certain times during the week. In Rockville, the menu sports such delights as bacon-wrapped, crab-stuffed shrimp served with poached pear relish, fennel and a syrah reduction. For the adventurous, the bacon and

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banana cream tart accented with bacon and macadamia brittle is an interesting salty-sweet dessert. Tracy in fact gives serious attention to dessert at Chef Geoff’s. The tiramisu is intensely flavored with coffee liqueur, though it’s still less rich than some versions.The lemon cake, served with ginger raspberries and lemon ginger sorbet, is decidedly tart. And in an interesting take on carrot cake, the dish is “deconstructed” with the raisins and walnuts served on the side of a carrot spice cake and superb cream cheese ice cream. In fact, the ice creams and sorbets that are paired with the main attractions are high points on the dessert menu. Chef Geoff’s is noted for its happy hours, so the beverage program is a vital part of its success. The new location carries on that tradition. Bar manager Nick Goldman has put together an extensive beer selection, with more than 25 varieties on tap, as well as a sampling of distinctive, tropical-themed cocktails crafted from juices and syrups made fresh daily using seasonal fruits and herbs. An international wine list of more than 80 mid- to higher-priced labels rounds out the menu. And for the nondrinkers, the menu offers intriguing house-made sodas, including cherry-almond, spiced pineapple, orange creamsicle, and grapefruit-rhubarb. The motto at Chef Geoff’s is “Great Food, Libation, and Merriment,” which gets to the heart of its broad appeal.The menu can get a bit pricey despite Tracy’s desire to make his food widely accessible, but all-day happy hour specials in the bar areas on Mondays and Tuesdays and daily early-evening three-course sunset specials take the edge off some of the higher prices. The wide-ranging appeal that has propelled Chef Geoff’s so far is likely to remain intact with his foray into the suburbs. Through extensive menus that offer something for almost everyone, consistently well-prepared and at-times innovative food, comfortable space and approachable service, Chef Geoff’s has become a favorite for professionals, students and families alike. Judging by the recent crowds converging on the Rockville location, the new Chef Geoff’s is destined to become another neighborhood favorite — offering a laid-back experience backed by an approach that’s anything but.

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Following up their sensational partnership in “Belle de Jour,” Buñuel once again casts French movie star Catherine Deneuve in a lead role. She joins distinguished Spanish actor Fernando Rey, a frequent Buñuel collaborator and on-screen alter ego. Like a master craftsman operating finely tuned tools, the director coaxes top-notch performances from his regular leading lady and regular leading man, who each bring to life a vivid character study of unequal partners with shifting power dynamics in a compulsive relationship. In Toledo, Spain, during the 1930s, lovely young Tristana (Deneuve) is stranded after the death of her mother. Don Lope (Rey), an affluent middle-age gentleman, quickly steps into the picture, offering to provide Tristana a sanctuary off the streets in his abode. Don Lope sees her in peculiar dual roles as both a daughter and a wife.Almost near instantly, he leverages his position of authority over his naïve ward, seducing her. An atheist socialist, the intellectual Don Lope hypocritically rationalizes such a transgression as she is still in a better position than she would have been as a homeless orphan fending for her survival. Tristana resents Don Lope’s control over her: forcing her to become his mistress, restricting her education, etc. She escapes when she falls in


Fernando Rey, left, and Catherine Deneuve star in “Tristana,” Luis Buñuel’s classic tale of shifting power dynamics.


Tristana (Spanish with English subtitles; 98 min.)

Landmark’s E Street Cinema



love with Horacio (Italian star Franco Nero), a hunky young painter, but eventually is drawn back to her caretaker. In actuality, though, she has shed her innocence, becoming deeply cynical, and has returned to seek revenge. Ky N. Nguyen is the film reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.

December 2012



December 2012

HOLIDAYS ALBANIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day ANDORRA Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day ANGOLA Dec. 25: Christmas Day ANTIGUA and BARBUDA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day ARGENTINA Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 31: Bank Holiday ARMENIA Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve AUSTRALIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day AUSTRIA Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day AZERBAIJAN Dec. 31: Solidarity Day of Azeri People BAHAMAS Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day BAHRAIN Dec. 16: National Day BANGLADESH Dec. 16: Victory Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day BARBADOS Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day BELARUS Dec. 25: Christmas Day BELGIUM Dec. 25: Christmas Day BELIZE Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day BENIN Dec. 25: Christmas Day BOLIVIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day BOTSWANA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day BRAZIL Dec. 25: Christmas Day BRUNEI Dec. 25: Christmas Day BULGARIA Dec. 25-26: Christmas BURKINA FASO Dec. 11: National Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day BURMA (MYANMAR) Dec. 25: Christmas Day BURUNDI Dec. 25: Christmas Day

