Saturday, July 21, 2012

More on Honduras, Ghana PC Volunteers Accused of Killing Robber, Origin of Peace Corps Name, Cuba’s Private Enterprises, Ladies in White Jailed in Cuba, Cuban Hip-Hop Prisoners, Latin America Divide, Stallone’s Son’s Death, Sheriff in the Docket, Toe-Nail Trimming & Other Medical Services, Still Another Mass Shooting


This time, a photo with older daughter Melanie, who was left out last time. She came again this weekend, but without the kids. Today is cool and rainy, not even 70 F, a great relief from recent 100-degree days!

A report from Tegucigalpa, extrapolated in the local Spanish-language press, is much more cavalier than most American and human rights sources about the killing of four suspected narco-traffickers in eastern Honduras, two apparently by US DEA agents. The headline is: “Guerra Contra Narcos” [War Against Narcos]. Perhaps because in Honduras, murder is so common, people are no longer shocked or overly preoccupied. It’s just become a fact of life—or death. Human life becomes cheap. And “narcos” are considered bad guys anyway, not deserving of protection. When the Honduran prison burned down last Feb., killing more than 300 people, relatives of those killed were naturally aggrieved, but many Hondurans I talked with simply said “Good riddance.”

This comment on his birth country came to me from a transplanted Honduran: I commend you and appreciate the work that you have been doing to help the people in Honduras. Too bad that such a beautiful country is controlled by gangs and corrupt politicians who cater to the drug cartels instead of focusing in building up the morale of the country, education, and health care. I’ve been living in the USA since 1980 and have no desired to go back to live in Honduras because of the unsafe atmosphere that prevails through most of the regions in the country. A lot of businesses have to pay for "protection" or what it's know as" impuesto de guerra " or war tax, imposed by thugs who will harm the small business owners if they don't pay what they ask for.

A long article in The Guardian about the historic roots of Honduran violence and the US role is at:

Honduras holds primary elections for party candidates one year before general elections. For primary elections coming up on November 18, four parties’ candidates will be vying for their party’s nomination, two leftist parties and two rightish parties. As per the flap that led to the ouster of Mel Zelaya, the current president Porfirio Lobo cannot run again, at least he is not permitted two consecutive terms. I understand that Zelaya’s wife is one of the primary candidates. Final elections will be held in November 2013, leaving the primary victors a whole year for campaigning.

From the Peace Corps Writers’ blog, July 16th 2012: The police in Ghana have arrested two Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana in connection with the killing of a local man who tried to rob them, police said on Monday. A police officer in the northern town of Wa said the incident happened at the weekend when they were attacked by two robbers. One Peace Corps volunteer fought back with a knife, fatally wounding one of the assailants, said the officer, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media.

The U.S. embassy in the capital Accra confirmed that police were investigating an incident involving Peace Corps volunteers.“They were involved in a safety and security situation in the early hours of Saturday and the police are investigating,” embassy spokeswoman Sara Stryker said.

More on July 18, Ghana’s attorney general is examining whether to open a formal investigation after a PCV stabbed a robber who subsequently died. PCV Andrew Kistler used a knife in self-defense and stabbed the attacker in the chest late Friday in the northern town of Wa, regional police commander Kofi Adei-Akyeampong said.

During the attack, Kistler, who was accompanied by a second PCV, Rachel Ricciardi, was injured with a machete. The police found him with a bandaged hand and a bloody shirt at his house early Saturday. “One of the assailants tried to slash him with a machete,” said deputy regional commander Osei Ampofo-Duku.

One of the two attackers, identified by police as Eliasu Najat, 22, was found dead Saturday morning.

The case has been sent to the attorney general, who will decide whether it warrants prosecution. “It is possible they committed a crime … but everyone knows they were trying to defend themselves and this was the outcome of their self-defense. There is no cause for alarm,” Adei-Akyeampong told The Associated Press.

