Monday, January 27, 2014

Mini-Honduras Peace Corps Reunion, Artic Vortex Returns, My Niece at Site of Md. Mall Shooting, Honduras News, Bloodbath in North Korea





A surprise visit from California from Perth, one of my former Honduras Peace Corps colleagues, was the occasion for a reunion with still another Honduras volunteer, Lourdes, who came with her young son to meet us at the neighborhood Eastern Market, where the above photo was taken inside. Perth was not well-clothed for the weather, but put on as many layers as she could.

 
Still another artic vortex is now threatening to assault us. I don’t remember ever experiencing such repeatedly cold temperatures in DC since moving here in 1969. This time, walking gingerly on an icy sidewalk, my foot slid right out from under me and I fell down hard, experiencing some strains and bruises, but nothing drastic. Makes me seriously consider moving to Hawaii near my kids living there! At least in Honduras, where I will be going soon, even in the colder parts, it’s never nearly as cold as here in DC. Of course, they don’t have indoor heat, so even 40 F can feel fairly frigid inside. Last year, at night it went down to the 30s F in La Esperanza and I had trouble sleeping even wearing all my clothes and with blankets on top. Just now, I looked at the Esperanza weather report showing a high temp in the low 70s, very nice, and in Choluteca, it was predicted to reach 98 F.

 
Three dead on Saturday in a shooting in Maryland’s Columbia Mall, in a quiet planned suburban community outside Washington, DC. Surely the second amendment doesn’t prevent background checks and other commonsense measures that would protect us all when we go out in public places, though that’s considered a slippery slope by gun-rights’ advocates. I can only hope that the slope does get a lot slipperier. My great-niece Morgan, a college student with a part-time job at the mall, was there when the shooting started and was locked down, but not injured. That’s a little too close for comfort.

 The United States has seen a recent rash of shootings and gun killings at schools and colleges, as well as in homes and workplaces. The Navy Yard, thought to be a secure military campus located in walking distance from my house, was the scene of a mass shooting just a few months ago. Of course, part of our increased sensitivity to these events is due to instant communication and the 24-hour new cycle. Many seem to be vendettas for perceived slights. Others may be perpetrated by individuals with mental aberrations. Whatever the circumstances, it is high time for greater control of access to firearms, including registration and background checks for buyers, something that apparently a majority of Americans support. The right to bear arms shouldn’t trump every other right, including the right to life. A fanatical minority of gun-rights advocates is holding the rest of us hostage and threatening our very lives by fighting to prevent any curbs on gun ownership and use. Responsible gun owners don’t object to some curbs—in fact, apparently even a majority of NRA members don’t object to registration and background checks. The actions of a few are giving most gun owners a bad name.

 
A Spanish-speaking nun at a local hospital has asked me to lead a support group for Spanish-speaking bereaved mothers. Despite being way overcommitted, I couldn't say "no."

 I'm very glad for a ceasefire in South Sudan, though I don't think the rift that led to fighting has been solved.

 
I’m getting excited and also a bit nervous about my upcoming trip to Honduras, about which you will read on this blog on my return. My schedule there is very tight and transportation is difficult and somewhat risky. However, I am scheduled to participate in two medical brigades, IHS (ihsmn.org) and Operation Smile, along with a number of other commitments.

 
One reader has commented regarding the Honduras presidential inauguration announcement below:

“...wish we'd boycott this on the basis of their nonfunctional government, nonexistent civil society.”

 
President Barack Obama announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Honduras to attend the inauguration of His Excellency, Juan Orlando Hern├índez Alvarado, President-elect of the Republic of Honduras. 

 The Honorable Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor, will lead the delegation.

The Honorable Lisa Kubiske, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras

The Honorable Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

The Honorable Ricardo Zuniga, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, NSC staff

 
According to our local Spanish-language press, Honduran president-elect Hernández is going to take a page from the neighboring president of Guatemala to launch a program to reduce malnutrition, especially among children.

 An article about the challenges and failures of the drug war in the eastern Mosquitia region of Honduras appears in the January 6 issue of the New Yorker, “A Mission Gone Wrong.” The region is a wild jungle area with few roads, making surveillance difficult. The article’s author mentions young men paralyzed from deep-water diving without gear. I’ve met some of them, young lobster and pearl divers who surfaced too fast being fitted for donated wheelchairs. I’ve also heard them speak the Miskito language, which I can’t understand.
 
It’s mind-boggling to consider that North Korea’s current young leader, Kim Yong-Un, is even more blood-thirsty than his father and grandfather before him, reportedly not only having executed his uncle, once his key advisor, but the man’s entire extended family, including children. One of those eliminated was North Korea’s ambassador to Cuba, who had been ordered to return home for consultations. It’s even speculated that the young leader killed his father’s sister, his own “blood” relative married to the executed uncle.

 








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