Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bradley Bell Arrives In Hungary

New US Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bradley Bell, pictured above in center, arrived in the Hungarian capital Budapest. The United States’ highest-level diplomatic representation has resumed following an almost two-year period in of absence of an American Ambassador.

(Ambassador Bell being sworn-in in December 2014)
She was received on behalf of the government by Levente Magyar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Economic Relations (KKM), at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport.
 Mr. Magyar highlighted that the Hungarian government welcomes the ambassador with utmost openness and affection, saying that [the cabinet] “is looking forward to working together with marked optimism”.
The Government is convinced that in the near future, a dialogue will evolve between Hungary and the US which,  will navigate relations in a constructive direction. Economic and military cooperation between the two parties has never been as outstanding and strong as now.
The State Secretary added that with Colleen Bell’s arrival, the United States’ highest-level diplomatic representation has, at long last, resumed, following an almost two-year period in the absence of an US ambassador.

 Ambassador Colleen Bell presented her credentials to President of Hungary János Áder.

After presenting her credentials, Ambassador Bell laid a memorial wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Heroes’ Square, in the name of the people of the United States of America.

  On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, Ambassador Bell and Minister Balog signed an agreement to eliminate dual social security taxation. (See below)

Colleen Bradley Bell (born January 30, 1967) is an American television producer, philanthropist and advocate for the environment, arts and social causes. Bell resided in Los Angeles with her husband, television writer/producer Bradley Bell, and their four children.
 On November 6, 2013, Pres. Obama announced his intent to nominate Ms. Bell as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. The nomination was controversial and Senator John McCain called her "totally unqualfied". On December 1, 2014, the U.S. Senate voted 50-36 to invoke cloture on Bell's nomination, thus cutting off a Republican-led filibuster. On December 2, 2014, the Senate voted 52-42 to confirm Bell. Bell faced criticisms from Republicans, led by McCain, and commentators over her perceived lack of expertise on Hungary and its current geopolitical situation, as well as for the political nature of her appointment.
Bell was confirmed in December 2014 as the United States Ambassador to Hungary.

(April Foley was President George Bush's Ambassador to Hungary until 2009)
 President Obama’s pick for Ambassador to Hungary, Colleen Bell is a producer for “Bold and the Beautiful” and has raised millions for Obama’s campaign.
 Colleen Bradley Bell, is not only a soap opera producer, she is soap royalty.
Her husband Bradley Bell is scion of soap opera mogul William Bell. The late William Bell worked as a head writer at “Days of Our Lives” before striking gold with his own series “Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Young and the Restless” and the now-defunct “Another World.”
Bell has also served as a Kennedy Center trustee since 2012, alongside Caroline Kennedy, who is U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
 She is somebody that the President has confidence will be able to maintain our relationship with the government and the people of Hungary ... she was chosen because the President has complete confidence in her ability to represent the United States in Hungary.
When describing her qualifications for the job, the newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to Hungary cited a "product" she helped develop that is exported to "more than 100 countries, for daily consumption with more than 40 million viewers."
The product Colleen Bradley Bell produced is the soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful.
The big political donor who becomes an ambassador to a relatively small country is something of a Washington punch line and also a tradition. Presidents have done this for decades. But critics say the Obama administration has taken it too far.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bell and Mamet each raised at least $500,000 for President Obama's campaign in 2012.
At Bell's confirmation hearing, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked her about America's strategic interest in Hungary. The answer that followed could best be described as a word soup.

"Well, we have a strategic interest," she said. "In terms of what are our key priorities, in Hungary. I think our key priorities are to, um, improve upon as I mentioned the security relationship, and also the law enforcement and to promote business opportunities, increase trade ..."
McCain wasn't impressed. He cleared his throat and asked the question again.
"It's really disgraceful," said McCain following the confirmation vote, which fell neatly along party lines.
Especially, he says, because Hungary is in a perilous state politically, teetering between the influence of Western democracies and Vladimir Putin's Russia. As for Bell's qualifications, White House press secretary Josh Earnest grasped for words at yesterday's press briefing.
"Well she certainly is somebody again, that, that is, has, has had her own distinguished private sector career," said Earnest.
According to the American Foreign Service Association, in Obama's second term a little more than 40 percent of ambassador nominees have been political rather than career diplomats. In recent past administrations the share has been less, 30 percent.
When author Kati Marton was 5 years old, growing up in Hungary, the first American she met was the U.S. ambassador. Her parents, journalists, were deemed enemies of the state and jailed, she says.