The Peace Corps said Monday that the two Volunteers involved reported the incident, but Ampofo-Duku said Tuesday “the police got to them first.” They said that officers traced drops of blood from the crime scene to a nearby house where they encountered Kistler.

The embassy spokeswoman Sara Stryker on Tuesday reiterated that “when the crime occurred, they reported the incident to the local authorities.” Stryker added that the embassy was “closely monitoring” the investigation and offering consular services to the Americans, who are still in Ghana but no longer at their posts. She insisted that it’s not the Volunteers but the crime that’s being investigated. “They were the crime victims,” she said.

How Peace Corps got its name: John Peter Grothe died on Saturday, June 16th in Los Altos, California from brain injury caused by a fall. He was 81. John was an early and important person in the Peace Corps world, most proud of a memo he wrote back in early 1960s that gave the Peace Corps its name.

For a close-up look at Cuba’s private enterprise push, officially referred to as “employment outside the state sector,” see “Cuba Hits Wall in 2-Year Push to Expand the Private Sector,” NY Times, July 16, 20012


As my blog readers know, one of the hats I wear is as volunteer Caribbean coordinator for Amnesty International USA. In that capacity, I would ask interested parties to write letters about the following case:

July 18, 2012, Amnesty International issues today the Urgent Action AMR 25.018.2012 on behalf of Niurka Luque Álvarez, Sonia Garro Alfonso and Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González who have been detained without charges since last March. Amnesty International believes their arrest and detention may be linked to their activism and peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression. Niurka Luque Álvarez and Sonia Garro Alfonso are both members of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White). Please take action on their behalf.

I am delighted to be in contact with a group in Chile making a film about the 1988 “No” vote there, the plebiscite that Pinochet lost and where I was an election observer. The group wants to include current human rights concerns in Latin America, a case in Colombia and one in Cuba. We at Amnesty offered them some options and they chose the Lima Cruz brothers, which cannot hurt and only help the brothers’ cause, especially when coming not from the “empire,” but from another Latin American country. The brothers, Antonio and Marcos Lima Cruz, were arrested in December 2010 during a Christmas party at their home where they played controversial hip-hop music critical of the government and danced in the street carrying the Cuban flag. Antonio and Marcos were sentenced to two and three years respectively for “insulting symbols of the homeland” and “public disorder.”


Dr. Carlos Sabino, a professor of sociology formerly at the Central University of Venezuela, now a visiting professor in Guatemala, has divided Latin America into two camps, the first is the Pacific Alliance: Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico, along with those somewhat more loosely aligned with it: Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, and Uruguay, as well as the smaller Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. On the other side is the Chavez-led and oil-supported “Bolivarian Alliance” consisting of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. He says countries in the latter group, at best, have seen only 1% economic growth and, compared to the more mainstream market economies, are plagued by inflation, price controls, and social unrest and so do not offer a viable or particularly attractive alternative to the first block.

When I read about the sudden death of actor Sylvester Stallone’s son, my heart went out to him. Other famous people have lost their kids as well. When it happens, everything that they’ve achieved in life will shrink in importance, becoming like ashes in their mouth. I know; I’ve been there.

Now that Arizona’s notorious racist Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is under investigation, his office is fighting back, alleging once again that President Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery. No one raised a question about McCain’s birth certificate or birthplace, despite his Panama birth. What about Romney’s birth certificate? Maybe it’s a forgery? Really, this is getting tiresome. Already, this is Obama’s 4th year as president—it’s a fait accompli. Can’t they find something more substantive to discuss? Use a little more imagination, Obama opponents, instead of just trotting out all the same old tired stuff!

