Archive - April 2015

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Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation
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Potential Shift in Hostage Policy: Officials to Recommend Families Be Free to Pay Ransom
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Link to Nepal Peace Corps
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George Packer (Togo 1982-83) Writes About His CD Warren Weinstein
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Warren Weinstein Remembered
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Warren Weinstein Peace Corps CD
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Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93) Interviewed in Poets & Writers
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Stanley Meisler (PC Staff 1964-67) Publishes: Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse
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Gerald Karey writes: The Rumor Project
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Africa's Heart by Mark Wentling Featured in Kirkus Review for April

Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation

Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation About PCCF In January 2014, the United States Congress authorized the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation to establish a commemorative work on Federal land in Washington, D.C. Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation is the public name of the Peace Corps Foundation, a District of Columbia 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. The Design Competition The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation (PCCF) is sponsoring a two-stage, national design competition to select an artistically exceptional design concept for a permanent commemorative work in the heart of Washington, DC. This competition will provide designers from all across the United States an opportunity to create a compelling work of public art that will be bold and inspirational. The design should focus on and express American ideals and values that are the essence of the Peace Corps and Peace Corps service. It should be about America and our aspirations as a people, and about the Peace Corps . . .

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Potential Shift in Hostage Policy: Officials to Recommend Families Be Free to Pay Ransom

This is the headline, today,  from ABC News, reporting  this potential change in policy.  Read the report at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/potential-shift-hostage-policy-officials-recommend-families-free/story?id=30589726 The United States has long had a policy of no negotiation with terrorists and absolutely no payment of ransom to free US citizens held hostage. The policy is based on the rationale that paying ransom would only place a price on other Americans. Unfortunately, the United States has not been successful in rescuing hostage hostages. Families of US citizens, including Warren Weinstein, reported that they were visited by US officials who told them that if they attempted to privately raise funds and pay ransom, they would be prosecuted. “Looking the other way” may be the policy change that would allow families to attempt to ransom relatives held hostage, without fear of prosecution. If it had been in effect, perhaps American hostages would not have been killed. Evidently families did not receive such . . .

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Link to Nepal Peace Corps

Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) who has a long history of working for his host country has sent me the following link which is the official Nepal Peace Corps link, and updated since the earthquake, for those who wish to know the situation and help the victims. Thanks, Don. http://www.peacecorps.gov/resources/faf/nepal/

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George Packer (Togo 1982-83) Writes About His CD Warren Weinstein

The New Yorker by George Packer (RPCV/Togo) April 24, 2015 Warren Weinstein, the Al Qaeda hostage who was killed by an American drone strike in Pakistan in January, was once my boss. He was the Peace Corps country director in Togo in 1982 when I was a new volunteer, just weeks out of college. At the end of that summer, after finishing training, I and others in my group were prevented from taking our posts around the country by a Togolese bureaucrat who was a relative of the country’s dictator, Gnassingbé Eyadema. The petty financial dispute took weeks to work out. In the meantime, a few of us were housed temporarily with the Weinstein family in Lomé, Togo’s capital, on the Gulf of Guinea. The Weinsteins lived in the diplomatic quarter, but that makes it sound a bit too grand. The house was a small villa with a metal gate . . .

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Warren Weinstein Remembered

The New York Times reported on the death of Warren Weinsten. To read the article, Here is the link:  http://nyti.ms/1DniWd6 From the NYTimes article: “A Fulbright scholar who earned his Ph.D. in international law and economics, Mr. Weinstein was proficient in seven languages. He served as a Peace Corps director in Ivory Coast and Togo. From 2004 until he was captured in 2011, he worked as an adviser for J.E. Austin Associates, a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development.” It was not reported which years Weinstein served as Country Director in Togo and the Ivory Coast. The Washington Post also reported on the  tragic death of Warren Weinstein.Here is the link to read that article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-american-hostage-devoted-life-to-helping-the-worlds-poorest-people/2015/04/23/368fb35c-e9c8-11e4-9a6a-c1ab95a0600b_story.html From the Post article: According to colleagues familiar with a 40-year career that spanned numerous continents and multiple conflicts, Weinstein cast a far longer shadow than they expected from the 5-foot-4 . . .

