Now when I ride the metro, people often offer me their seat, so I must have become a proverbial “little old lady,” a bit disconcerting, but I’m still glad to have a seat on a crowded train, one of the few perks of being a senior citizen. I spent the holidays with some of my family during the holidays, minus daughter Stephanie and her husband, living in Hawaii, who went on vacation to Vietnam.
Talk about a senior citizen, a champion in that regard is Wanda Johnson, born in Egypt in 1915 and now celebrating her 104th birthday in Vermont, where I first met her when I was a child. I always send a basket of chewable goodies for her birthday to share with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She is very fortunate at her age to have not lost any one of them.
We in the northern hemisphere have now passed the shortest day of the year, so thankfully daylight will lengthen from now on until June 21.
While every year, I do what I can in Honduras, it’s obviously a drop in the bucket, a grain of sand on the beach, as per this article. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/dec/25/16-stories-of-jesus-in-honduras
The death toll due to anti-government protests in Nicaragua was nearing 500 at last count, including children, though there have been few recent reports. OAS observers have been expelled from Nicaragua, but, otherwise, Nicaragua is not so much in the news these days. I still have many contacts there, asking for my help, but have not been able to go when I am in Honduras, as I have enough logistical problems already. And my Nicaraguan friends live near Managua, far from the border and have no vehicles available to pick me up. (I will be very close to the border in El Triunfo, Honduras.)
I did what I could for Nicaragua in the 1980's in Nicaraguan refugee camps in Honduras and in the 1990 election as an observer when the opposition to Daniel Ortega united as UNO around Violeta. Nicaraguans did not learn that lesson and let Ortega get his foot in the door once again
More than 800 Cuban doctors and medical workers sent to Brazil have remained in that country after the Brazilian president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro (now in office), signaled his refusal to pay the Cuban government for their services, causing them to be called home by the Cuban government. Some will now take their chances by remaining to work in Brazil and getting paid directly.
Meanwhile Brazil and other South American nations are being flooded with Venezuelans (and also with Cubans able to get out but no longer welcome in the US), countries not well able to absorb an influx of refugees, yet proving more hospitable than our own country. In Brazil, Venezuelan refugees also experience language barriers. Portuguese and Spanish, especially in written form, have many similarities, but are not the same when spoken, as I have found working as an interpreter and being mistakenly assigned to Portuguese-speaking client (we’ve muddled through). I have also helped Venezuelans seeking asylum here in the DC area. The tragedy of Venezuela is completely unnecessary and could be reversed with a change leadership, an object lesson for us here in the US where matters are also going downhill because of the president’s bad judgment and repeated errors. “We arrive sick and hungry”: Venezuelans in Brazil, The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2018/dec/24/venezuelans-in-brazil-migrant-camps-in-pictures
Here’s a rare article about Bhutan shared with past and current Bhutan visitors.
So many gun deaths occur daily in this country, mostly accidents, suicides, and domestic disputes. Criminal attacks or even mass shootings actually are the least of the casualties in terms of total numbers. A teen in an Atlanta suburb apparently accidentally killed his friend, then turned the gun on himself—a gun, no doubt, belonging to his parents, but too easily accessible. The parents may have thought that gun protected their family, but the opposite happened. A man fired into an Oklahoma Taco Bell because of getting the wrong sauce. A gun is lethal because of impulse and accident, only too common human attributes.
Five thousand US troops at the Mexico border to confront a ragtag group of Central American families, but 2,000 in Syria is too many? Two migrant children have died in immigration custody so far. Were they just depleted after their long trek and vulnerable to illnesses passed around in a closed setting? Children do not belong in detention.
While the “adults” in the White House, albeit anonymously, had reassured the American public that they were controlling the worst impulses and temper tantrums of an erratic and childish president, now it seems that most of those adults are no longer around. So Trump listens to foreign leaders and talk show hosts instead. He seems blissfully unaware of his own intellectual deficiencies. He speaks without any program or practical specifics, calling people nasty names or targeting “fake news” without specifying just what those labels mean.
Trump has now become a national emergency! What about Ivanka and Jared, what about Kellyanne, can they have any moderating influence? Trump cannot fire his own daughter, but her positive influence seems to have been minimal so far. We are at a point where the president has run out of trustworthy advisers and the whole nation and the world are being subjected to his whims. The stock market is gyrating. World leaders are alarmed. The man is not a strategist, never was any sort of “deal-maker,” just a very flawed guy of below-average intelligence, puffed up now with the power of his office and running amok. If he were a fictional character, he would not be believable. Even when he had his TV “reality” show, the most he could do was to say was “You’re fired!” Hannity seems to have the most influence over Trump, first by urging the current shutdown, and now by urging him to prolong the shutdown over the wall at least until the end of the month.
Senator Chuck Schumer is right, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for his border wall, so what’s the problem? It’s not just the money, but adding substantially more walls and fences are a bad idea. We already have enough where they are needed. Maybe give Trump a really short wall that he pose in front of for a photo-op? Will spineless Republicans at last stand up against him? Weren’t their mid-term losses in the House enough to convince them? With a few notable exceptions, such as Mitt Romney, the only Republicans apparently willing to speak out are those who have decided to quit.
It’s somewhat encouraging to see Pence and Kushner leading the negotiations on the shutdown. Though we might not agree with them, they conduct themselves in a fairly normal fashion.
Also encouraging is that Chief Justice John Roberts has taken on the role of sometimes serving as the court’s “swing” vote and may Ruth Bader Ginsberg soon recover, though she is running on borrowed time.
Another, bigger migrant caravan is reportedly on its way from Honduras. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/border-baja-california/sd-me-another-caravan-20181227-story.html
This is not good news--Trump will double down on his border wall to keep them out instead of trying to implement programs to keep them at home. Mexicans are going to get tired of helping them. It's not as though Mexico can absorb large numbers. Too bad the Peace Corps left Honduras. Internal Honduran politics is involved here as well, since the migrant caravans there are reportedly being organized by folks associated with former president and now legislator Manuel Zelaya, once an ally of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. (Hondurans, like Americans, are politically divided.)
How did Trump get Mexico to agree to let US asylum seekers wait for their decisions on that side of the border? It’s a cumbersome and unprecedented system, but if it holds, Trump deserves some credit for pulling off that unlikely feat.
Is it only my wishful thinking, but is Trump losing some knee-jerk support even among Republican voters and office holders? Republicans have already gotten much of what they wanted: massive tax cuts for corporations, judges including for the Supreme Court, deregulation, and ending environmental protections. Still remaining are abolishing Obamacare, which now seems a lost cause for Republicans, and the immigration problem, but maybe Trump is being recognized even there now as an obstacle even among Republicans? I’d like to see Democrats mount another female presidential candidate, not Hillary, who, however, who should be given a prominent role in the new administration, maybe as HHS Secretary? Will I live to see the day when the Democrats win back the presidency, despite the Republican advantage in the Electoral College? In hindsight, Hillary’s folks obviously did not pay enough attention to that.
Glad that Eleanor Holmes Norton has again introduced the DC statehood bill. Most Americans don’t realize that we don’t have Congressional representation. At least two states, Wyoming and Vermont, each with two senators and a representative, have fewer people than DC. Meanwhile a record number of Americans, especially young people, have moved out of the US since Trump’s presidency.
[If this last font comes out too small again, I cannot correct it.]