One of my readers commented on my previous observation that all kinds are services have been included under medical care, including toenail trimming. She pointed out that some arthritic and overweight elderly folks cannot trim their own toenails. Of course, there probably have been billions of older and infirm people over the course of history and around the world with that same problem, including in eras when toenail clippers had not yet been invented and when publicly funded health-care services did not exist. What did they do? Some probably suffered in silence with overlong toenails, while others called upon friends and relatives to do them the favor with the tools at hand. Where people mostly walk barefoot or with sandals, perhaps normal wear-and-tear wears down the toenails. Those same older and infirm people probably have needed help going to the latrine or using a chamber pot and when they’ve wandered off, they may have been tied to a chair rather than placed in a locked residential setting as they’d probably be today in this country. I saw an older woman tied to a chair once in rural Cuba in 1997. The point is that there are multiple ways to deal with similar problems, depending on the culture, resources, and era. Toenail trimming may indeed be defined by us now as a medical service, but it probably could be done more cheaply and just as well by pedicurist as by a podiatrist, although, in that case, it would not qualify for Medicare reimbursement. That’s just an example. What is medical and eligible for insurance coverage is a matter of definition and depends on public opinion and consensus, which is somewhat elastic. This is obvious in definitions of mental illnesses, whereby homosexuality was once a condition requiring treatment, but no more. Are Viagra, birth control, and abortion medical care and should they be covered by insurance that we all collectively finance? Obviously, purveyors of any service whether massage or chiropractic or aroma therapy will want it defined as medical in order to assure insurance coverage. The expansion of medical insurance coverage to include more services means higher payment to their practitioners and also that insurance costs will necessarily go up. If that’s what we want as a nation, as a society, then let’s put everything into the medical care basket.

Cannot fail to comment on the mass shooting in Colorado. How many of these tragedies—both large-scale shootings like this and everyday ones, such as recently the 3-year-old in our area who accidently killed his father with an unsecured handgun—have to occur before we try as a nation try to figure out how to prevent or reduce them? If every firearm owner was 100% careful, observed all the safeguards, never acted impulsively or with malice, it would be another story. But given human nature and variability, that’s pie-in-the sky. The proof is that gun massacres, murders, suicides, and accidental deaths continue to occur. I am grateful to fate or luck that when another boy accidently dropped a loaded handgun that discharged that my son Jonathan, then age 12, was only injured in his foot, not in a more vital spot. Unfortunately, after much anguish, shock, and hand ringing over the Colorado killings, with nothing whatsoever being done, the issue will be forgotten until the next episode—and we all know there will be another—then the whole process will be repeated once again. We’ve had Columbine, Virginia Tech, Arizona, and now back again to Colorado, with episodes in between with somewhat fewer casualties, and nothing is done.

Granted that there was a similar mass shooting, but with fewer casualties, in Canada recently and the horrendous mass murder in Norway, two nations where gun control is far more stringent than it is here. Nonetheless, the overall gun death rate in those countries is far lower than ours, even though such killings have not been eliminated altogether. In the U.S., gun manufacturers together with the NRA will keep any gun control debate from happening here in this election year, especially with the electorate already so polarized on other issues. I noted that President Obama steered clear of making any gun control references in the wake of the Colorado incident, only expressing condolences and prayers for the victims and their families, saying that he was “shocked and saddened.” Are such events just inevitable facts of life that we must accept, much as Hondurans have come almost fatalistically to accept that they or their associates might be killed at any moment? I know from feedback from my readers on my personal e-mail that not all favor more gun control, but I have not yet heard a convincing argument against it.

Instead, should we install metal detectors to enter malls, theaters, and subway stations? Have security guards everywhere? Passengers already complain about airline security. Or do we need to limit gun purchases, especially for assault rifles and other more lethal firearms; require training in gun use and storage; and mandate registration and background checks? And how did the Colorado shooter manage to acquire tear gas, not to mention so many weapons? It does seem that limits should be placed on the purchase of explosives, tear gas, and the sheer number of weapons and ammunition by any one person; that background checks and tracking of individuals should be required; and at least questions asked about the intended use of such purchases. The Colorado shooter, apparently with no previous record and a sterling academic background, would probably have passed any background check. But what about preventing the purchase of all assault rifles, such as one he had, which are not used in hunting and are more than what is needed for self-defense? We’re all sitting ducks unless there are some controls. We have controls for drivers and car owners, why not for guns and gun owners? According to polls, the American electorate is pretty evenly divided on “gun rights,” divided as it is on everything else and moving toward the right on that issue as on some others. Is it a reflection of the poor economy, of the usual swing of the political pendulum, or what?