"Ambassador [Christian M.] Ravndal made a point of looking after my older sister and me who had been left as, well, political orphans," said Marton, recalling a defining moment in her childhood.
She says he visited them, pulling up in a big Buick with an American flag on the front, a deeply symbolic move in Cold War Hungary.
"The American ambassador in countries that are often forgotten by Washington can play an enormous role, a symbolic role, standing in for what America stands for," said Marton.
Marton is the widow of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and says she knows rewarding donors is part of the way Washington works.
This year the American Foreign Service Association, which represents career diplomats, came out with four simple qualifications for an ambassador.
"Relevant international experience," explains Bob Silverman, the group's president. "High-level government or other high-level policy articulation experience, good management skills. Good leadership skills."
He opted not to say whether Bell, Mamet and the other recent donor ambassadors met that standard.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hungarian Parliamentarian, Jenő Lasztovicza, Dead At Age 53.

Jenő Lasztovicza  was a Hungarian horticultural engineer, politician and member of the National Assembly (MP) for the Tapolca (Veszprém County Constituency IV) from 1998 until his death in early 2015.
He joined Fidesz in November 1994 and was the Party President in his town from 1998 until his death. He secured a seat as an MP in the 1998 parliamentary elections representing Tapolca. He was the deputy chairman of the Tourism Committee in the 1998–2002 term and was also active on the Regional Development Committee. From 15 July 1999 until the change of government in 2002 he held the position of Chairman of the Board of Tourism, the advisory body on tourism of the Minister of Economy. In the 2002 general elections he was elected incumbent MP for Tapolca in the first round on 7 April. He chaired the Committee on Sport and Tourism from the inauguration of the Parliament on 15 May 2002 to 24 October 2006. He secured a seat as an MP in the 2006 elections representing Tapolca again. He was the Vice Chairman of the Committee on Sport and Tourism.
Lasztovicza died on 8 January 2015, aged 53.
The native form of this personal name is Lasztovicza Jenő(21 December 1961 – 8 January 2015).
(The English equivalent of Jenő is EuGene, also written as Eugene.)

 The "Steverson Collection" of English books is now in the Hungarian public library database. It is the largest collection of English language books in Hungary and possibly even Europe, except for England.

The STEVERSON COLLECTION Book Club is for book lovers.

After the Opening Ceremony of the Steverson Book Collection on 23 April, 2009 the American Corner Veszprem was excited to announce the start of the Steverson Collection Book Club.

 The Club's aim is to give the reading public a chance to get acquainted with the vast collection of books in the generous donation from Judge London Steverson and his family. This Book Club is run by book lovers, and is for book lovers. The members are at the heart of all the club does. (Find the Steverson Collection at www.ekmk.hu)

Prominent Hungarian politicians who paid their respects to Jenő Lasztovicza, included President Janos Ader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Laszlo Kover, Speaker of the Parliament, as well as several cabinet members and political party representatives.
The long funeral was on January 8; He died from serious illness.  Representative Tibor Navracsics, EU commissioner spoke of Lasztovicza Eugene as a winner, who started a family and community in Tapolca, Hungary and USA,California,

Rich contribution to the great common treasury


QUOTE: (Literal translation into English)
Tibor Navracsics drew parallels between the life and the life of the content. Mentions "a former biological time, which will be given, and in the end there is the great encounter. Contents of life, however, depends on us, "He stressed though Lasztovicza Jeno short life is given. 'Rich contribution was the great common treasury", so it lives on in the memory of Tapolca and its surroundings.
The new cemetery tapolca arranged ceremony, Archbishop Peter Cook and tapolca vicar Veszprém Gyula Márfi celebrated prior to the funeral service was held at the funeral Tapolca Roman Catholic church.
Lasztovicza Eugene was born on December 21, 1961 Kiskoros. In 1994 he entered the Fidesz party was a Member of Parliament since 1998, as a member and as vice president of several parliamentary committees were active. Between 2006 and 2014, Veszprém County held the presidency of the General Assembly.
Due to the death of a politician-elections should be around Tapolca. The EP elections should be set for Sunday within 120 days of the vacant seats, according to this last Sunday of May 3, when a choice has to be maintained. This should be set to at least 70 but not more than 90 days from the date of the setting and the day of the vote.

