Monday, October 4, 2010

Radio Show, Va. Tech, Interpreting’s Horizons, Cuba Again

OK, just heard from the Boomer Babes, who interviewed me for their radio show, that they’ve scheduled that program for 11 am on Sat. Oct. 9. Unfortunately, the two stations where it will run, WSCL 89.5 FM and WSCL 90.7 FM, reach only Baltimore, but not Washington, DC, where I live.

Believe I already mentioned that I’m appearing on a Peace Corps panel at Virginia Tech’s Squires Hall on Thurs. Oct. 21, 6 pm, and at a book talk at the Blacksburg public library the next day, Friday, Oct. 22, at 11 am. If any reader lives in the area, please join us.

I’ve learned about a few things I never knew before and entered new worlds just by being a Spanish interpreter, such as inside juvenile lock-up, traffic and divorce court, organ transplantation, MRI scans, and even training for supermarket openings, among others. I also travel the length and breadth of the metropolitan area, from inner city to outer suburbs by public transportation. For example, last week, I first learned about chains of private schools dedicated exclusively to difficult or special-needs kids from surrounding public jurisdictions, schools located far from population centers. Buses pick up the students from their homes, wherever located. Some kids, I was told, are picked up at 5 or 6am and return home 12 hours later.

At parental interpretation assignments I had last week at three different outlying schools of this type, in no case did the parent show up for a school consultation, either cancelling at the last minute or, in one case, participating from her home via speaker phone. I can see why, because to reach that latter school, I had to travel to end of the metro’s blue line in Springfield, Va., take a winding bus ride, and walk the last 5 blocks in torrential rain. Could I have done it by phone myself?

Traveling to another such school from a different outlying metro station (Morgan Blvd. near Lanham, Md.), I noticed a day care center located only yards away from the metro entrance. So you park your car in the lot, drop your kid off at the day care center, then take the metro into your job in the city. Very efficient.

It does seem that the “developing world” is actually developing now, forging ahead economically, while the US and Europe are just creeping. I’m thinking Brazil, China, India, and several sub-Saharan African countries.

See Cuba items below.
Cuban hunger striker who sewed lips shut hospitalized
The Cuban dissident who sewed his mouth shut to prove he was on a hunger strike fainted amid spasms, according to a report.

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO, Miami Herald, September 23, 2010
Read more:

A Cuban dissident who sewed his lips shut after doctors made fun of his hunger strike was taken to a hospital Wednesday suffering from convulsions and blackouts, an independent journalist reported. Vladimir Alejo Miranda, 47, stopped eating 62 days ago, sewed his mouth Sept. 5 and stopped drinking water Tuesday, journalist Heriberto Liranza Romero told El Nuevo Herald by phone from Havana.
Alejo's wife, Rita Montes de Oca, joined his hunger strike and also sewed her lips Sept. 12 with regular sewing thread and a needle, the journalist said. Alejo was taken to a hospital in the Havana municipality of Guanabacoa on Wednesday after he blacked out and went into convulsions, Liranza added. No independent confirmation was immediately available.

He was receiving intravenous fluids and could be sent home or transferred to a larger hospital depending on his condition, Liranza said. Alejo and his wife also suffer from infections around the lips.

About 15 Cubans sewed their lips together in recent memory to protest against the communist government, said Ricardo Bofill, a founder of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights now living in Miami.``It's a kind of extreme sacrifice, very rare although it has been done on a few occasions,'' Bofill said.

Próspero Gaínza Agüero, arrested in the 2003 crackdown on 75 dissidents known as Cuba's Black Spring and sentenced to 25 years, sewed his lips for several days in 2004 to protest prison conditions. Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, arrested in the same roundup and sentenced to 20 years, did the same in 2008 to demand his transfer to a prison closer to his home in eastern Guantánamo province. Both were freed and sent to Spain in recent weeks as part of a Cuban government promise in July to release 52 political prisoners, the last of the 75 still jailed. About two dozen were freed for health reasons.

Alejo, a former political prisoner, is president of the Human Rights Movement Miguel Valdés Tamayo, named after a dissident who was jailed in the 2003 crackdown, was released in 2004 because of ill health and died in 2007.

Jobless because of his political activism, Alejo went on a hunger strike to demand the right to work, the right to receive assistance from abroad and live ``like a human being, not an animal,'' Liranza said. He's been taken to hospitals several times since he stopped eating, the journalist added, and has received about 30 bags of intravenous liquids but never before suffered convulsions.

Alejo sewed his lips together after doctors made fun of his hunger strike during one of the hospital visits, telling him that a good meal could fix whatever was ailing him, Liranza added. "I call on the international community to raise the alarm for the condition of Vladimir Alejo Miranda and his wife," Liranza told the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate, which supports dissidents on the island.

Wall St. Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady (Sept. 27, 2010), has criticized Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg for letting Fidel Castro “use” him and for apparently not asking about Alan Gross, a Jewish American held on trumped up charges since last December.

I asked my Cuban commentator friend what he thought of her column. Here are excerpts of his reply: Of course Fidel Castro is using Jeffrey Goldberg to transmit a favorable public relations message to the Jews not only in the US but throughout the whole world and Jeffrey Goldberg is letting himself be used. But Jeffrey Goldberg in turn is using Fidel Castro because he is a reporter and whatever opinion anyone has about FC, there is one thing that cannot be denied and that is that Fidel Castro whatever he says or whatever he does is news!

This means that any true reporter would be willing to give his right arm to be able just to interview him for a few hours and FC spent several days with him and gave him unfettered access, even invited him to his home to have supper with him and his family. Who could pass up on an opportunity like that?

Maria Anastasia, in my opinion, is being unjust. She could also be a little envious because JG got an interview that she would have liked for herself!

As a public relations activity the interview was a complete success. Having Fidel Castro state to the world that he is no anti-Semite and that he understands and sympathizes with the Jews for all the persecutions that they have suffered and that he believes that the state of Israel has a right to exist struck a particularly sensitive spot on the Jewish people and the State of Israel who are so used to being disliked and marginalized by the world.

The problem is that realpolitik has its own rules that allow politicians to often contradict themselves in an opportunistic manner in accordance with the different problems they face in specific situations they find themselves in. Castro once called Mao a senile doddering old man and vowed that he would never try to hold onto office when he approached old age and today he does all that and manages to eat out of the same dish with the Chinese and the Chinese go along with it. He also backed the Arabs and today he cozies up to the Israelis.

If newspapermen could not criticize politicians, how could they earn their living? If politicians could not reverse their positions and contradict themselves, how could they try to solve their problems?

Another blog reader also commented on that Wall St. Journal column:
Re Mary Anastasia's report on the Goldberg interview with Fidel, the guy is truly amazing -- virtually an invalid, presiding de facto over a country in shambles, and yet he finds an influential useful idiot to bolster his image, and makes sure the effort attracts widespread attention by casually dropping that little remark about the Cuban model no longer working. I mean, I mean, . . . You gotta hand it to him!

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