CAMBODIA Dec. 10: International Human Rights Day

FIJI Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

CAMEROON Dec. 25: Christmas Day

FINLAND Dec. 6: Independence Day Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

CANADA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day CAPE VERDE Dec. 25: Christmas Day CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC Dec. 1: Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic Dec. 25: Christmas Day CHAD Dec. 25: Christmas Day CHILE Dec. 25: Christmas Day COLOMBIA Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF Dec. 25: Christmas Day CONGO, REPUBLIC OF Dec. 25: Christmas Day COSTA RICA Dec. 25: Christmas Day

KAZAKHSTAN Dec. 16: Independence Day

FRANCE Dec. 25: Christmas Day

KENYA Dec. 12: Jamhuri (Independence) Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

GABON Dec. 25: Christmas Day

LAOS Dec. 2: National Day

GAMBIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day

LATVIA Dec. 24-26: Christmas Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve

GERMANY Dec. 25-26: Christmas GHANA Dec. 1: Farmer’s Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

LEBANON Dec. 25: Christmas Day LESOTHO Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

CROATIA Dec. 25-26: Christmas

MADAGASCAR Dec. 25: Christmas Day

CYPRUS Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

HONDURAS Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve

CZECH REPUBLIC Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

HUNGARY Dec. 25-26: Christmas

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Dec. 25: Christmas Day EAST TIMOR Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day ECUADOR Dec. 25: Christmas Day EL SALVADOR Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 31: Bank Holiday EQUATORIAL GUINEA Dec. 10: International Human Rights Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day ESTONIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

ICELAND Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve INDIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day INDONESIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day IRELAND Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day ISRAEL Dec. 8-16: Hanukkah ITALY Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day

MALAWI Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day MALAYSIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day MALTA Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 13: Republic Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day MARSHALL ISLANDS Dec. 25: Christmas Day MEXICO Dec. 25: Christmas Day MICRONESIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day MOZAMBIQUE Dec. 25: Christmas Day NAMIBIA Dec. 10: International Human Rights Day Dec. 25-26: Christmas NETHERLANDS Dec. 25-26: Christmas

JAMAICA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

NEW ZEALAND Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

JAPAN Dec. 23: Emperor’s Birthday Dec. 31: Bank Holiday

NICARAGUA Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day

UKRAINE Dec. 6: Armed Forces Day

SUDAN Dec. 25: Christmas Day


SWEDEN Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

UNITED KINGDOM Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

ST. VINCENT and THE GRENADINES Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

NORWAY Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

SWITZERLAND SENEGAL Dec. 8: Immaculate Dec. 25: Christmas Day 203526A01 Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day SEYCHELLES Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception SYRIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day SINGAPORE TANZANIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 9: Independence Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day SLOVAKIA Dec. 26: Boxing Day Dec. 24-26: Christmas

PANAMA Dec. 8: Mother’s Day Dec. 20: National Mourning Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day

SLOVENIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Independence Day

THAILAND Dec. 5: HM the King’s Birthday Dec. 10: Constitution Day

PAPUA NEW GUINEA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day PARAGUAY Dec. 8: Virgin of Caacupe, Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day PERU Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day PHILIPPINES Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 30: Jose Rizal Day Dec. 31: Last Day of the Year

TRINIDAD and TOBAGO Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

SRI LANKA Dec. 25: Christmas Day

NIGERIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

LITHUANIA Dec. 25-26: Christmas

TONGA Dec. 25: Christmas Day

TURKMENISTAN Dec. 12: Day of Neutrality

ST. LUCIA Dec. 13: National Day Dec. 25-26: Christmas

PALAU Dec. 25: Christmas Day

TOGO Dec. 25: Christmas Day

SPAIN Dec. 6: Constitution Day Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25-26: Christmas

NIGER Dec. 18: Republic Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day

PAKISTAN Dec. 25: Birthday Anniversary of Quaid-eAzam

HAITI Dec. 5: Discovery of Haiti Dec. 25: Christmas Day

DOMINICA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

Mail to: P.O. Box 1345, Silver Spring, MD 20915-1345

LIECHTENSTEIN Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 24: Holy Night Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve

GUYANA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

DENMARK Dec. 24-26: Christmas

E-mail to:

GRENADA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

GUINEA-BISSAU Dec. 25: Christmas Day

SOUTH AFRICA Dec. 16: Day of Reconciliation Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Day of Goodwill

Fax to: The Washington Diplomat at: (301) 949-0065

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UGANDA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

URUGUAY Dec. 25: Christmas Day UZBEKISTAN Dec. 8: Constitution Day VENEZUELA Dec. 25: Christmas Day ZAMBIA Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve ZIMBABWE Dec. 22: National Unity Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