In my opinion, it would be worth giving gun manufacturers freebees for not producing guns, much as we do for farmers not to grow crops, at least for a time, to help remedy this problem since apparently the gun lobby’s political clout is so great and feared and they want to maintain their profits. Bribe them to not make guns. It would cost less in the long run in pain and sorrow, not to mention burial and medical costs and those involved in supporting widows and orphans. The profit motive has now become sacrosanct, superseding any other motive, it seems. Romney is trying to make excessive money-making, even to the detriment of others, into a virtue, but don’t let me get off on that tangent right now.

Honduras is an example of a nation with a wide open gun culture, no registration, no rules—carry your weapon either concealed or in a holster, it doesn’t matter. Most guns used there are manufactured here, but some people also make their own crude firearms. All banks have metal detectors and armed guards; armed guards are also stationed in pharmacies, ice cream shops, cell-phone stores (as per photo in my book); and grocery stores (lots of jobs for security guards). In grocery stores and banks, all bags and purses must checked and not brought inside. What is the result? The highest murder rate in the world, most of it with guns.

A gun incident tipped Peace Corps over the edge and led to the departure from Honduras after 50 years. A volunteer was riding a bus when three armed men entered and robbed everyone of cash and cell phones. It might have ended there except that an armed passenger started shooting. He ended up being killed and the volunteer was shot in the leg in the crossfire. Was that effective self-defense? It was the last straw for the Peace Corps. A gun advocate might say that it could have ended differently—that the armed passenger might have dispatched the bad guys and become a hero. Well, that didn’t happen and I wonder how often it actually does happen? In Florida, neighborhood-watch volunteer Zimmerman is indicating that his killing of Martin was almost accidental. On the other hand, in the example above of Peace Corps volunteers in Ghana, their being armed with a knife meant that the pair were not robbed and ended up killing the would-be robber. Statistically, countries that enforce gun restrictions have lower murder rates, not to mention deaths from gun accidents, as so often happen here. Are people there just less prone to violence or is the easy availability of guns a factor in promoting a culture of violence? This is certainly a debate we should have as a nation after the election, NRA or no, although it is likely to be characterized by the fierce polarization shown on all other matters of national importance.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

South Sudan Anniversary, Family Visit, Heat Wave Breaks, Cholera in Cuba, Rangel's Final Win, Drug War Deaths in Honduras, Gang Truce in El Salvador Reduces Violence, More on Supremes’ Health Care Decision

It may not have been a noteworthy date for most Americans, but on Sunday, July 8, 2012, those of us who have worked in South Sudan observed the first anniversary of the birth of that country. It was not a happy occasion as Khartoum has been attacking and strafing civilians in the oil-rich disputed region of Blue Nile and Kordafan, some of the areas I visited in 2006. My time then was brief, the better part of a month, but it was a well-traveled month and any travel in South Sudan, with unpaved roads and landmines, was not easy then and still is not. (My article about that visit appeared in America, Oct. 1, 2007,

On July 8, together with members of the Sudanese diaspora, we in Amnesty International gathered in Lafayette Park in front of the White House (as shown). In addition to observing the first anniversary of the birth of the new nation, we were asking the White House to pressure Khartoum to stop its raids and to allow humanitarian aid to get in to civilians displaced and injured in the attacks. It was the last day of an almost 10-day heat wave, with daily temperatures around 102 F or higher, similar to temperatures in South Sudan where, however, the humidity is much lower. As we were meeting, the sky overhead began clouding up (see photos) and a few cooling raindrops fell. Evening saw a steady rainstorm, not quite as fierce as the recent one that downed trees and overhead wires, but welcome rain that lowered the nighttime temperature into the 70s. Later in the week, I heard that the leaders of North and South Sudan had met an African conference and had actually shaken hands, so perhaps they will come to an agreement. South Sudan is impoverished and undeveloped, but has oil, while Khartoum has charge of refineries, so perhaps they can work something out.

