Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nigerians’ Departure, Honduran Visitors, Friend’s 70th Birthday, Book Translation, Etc.

I put the photo of me wearing my Honduras Peace Corps t-shirt next to an airplane seatmate wearing his Panama PC shirt on LinkedIn and it has had over 7,000 views there—never expected it to be an internet sensation. Here it is again. 

Photos above refer to a 600-page book I am translating from Spanish to English for a friend. The intact published Spanish version is on the floor, but I also have loose pages from the book. Each time I've translated both sides of a page, I throw it on the floor to make me feel like I'm progressing.
Below: I had two summer visitors from Honduras, Gustavo, the judge from Choluteca in my Honduras Peace Corps book (Triumph & Hops: Golden Years with the Peace Corps in Honduras), and his wife.

Haruna, one of my GAO visitors, had to leave early, but Stephen (above) stayed until the end and got his certificate of completion. A GAO friend and his wife and I joined him for lunch at a local eatery the day before his departure. I miss both Stephen and Haruna, but am enjoying a sort respite from visitors.

Above, my friend Pam's 70th birthday--she gave me permission to post photos. Her husband roasted a whole pig for the occasion and her daughter, shown with her on the left, 2 photos up, came out from California for the occasion. (It's a milestone I've long since passed.)

Short, cogent article below about Trump’s war on the press. Berating the press is not only a favorite form of protection or denial for Trump, but is part of keeping up his image of a being combative tough guy.

Rumor has it that Trump wants to buy TIME magazine—then he can put a bona fide heroic photo of himself on the cover!

One has to wonder if cancellation of the longstanding plan to move FBI headquarters to a new location was retaliation for FBI investigation, current and future, into Trump’s affairs?

It’s so sad that the fluke of Trump’s election has ushered in a government of blatant cruelty, stinginess, and greed, a malignant government, whatever the issue or policy. What hurts me most is the cruelty of deportation orders—Iraqi Christians, a 20-year Mexican coffee farmer deported from Kona in Hawaii, and the parents of four American teen and preteen siblings living in San Diego, leaving them to fend for themselves. If it’s not broken, why break it? Why deliberately disrupt lives for no good reason? Common sense, fairness, nuance, are simply not applied by either Jeff Sessions or Donald Trump. They are impervious to appeals to empathy, an emotion with which they apparently lack, except when it comes to the Trump family, which is accorded all sorts of protections and perks.

As for Obamacare’s failure, Trump can take steps to make that happen. Already, all the uncertainty is riling the healthcare market.

Texas U.S. Representative Bill Flores, a Republican now in his fourth term in the state’s 17th District, told a local CBS affiliate that Trump’s children, as well as his son-in-law, should be bounced from the White House. A good idea!

Honduras is on "red alert" over the number of women being murdered, according to the country's rights activists. Members of 20 different women's groups have banded together to highlight the problem, saying at least 18 women were killed in the past two weeks. The organizations say out of 463 women murdered last year, only 15 cases were investigated. The country's overall murder rate is down, according to official statistics. The state figures, released this week, show the total murders fell by 22% in the first six months of this year. The government says it is making progress and is working to reduce violence across the country

My friend and former housemate, a water specialist on contract with USAID, was off to the Congo where many unfortunate South Sudan refugees have fled and need clean water in the refugee camps. Of course, like all good things, including Peace Corps, Trump’s budget wants to cut USAID and foreign aid to give tax cuts to the upper brackets.

AI  issued an Urgent Action for our Turkey director:

Our organization also issued two new UAs for Cuban prisoners:

However, we just got word that the three siblings below have been released

Panama offers Cuban migrants a ticket to Havana and $1,650 each. Most don’t want to return there.

I dreamt about my late son Andrew, who died in 2004. I was surprised to have him show up after so many years. He said he had been living and working in California and would be moving back to our area, which pleased me. My daughters still have pieces of his clothing,

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Nigerian visitors, Oregon Family Remembrance and Reunion, Honduras, Vehicle as Terror Weapon, Basic Income

Here I am in my home office with my Nigerian GAO visitor (at right, since departed) and two additional guests whom he invited to our house. Along with Stephen, another Nigerian, I was almost began feeling like the minority American in my own house! The Nigerians do speak English, but also chat together in other languages, as is common in Africa. Nigeria is a country I've never visited, but would like to see some day, having heard so much about it. Do we ever have enough time, money, and reasons to explore so many interesting parts of the world? I've lived in or visited most countries in Europe and the Americas, but been to only three in Africa: Kenya, South Sudan, and Morocco, in Asia, only to Japan and Thailand. But, since 2000, when I joined the Peace Corps in Honduras, that country has been my main destination, 13 times in the 13 years since Peace Corps as a medical brigade volunteer and interpreter.

Below, photos from late June 2017 "Joe family reunion" in Portland, Oregon, also a memorial held there for my late ex-husband's sister who passed away at age 84, just days before our scheduled get-together. Although I was divorced after spending 24 years as a member of the "Joe" clan (last name's spelling thanks to Papa Joe when he arrived from Korea), later, because of marriages, my own side of the family are practically the only ones still bearing the odd "Joe" last name. (I'm glad now to be accepted back into the fold.)

 Above various gatherings, not everybody together at all times in all places. Our gathering spanned several days.

Left and below, eating at pirate-themed  restaurant. (If I were better at arranging these photos, they wouldn't take up so much space.)

Family members came from the east coast (ourselves), Minnesota, California, and various parts of Oregon.

