I saw a beautiful picture this morning. It was a photo of President Obama sitting in Nelson Mandela’s private office at the Nelson Mandela Memory Centre in Johannesburg. He is signing a copy of his book Conversations With Myself for Mandela. I pray that Madiba (Nelson Mandela) gets better so he can see this photo and the book that Obama signed for him. I wonder what the people who kept Mandela in jail for 27 years think and feel now. Are they ashamed? Do they feel sadness? It is a miracle that Mandela avoided the death penalty in 1963. The judge in his case was a member of the Unionist Party (basically pro-British) and not a member of the Nationalist Party (the Afrikaaners who brought in Apartheid.) I suspect that an Afrikaaner judge would have sent Mandela to the gallows along with several others involved in the Rivonia Road treason trial. Many years later the Nationalist Party would have faced much more militant and angry young black leaders. It would have lead to a violent and bloody civil war. That one judge changed the whole course of history and saved literally hundreds of thousands of live.
I am reading an incredible novel now called The Story Teller. It is set in a small town in New Hampshire today. A Jewish woman working at a bakery befriends a German man over 90 years old. He seems to be kindly. He is a popular man in the small town. As she gets to know the man better, he confesses who he really is. He admits that he was a former SS officer ho was involved in the killing of many Jewish people during the Holocaust. We come face to face with a monster and our definitions of evil. The book is so good that I cannot put it down. This is a great read for everyone.
Elena and I both pay close attention to the obituary section of the newspapers. It is not morbid fascination. Rather it is the fact that many of the people listed in this section had truly fascinating lives. Some lived very long lives and some were taken from us much too soon. Yesterday I read about the sad death of Dolores Ann Johnson-Street. I estimate that she was 58 years old at the time of her death. Dolores graduated from Oceans High School in 1973. She was class valedictorian. She then went to C Berkeley and graduated. She spent twenty years as an officer in the US Air Force. She married only once. She had two wonderful sons who both graduated from the US Air Force Academy and are now training to be pilots in the U.S. Air Force. Delores was one of those wonderful people who do everything right in life. Sadly she was diagnosed with leukemia. While she was under going chemotherapy, she died of a stroke. Life can be taken from us at any time. We should treasure each day we have on earth.
I was reading the Pacifica Tribune. I was surprised to see a dear friend’s picture and a big article right on the front page. Usually such articles are bad news. This article was wonderful news. Our dear friend of nine years, Chris Ranken, has just been appointed chairman of the San Mateo County Planning Commission. Chris is always a gentleman and a very modest man. I was amazed at all of his accomplishments in life including three master’s degrees. Chris congratulations and I’m glad that talent has been recognized and rewarded.
When you take a job and take an oath to keep secrets, you should keep your words. If one encounters unlawful activities, I feel that one should resign. One should steal no documents and computer files. One should contact the media and certain elected officials with an outline of what one encountered.
Edward Snowden appears to have stolen a treasure trove of documents and super secret files. I’m sure the he was debriefed by Chinese intelligence agents. Likewise I am sure that Edward is getting a heavy debriefing by Russian intelligence agents at some luxury safe house. He is being “wined and dined.” Perhaps some beautiful Russian woman is entertaining him in his off-duty hours.
Under all of this glamor and intrigue, Snowden is literally “singing for his supper.” It is like a suspect “flipped” on a television crime show. “If your information is really good you will get asylum.”
What incompetent gave this guy access to such sensitive data?!
I got the shocking news that James Gandolfini had died in Rome. It was most likely a heart attack. He died in Rome.
We all know James better as “Tony Soprano.” For eight years he dazzled us all playing a New Jersey gangster who we all loved to hate and admire. We were all in shock at the unconventional end to the show. Did Tony get hit or live happily ever after?
I grew up in a rough and a poor neighborhood. As I watched the show I would always say to my wife;”Oh my gosh, that’s the way it really is!”
In 2010 I hired a lawyer named Daniel Halpern to represent me in a bankruptcy matter concerning a rental unit that I owned in San Jose. Things never worked right. He was a nice man and a good friend. But my case was a complex business bankruptcy matter that his fir was not qualified to handled. I had to replace him with a great lawyer named Kathy Moran. Yesterday I was reading the morning newspaper. I got the shock news that Daniel Halpern had been sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in the California State Prison for stealing $860,000 from a divorce client. I also got the shock news that he was collecting court fees from clients, getting fee waivers and pocketing the money. I felt sad for his victims. I felt sad for him. According to the newspaper he had a substance abuse problem. I will bet most of the missing money went to drug dealers.
Ecuador is on a charm offensive right now. They send out videos of happy and content US citizens who have retired to a small city in Ecuador. We are told that medical care is very cheap and the cost of living is low. The local population is happy with their new gringo neighbors.
Please contrast this with an ordeal that I went through Friday night and Saturday morning. A dear friend of ours moved to Ecuador. She quickly discovered that there was a huge problems with kidnappings in Ecuador. She demanded that I remove all images of she and her children from You Tube and blogs. I calmly pointed out to her that anti-kidnapping experts never advice the clients they are hired to protect to remove all images from the web. I gave her a detailed report from Startfor on how to defend yourself against kidnapping. After all of this she kept hysterically demanding that I remove all of her images from the web. It took me some hours but I complied with her request.
I then did a lot of research on Ecuador and the results were not nice. In recent years eleven US citizens have vanished on the border between Colombia and Ecuador. At the same time there have been some 573 reported “Express Kidnappings” in the country.(I suspect that many more such kidnappings were never reported to the authorities) In this scenario one is kidnapped and forced to go to banks and draw all of the money out of their accounts. After all money is collected, the kidnap victim is generally released unharmed. I read reports of retirees being cheated by local lawyers and real estate agents when they went to buy a home or an apartment in that country.
The moral of this story is that it is vital to do some very serious and involved research before you seriously consider retiring to a foreign country. Google is a good place to start. Also carefully read US Embassy reports on any country that you are seriously considering for retirement.