For a taste of what living in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer was like, take a look at this You-tube video from a volunteer whose term overlapped with mine (since I extended my term after starting in 2000). And, of course, I’ve been back 13 times since, including last Feb. Many familiar scenes appear here:
Speaking of Honduras, while I was serving as an interpreter at a recent parent-teacher school meeting, one of the teachers noticed the tiny logo on my t-shirt for International Health Service of Minnesota (ihsmn.org), one of the brigades where I’ve volunteered yearly since leaving Peace Corps Honduras—was there most recently in Feb. 2017. Her parents, a nurse and a physician, are also yearly volunteers, but in a different part of Honduras from where I usually go. Small world!
Interpreting is a job full of surprises; we never know quite what to expect. Recently, at a law office, I met as interpreter with an asylum applicant, a male-to-female transgender woman, still using a male first name, probably because identifying documents and gender identity cannot be legally changed in the country of origin and all documents would be in that name. I wish I could say more, including original country, but confidentiality precludes it.
Recently, at the DC Amnesty International office, I am among about 20 people attending a presentation by Marcos Gomez, the head of Amnesty International Venezuela, one of the largest groups in Latin America. Here is a statement issued by the office prior to his appearance:
Earlier this year, amidst an increase in protests around Venezuela have resulted in more than 43 deaths and hundreds of people injured and imprisoned, Amnesty International launched the report Silenced By Force: Politically-Motivated Arbitrary Detentions in Venezuela. The report provides details on a catalogue of illegal actions taken by Venezuelan authorities to repress freedom of expression, and documents how Venezuelan authorities are using the justice system to illegally increase persecution and punishment of those who think differently. Marcos Gomez heads the 40-year old country section of Amnesty International Venezuela (AIVEN) and manages 50 local staff. The Venezuela Section of Amnesty International is one of the largest throughout the Global South with more than 450,000 supporters and 20 networks in all of Venezuela's major cities. Marcos will also provide updates on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and on recently documented findings of how Venezuelan security forces have used illegal raids and attacks on private homes as a way of stamping out dissent, expanding their repressive tactics from the streets to people’s homes.
As for Americans’ Cuba travel: U.S. tourists and companies will no longer be able to do business with a long list of entities that allegedly have ties to Cuban military, intelligence or security services. American tourists will also no longer be able to travel to Cuba on individual people-to-people exchange programs. They must travel now with a sponsoring organization or, if there on educational travel, with an American group or university. http://abcnews.go.com/International/cuba-restrictions-make-harder-americans-visit-country/story?id=51013328
Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbec man charged with killing 8 people in the NYC terrorist attack, had won the visa lottery. I am well acquainted with the visa lottery, as per my Confessions book: Once, in a remarkable streak of luck, three visitors, from Argentina, Japan, and Tunisia respectively, all won that year’s U.S. visa lottery. Our house acquired such a lucky-charm reputation thereafter that visa-lottery hopefuls clamored to live with us, although none subsequently won.
Of course, the visa lottery is not the real problem.
Prepare Yourself for Jihad 3.0
Radical Islamic terrorists will revive their movement. The U.S. needs to focus on defeating the ideology. Wall St. Journal Nov. 2, 2017 Tuesday's terrorist attack in New York City, committed by an immigrant from Uzbekistan, is a reminder that radical political Islam won’t end with the recent defeat of Islamic State in Raqqa. The U.S. must re-evaluate its alliances in the Muslim world based on whether or not partners encourage extremism. Saudi Arabia’s recent avowal to teach moderation in religion, emulating the United Arab Emirates’ campaign against radical Islamism, deserves American support, as does Morocco’s decision to work with the Holocaust Memorial Museum to educate its people about the Holocaust and teach tolerance. On the other hand, Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s decision to include jihadi teachings in its school curriculum indicate their support of radicalism. Above all, the U.S. must focus on defeating radical Islamist ideology, not just its periodic manifestation in terrorist attacks.
Even closer to home, how many more mass shootings have to occur before more effective gun control is enacted? Apparently the supposed protective benefit of allowing an armed citizenry is not working in terms of preventing such attacks. An article in the right-wing Townhall Daily is headlined “We Don’t Need Gun Control to Prevent Mass Shootings." OK, then, what do we need? Other developed countries, even less developed ones, don’t have this problem. Mr. Trump says it’s a mental health issue, not “a gun situation.” If so, what do we do to prevent those with mental health issues from having guns, including Donald Trump himself, who evidently has his own mental health issues?
Despite a bad conduct military discharge and having been found to have assaulted his wife and child, the Texas shooter was able to assemble a firearms collection.
Avid Trump supporter Texas Gov. Greg Abbott commented on Sunday’s killing in Sutherland Spring, Texas, and on the killing of 58 people in Las Vegas in October: :
We have acts of evil taking place, and because they are close in time to us right now, we think this is something heavy right now. But put this in the context of history. Look at what happened with Hitler, the horrific events during that era, and Mussolini.
