Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spell-Check, Radio Interview, Eastern Market Travails, Che’s Nephew on Fidel, Stratfor on Cuba/Venezuela, Sudan Referendum

Mea culpa, I misspelled Michelle Rhee’s last name last time, why? Because a former sister-in-law, also of Korean descent, has the last name “Rie.” Spellings of similarly pronounced names can vary, just like my own Korean last name, Joe, which could’ve as easily been Cho if my late father-in-law had decided to spell it that way

On Sept. 21, participated in an interview for a program broadcast on a public radio station out of Baltimore (2boomerbabes), unfortunately, not accessible in DC. But when I get a notice of when it will air, will post it here in case any reader is within range.

Got my comeuppance at Eastern Market last weekend, trying to talk up the Peace Corps and sell my book to a middle-aged couple. “No thank you,” the wife said emphatically, “our daughter was in the Peace Corps in Bulgaria, went into kidney failure and had to have a kidney transplant.” “Oh dear,” I exclaimed, “was it from anything that she ate or drank or was exposed to there?” They said no, that no one knew why it had happened, but it understandably made them wary of the Peace Corps. I guess so, even though the corps was probably not at fault.

That same morning, a current Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, assigned to environmental protection, was on medevac in Washington for kidney stones, one of which he had passed just the night before, he said. In that case, again, the Peace Corps experience was not to blame, since such stones do take a while to form.

Another man in his 60s, who also declined to buy a book, nonetheless gave me quite an earful. He had asked to be sent to Bulgaria, but instead was offered Ukraine, which he refused. After that, he was not offered any other assignments. I promised to inquire, although I know that Peace Corps usually doesn’t approve of applicants who request a particular country, suspecting that they have some hidden agenda or are demonstrating an inflexibility counterproductive in a PC volunteer.

Still another non-buyer stopped to give me an earful about how Hondurans and other Central Americans are bringing bedbugs into this country, another reason to keep out immigrants from that part of the world. Yes, there are bedbugs in Honduras and other critters too, but I’m not sure that is the reason for reported infestations in this country. It’s interesting to talk with a cross-section of America, including visitors from out-of-town, at my sale table. I did sell three books that morning, but not to any of those mentioned.
I’ve often held that progressives, among which I usually count myself, are too often apologists for Fidel Castro, believing his propaganda about the glories of the Cuban revolution and perhaps also influenced by a desire to bash the United States. As Che Guevara’s nephew, Martin Guevara (Miami Herald, September 19, 2010) who lived for years as an exile in Cuba, has put it: When Orlando Zapata, a Cuban dissident, died in a Cuban prison on March 9 after going on a hunger strike, many of the intellectuals who had spent their lives defending or ignoring the brutality of the Castro government said, “Enough.” They could no longer give Fidel the benefit of the doubt just because he had declared himself a champion of the poor of the world.

This must have bothered Fidel, because throughout his life he has been able to behave badly without risking the disapproval of the progressive intellectuals of the world. Their declarations against his treatment of Zapata must have been worrisome for his government's image. In this day of instant communication, image is of the essence to a government that wishes to also become a family dynasty.
Why is it so difficult for us to condemn any excess, crime, violent act or abuse committed by self-proclaimed leftists, revolutionaries or communists? What part of our brain falters or becomes anesthetized when the time comes to protest against these injustices?

A reader has sent me a link to a report from STRATFOR, a self-described geopolitical analysis organization, that has posted a provocative report on the relationship between Cuba and Venezuela:
Clinton pushes Sudan on referendum
Associated Press
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NEW YORK -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is urging Sudanese authorities to make up for lost time in preparing for an independence referendum early next year for the Southern Sudan.

On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Clinton met Tuesday with Sudan's Vice President Ali Osman Taha to impress upon him the need for a well-organized and peaceful vote in January. With just over 100 days until the referendum, preparations are far behind schedule. There are also fears that a vote splitting the south and north will re-ignite a bloody civil war that ended in 2005.
Clinton's talks with Taha come ahead of a high-level U.N. session on Sudan that President Barack Obama will attend on Friday. Taha and the President of southern Sudan Salva Kiir will also participate in the meeting.

In the meeting with Taha, Clinton "reinforced steps Sudan needs to take" on implementing the peace deal that ended the war, including holding the referendum, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. He said taking those steps "could lead to better relations" between Sudan and the U.S. Sudan is currently designated a "state sponsor of terrorism" and subject to U.S. sanctions.

Crowley said Clinton also raised the Sudan issue in meetings on Tuesday with Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Kosa and the Emir of Qatar.

Sudan activists have warned that urgent international diplomatic intervention is the only way to prevent renewed civil war.

Underscoring the concern, Clinton and the foreign ministers of Britain and Norway released a letter Tuesday that they sent to Taha and Kiir last week appealing to them "to take swift action to ensure" a peaceful vote that recognizes the will of the people.

"There remains an enormous amount to be done and work must be accelerated to make up for lost time," they said in the letter.

Southern Sudan, which is predominantly animist and Christian, is scheduled to vote on independence Jan. 9. But the group charged with organizing the vote has not yet set a date for voter registration. The Obama administration has said it is "inevitable" the south will declare independence. Given the south's substantial known oil resources, many worry that the predominantly Muslim north will find it difficult to accept an independent south.

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