Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pending Book Events. Philly Visit, Facebook Invader, Colombia Peace on Hold, Central American Refugees, Abortion, Trump vs. Hillary, Sexual Aggression, Jihad, Haiti, Cuba

If you've missed hearing about my latest book, Confessions of a Secret Latina: How I Fell Out of Love with Castro & In Love with the Cuban People, you'll have 3 chances to get to know more, first at MLKing Library in Washington, DC, Sat. Nov. 5, 10 am -5 pm, along with other local authors, then at 7 pm on Wed. Nov. 9 in Hillary's hometown, at Chappaqua Public Library, 195 Greeley Ave., and finally at 6:30 pm on Fri. Nov. 11 at Barnard College/Columbia U.

On Oct. 8, I attended an Amnesty International regional conference in Philadelphia, which also gave me a chance to see my sister and her family, as per some of these photos. My nephew, Emil Baumann, is an artist whose outdoor mural was commissioned by the city and stands bright as ever after 3 years. My sister Betty is recovering from Bell’s Palsy, hence her crooked smile. A Halloween-themed exhibit is appearing in the family’s local gallery space. 

Another Barbara Joe, much younger and cuter, has invaded my Facebook account and has also popped up on my gmail. I don’t know how to get rid of her. Maybe she is being annoyed by me in turn? Meanwhile, I keep getting notices both on Yahoo and gmail that someone is trying to get into my accounts, but is being blocked.  Maybe it’s this same young woman? Recently, while staying with my sister and her husband during a regional Amnesty International conference in Philly, I noted that they don’t have to worry about accounts being invaded, identities being stolen, and security being compromised, as they are simply not connected to the internet. They are blissfully unaware of such threats, living in an earlier age of phone, snail-mail, and personal interaction.

Colombia’s President Juan Manual Santos was named this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, despite the failure of the Colombian peace accords, principally for his efforts, not the results, and to spur him on to keep on trying. 
Because of my close connection to Honduras and interpretation work with kids and parents from Central America, I’m glad to see AI speaking out on this issue and getting press recognition:

Here’s more:
Now, the first round of Haiti’s long-delayed presidential election has reportedly been set for Nov. 20,

While an article in The Hill states that Americans overwhelmingly support abortion rights, that all depends to an extent on how the question is framed. According to the Federalist, described by Wikipedia as an English language forum “that rejects the assumptions of the media establishment,” 80% of Americans actually support limiting abortion to the first trimester. That’s a position that I would support, except perhaps in exceptional cases of a threat to the mother’s life or a fetus that would not be viable. I do believe that the abortion wars in this country would be largely over if that were the official stated policy.

Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be elected US president, no one else; that's the simple and stark truth. That’s the choice, as it looks like Trump won’t give up. It’s either elect the lesser of evils or end up with the greater of those evils. No one is perfect. But there are degrees of imperfection. Someone who has been in public life as long as long as Hillary will have some baggage and may say things in private that she would not want revealed in public. But, thanks to WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Vladimir Putin, we now know what has been said behind closed doors by DNC staff. Assange and Putin would like to damage the US and, if Trump is victorious, that's exactly what will happen. Some of the leaked e-mails show Hillary and Democratic operatives to be strategic and thoughtful at times, as well as manipulative. As I've said before, I met Hillary Clinton as First Lady in small face-to-face meetings on gun control and health care when I was reporting for an occupational therapy magazine, OT Week. She seemed bright and approachable then and, for me, the impression has remained largely positive.

Trump may have first entered the presidential race to further his business interests, but now it looks like that effect may be negative.

Avaaz, a worldwide internet based organization seeming to focus on environmental issues has an appeal out to overseas Americans to vote against Trump—here is the Spanish version that I received, showing anti-Trump signs aimed at ex-pats living around the world: 

Trump: Clinton win would mean ‘almost total destruction’ of U.S.In fact, a Trump win would lead to widespread destruction, though perhaps Republicans and Democrats would then team up together to thwart his most egregious efforts.

Macroeconomic Advisers, a St. Louis forecasting firm, recently analyzed the impact of a Donald Trump versus a Hillary Clinton win in November on the overall stock market. There was a stark difference. A Clinton win, the firm says, would produce a 4% rally in the stock market. But a Trump victory would send stocks sliding by a steep 7%.
The market capitalization of the S&P 500 is about $18.6 trillion, so a 7% drop would slash about $1.3 trillion off the value of companies in the index. If you include the 4% gain investors might otherwise book from a Clinton win, the total cost of a Trump win would be more than $2 trillion.
With the revelation of Trump’s 2005 braggart tape about how he gets his way sexually with women, now a number of women are coming forward. As in the case of other long-delayed revelations, such as those against Bill Cosby, his defenders ask: why have these women waited so long? Well, the truth is most women, when they are of a certain (young) age and are not overweight or unattractive, are subject to more-or-less constant low-level sexual harassment by men. It’s probably due to the influence of male testosterone combined with cultural norms. When I was a young woman—and in Honduras, even as an old woman—I experienced much “hitting” on me, nor was I unusual in that. It was better when I was married and had kids, probably because men are more likely to respect another man’s “possession,” as well as to respect women who are mothers, though that’s not totally true. Also, I worked largely in social work, child welfare, and rehabilitation after I married, where most of my colleagues were women. But, with men, except for gay men, you simply are constantly on guard and you develop defensive techniques.  You try to deflect advances and make them into jokes or bantering so they don’t develop any further and no one’s feelings get hurt.