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POLAND Dec. 25-26: Christmas PORTUGAL Dec. 1: Restoration of Independence Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception Dec. 25: Christmas Day ROMANIA Dec. 1: National Day Dec. 6: St. Nicholas Day Dec. 8: Constitution Day Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve RWANDA Dec. 25: Christmas Day ST. KITTS and NEVIS Dec. 25: Christmas Day Dec. 26: Boxing Day

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Philippines until 1985,” Cuisia recalled. “Our economy did very badly during those years, especially after the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino, father of our current president. Inflation shot up over 18 percent, and interest rates were as high as 43 percent. Our international reserves had been practically depleted by the Marcos government.When the new government took over in 1983, it had less than $1 billion in reserves.” However, it did possess an estimated 1,220 pairs of shoes left behind by the former first lady, Imelda Marcos — who along with her husband made world headlines for indulging in a lavish lifestyle while millions of Filipinos went to bed hungry every night. (The shoe collection, sitting in a section of Manila’s National Museum, is now worthless, having fallen victim years ago to termites, typhoons and government neglect.) These days, things are very different. Poverty and graft are still endemic, but the Philippines is a democracy, and the economy is strong. During the first half of 2012, the country’s GDP expanded by 6.1 percent. That’s down from last year’s 7.6 percent growth rate, but Cuisia says the 2011 figure was partially fueled by electionyear spending. One of the most promising industries is the business process The Washington Diplomat

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outsourcing (BPO) sector. Cuisia said the Philippines is now the world’s leading call-center employer, surpassing even India, where rents in Bangalore and other major cities have become excessively high. At the moment, the BPO industry employs about 640,000 Filipinos — working mainly in customer service, tech support and legal/medical transcription. The largest single employer is Cincinnati-based Convergys, with 26,000 employees in 18 call centers throughout the Philippines, followed by Accenture, with 24,000, and IBM with just over 20,000. Other large players in this industry are J.P. Morgan, American Express, United Airlines, Citibank, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. In addition to lower overhead, the Philippines has another advantage over India: the English spoken there is much closer to American English. “We’re more familiar with American jargon, TV programs and NFL sports,” Cuisia said. “For example, if an American customer cracks a joke, it’s very likely someone working at an Indian call center won’t get it, whereas the Filipino would understand. Also, the Filipino call centers tend to be warmer and more accommodating, where the Indian call centers tend to be argumentative.” Cuisia predicted that by 2016, about 1.2 million Filipinos will be working in the BPO sector, generating $25 billion a year. That’s even more than the current top earner, electronics, which now accounts for 40 percent of foreign exchange. Meanwhile, remit-

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tances from the 9 million Filipinos working abroad, mostly in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, will bring in around $21 billion this year. Cuisia, 68, is a political appointee. Raised in Manila, he speaks Tagalog as well as English and Spanish. Like many Filipinos, he was educated in the United States — first at Philadelphia’s La Salle University, then at the Wharton School, where he earned an MBA in 1970. The aspiring executive then worked in New York for Arthur Young & Co. In later years, he headed the country’s social security system, then became governor of the Central Bank and chairman of the Monetary Board — finally becoming CEO of insurance giant AIG’s Philippine subsidiary, Philam. Since coming to Washington in 2011, a big part of Cuisia’s job is promoting trade and investment in the Philippines. That’s why, in late October, he joined 42 other Washington-based foreign ambassadors on a State Department-sponsored “Experience America” trip to Arkansas. There, Cuisia met with former President Bill Clinton, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, and top officials of Fortune 500 companies and educational institutions. “We focus on our military and security cooperation, and I do a lot of lobbying with the Pentagon and the State Department, but I also meet with the [Office of the U.S.Trade Representative] and try to get the Commerce Department to organize trade missions to the Philippines,” he said. To that end, he’s pushing hard for passage of the Save Our December 2012

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COMMERCIAL OFFICE SALES/LEASING — Embassy Chancery Commercial Office Sales/Leasing Over the past 30 years we have specialized in working with Embassies to find suitable Chancery and office properties to buy or lease. Please call Guy d’Amecourt for consultation. (202) 415-7800 or (202) 682-6261 SUMMIT Commercial Real Estate, LLC

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LAND/LOTS MASSACHUSETTS AVE. HEIGHTS — Estate Land Assemblage. Unique Diplomatic Church School Compound-Style Property. Can build. Approximately 30,000 sq. ft. with parking. Metro 2 blocks. LPC (202) 513-6708.

December 2012

To place an ad in the classified section, call (301) 933-3552 or email


/ e ssy n Sit ) a b io le Em dat Peop un 40 Fo (10-

2310 tracy place, nw washington, dcAREA EMBASSY ROW


4-bedroom, 3-bath, single-family home available immediately in Luxmanor neighborhood. 2-car garage, study, fireplace, deck, sunroom and patio. Hardwood floors. Walking distance to White Flint Metro. Local schools are Luxmanor Elementary, Parkland Middle and Walter Johnson High School. $4099/month plus utilities and one month security deposit. Lawn mowing included. 2-year lease minimum.