Read more at:

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Case Of Webster Smith, Another American Tragedy

The Webster Smith case was a litmus test for justice in America. Every once in a while a case comes along that puts our humanity as a people, and as Americans, on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial. Our sense of Justice in America and particularly in the U. S. Military was on trial. This was no ordinary trial. Our humanity was on trial. Our system of justice was on trial. This case dissolved the deceptive façade and exposed certain moral deficiencies in our system of justice.

On Dec. 4, 2005 an officer on duty at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) received an allegation of sexual misconduct from a cadet, setting off an inquiry by the Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS), based in Washington, D.C..
The commandant of cadets, Captain Douglas Wisniewski, took immediate action to initiate the investigation into these allegations.
Sexual misconduct at the USCGA is defined as "acts that disgrace or bring discredit on the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Academy and are sexual in nature,  including lewd or lascivious acts, indecent exposure or homosexual conduct."

But the definition also includes consensual acts that are prohibited on Academy grounds, such as holding hands, kissing in public or having sex.

Cadet First Class Webster Smith was charged with sexually assaulting six female cadets in Chase Hall, the cadet living quarters at the United States Coast Guard Academy, and in other locations.

An Article 32 Investigation was convened on March 21, 2006 to determine whether there was probable cause to convene a court-martial to prosecute the charges. The Investigating Officer received the testimony of seven female cadets who accused Cadet Smith of assaulting them between May and November 2005.
The USCGA Superintendent, Admiral James Van Sice, decided to refer the charges against Cadet Smith to a General Court-martial. In his opening statement to the Jury Panel on June 26, 2006 the prosecutor described Cadet Smith as a manipulative senior who preyed on lonely women.

Cadet  Smith of Houston, Texas pleaded not guilty in the first court-martial of a cadet in Coast Guard Academy history. The charges ranged from rape, sodomy, and extortion to assault of the female cadets.

Cadet Smith was tried before a jury panel of Coast Guard officers including four white men, one white woman, three Black men and a man of Asian descent. The senior member was a captain with command experience. There were no cadets on the panel. Since there were no cadets on the jury panel, it can truly be asked whether he was afforded a jury of his peers. Were the best qualified members appointed to the panel, as the Manual For Courts-martial (MCM) and UCMJ mandate?

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), (10 USC sec.801 et seq.) supplemented by the Manual For Courts-martial (MCM) provides guidance for a commander empowered to convene a court-martial. The UCMJ and the MCM both contain the following sentence:
  "When convening a court-martial the convening authority shall detail as members thereof, such members of the armed forces as, in his opinion, are best qualified for the duty by reason of age, education, training, experience, length of service, and judicial temperament". (UCMJ Art. 25(d)(2).

     I have made this or a similar argument many times while defending service members in courts-martial. None of the members of Webster Smith's jury panel had been a cadet at the USCGA while female cadets were living in Chase Hall. Only one had ever attended the USCGA; none had socialized with female cadet; none had attended cadet athletic parties; none had read the cadet regulations; none had counseled a cadet concerning sexual assault; none had first-hand experience with the four class system; none had indoctrinated female cadets; and none had ever had a girl friend who was the first female brigade commander, who got pregnant, had an abortion, and continued to date the putative father for another six months before she was counseled by Coast Guard lawyers that she might have been raped at some point during her 18 month relationship with the accused in this court-martial.

    If, at least, one cadet had been on that jury, he could have explained to the members during deliberations many of the things that they were completely ignorant of. I contend that the jury did not have a clue as to what living conditions were like in Chase Hall, nor did they know what the social environment was like between Black male upper-class cadets and white female cadets in any of the four classes.

   That being the case, the jury was not composed of the best qualified people available in accordance with the UCMJ and Art 25(d)(2).

On June 28, 2006 after about eight hours of deliberation, the panel found Cadet Webster Smith guilty of indecent assault, extortion in exchange for sexual favors and sodomy, which in military parlance includes oral sex. All those charges involved one of the four accusers.