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Warren Weinstein Peace Corps CD

As he announced Warren Weinstein’s death Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama praised what he said was Weinstein’s lifelong dedication to service, first as a Peace Corps volunteer and later as a USAID contractor. Weinstein, Obama said, was someone who “willingly left the comforts of home to help the people of Pakistan,” focusing his work on helping families escape poverty to give their children a better life. “This was a man who basically dedicated his life to service, to people in general, but especially to people in a country where the standard of living was low and difficult. … It’s tragic that he was killed the way he was,” former U.S. Ambassador Dan Simpson said. In a letter to the Washington Post, however, Weinstein said he had been a country director in Togo and Ivory Coast but did not mention being a PCV.

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Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93) Interviewed in Poets & Writers

The May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine has an article entitled “Winners on Winning”  where they interview writers who won (and lost) literary contests in 2014. Among the handful of winning writers is our Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93) for his 2014 Autumn House Press Fiction Award ($2,500) and publication of his most recent collection, Truth Poker. Mark, a professor of English at West Virginia University, (and directs their creative writing program,) has won more contest than most writers. Here’s a short list: 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award for The River of Lost Voices: Stories From Guatemala 2001 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award for Steal My Heart 2004 George Garrett Fiction Award for An American Affair 2004 ABZ Poetry Prize for The Other Language 2012 Gival Press Novel Award for Julia & Rodrigo 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize for his story collection, The Incurable 2013 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award . . .

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Stanley Meisler (PC Staff 1964-67) Publishes: Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse

Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse by Stanley Meisler (PC Staff 1964-67) Palgrave MacMillan 202 pages 2015 $26.00 Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) • Full disclosure: Stan Meisler is one of the Peace Corps figures I have liked and admired most.  As a clueless upstart in the old Peace Corps Program Evaluation Division starting in 1964, I was lucky enough to have had Stan as a co-evaluator on three excursions out to where the real Peace Corps was stumbling along.  (A significant subset of people at Washington headquarters thought of the far-flung Volunteers as unglamorous supernumeraries, a kind of mud-stained boys’ and girls’ auxiliary, and the truest soul of the Peace Corps was to be found after work at Chez Francois next door on Connecticut Avenue). Stan and I went once to India together and twice to Ethiopia — both plenty real — to try to figure out how . . .

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Gerald Karey writes: The Rumor Project

The Rumor Project by Gerald Karey (Turkey 1965–67) . I Time was, rumors and gossip were neighborhood affairs, exchanged over back-yard fences, in cafes and taverns, doctors’ waiting rooms, barber shops and chance meetings on the street. Neighbors informed or misinformed neighbors, hearsay was the general rule, (“I heard from a friend who has friend who said . . . ”), lies were sworn by, people may have been slandered and there was occasional hate speech. But it was a trickle of talk in cities and towns across the U.S. — with a relatively limited number of actors and limited reach — before the Internet provided a conduit for a tsunami of rumors, gossip, lies, misinformation (“It must be true because I saw it on the Internet.”), and hate speech that echoes around the world. Nevertheless, during World War II this trickle of talk in thousands of places was sufficiently worrisome for . . .

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Africa's Heart by Mark Wentling Featured in Kirkus Review for April

Mark Wentling’s ((PCV Honduras 1967-69, 1970-73; PC Staff Togo, Gabon & Niger 1973-77)  Africa’s Heart was selected by the Indie Editors of Kirkus Reviews to be featured in their April, 2015 issue. His review is one of the 20 reviews in the Indie section of the 4/15 Kirkus Reviews magazine. The publication is sent to over 5,000 industry professionals (librarians, publishers, agents, etc.) Less than 10% of Indie reviews are chosen to be included in this publication. Below is the Kirkus Review of Africa’s Heart. Congratulations, Mark. Africa’s Heart The Journey Ends in Kansas Wentling, Mark Peace Corps Writers (532 pp.) $20.00 paper | $8.99 e-book Jan. 15, 2015 978-1-935925-55-2 An ambitious novel concludes Wentling’s (Africa’s Release, 2014) African trilogy. Letivi, chief of the Ataku village, is faced with a modern dilemma: wealth disparity is growing in the village between those families who have sent children to work in Europe (who . . .

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