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Diplocon was founded to provide resources for people seeking jobs providing construction services to the Diplomatic Community. While continuing to do so, it has also evolved into a nexus for employment professionals and consultants, job seekers interested in employment OCONUS (Outside CONtinental United States) in any field, and people already OCONUS whether working in the diplomatic realm, construction, maintenance, and support of diplomatic facilities, or in other professions and roles.

Archive for 2011


Are journalists just bloggers?

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While working overseas, the Internet is my connection with America and my primary source for news but it seems like any more, journalists seem to be just bloggers with unearned credibility. Wait, my apologies are due the few real journalists remaining out there. I should use the term “news writers” for the others since they are more like story writers. There are still a few real journalists out there, but a disturbingly huge number of those supposedly reporting the news are really not. They present opinions, like this blogger, but I am clearly presenting my point of view, not stating anything as objective fact and using a byline from a supposedly reputable news agency to lend credence to a slanted piece of agenda driven drivel.

I am old enough to remember when you picked up a newspaper and actually read it for an entire Sunday morning, or, in the evening after work. You read it and digested meaning. You expected good reporting and factual writing with good editor oversight and, yes, even editorial control so the story was fact checked and the grammar was proper. There were news sections and an Op/Ed section. The news was clearly news, the opinions and editorials were in a separate section under a clearly stated heading and were clearly what they were indicated as being.

Now, frequently, a headline promises news, but the writer delivers an opinion to support their political agenda, and with so many hack writers out there competing to attract hits from visitors (it seems in the Internet age we are no longer considered readers) there seems to be little concern for delivering news that an educated and seasoned adult can use and more for attracting young, more easily influenced (not to mention saleable) visitors. I think that may be the key difference between pre-Internet journalism and now. At one time, journalists were considered accomplished if they could present the facts in a way that would keep a reader reading. Now, it is more about getting the highest number of hits on the news agency website. That can be most efficiently done by writing sensationalized stories that will excite a desired demographic group to each forward the article to their hundreds of “friends” on the social networking sites so the friends will bounce over for a moment and be counted as a website hit. As I understand it, the more hits, not necessarily the quality of the traffic, the higher the price for ad space so advertisers cough up their highest advertising dollars to market to visitors whether they actually stay for more than a few seconds or not.

I would appreciate some points of view from others, especially some journalists (and even news writers) and welcome dissenting points of view. I believe that real journalism could be one of the most important professions in the world and wields great power. I think, for our collective sake we need to get objectivity back in news reporting and save the opinions and agendas for the Op/Ed section.


Categories : A place to rant, General
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Bahrain unrest

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Dispatch: Bahrain Protests as a Proxy Battle

February 17, 2011 | 2058 GMT

Analyst Kamran Bokhari explains how the sectarian-driven civil unrest in Bahrain could serve as a proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

After Egypt, Bahrain has become the most significant place where street agitation is taking place in the Middle East. Bahrain is significant because it is the only wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country where we are seeing mass protests and a government crackdown. The country being a proxy battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran makes it even more significant.

Pro-democracy street agitation is not a stranger to Bahrain. There have been such protests, going as far back as the early 1990s, with the opposition forces demanding that the monarchy make room for a more constitutional framework and a much more democratic polity. So, what is happening is not entirely new. What makes this significant — this latest round of unrest — is that it comes in the context of the overall regional unrest that started in Tunisia and moved to Egypt (in both Tunisia and Egypt we saw the fall of the sitting presidents). What makes this even more significant is that in Bahrain you have a sectarian dynamic; the country is ruled by a Sunni monarchy that presides of an overwhelmingly large Shiite population, estimated to be about 70 percent of the country’s total population.

It’s not just the sectarian dynamic that makes the protests significant in Bahrain. There is also a wider geopolitical contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has been going on for several decades and, more recently, since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Since then, Saudi Arabia has been very worried about Iranian attempts to project power across the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Peninsula. And with Bahrain having a heavy Shiite population, this is a cause for concern in Saudi Arabia, as Saudi Arabia is neighbors with Bahrain and has its own 20 percent Shiite population.

From the point of view of the United States, Bahrain is also significant because it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. The 5th Fleet is one of the key levers that serve as a counter to Iran, or any movement on the part of Iran. It is not clear at this point to what degree Iran is involved in the uprising Bahrain. There are linkages, but to what degree Iran is playing those linkages is not clear at this point. Nonetheless, it is one of those flashpoints between Shiite Iran and the largely Sunni Arab world, and Bahrain is going to be very interesting in terms of how both sides battle it out in the form of a proxy contest.

Should Bahrain succumb to unrest and the monarchy has to concede to the demands of the protesters at some point in the future, this becomes a huge concern for the security of countries like Saudi Arabia, particularly where there is a 20 percent Shiite population that has been keeping quiet for the most part, but could be emboldened, based on what they have seen in Egypt and now what they are looking at in terms of Bahrain.

Used by permission of www.stratfor.com

Categories : Middle East
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IRS problems

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Any negative actions between you and the Internal Revenue Service can cause a security clearance investigation to be prolonged, and possibly a denial of clearance.

None of us enjoy paying taxes, but let’s face the fact that in a modern society, taxes are necessary to provide government entities with funds to provide services for the common good. That being said, it is neither philanthropic nor patriotic to pay more than your share as required by IRS or state or local tax codes so learn how to file for the most honest deductions allowable. The thing to be aware of is that if you do owe taxes, and you try to avoid paying them, you could be denied a clearance or lose it if you currently have one. If you owe taxes, contact the entity to which you owe them, and pay them off if you can, or, work out a payment plan to pay some each month. Tax collection agencies would rather work with you than cause you to lose your livelihood. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem.

Categories : General
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More money, less tax

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Increase income and decrease taxes at the same time. Runs contrary to normal thinking, right? We are raised on the notion that, at least for working class Americans, our taxes must increase as our income increases. That may be the case for many Americans, but for the relatively few that work overseas, taxes can be much less than for an equivalent income earned in the USA. It is entirely possible that a profession in the US, when performed overseas, will result in double the pay, and less than half the taxes.

While there are some overseas workers that are subject to full US tax liabilities, many positions overseas that must be filled by Americans  have great tax breaks. When seeking a position overseas, it is a good idea to check with others that are already out there working in the wider world to find out how much US income tax they are required to pay. Because the compensation available overseas is generally much higher than in the US, taxes should not be the deciding factor when weighing options, but it is good to know before you go. One way to find out what others are paying is to ask the folks that use the diplocon website to keep in touch with the wider world OCONUS. Click on “Start your own thread” in the” Know before you go category” and leave a comment/question, then watch for a reply in the following days.


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Start your own thread

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Start your own thread here. Be creative or keep it simple – it is your medium for expressing your views and opinions, or seeking answers to your questions. Please just bear in mind that we strive to maintain an environment of good taste and diplomacy.