Call Gwokang at 240-498-1468.


House for rent - GreatWASHINGTON F I N E P RO P E RT I E S , L L C Location! Dappled with sunlight and brimming with space, this 3 BRs/ 3 full BA home is available for rent in one of the most desirable area of NW DC. Ideal for a family. Enjoy evenings in your enclosed rear porch & deck overlooking expansive backyard, perfect for entertaining. Original hardwood floors in main level, as well as a spacious and polished lower level family room, with space for guests/in-law/adolescent room. The fully finished attic includes skylight and plenty of storage. Updated kitchen & bath, two fireplaces, a one-car garage and ample additional parking round out the superior features of this home. Located within walking distance of Rock Creek Park. Access to some of the best public schools in the district, as well as many other amenities. Located in super-quiet and extremely safe area, yet very close to restaurants, shopping, downtown and with easy access to the red line on the Metro. Available immediately. $3,500 per month. Manuel Gomez (202) 577-3312; Sylvia Correa (202) 262-2812.


4224 16th Street, NW

A fabulous diplomat’s Since 1975 - Reliable, knowledgeable, residence for RENT every effort is made to assure NOTE: Although your ad is free of— mistakes in spelling and professional, prompt service or SALE. It offerscontent a it is ultimately up to theKalorama, customer to make theHill, final proof. Georgetown, Capitol grand entrance, large Mass. Avenue, Wesley Heights, etc. 6BR and 5.5BA, Henryk, BrokerPat Henryk subsequent Real Estate The first two plan faxed changes will be made atPatricia no cost to the advertiser, changes 6,671 sq.ft. floor (202) 362-7155 or (202) 528-1042. will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. with architectural email: details. 9,038 sq.ft. lot and a 3-car parking space. An outstanding space for entertainment andad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. Please check this style. View online at EMBASSY ROW — mlsTour/?ver=1&id=61141. Elegant Chancery style mansion in close proximity

If the ad is correct sign and fax to: (301) 949-0065 needs changes to Embassy Row. Adjacent to the DuPont Circle Offered at $1,499,000.

Metro Station. Parking. Lease/Sale. LPC Commercial

Peter Stelmach, Heymann realty, LLC, The Washington Diplomat (301) 933-3552 Services Inc. (202) 491-5300.


Approved __________________________________________________________ Changes ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Are You Reading This Ad? Your customers will too! (301) 933-3552

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 

  


CALL 301-933-3552



  

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Fully-renovated house for rent in Takoma, DC. 6BR, 4.5BAs on double lot. Separate au pair suite. Twocar garage. Quick walk to Metro Red Line. Available Jan 1st. $4,800 per month. (410) 279-7130. ba4a9f82-c074-47be-a9b4-a222d4b28246. More pics at

Industries Act. Introduced in the Senate by Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and in the House by Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), the SAVE Act now has eight bipartisan Senate sponsors and 21 bipartisan House sponsors. If passed, it would allow Philippine apparel made of U.S. fabric to enter the United States duty-free. The Philippines is particularly known for its needlework skills, as well as the ability to assemble more tailored, embellished products at the mid- to highend market tier. Cuisia said that over time, it’s becoming more difficult for Philippine apparel manufacturers — whose workers now earn $300 to $400 a month — to compete against their much lower-

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December 2012


 

     REALTOR



wage Chinese rivals. At present, the Philippine share of the U.S. garment market stands at 2 percent, compared to 38 percent for China. “We’re trying to push this SAVE bill to enable us to be more competitive. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain this to legislators,” the ambassador said, noting that he’s also attempting to get the word out to the 2.5 million Filipino-Americans in the United States. Maria Alvero, commercial counselor at the Philippine Embassy, said the SAVE Act “is a stepping stone to the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” which the Philippines has expressed interest in joining.




But that can’t happen, Cuisia warned, until his country relaxes its rules on foreign investment in critical sectors of the Philippine economy. Under current law, foreigners are limited to between 20 and 60 percent of equity in specific ventures depending on the type of business in question. “We’d have to amend our constitution. There are certain economic provisions that restrict foreign ownership in retail trade, education, advertising and shipping,” he said. “That’s why for us to qualify under TPP, we have to remove all those restrictions. Generally the business sector is in favor, but it’ll take time.” Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat. The Washington Diplomat Page 47

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The Washington Diplomat

December 2012

December 2012  

The Washington Diplomat is an independent monthly newspaper with a readership of more than 120,000 that includes the 180 embassies in Washin...

December 2012  

The Washington Diplomat is an independent monthly newspaper with a readership of more than 120,000 that includes the 180 embassies in Washin...