In some cases, it’s really just flirting and the initial stage of courtship, an exploration of whether there is mutual attraction, especially if both parties are single. As women, we often work with men every day. So it isn’t worth making an issue out of every little overture. Even when women have actually been subjected to unwanted overt sexual touching or even outright rape, they are often in denial or just want to leave the whole matter behind. When the man is their boss or a well-known public figure, someone powerful, they expect retaliation, lawsuits, and fear they just won’t be believed. They may feel alone with their secret. It’s easier to simply avoid the guy. However, if the man in question publicly denies his behavior, as Trump has done, and other women have come forward, then a woman who has been subjected to unwanted advances feels less lonely and more emboldened to go public. Especially when the man in question wants to become president, a woman may feel she has a moral duty to do so. So I don’t consider having kept it a secret for years to be disqualifying for such a revelation. Sexual aggression is often hard for victims/survivors to reveal even years later, as we have seen in countless cases of sexual abuse by clergy, coaches, and family members. There is a conspiracy of silence. So, yes, I do believe Trump’s accusers and salute them for coming forward. His blustering defense is not credible. Why would a guy like Trump brag about doing something he never actually did? This whole matter has overshadowed the Wiki-Leaks revelations.

Trump’s focus on Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances has backfired and Hillary herself is forced to keep quiet about the whole issue. Bill, while he probably did take advantage of Monica because of her youth, mostly seems to have seduced willing women, not forcing his attentions on them. He is also a more intelligent and personable guy than Trump, who may have used force because he is so unattractive to most women (my bias showing?).  While Trump and his supporters seem to be calling for riots and unrest if he loses the “rigged” election, Pence, a voice of moderation, is saying that he and Donald will “absolutely accept” the electoral outcome. However, there is a real risk of serious disruption and civil disobedience if Trump keeps up his accusations now and after the election.

After three serious memory lapses in a row, maybe Gary Johnson has incipient dementia? Certainly, he has not been helping his presidential bid and Jill Stein seems to falling even further behind as well. They just cannot capture public attention when the big Trump-Hillary Clinton drama is unfolding on-stage.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is to face criminal charges .Prosecutors say they will charge Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio with criminal contempt of court over his immigration patrols.

Those now being attracted to jihad are apparently less religiously devout than the 9/11 bombers and other earlier incarnations. These days, they are more likely to be run-of-the-mill outlaws looking for opportunities to do something dangerous and exciting that makes them feel powerful and beyond the law and offers a license to engage violence—giving them an adrenaline rush and providing instant camaraderie. Often what attracts these guys is what builds up ordinary criminal gangs. An interesting twist has been the action in Germany of fellow Syrian immigrants tying up a would-be jihadist and calling the authorities. While having citizens take matters in their own hands is not recommended in many cases, it can sometimes be justified, as in this case where the suspect was not physically harmed, except for being tied up. (Later, unfortunately, he took his own life.) Citizen vigilantes should not become violent bullies like George Zimmerman, the trigger-happy neighborhood-watch guy who killed Trayvon Martin because he looked suspicious to him and who has gone on to further impulsive and violent acts. Nor do we want a system like the one in Cuba where citizens are praised for snitching to the government on others, in that case for words of simple disagreement, not for any plans whatsoever for violent action. A very legitimate case can be made for non-violent free speech. However, where someone seems to be going beyond words, actually contemplating a violent act, his or her associates, whether fellow Muslims, gang members, family members, or concerned neighbors, seem fully justified in “snitching,” or even trying to physically deter that individual.

Hurricane Michael has devastated Les Cayes, a Haitian city where I was an election observer in 1990, a really charming place back then. Poor Haiti, it keeps having bad luck, whether from bad governance, an earthquake, a cholera epidemic, or now a hurricane—it just never stops and the country never seems able to recover.  No wonder so many Haitians put their faith in spells and magic—what else do they have to try to take control of their lives? Now their long-delayed presidentialo election is set for Nov. 20.

From Freedom House:
Cuba: Political Repression Grows 

In response to a growing number of arbitrary detentions in Cuba and greater intimidation of civil society, Freedom House issued the following statement: 
“We are alarmed by the significant increase of arbitrary detentions, secret police raids, and intimidation targeting a wide cross-section of civil society,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “The international community should demand protection of the Cuban human rights defenders and prodemocracy movements.”

The Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional (CCDHRN) reports that there have been more than 7,800 politically motivated arrests in 2016, in many cases with the use of violence. A new report by Instituto Cubano por la Libertad de Expresión y Prensa (ICLEP) documented freedom of expression and press violations. 

Cuba is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.

French multi-nationals are building a hotel in Cuba, Manzana de Gomez. While the average Cuban earns $30 a month, Reuters has reported that the Indian workers are being paid more than $1,500. And they are said to work faster than Cubans; do you blame Cubans for slowing down when they are paid so little?  It’s a form of protest that cannot be proven. Surely, Cubans, if word gets out, must resent the fact that foreign workers are being paid a monthly wage more than their usual annual salary.

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