The next big wave in U.S. diplomacy? Napping.
A visit from media maven Arianna Huffington to the U.S. Embassy in London on Monday could have done wonders for diplomatic efforts between the two allies — or at least for the daily lives of Foreign Service officers. We imagine it must be difficult to maintain friendly relations when you’re cranky.
Now London isn’t exactly a hardship post, but work is work, and studies show that a midday snooze boosts productivity and overall health. Huffington is a proponent of workplace naps, and she suggested to Ambassador Matthew Barzun that he might consider finding quiet space in the embassy for staff to sleep.
Barzun said the notion was “so moved,” according to the Huffington Post. “We’re going to look at nap room locations,” he said. The United States is building a new embassy in London. Perhaps, we thought, Barzun could talk to the developers about setting aside a sleeping nook.
We were happy for (and jealous of) our diplomats across the pond, but Marie Harf , a State spokeswoman, put the kibosh on nap talk Tuesday at a news briefing
“In a private talk yesterday, [to] U.S. employees at the embassy in London, Arianna Huffington touted the productivity benefits of getting more sleep, something we can probably all attest to, and urged the ambassador to follow the Huffington Post’s example of installing nap rooms,” Harf said. “The ambassador graciously and diplomatically said he would look into it. While we are not considering establishing nap rooms at Embassy London or any of our diplomatic missions at this time, we obviously think that work-life balance is important, and someday I will attempt to find it.”
Apparently they don’t know there is already a long historical precedent in England for the coveted nap. There may have been a world war going on, but even Prime Minister Winston Churchill found time to sneak in some afternoon shut-eye.
“Nature had not intended mankind to work from 8 in the morning until midnight without the refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts 20 minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces,” Churchill said in his memoir.
What’s good for Churchill . . .
It’s been 23 years since the United States has had an embassy in perennially war-torn Somalia — best known for dueling militias, chaos and pirates. (Remember the Tom Hanks movie “Captain Phillips” last year?)
But in the hope that conditions might begin improving, the administration is planning to name an ambassador to Mogadishu (scene of the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” tragedy), Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said Tuesday in a talk at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
During the speech, State’s Harf tweeted, “20 years ago, the United States essentially withdrew from this country. And now, we are back.”
For the time being, she said, that envoy will be based in Nairobi, where a diplomatic team, headed by a special representative, travels to and from Somalia. But, as conditions and relations improve — although car bombs and other attacks by al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab rebels continue — the idea is to have an actual embassy once again in Somalia.
There is no nominee to announce yet, State officials told us, but campaign bundlers are unlikely to fight over this one. We’re betting that the lucky person will be a career Foreign Service officer. If that’s the case, there’s probably no reason to rush. That nominee will just, as we’ve written, join the 20 other career ambassadorial nominees, many of whom have been held hostage for up to a year on the Senate floor as a result of the “nuclear option” fallout.
Congressional candidate Scott Fistler changed his party from Republican to Democrat, and he changed his name to Cesar Chavez. But apparently he still has some things to work out: He’s obviously a fan of Chavez; he just doesn’t seem to know which one.
On his campaign Web site, the U.S. House candidate from Arizona has lots of fine photos of the late Chavez. Problem is, the photos are not of Cesar Chavez, but of the late Venezuelan president and anti-U.S. demagogue Hugo Chavez.
Fistler lost a 2012 write-in campaign as a GOP candidate for Congress against longtime Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) in a heavily Hispanic district. Then he lost a Phoenix City Council bid in 2013 to Laura Pastor, Ed’s daughter.
He legally changed his name to that of the legendary labor leader and civil rights activist, the Arizona Capitol Times reported Monday. On his petition, the Capitol Times reported, he stated he wanted the name change because he had “experienced many hardships because of my name.” Losing elections is surely tough.
Well, there’s still time to work out the kinks. Maybe he could just call himself the “candidate formerly known as Fistler?”
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Washington lawyer Keith Harper, a member of the Cherokee Nation, to be the U.S. representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, making him the first member of a federally recognized tribe to be accorded an ambassadorial-rank post.
Harper, confirmed on a 52 to 42 vote, has been active in human rights and civil rights groups. He was also a mega-bundler, having raised more than $500,000 for President Obama’s 2012 campaign.
The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.