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Wednesday, April 30

Pioneer Press McCollum 'energized' after Peruvian visit: "McCollum [U.S. Rep. Betty Collum, D-St. Paul], who was recently named to serve on the House International Relations Committee. was joined by a bipartisan group of congressional aides, some of whom returned feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the conditions, she said. But McCollum spoke more hopefully, feeling 'energized about what we can accomplish, when we work together with someone.'" The trip was sponsored by CARE. There's no specific mention of where in Peru the delegation visited.

Monday, April 28

Split Personality

I have added a new section to this site. It is actually the website that I developed for my University of Maryland University College Masters program for Information Technology. It got me an A+, as "best of class." It has pictures of my classmates and some material developed for some of my courses. I also re-purposed material that originally appeared here. Because I started this site in the last seminar (December last year), it does not represent all the Program's course work. Because this site was hosted on a UMUC server, I could not be sure how long it would remain there.

I also do an evaluation of the UMUC Executive Program in Information Technology, what its strengths are, and what a future student might want to know before getting into the program. The kind of stuff that I might have wanted to know before I started. It's part of a larger reflection that I have undertaken after this life-changing experience. When I look back on where I was 18 months ago, I am struck by how far I have come in terms of competence and confidence. When I made the decision to take a graduate-level program, I had my doubts about whether I could handle the material. After all, I am not a geek by instinct or training. My classmates were mostly professionals who've been working in IT most of their careers. Now I know that I have the skills and capacity to tackle any technology issue.

Because my graduate studies are a watershed in my technology career and personal life, this shift should be reflected more clearly in my personal site. I have been thinking about starting a weblog that would deal with technology, but I don't know how I would produce something that's different from all the other technology weblogs. I am hesitant about writing about OAS technology decision since I deal with vendors and consultants. At the very least, I have to integrate the tech content into the current architecture of the site, rather than just pasting it on.

In any case, this site has developed a split personality -- my Peruvian past and IT. It will obviously show how I try to meld these two sides.

Guardian (UK) / AP Poachers in Peru Still Killing Dolphins: "While killing dolphins and the sale of their meat has been illegal in Peru since 1990, offenders largely went unpunished until the mid-1990s, when activists began campaigning for the Fisheries Ministry to enforce laws and for Lima municipal authorities to pull the licenses of restaurants serving dolphin." A classic tale of the environment being caught between poverty and a harpoon. I never ate dolphin in Peru so it was not widely advertised when I was there in the 1980s.

Reuters Venezuela Dissidents Seek Peru Asylum: "An army captain and a sub-lieutenant sought refuge at the Peruvian Embassy in Caracas on Thursday and were inside the diplomatic mission, the source told Reuters." Peru is returning a favor to Chavez since he sought asylum in Peru after his involvement in a coup attempt when Alberto Fujimori was Peruvian president.

Friday, April 25

Reuters AlertNet 'What drugs?' Peru farmers ask: "Thousands of farmers who marched to the capital this week from their jungle valleys reached agreement with the government on several points -- including plans to conduct a study to establish how big the legal coca quota should be -- but were not fully satisfied. The government did not budge on the Palomino case, saying it was in the hands of the courts."

Narco News Bulletin Plan Colombia Extends into Peru: "At the root of this question is the fact that the current government has two different tendencies. One is aristocratic, authoritarian, and centralizes power, without recognizing that Civil Society and farmers' organizations deserve a voice in the policies of the State. The other tendency is more democratic and decentralizes power, and believes that Civil Society not only has a role, but, better said, a fundamental function in the creations of the State's strategies." This quote comes from an extended interview with Hugo Cabieses, Peruvian economist specialized in the coca trade. I've know Hugo for 25 years --- back in the days when neither of us had so much gray hair.

Wednesday, April 23

Campaign to Extradite Fujimori

FUJIMORI - Ten years of dictadorship, corruption and human rights violations is in three languages -- Spanish, English and Japan. It is apparently supported by the National Human Rights Coordinator of Peru. It's a pretty ambitious piece of work, with lots of background information.

