Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays, Great Eastern Snow, IHS Brigade Needs 2nd Physician, Honduras Political Situation Still on Hold

Feliz navidad. Happy holidays, my gentle and faithful readers. Keep warm and safe and close to friends and family.

Folks not living in the northeast missed a spectacular snowstorm last weekend. Such storms are both beautiful and scary. This was one of the biggest that I’d experienced in years. Washington has not completely dug out yet.

Last Friday evening, my 21-year-old granddaughter Natasha was driving me and some other folks to Gates, NC, where her mother lives. We were going there to celebrate her mother’s (my daughter’s) birthday, which also falls on the anniversary of my son’s death, as readers of my book are aware. About 9 pm, heavy snow began falling, making visibility very difficult. My granddaughter persevered, avoiding other skidding cars that ended up in snow banks and accidents occurring before our very eyes. She stopped frequently at rest stops for coffee. At Williamsburg, Va., the snow turned to rain and the going got a lot easier. Finally we arrived at my daughter’s house at 4 am, 9 hours for a trip that normally takes 3 ½, but we were glad to be there all in one piece. In Gates, the temperature was 45F and we went out for my daughter’s birthday dinner Saturday evening without incident. What a difference a few miles can make.

Our February International Health Services medical brigade to Honduras has only one physician signed up and we really need two. If anyone reading this is a doctor or knows one who is willing to donate two weeks of service and pay his or her own way to Honduras in mid-February, please let me know. Living conditions will be primitive (see my report of last February’s brigade), sleeping in a tent, using a latrine, bathing in a solar-heated shower, and seeing scores of patients of all ages every day, usually for routine problems like aches and pains, lice and athlete’s foot, infections, respiratory and intestinal ailments, and perhaps a few cases remediable by minor surgery. We will be at a high altitude, so no tropical weather, but it won’t be freezing either, which is good because we’ll probably be sleeping outdoors. Any potential volunteers should contact me by e-mail (address shown on this blog).

A new Amnesty International secretary general has been chosen, Salil Shetty, an Indian national and director for the last six years of the UN’s Millennium Campaign. He takes office next June, in time to prepare for the 50th anniversary. The Peace Corps is also preparing for its 50th in 2011.

Democracia Participativa, a Spanish-language blog cited earlier, reports that the ALBA meeting was devoted mostly to castigating the US. Honduras, it said, has dropped out of ALBA. Meanwhile, Chavez has accused the US of planning to launch military attacks against Venezuela from neighboring Colombia and Dutch Caribbean Islands. “Venezuela is being surrounded,” Chavez was quoted as saying. Hasn’t he heard about the boy who cried wolf? Now, Venezuela has named a new ambassador to the US and launched a PR-lobbying campaign to improve its image here, though its image might improve most from muzzling Chavez.

Local Spanish-language papers from last Fri. Dec. 18, report that neither Zelaya nor Micheletti is planning to step down from the presidency before Lobo takes office on Jan. 27. Meanwhile President-Elect Lobo is reported to be trying to distance himself from them both, promising to start over with clean slate, while also offering to meet with Zelaya if the latter agrees. An opinion piece appeared in El Tiempo Latino called “Elecciones, miedo y confusion” [Elections, fear and confusion], by Omar Zelaya, not identified as relative of the deposed president, although the surname Zelaya is not common in Honduras. He argues that the presidential election was a maneuver to legitimate “the first coup of the 21st century.” For the moment, there seems to be little movement on Zelaya, though maybe he will get a Christmas surprise? Nothing about Honduras in the mainstream press.

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