I‘d thought our local temperature had risen as high as it was going to go last time I wrote, but on Sat., July 7, it momentarily hit 106 F at Reagan National Airport, but didn’t stay the whole 3 minutes required to be an official record temperature, falling back to only 105 F. More and more, I’m remembering why I left El Triunfo, Honduras, for La Esperanza and why I stay in the south as briefly as possible on visits there. Now in Washington, DC, after a week of respite, as I write this on Sunday, July 15, the mercury is again rising, but “only” threatening to reach into the low 90s during the coming week.

Had welcome weekend with my daughter Melanie and her step-children from Virginia Beach and my granddaughter Natasha and her son from nearby Sterling, Va. That’s my granddaughter with her cell phone on the red couch and the kids on the blue couch with another electronic device. My daughter (not shown) was elsewhere talking on her cell. It’s sometimes hard to carry on a conversation when everyone is honing in on an electronic device. Maybe I need to call them or connect with them on Facebook to communicate with them, rather than face-to-face.

A cholera outbreak with several fatalities has occurred in eastern Cuba, with the government recommending extra hygiene precautions, although residents have been complaining about lack of soap for washing their hands. At least one case was reported in Havana. The word “cholera” has been avoided, the illness being referred to only as “diarrhea” or “respiratory insufficiency,” in the case of a death, shades of the dengue cover-up that I had witnessed in Cuba in 1997! Independent sources report that thousands have been affected and that perhaps 16 have died, although the government has acknowledged only three deaths, saying the epidemic is under control. Hospital employees have been forbidden to talk about it and families may not visit their hospitalized loved ones, probably increasing the public’s fear (“Cholera outbreak in Cuba sends hundreds to hospital, reportedly stirs panic,” The Miami Herald, July 7, 2012).

The vote count is over in Charlie Rangel’s NYC district and he appears to have won by 990 votes. My DR Espaillat friends’ cousin of the same last name has now conceded defeat, but Rangel had better watch out next time.

There have been disturbing reports in the last few weeks of deaths in the eastern Mosquitia region of Honduras from drug enforcement raids, joint operations conducted by Honduran forces and the US DEA. In at least one case, women bystanders were killed, allegedly by DEA operatives. Widespread condemnation of these killings and of US military involvement in Honduras have led to calls for the US military and DEA to leave Honduras. A Honduran who once advised the Peace Corps there sent the message below to former volunteers:

A recent human rights fact-finding mission also fell for the Resistencia's standard lie that when Mel Zelaya was President there was no violence, corruption, or drug trade. It is an irrefutable fact that these increased exponentially during his term. Most organizations from abroad inexplicably still insist that Mel was some sort of Thomas Jefferson overlooking the facts of his corrupt and erratic government. To call for the withdrawal of US military assistance based on this organization’s report constitutes a grave threat to our society. More than ever Honduras needs to overhaul our security system. I respectfully suggest that when groups come to do these human rights missions, they make it a point to interview a variety of informed citizens who do not just fill in the blanks in a draft of preconceived opinions. Too many NGO's are calling for the withdrawal of all international assistance in the name of human rights, not realizing that such a measure would violate even more human rights. Our leftist and right wing politicos are genetically corrupt and/or pathologically incompetent and our people should not pay for their sins.

In neighboring El Salvador, a gang truce mediated by religious and political figures has cut the murder rate—lessons there for Honduras?