Monday, April 21

Miami Herald New day in court for Shining Path insurgency in Peru: "In his first interview with the judge in the case, Javier Llaque, on March 28, Guzmn accepted the allegation that he founded the Shining Path, but he denied any responsibility in the deaths and destruction caused by the party since 1980."

Friday, April 18

A Personal Milestone

Well, I finally did it. This past weekend, I completed my coursework for my Masters of Science in Information Technology at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), in the Graduate School of Management and Technology's Executive Program. It's taken me since then to recover. Well, actually, doing my taxes also had an impact, as well.

Technology Project Team Members at XMIT Captstone Course

My project team - me, Victor Rodriguez, Donna Kulla,
Chris Beccles, and Paul Fagan.

I will walk on May 17 at the Comcast Center on the University of Maryland campus. "Walk" is the quaint term for graduating -- I had never noticed the term until recently. I'll have to make it to the site by 7:00 AM for the 9:00 AM graduation ceremony. I guess they want to make sure you really deserve the degree.

Eighteen months of work seem to have gone by so quickly and consumed most of my non-working hours. Fortunately, my wife and kids kept me focused on this goal. Now, I feel as if I have a new kind of freedom. No more assignment deadlines, no calendar marked up with weekend classes, payment dates and rendezvous with project teammates.

Actually, I will miss my Saturday classes. I never missed one of them, even though they started at 8:30 in the morning. I enjoyed the camaraderie with my classmates, a diverse group of professionals who enjoyed ribbing each other as much as studying together. We've set up a Yahoo group so that we can keep track of each other.

I now can undertake some other kinds of projects and goals. Learning about technology has become part of my daily work routine, writing is back as an exploratory intellectual endeavor and work at the OAS offers plenty of opportunities.

Yahoo / Reuters Geologists Skeptical as NASA Warns of Peru Glacier: "Benjamin Morales, head of the Andean Geological Institute and considered Peru's leading expert on glaciers, said it is normal for Andean glaciers to have "thousands of cracks" but inaccurate that an avalanche would reach Huaraz in 15 minutes." Global warming is causing lots of problems for Andean glaciers and that will have last effect on the environment. An avalanche is just one worry. See another news article about the NASA announcement but a little more low key.

Reuters AlertNet At least 20 killed in Peru bus crash: "At least 20 people were killed and 28 injured when a bus slammed into a hillside and burst into flames in southern Peru at the start of the Easter long weekend, police said on Thursday." Peru's roads claim more lives.

CNN / AP Four charged in rebels' deaths in Peru: "In June, a Peruvian judge ruled that 15 commandos and their four superiors -- ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, former armed forces chief Gen. Nicolas Hermoza and Cols. Roberto Huaman and Jesus Zamudio -- should be tried in the deaths of three rebels who were killed after they surrendered." Prosecutors are convinced that the commandos who stormed the Japanese Embassy in 1998 killed MRTA members in cold blood after they had been overwhelmed.

Wednesday, April 16

Guardian / AP Fujimori Faces More Charges in Peru: "In the latest charges, prosecutors said Fujimori used decrees to bypass government oversight and buy more than $121 million worth of outdated machinery, medical instruments and expired medicines from Chinese companies represented by a party confidante." They're just picking on poor, defenseless Alberto.

Monday, April 14

Forbes / Reuters Brazil, Peru to build bridge toward trade deal: "Toledo and Lula also signed an agreement to build a 160-yard bridge over the Acre River from the Brazilian city of Assis Brasil to Inapari in Peru by 2004. Apart from its obvious symbolic value, the bridge could increase trade between the two countries, which totaled $653 million in 2002, and provide a route for Brazilian goods to get to the Pacific." For decades, the lack of a land route between Peru and Brazil was due to the political aim of keeping a buffer between the two countries. Environmentalist also wanted to keep settlers out of the deepest Amazon.

SF Indymedia Coca Battles Heat Up in Peru: Strikes, Street Battles, March to Lima: "Coca growers want to speak directly with President Toledo, said Obregon, adding they want to discuss reforms of alternative development programs that have so far been a 'resounding failure.' (Obregon was one of several Peruvian delegates to the February 'Out from the Shadows' conference in Mrida, Mexico, all of whom harshly criticized alternative development programs as corrupt and only benefiting foreigners." You could even talk about coca being an agricultural failure for the rainforest hills, but it does allow the growers to survive.

