Archive - May 2011

1
E-books Dine-Out on Paper
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Letter to NYTIMES from Barbara Ferris (Morocco 1980-82)
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What about more RPCV women CDs?
4
Review of John Coyne's The Caddie Who Won The Masters
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More Facts & Figures from the Peace Corps on Sexual Assaults
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Facts & Figures on Sexual Assaults in the Peace Corps
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Review of James Stewart's history of his Peace Corps years in the Philippines
8
Well, What's the Peace Corps Doing About Sexual Assaults?
9
What Shriver Wanted
10
In the Boston Globe This Morning: The Peace Corps: What is it for?

E-books Dine-Out on Paper

At this year’s BookExpo held in New York at the Jarvis Center, I slipped into the Google Books panel discussion to “parse the significance of the e-book explosion and to explain Google Books’ position in it” as Publishers Weekly BEA Show Daily stated on Thursday, May 26, 2011. In the crowded room, four publishing execs were quizzed on the impact and importance of the e-book format. First question up was one of discovery. We know that ‘traditional’ readers find out about new books and authors by “browsing in a physical store.” What we have today is a “system that’s ‘good for hunters, but not as good for gatherers.” You can find a book, if you know what you want, one of the panelists stated. Google Book’s director of strategic partnerships, Tom Turvey, made the comment that “all book recommendation engines suck” and that there ‘isn’t an algorithm that can compete . . .

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Letter to NYTIMES from Barbara Ferris (Morocco 1980-82)

Celebrating the Peace Corps Published: May 21, 2011 To the Editor: “Ex-Peace Corps Volunteers Speak Out on Rape” (news article, May 11) threatens to overshadow 50 years of service by Americans in some 140 countries around the world. It is true that sexual assaults happen to Peace Corps volunteers and women all around the world, and yes, we should all grieve over these terrible acts. It is also true that from time to time such tragedies may not be handled well by some agency staff as well as some host-country counterparts. But these facts belie a larger and more important truth. The Peace Corps has had more than 200,000 volunteers working in some of the most remote corners of the world safely and successfully. But even with rigorous training and responsible oversight, volunteers can never be completely immune from sexual assault and violent crime. And yet Peace Corps volunteers are . . .

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What about more RPCV women CDs?

We know that women today make up more than 64% of all Peace Corps Volunteers. Let me ask: how many Country Directors are women? When I was an APCD in Ethiopia we had one, maybe two, women on a staff of 10-12. Today, the number of female staffers is higher, but is it high enough?  With such an increase of female Volunteers, shouldn’t the Peace Corps have the same increase in women CDs? Could it be that if we had more female CD’s there might be fewer complaints that the sexual assaults aren’t being properly investigated by the staff? A friend of mine who is in law enforcement says that as a “general rule” male do not take ‘assault charges’ that seriousely. The Peace Corps must. One way to show we are serious about this issue is to hire more RPCV women as Country Directors. It would, at this moment in the agency’s history, I think, do the Peace Corps a lot of good.

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Review of John Coyne's The Caddie Who Won The Masters

The Caddie Who Won The Masters by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) Peace Corps Writers $13.50 316 pages 2011 Review by Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979–80) IN JOHN COYNE’S SPLENDID new golf novel, The Caddie Who Won the Masters, all of the action, from first page to last, takes place at Augusta National Golf Club, site of what is arguably the most famous golf tournament on earth. Because of this, and because of Coyne’s intricate knowledge of the golf course and Masters’ history, Augusta itself shares the spotlight as the book’s main character. For those of us lucky enough to have walked those hallowed grounds, it seems perfectly appropriate that the manicured fairways and slippery greens should leap out of the background of the story and take center stage. The plot revolves around the other main character, Tim Alexander, an aging amateur who earns a Masters’ appearance by virtue of a single . . .

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More Facts & Figures from the Peace Corps on Sexual Assaults

Year Rape/Attempted Rape Major Sexual Assault Other Sexual Assault Volunteers on Board Female Total 2000 28 11 51 4415 7164 2001 22 23 68 4025 6643 2002 16 18 61 4060 6636 2003 26 11 57 4411 7533 2004 25 10 70 4462 7733 2005 23 15 79 4535 7810 2006 22 10 69 4537 7749 2007 21 11 87 4794 8079 2008 23 18 88 4713 7876 2009 15 20 80 4624 7671 Total 221 147 710     Average 22.1 14.7 71     The definition of each category is in the 2009 Security Report and follow here: Definitions Rape: Penetration of the vagina or anus with a penis, tongue, finger or object without the consent and/or against the will of the Volunteer. This includes when a victim is unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs and/or alcohol. Rape also includes forced oral sex, where: 1. the . . .