Predictably, Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and many other political leaders sent their usual “thoughts and prayers” to Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday after the gunman killed 26 people and injured 20 more at the First Baptist Church. It always is said to be “too soon” to discuss gun control after a mass shooting. But many on Twitter pointed out that the victims were attending church, so likely were already engaged in prayer, and still suffered at the hands of a gunman. Now, they say, it’s time for politicians to offer something more than thoughts and prayers:
Reports out of Texas are devastating. The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now.
rosanne cash Retweeted Paul Ryan
They were in a church that was full of prayers. They need a government who will enact common sense gun laws. #GunControlNow
Mr. Trump poured gasoline on the fire of the gun debate by reportedly calling for more guns, when all evidence shows that fewer guns deaths occur where there are fewer guns in circulation. As for his international forays, "I do think both the Chinese and the Russians think they can play him," former National Intelligence Director James Clapper said of Trump.
Of course, Trump apparently considers himself to be especially gifted and possessing a very high IQ (he seems obsessed with IQ scores and proving that he is smart). Actually, he is rumored to have been mediocre in college (and maybe a legacy student?) and has what many have called a 3rd-grade vocabulary and obviously poor grammar and spelling. He also is ignorant of basic facts, as when he urged Japanese car makers to make cars in the US, as if they weren’t already doing that! Is Trump’s base really as clueless as he is and do his folks see ignorance as a virtue? Shouldn’t our leaders be a little savvier than the average voter?
GWBush seemed not too swift mentally as president, but he could be folksy and self-deprecating. Bill Clinton was savvy, but a philanderer. Obama as president was a straight arrow and very bright, but maybe a bit too cerebral? What redeeming virtues fitting him for the presidency does a mentally and emotionally challenged guy like Donald Trump have? Rather, let him return to playing golf and promoting his various properties. Maybe he can entertain himself by giving (paid) speeches to his adoring fans?
Well, at least Ralph Northam won, whew! not that he's so fantastic, but certainly much better than the alternative. Former RNC Chair Michael Steele is right in commenting on Trump's blaming of Ed Gillespie for not fully embracing him--Steele asked Trump if he had won Virginia?
Is the following true or “fake news”?
Former Mexican ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, who served as Mexico’s ambassador to the United States from 2007 to 2013, says State Department is telling world leaders to stay at Trump hotels. https://thinkprogress.org/former-mexican-ambassador-trump-hotels-6fc52c7ce8f5/
The Trump-friendly daily on-line “news” source, Townhall Daily, displays headlines like: “Mueller Strikes Out: Democrat Nuts and Never Trumpers Hardest Hit,” “The Left Is Just Full of Miserable People,” “Hillary Is Having A Terrible Day,” “Mueller Must Resign,” and “Sex: The Progressives’ Problem.” Not sure how I came to receive it, but it’s an interesting look into the alternative world of Trump supporters, the hard-core base. Might most of this be considered honest-to-goodness “fake news”?
Trump routinely labels unfavorable press reports and falling poll numbers “fake news,” and when votes don’t go his way, that’s because illegal aliens voted. And, of course, his predecessor Barack Obama was born in Kenya, hence an illegal alien president who also had smaller inaugural crowd. The economy is in ruins, Obamacare is imploding, and coal is coming back!! And, oh, by the way, Trump is the smartest president ever and the very “best” since Abraham Lincoln. Does that remind you of a tin-horn dictator along the lines of Robert Mugabe? The Alabama Senate race has Trump in a quandary—it's a very high-stakes race.
A democratic government, with free speech and elections, allows different voices to be expressed, making it good for sorting out beliefs and actions, but also subjecting vulnerable and uniformed citizens to manipulation. What has protected Trump so far—giving credit now where credit is due—is that the economy has continued to hum along, just as under Obama, not quite with the wild success that Trump had predicted, but still doing OK and the stock market has kept on going up. Will it last?
Here’s another huge pending disruption, affecting Hondurans, among others, also Haitians under my jurisdiction as Amnesty International Caribbean Coordinator: Trump administration to drop protections for Central Americans and Haitians: report | TheHill Nicaraguans are already being notified that their TPS will expire.
Very appropirate of Hawaiians to be greeting Trump with “Welcome to Kenya” signs.
I have an internationally adopted son, Jon, now past 40, and for many years I was a board member of a local international adoption agency that has closed its doors because of the difficulty of maneuvering in the current climate.
In another blow to adoptions (don't Republicans favor adoption over abortion?, Paul Ryan Defends Elimination of the Adoption Tax Credit
Finally, we all support free speech, but are not allowed to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no actual fire. But what if our country really is on fire? Isn’t it time to start shouting “fire!” now about the Trump administration?