Obviously, the Supreme Court decision on the Obama health reform act is not the end of the matter, since now oppositional governors are vowing what amounts to civil disobedience. Whether their actions will actually match their belligerent rhetoric or whether they are merely spewing out PR sound bites in a bid to get votes remains to be seen. But there is a risk that the result may be two-tiered system instead of a national one, with residents of some states enjoying better health care benefits than others.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4 Wishes, Canada Radio Interview. Oregon Visitor, Storm & Heat Wave, More on Roberts Ct., Health Care, Rangel’s Challenger, Honduran Patient, Renegade Nun, Why Nasty Review Is Gone from Amazon

Posting here a photo of a flag hanging out my bedroom window on July 4. Also, one of my kids Jon and Melanie at the beach in Hawaii, where Melanie is visiting Jon and Stephanie, my two kids living there.

My hour-long radio interview on the Vancouver station on Sunday went well and some questions even came in from listeners. But an hour wasn’t long enough for all I had to say.

On July 4 afternoon, a young visitor arrived from Oregon, where she said the temperature was 65F when she left, then she walked into 100F when she got off the plane here in DC. Still, she was game to go immediately with me to a neighborhood July 4 party and to see the fireworks on the mall. She wanted to take a jacket for later in the evening; not necessary, I assured her. At the party, quite unexpectedly, I saw a man I really never wanted to see again, someone who had argued vociferously with me about Cuba and Fidel Castro’s alleged virtues, insulted me on his blog, and castigated me for having a fundraiser at my house for a Honduran aslyee family. He is the one who actually inspired me to write my Cuba book, which when it appears, will be announced on this blog. I tried to avoid him all evening, but was uncomfortable even being with him on the same premises. Hope my readers had a good July 4.

6-29-2012--Mark Richards, weather observer at Reagan National Airport, said the temperature at 2:48 p.m. hit 104, blowing by the old June record of 102 set on June 9 in both 1874 and 2011. We are now experiencing D.C.’s hottest June temperatures in 142 years of record-keeping, he said, with an outside chance today’s high temperature could match D.C.’s hottest in any month: 106 reached on both August 6, 1918 and July 20, 1930. [So far, we have not exceeded the 106 F mark.]

Our East Coast heat wave began before July 4 and has continued afterward, with high temperatures hovering daily around 100F, the kind of weather we used to get in August, but now, one month early. It reminds me of the year-round climate in southern Honduras, even in Feb., when I usually go there. It’s also why, when I had wanted to extend my time in Honduras, that after 2+ years of unrelenting heat, sporadic electricity, and difficult transportation, I transferred to higher, cooler La Esperanza. Some poor folks in DC area suburbs have been without electricity in this heat, ever since a fierce thunderstorm Friday, June 29, resulting in many downed trees, including in my neighborhood. However, because our electrical wiring is all underground, the major damage was to cars parked under the trees, not to the electrical grid.

On my last posting, I acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s decisions on Arizona’s immigration status verification law and on the Obama administration’s health care reform program were mixed, but mostly favored the administration, with Roberts being the conciliatory vote. Now, it seems those administration victories, especially in health care, are even stronger than I had supposed at first glance. And many opponents of the health care law are calling Roberts a traitor to the Republican cause. However, Romney’s comments so far have been somewhat muted, as they should be, since he approved a similar law in Massachusetts. So far, I don’t see Romney gaining much political traction, but maybe I’m not the best judge, not being anxious to see him elected.

No doubt, Republicans will still try after November to gut the health care law. It’s very hard to implement it with all this continuing rancor and uncertainty, or even to try to find a middle ground on possible modifications, though, of course, the electorate, through their representatives, have the right to overturn any law at any time. The problem is that opinions now are so polarized and opponents of the law will do their level best to make it unworkable in any form. I’m wondering if there are financial interests behind much of the opposition—maybe some pharmaceutical companies, device and equipment manufacturers, and organizations of health professionals, who want to keep the status quo and/or to keep on expanding their piece of the health care pie? When I worked for the occupational therapists’ association, our whole thrust was to keep getting more jobs and better pay for our therapists, while also giving value to patients. Every health profession and stake holder is doing the same, constantly.