SMH / AFP Japanese woman turns down Fujimori's marriage proposal - "Love struck former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who is wanted on homicide charges by authorities in Lima, has had marriage advances rebuffed by his Japanese girlfriend, according to a gossip magazine." Kataoka was probably worried about having to go to Peru with Fujimori.

Planet Ark / Reuters Peru conditionally OKs gas plant near reserve: "Julio Bonelli, head of the ministry's department of environmental affairs, said the consortium, led by Pluspetrol, must complete two studies on the on-shore component of the plant, which will convert natural gas from the $2 billion Camisea project in the southeastern jungle into various fuels. The plant is to be built in a buffer zone next to the Paracas National Reserve, where a number of fishmeal plants are also located." This whole project is going to continue to spark controversy for years to come.

Spaceflight Now NASA satellite looks at menacing glacier in Peru: "Glacial flood-bursts, known by Peruvians as 'aluviones,' occur periodically when water is released abruptly from a previously ice-damned lake alongside, within or above a glacier. The release can be caused by various triggering events. These flood-bursts typically arrive with little or no warning, carrying liquid mud, large rock boulders and blocks of ice." Mudslides probably cause more damage than earthqaukes themselves.

New Scientist America's oldest religious icon revealed: "Winifred Creamer of Northern Illinois University says implementing such technology requires a highly organised society, and that religious symbols are also important in complex groups. Simpler cultures usually have kinds of shamanism, she says, which focus on healing rather than the common symbols of gods."

MSNBC Gourd reveals roots of ancient god: "Twenty-six communities have been found that likely contained thousands of residents each, reflecting a much more complex civilization compared to earlier hunting and gathering bands that populated the Peruvian highlands or small fishing villages along the coast." Rich vein of pre-Columbian reamins in the Pativilca valley, just north of Lima.

UPI America's oldest religious relic found: "The archaic figure -- its jaguar-like fangs bared, feet splayed, the left outstretched arm ending in a snake head, the right gripping the hallmark staff -- appears in various incarnations in the religious renderings of societies that once flourished around the Andes mountains."

Nature Oldest evidence of Andean religion found: "A fragment of the softball-sized gourd was radiocarbon-dated to 2500 B.C. 'No one thought that Andean religion itself would date back that far,' says Haas. Until now the oldest depiction of the deity dated to 1000 B.C. The icon and its age are evidence that a complex Andean civilization with politics, ceremonies and religion emerged from a single location and spread outward, he says." The human horizon is being pushed further back than ever as new facets of learned about the early settlers in the Andes.

Thursday, April 10

NY Times Behind the A B C's, a Buzz Saw: "Ms. Lam is quite used to getting things done: as a 3-year-old in Lima, Peru, she said, she taught herself to read the newspapers that her father, a Chinese truck driver, brought home. Though she perfected English at an early age, her thick accent gives away her Latin American roots. Neither her father nor her mother, a Peruvian seamstress, was educated beyond elementary school. She debated social policy in the lunchroom of her Catholic school and won a scholarship to the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, where she majored in sociology and aspired to be an economist.
"She married a Minnesotan, Peter Plattes, and scrapped her dream of attending graduate school in Europe, staying in St. Cloud with him for a few years and teaching middle school. The couple taught children in a Peruvian mining camp in the early 70's, then moved to Boston, which Ms. Lam said she chose because its Roman Catholic cardinal had sent money to the school she attended in Lima." This is a big-time job -- deputy chancellor for teaching and learning at the NYC Public School System.

Sunday, April 6

Yahoo / Dow Jones Peru's March Tax Revenues Rises 40.1% Vs Year Ago - Sunat: "Moreover, the sharp increase in March's haul was partially due to a statistical factor, as tax collections fell 13% in real terms in March last year, as some taxpayers took advantage of a debate in Peru's Congress over the setting of interest rates on overdue taxes to avoid paying taxes altogether." The story is full of fs, ands and buts" that contradict the headline.