Above, my nephew Darrel, a loud snorer, right,  great-grandson De'Andre in pool at our Air B&B rental with my nephew Conrad. 

 Below, Darrell with daughter (a model and clothes designer) in the California Bay area. De'Andre in hot tub.

Below, making Korean mandu, something I once often made years ago with the family.

Above, center, new widower Bernard, age 85,  wife of the recently departed and mourned Elizabeth; at left is my granddaughter Natasha,

 Early fireworks

The beautiful gardens of our rented house put me in mind of one of my favorite childhood books, The Secret Garden. 


Below, Multnomah Falls--the others crossed the bridge partway up, but I stayed behind, being afraid of heights.
Osprey below is a common bird of prey in the area, seen here in the falls' museum.

Above, on flight back to DC, fortuitously and with completely random seating, I found myself next to another former Peace Corps volunteer, both of us wearing our PC t-shirts, his for Panama, mine for Honduras. Small world! 

We had such a wonderful reunion with my ex-husband’s family, people I was once close to but was cut off from for a time after 24 years of marriage to my late ex-husband, who remarried. They all accepted me as if I had never been gone. Now we were brought together again, as can be seen, but sadly, my ex's older sister, Elizabeth/Betty, age 84, died days before our scheduled get-together.

Since I don’t have or watch TV in my own home, it was revelation for me to see it airing fairly constantly at the AirB&B house that we were renting. There are lots of commercials on TV depicting an idealized version of the American family, a Mom, a Dad, a couple of kids playing outdoors while a dog romps with them. The news and ads seemed repetitious. I’m so grateful for more balanced and substantive public radio news with few ads and I only hope Trump Inc. won’t manage to gut that, along with other damage he is doing.

Apparently Comey was not the only government official that Trump leaned on to stop the Russia investigation. But others have apparently testified to that behind closed doors.

Team Trump plans to reduce Peace Corps spending by close to $12 million immediately. This is not good news and could portend even deeper cuts in the years ahead. More at : http://peacecorpsworldwide. org/taylor-dibbert-now-isnt- the-time-to-cut-peace-corps- funding-guatemala/

Sen. Bernie Sanders has gleefully pointed out Trump’s praise of the Australian single-payer health care system in a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, after making unfavorable comments about our own system.

No need to say much about Trump’s continuing weird and concerning personal behavior, which speaks for itself and which may still inspire his base—the worse he acts, the better a shrinking number seem to like it—and is something which the spineless Republican Party mostly fails to acknowledge.  Maybe he likes being an outrageous showman to distract from his other problems: lack of broad popularity, the Russian investigation, his dearth of knowledge and plans, his apparent mental and emotional deficiencies. The guy seems impervious to embarrassment and unaware of normal expectations. (His family and staff must secretly be cringing.) He and Kim Jung-Un, two crazies, are a dangerous, possibly combustible, combination.

Of course, Kim’s ace-in-the-hole is nuclear capability. Thank goodness that the Soviets halted Cuba’s attempt to acquire the same, or we might be facing a similar threat much closer to home.

I was at a recent interpretation assignment for speech and behavioral therapy for a boy and his father. The boy is being regularly coached to pay more attention, wait his turn, and respond appropriately. Too bad Trump won’t be attending any such therapy to help him learn to behave in a less impulsive and more socially acceptable manner, but maybe it’s too late for him. My 9-year-old great-grandson would be as capable as Trump of declaring that North Korea has engaged in "very, very bad behavior” and that “something will have to be done about it," warning of “severe things” (such as what?). Maybe Trump wants to keep Kim guessing?

As part of the American majority who never voted for the Donald, I do feel resentful of the quirks of the electoral college and Republican gerrymandering which have allowed an uniformed and vindictive minority to hold our country hostage with this clown. In the other hand, he makes for a lively news cycle, ample fodder for conversation, and is certainly one for the history books. 

Glad to hear there has been a stay of deportation of Iraqi Christians.  Can’t Trump’s evangelical supporters get behind the effort to support them?

Environmental activist Bertha Caceres’ daughter and namesake, carrying on her work in Honduras, reportedly narrowly escaped a machete attack.

Vehicles being used as terror weapons has proven to be a frightening new development since vehicles are everywhere and readily available, and are also needed in everyday life. 

Finally, since greater automation allows more production with fewer workers, there will be no going back to the mass factory jobs of old (sorry, Trump) nor a romantic return to rugged frontier individualism and survival of the fittest, a vision at least given lip service by many Republican politicians. Nor should the financial benefits of automation accrue only to CEOs and shareholders, but can be more equitably distributed in a national “safety net,” if you will, including in support of education and the arts, to offer people more avenues of what we used to call “purposeful activity” when I worked at the occupational therapy association. A guaranteed minimum income, universal health care, and support for education at least at the community college level (Hillary Clinton’s plan) would benefit the economy by promoting jobs—both in the health and education sectors and by providing buying power to benefit recipients. I am not advocating Soviet (or Cuban) style top-down control of the entire economy or full-blown socialism, whatever that means, but something along the lines of the system of the Nordic countries have adopted, with regular, fair elections, a competitive economy, substantial taxes, and a basic minimum social safety net. Those countries have proved that such a system can work in the real world. Henry Ford deliberately paid his workers enough to buy the cars they made—what goes around, comes around—we need to keep the economy and life moving and even Donald Trump cannot take it with him.

Here’s a start in the US--from Business Insider: Hawaii just became the first US state to pass a bill supporting basic income — here's the man behind it--State Representative Chris Lee.