Cadet Smith was sentenced to be separated form the service and to spend six months in jail at a Navy brig.

This was not a rape case. Many senior Coast Guard officers tried to portray it as such. Webster Smith was not and is not a rapist. The court-martial, with all of its faults, proved that this was not a rape case.

Neither was Webster Smith a sexual predator as he was called. He simply refused to stay on his side of the color-line. Someone felt that a message had to be sent; a lesson had to be taught. Just as East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet; the Coast Guard Academy was not going to become a breeding ground for miscegenation.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the conviction  of Webster Smith, the only Coast Guard Academy cadet ever  court-martialed.

Smith had sought a Supreme Court review based largely on the argument  that he had not been able to question the credibility of one of his  accusers, known only as Cadet SR.

Smith’s attorneys wanted a chance to question the female cadet  because, according to a legal brief, she had lied about the consensual  nature of a previous sexual encounter with an enlisted man, contrary to  Coast Guard rules and possibly jeopardizing her military career. The  female cadet claimed Smith used knowledge of her previous dalliance to  extort sexual favors from her.

“The defense maintained that the two cadets’ sexual encounter was  consensual and that SR was fabricating her accusations because the  encounter occurred in Chase Hall, the Academy dormitory, where sexual  activity is prohibited by cadet regulations,” according to a brief in  the case.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces' (CAAF) minority opinion, including Chief Judge C.J. Effron, agreed that  Smith’s attorneys should have been allowed to question the female cadet.  In a dissenting opinion, they said Smith’s “allegation that SR had  previously lied about a sexual encounter” was relevant to the case.

 Why was Cadet 1st Class Webster Smith investigated, charged, tried, and convicted? Why must this talented young man register as a sexual offender for the remainder of his life? Why did he not find any justice in the military justice system? How could his case go through the entire appeal's process and end up at the United States Supreme Court without being granted any relief? Why would Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security refuse to grant clemency in a case that clearly cries out for justice?  (Get the answer. Read:
 At this point in history when America had come far enough to elect a Black President why was this shining example of the best and the brightest of the African Americans of his generation denied the equal protection of the law? Why was he relegated to the second rail of military justice? On the second rail one receives "almost equal protection".  Like much else in the law, equal protection is a myth for America's citizens of color. The myth gives one the illusion of fairness.

Could the answer have anything to do with the nature of the criminal justice system or the definition of crime?  Crime is a legal concept, and the law creates the crimes it punishes. But, what creates the criminal law?  Behind the law, above it, and surrounding it is our society. Before the law made certain behavior a crime, some aspect of social reality transformed certain behavior into a crime.

Justice is blind in the abstract. It cannot see or act on its own. It cannot create its own morals, principles and rules. That depends on society. Behind every legal determination of "guilty" lies a more powerful and more basic social and societal judgement, a judgement that this type of behavior is not acceptable. This type of behavior deserves to be prohibited and punished. Our society has long chosen to prohibit and punish interracial sex.

After society makes a social judgement that certain behavior, acts, or conduct is wrong, the criminal justice system goes to work. It refines and transforms the list of prohibited acts and behavior. It interprets the list of acts, and does whatever is necessary to catch, convict and punish the lawbreakers.

Bias is inevitable. Crime and punishment are highly charged, emotional, and political subjects. There is no way to wring prejudice, attitude, or race out of the system.

 The Webster Smith Story Is An American Tragedy.

The Webster Smith Story is an American tragedy. It is not just the story of a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet; it is the story of an American family. It is the story of his mother, Belinda; and his father, Cleon; his wife, Lindsey and their daughter; and of his sister and brothers. It is the story of the friends of Webster Smith. They have all been harmed by the violence directed at their son, brother, husband, father and friend.

At the Coast Guard Academy, Webster Smith was a member of the Eclipse, Track Team, Football team, Regimental Staff, and a Swab summer Staff. He represented the Coast Guard in Washington DC concerning fitness and nutrition programs. He received numerous silver stars and never received a demerit prior the incident and investigation in 2005 that led to his court-martial.