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Facts & Figures on Sexual Assaults in the Peace Corps

Casey Frazee of First Response sent me an email the other day, after I had posted my blog about ‘what the Peace Corps was doing now’ to handle the sexual assaults in the agency. She wrote:  “I can send you the stat sheet from the Peace Corps but the last three years are the HIGHEST on record for the agency. The incidence rate in the Peace Corps is 5 times higher that the US rate of rape and sexual assault. “There was a small decline in the REPORTS of rape in 2009, but the Peace Corps’ own survey shows there were another 33 unreported rapes in 2009 which is double+ the reported figure for that year. ” The Peace Corps’ initiatives are still very new and there has NOT been any PCV training yet, only staff training which was rolled out this February. The training was also not vetted by experts . . .

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Review of James Stewart's history of his Peace Corps years in the Philippines

Ask What You Can Do: Our Days in the Early Peace Corps by James C. Stewart (Philippines 1962–64) Create Space $24.95 672 pages 2011 Reviewed by Maureen Carroll (Philippines 1961–63) THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE PEACE CORPS seems to have brought out the secret memoirist in all of us. Jim Stewart was one of the 600 to 700 Volunteers who arrived in the Philippines during the first two years of the program — the largest in the world at that time. Stewart was in Group IV, arriving in the Philippines in June of 1962, on the heels of Groups I, II and III which had begun arriving in October of 1961, each group trained in sequence at Penn State University. The groups kept on coming every few months despite the fact that the job of “elementary school aide” had turned out to be a “non-job,” a term used by first . . .

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Well, What's the Peace Corps Doing About Sexual Assaults?

Since being appointed to their positions in the Peace Corps some 20 months ago,  and  months after the terrible murder of Kate Puzin, Aaron Williams and Carrie Hessler-Radelet, have initiated a series of prevention measures overseas that involve safety and security. The Peace Corps now has a reporting system to track sexual assault, and that data is used to train staff. So far, the agency says that they has seen a decline in the incidence rate of rape and sexual assaults. Also, the Peace Corps is now  reporting that in 2009-2010 arrests were made in 61% of the rape and attempted rape cases in which the PCVs came forward and filed a report with the local police. So what else? Well, like always the Peace Corps has formed groups, committees, and called in the ‘outside experts.’ Lets start with the  Sexual Assault Working Group–this is an on-going group that “analyzes current agency protocols and recommends agency strategies for sexual . . .

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What Shriver Wanted

The famous “Mayflower Gang” created the Peace Corps in 30 days in two rooms of the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue several blocks from the White House in February 1961. The ‘Gang’ was led by Shriver, Harris Wofford, Warren Wiggins, Bill Josephson and a half dozen others giving suggestions and making their points. These were ‘advisors’ like the Secretary of State Dean Rush; Father Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame;  Gordon Boyce, President of the Experiment in International Living; Albert Sims of the Institute of International Education; George Carter, a campaign worker on civil rights issues; Franklin Williams, an organizer of the campaign for black voter registration and a student of African affairs; Adam Yarmolinsky, a foundation executive. These advisers came from all corners (if not both rooms in the suite) and most of them wanted one clear statement of what the Peace Corps would be, but Sarge Shriver held the position that Peace — not Development . . .

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In the Boston Globe This Morning: The Peace Corps: What is it for?

Buffeted by controversy, an American institution faces an even deeper question: why it exists at all By Gal Beckerman May 15, 2011 Fifty years ago this spring, President John F. Kennedy breathed life into what had seemed at first like simply an ingenious campaign promise: to send idealistic young people – “America’s best resource” – out into the furthest villages and towns of the developing world to boost the image of the United States abroad. This was the Peace Corps. In the years since, more than 200,000 Americans have served as volunteers, and the Peace Corps itself has become more than just another government agency. It has become an idea, the perfect embodiment of America at its best: selfless and unobtrusive, trying to do good in the world by helping the less fortunate achieve their potential. This year the agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a plethora of parties, . . .

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