There is an almost limitless number of possible and desirable interventions available to keep an individual alive, happy, and functioning—organ transplants, joint replacements, breathing and feeding tubes, drugs, devices, psych meds and talk therapy, and myriad other treatments—even toenail trimming is allowed under Medicare. If any service becomes limited, the cry of “rationing” goes up. But health care, like any other benefit, has limits and none of us will live forever. We cannot devote the majority of GDP to health care, crowding out food, housing, environmental protection, and other life necessities, whose insufficiency will also have an impact on our health. But arriving at consensus about what health care limits should be is very difficult, especially if ourselves or our loved ones are involved. This attitude of the right to have limitless health care benefits, together with the high earnings of doctors and other health providers compared to counterparts around the world, plus the availability of emergency care for anybody, with or without insurance, all combine to make our health care in this country the very costliest. Do we want to exclude some people and allow them to suffer and die? And, as I have observed before, pharmaceuticals here are more expensive than anywhere else because the market will bear that cost, whereas in Honduras, or even Europe or Canada, the same drug costs less. Obama’s plan is a modest effort to get a handle on some of these ever-rising costs. Of course, those affected in their pocketbook are fighting back.

Remember the cousin of my Espaillat family friends in the DR—challenging Rangel in the Democratic primary? According to Yahoo News, 6-30-2012—“Later this week, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, Rangel was ahead by only 44 percent to Espaillat's 41 percent—or 16,916 votes to 15,884, a margin of just 1,032 votes, according to the Associated Press. Those totals were the latest available as of Friday.” The entire tally is not in yet.

Had an interpretation client (patient) recently whose first name was Erundina, not a name I’ve ever heard before. Amazingly, she used to live near San Felipe Hospital and the school for the blind in Tegucigalpa, my routine haunts in that city. She told me she’d had a son when she was in her early 20s and then, almost 20 years later, at age 44, without any fertility intervention, was surprised to give birth to another son. She is delighted that the older boy, born in Honduras, is eligible for the new two-year parole (or whatever) offered by the Obama administration. As I’ve said before, in my job, I never know what to expect and often it’s a nice surprise, like meeting this lady.

Jeanine Gramick, a nun who attends our masses at Communitas, was featured in an article in the Washington Monthly, May 24, 2012, entitled “The Renegade.” Jeanine, who had been inspired, as many of us were, by the reforms of short-lived Pope John XXIII, has undertaken a special mission to minister to gay and lesbian Catholics. See:

Among folks with whom I have shared the good news that the terrible review is gone from Amazon, I’ve had mixed advice about whether or not to post that news here. Some said I definitely should do so, since I’d mentioned it on my blog; otherwise, the matter would be left hanging and people going to Amazon now would wonder what I’d been complaining about. Others, including my kids, advised just letting it drop. “Don’t call attention,” “don’t gloat,” they said. They also feared retaliation from the guy who posted the malicious review who might accuse me of getting it erased, which I certainly did not do nor did I know how. So, I’m not gloating, just heaving a sigh of relief.

It turns out that another former Honduras PC volunteer, without any prompting from me, someone I’ve never even met, took matters into his own hands, contacting Amazon on his own. He found that the author of the nasty review had several books listed on Amazon, including a Honduras memoir, all with few reviews. Here, in case someone else ever needs it, is what Amazon told him:

What's not allowed

Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on products. While we appreciate your time and comments, we reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following:

Objectionable material:

spiteful remarks

sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product

I apologize for typos in any of my blogs. Sometimes, I don’t have or don’t take the time to go over them carefully. Thanks to my readers for bearing with me. You know what I meant!