Napa Valley Register Peru: A world removed from U.S.-Iraq war: "For Americans in Peru during the Iraq war, the question is typical. When entering a taxi, an American passenger can expect to be quizzed about the war and how it might affect gas prices. Groups of Americans at musical performances are no longer surprised when greeted with anti-war messages if they're noticed in the audience. But even for these now-jaded Americans in Waki Wasi, the question was startling. The village has minimal contact with the outside world, much less a steady source of international news. Yet villagers were aware of the war and hungry for information from their U.S. guests."

Washington Post Peruvian Guerrillas Fight New Battle in Court: "Although few Peruvian officials expect Guzman or many other Shining Path members to go free, they agree that the volume and complexity of the new trials will strain the judicial system, which is disorganized, historically corrupt and widely despised for its lack of independence. Even Peruvian security officials who battled the Shining Path acknowledge that lawyers representing jailed guerrillas have developed a shrewd legal strategy to win their release. Fujimori, who fled the country for Japan two years ago ahead of human rights and corruption charges, considered the conflict a terrorist campaign. But Guzman's lawyers argue that the violence stemmed from a politically legitimate civil war, meaning that different laws and international conventions should apply to its combatants. Ultimately, they say, the government should resolve the political dispute by granting amnesty to imprisoned guerrillas and 15,000 others still wanted on terrorist warrants dating from that time."

Washington Post Peru's Trial of Century So Far a Soap Opera: "For nearly a month, Montesinos appeared each day in an endless series of garish shirts for courtroom appearances inside a grim prison complex where this city gives way to dunes. He was delivered by helicopter from a solitary cell on the other side of town to insure that he would not be killed en route by one of the many Peruvians who may have reason to fear his testimony."

Washington Post Peruvian President Gets Mixed Reviews: "The blue-collar props, the grand promises, the leader among the people -- this is the way Peru's traditionally populist presidency has long functioned. But Toledo was supposed to be different. His supporters expected him to implement a social agenda that would make Peru a more fair and tolerant society."

Friday, April 4

FoxSports / AP Peru beats Chile 3-0 in international friendly: "Play was fairly even during the first period. But after the strong opening in the second, the Peruvians largely dominated what became a fast-paced shooting match as both teams burned through substitutions, but were unable to convert the hailstorm of shots and headers into more goals." There is nothing sweeter for a Peruvian than a football win over Chile. Unfortunately, a friendly match does not mean anything, especially since Peru lost to Chile in Santiago a few days before.

Transparency International / AP More charges against Peru's ex - president: "In the latest charges, the legislators alleged that Fujimori ordered police to raid Vladimiro Montesinos' apartment without a warrant in search of secretly taped videos linking the former president to crimes committed during his 1990-2000 regime. Officials believe the search yielded such videos and that they're still in Fujimori's possession."

MSNBC / AP Peru's Congress votes to return to bicameral legislature: "The current Congress voted overwhelmingly to create a 50-seat Senate and expand the existing House from 120 members to 150." I don't see the Peruvian public applauding this measure. There's still too much cynicism about politicians and parties. They will view this amendment as a make-work measure for the politically connected.

Wednesday, April 2

Reuters Peru sees tax revenue growth in 2003 : "Boosting tax revenues are a key goal for Peru, which has one of the lowest levels of tax revenues as a percentage of GDP in Latin America. The country needs to collect more taxes and control spending to pay its $28 billion in debts."

Forbes / Retuers Peru swims up current, defying the odds: "Peru generally pays $2.5 billion a year in debt service while exports grew to $7.68 billion in 2002. But the government says the new debt will help shelter it from the effects of war and a shaky world economy." This is a overview of the economic situation and how Toledo is fairing. No surprises, but useful.

Tuesday, April 1

NY Times For Kon-Tiki Theory, Ray of Hope Is Dashed: "Meanwhile, the Peruvians decided to return the slaves whom they had improperly captured, though many had died from harsh labor or disease. A ship set out with 470 liberated slaves, but 439 died from disease, and their bodies were thrown overboard. The captain dropped off 15 survivors at Easter Island and the rest at Rapa." Another strange tale in which Peru plays a leading role. After giving up on using Polynesians for slave labor, they turned to China and Japan.

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