Archive - March 13, 2009

1
The Peace Corps in the DR, 1965
2
Shriver And The First Trainees
3
Madoff's Friends in Palm Beach
4
Who Were The Very First Peace Corps Volunteers?

The Peace Corps in the DR, 1965

Let me end the week with another piece of Peace Corps history.  No, not about the Kennedys or Shriver, but about Peace Corps Volunteers, the heart, the soul, the real reason for the agency.  I’m not going to write about Ethiopia and the wonderful Volunteers who served there [but I could!]. No, I want to tell you about the Dominican Republican Volunteers of 1965. Back in ’65 the PCVs of the DR were overwhelmingly against the 1963 right-wing military coup that overthrew Juan Bosch’s newly elected, leftist government (which had invited the Peace Corps to the country). These Volunteers lived and worked among the poor, they were working to remove the stain of the US’s long standing support for Rafael Trujillo, and when the civil war broke out in ’65 the Volunteers sympathized with the “legitimatist” rebels. Then President Johnson sent in 500 Marines “to protect American lives” and the American . . .

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Shriver And The First Trainees

From the day after JFK’s inauguration until June 26, 1961, Sarge Shriver was surrounded by staff he recruited from among the best and the brightest.  But not on the 26th. That day, the Director was surrounded by strangers, trainees selected by others, the Volunteers for Colombia I. Sarge was ill at ease, with reason. The selection committee complained of the “paucity of good, fully qualified candidates.” Some were high school graduates, others had completed only two years of college. About a dozen had not even taken the Peace Corps test. References for most were incomplete, few met minimal language qualifications, and the “special skills” fell far short of what the Colombian government, Peace Corps and CARE, the project administrator, had requested. It was a hot, humid day in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Sarge removed his jacket. With the Bay of Pigs fiasco the most recent media story on Latin . . .

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Madoff's Friends in Palm Beach

BOOK REVIEW If  you have read anything about Bernie Madoff, the $65 billion swindler, who took most of the fortunes of his good friends in Palm Beach (and elsewhere) in the giant Ponzi scheme he operated since the early ’90s, you’ll appreciate this book on his Palm Beach crowd. Written by RPCV Larry Leamer the book was published just weeks before Bernie the Bandit went down. Madness Under the Royal Palms: Love and Death Behind the Gates of Palm Beach by Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1965-67) Hyperion 2009 Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) Laurence Leamer has written gossipy books about the Kennedys and Arnold Schwarzenegger that have brought some actual thought to celebrity-mongering.  Now he has come up with an exercise in commercial star-fuckery, dull-withered-rich-people division, that some of his readers may find considerably less alluring than his takes on Jackie and Ethel.  Others might cruise through this stuff with . . .

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Who Were The Very First Peace Corps Volunteers?

I found an old document, a pamphlet really, published by the Peace Corps with a letter from Bill Moyers, then Associate Director for Public Affairs. The pamphlet has a date of November 1, 1961 [Moyers’ letter, which is with the pamphlet, is addressed “FOR YOUR INFORMATION and dated November 8, 1961. This ancient Peace Corps document is the “Descriptions of the first 9 projects, including purpose, training, Volunteer skills needed, technical qualifications of Volunteers, and information about the taining officials.” In his letter, Moyers adds, “Since this edition of PROFILES was prepared, three additional projects have been announced. They are Thailand, Maylaya and Sierra Leone.” Moyers sums up, “I hope you will find the PROFILES helpful in providing you with specific information about the work of the Peace Corps overseas and of the role it is playing in the struggle for economic and social progress among the developing nations thorughout . . .

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