To his classmates, teachers, and coaches Webster Smith appeared to be a magnetic, charming and gifted man, who had risen above his circumstances. Yet, in a moment, as if in the twinkling of an eye, a swift series of events diminished his popularity, vilified his name, and assailed his honor. His image was converted by senior Coast Guard officers from a popular athlete and nice guy to that of a sexual predator and public enemy number one at the Coast Guard Academy.

Webster Smith had dared to dream some big dreams. Like Alex Haley he had dared to believe that he could rise in the USCG to the highest level to which his talents and initiative could take him.

His parents were middle class African Americans. His father, Cleon Smith, was a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy in the Class of 1978 along with Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown.

His mother, Belinda Ingram Smith, believed in God and a good education. After attending college at WSSU for four years she went on to become the first Black female Crime Scene Investigator in the history of the Winston-Salem police Department.

This unbelievable turn about in what had been a Black success story is a singularly American tragedy.

That a cadet so deeply respected and loved by his coaches and classmates could evoke such an outpouring of hate and anger from the senior officers at the Coast Guard Academy is a Coast Guard tragedy and an American tragedy.

All of the female cadets involved with and associated with Webster Smith escaped clean without any consequences for their actions or their behavior. Mother Nature was the only one who exacted a penalty. Natural Law resulted in a pregnancy for his girlfriend. An abortion followed.

If women are equal, they should be treated as equal. Not a single woman was disciplined under the UCMJ or the cadet regulations. All of the female cadets involved in the Webster Smith case graduated and were commissioned as Coast Guard officers. Their testimony at the court-martial painted a picture of female cadets who were untrustworthy, arrogant, and certainly not ladies. Their conduct was unbecoming an officer and a lady. (Read more at www.judgelondonsteverson.com)

These women were witnesses at a public trial yet they were accorded the equivalent of rape shield protection. This was not a rape case. Not one of the women had been raped. There was testimony of consensual sex acts. Some of the consensual sex acts were unlawful because, among other things, they occurred in Chase Hall, or at Academy functions. How could unlawful consensual sex acts result in charges against only one of the participants? It takes two to tango.

Is it wrong for Black people to ask if there is a double standard? Would that amount to paranoia on the part of Black people? Or would that be considered playing the race card simply to inquire? Is it absurd to believe that anything more than pure chance resulted in the court-martial of Webster Smith? The fact that he was court-martialed speaks to a social reality that African-Americans are acutely aware of in America. Race is not a card to be dealt, but it determines whom the dealer is and who gets dealt a losing hand.

According to a 2008 General Accounting Office Report, from 2003 to 2006 there were NO sexual-harassment complaints at the Coast Guard Academy, but there were 12 incidents of sexual assault reported to the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), with one incident in 2003, one in 2004, “NONE” in 2005 and 10 in 2006. It is hard to conceive of the facts relied upon by, Captain Douglas Wisniewski, the Commandant Of Cadets when he asserted in 2005 that there was a climate of fear of sexual assault in Chase Hall.

The 10 incidents reported in 2006 would appear to have occurred after the Webster Smith court-martial. Webster Smith was removed from Chase Hall in 2005. Who was doing all of the sexual assaulting in 2006? Why were none of these people brought to justice? They could have been tried along with Webster Smith.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Webster Smith. The justices declined to hear the case without comment. The decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) became the final decision in the case.

Thirteen female cadets and 11 males at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CGA) reported anonymously in an April 2008 survey that they experienced “unwanted sexual contact,” ranging from touching to forced sexual acts, during the 2007-08 school year.

More than three-quarters said that alcohol or drugs were involved and that the offender was a fellow cadet.
None of the women sought professional help and only 7 percent discussed the incident with authorities.

When Alexander Hamilton organized the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790 it was established in the Department of the Treasury. Later it became known as the Coast Guard. In 1966 it was placed in the Department of Transportation. Today it is the nucleus of the Department of Homeland Security. Webster Smith's case is currently being reviewed for clemency by the Secretary of the Department of Home Land Security, Janet Napolitano.

Webster Smith would have made an excellent military officer. It is Webster Smith and people like him that I want on the wall as our last line of defense for our American way of life protecting us from the great unwashed horde that is coming. Secretary Napolitano who do you want on that wall?

When the Supreme Court rejected Smith’s petition seeking a  hearing on the case, it effectively made the CAAF’s  decision the final decision in the case.
 (By USALJ-ret. )