August 14, 2002 - Kirk introduces alternate Peace Corps Bill - Russia ousting dozens of PCVs - Justice shrinks TIPS - Lariam Update - Vasquez will "absolutely not" run for Senate seat - The 3 Faces America shows the World

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Previous Issues of Peace Corps Online: August 14, 2002 - Kirk introduces alternate Peace Corps Bill - Russia ousting dozens of PCVs - Justice shrinks TIPS - Lariam Update - Vasquez will "absolutely not" run for Senate seat - The 3 Faces America shows the World

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - 11:48 pm: Edit Post

This Month's Features - August 14, 2002


Read and comment on HR 5255 introduced in Congress on July 26 by
Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) called the "Peace Corps Expansion Act
of 2002." This is the second bill introduced in Congress to expand
the Peace Corps. Congressman Kirk's bill provides the authorization
of appropriations for fiscal years 2003 through 2007 (with $488
million in 2007) to carry out doubling the number of Peace Corps
volunteers to 14,000. The bill does not include any other
legislative clauses regarding the Peace Corps. The bill has ten co-
sponsors including RPCV Congressmen Chris Shays (R - CT), James
Walsh (R - NY), and Thomas Petri (R - WI). Read the bill at:

Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Sam Farr previously introduced S
2667 and HR 4979, the "Peace Corps Act for the 21st Century," on
June 20 and it has fifteen co-sponsors in the House and Senate
including RPCVs Tony Hall (D - OH), Michael Honda (D - CA), and
Thomas Petri (R - WI).

Here is a summary and comparison of the two bills:

The Kirk Bill (HR 5255) provides the authorization of appropriations
for fiscal years 2003 through 2007 with $488 million in 2007.

The Farr (HR 4979) and Dodd (S 2667) bill provides the authorization
of appropriations for fiscal years 2003 through 2007 with $560
million in 2007, a restatement of the independence of the Peace
Corps, new reporting to Congress on Country Security and student
loan forgiveness, special volunteer placement in Muslim countries,
training for all volunteers in global infectious diseases, re-
activation of the Peace Corps Advisory Board, an increase in the
monthly volunteer re-adjustment allowance from $125 to $275 per
month, and a $10 million annual Peace Corps Innovation Fund to fund
RPCV third goal activities.

You decide which bill is more beneficial to the Peace Corps. If
RPCVs do nothing, the Kirk Bill will win by default. If you think
the Dodd/Farr bill is better, then now is the time to call your
Congressman's office and tell him you support HR 4979 and to call
you Senator's office and tell him you want to see S 2667 made into
law. Read the two bills, compare them and leave your opinion. To
see how you can help pass this bill go to:


The Russian Foreign Ministry has not renewed visas for 30 of 64
volunteers seeking documents for a second year of service in Russia,
meaning they will be recalled to the United States, according to the
agency. As a result, the next Peace Corps class, which is scheduled
to arrive soon, has been cut in half and might be canceled

"Unless visas come through, Peace Corps will have to make a decision
whether the new class will be sent or not, and fairly soon," said
Jeff Hay, the acting country director here. Hay said the Russian
government has given no reason for the visa denials. Several
officials contacted in the Foreign Ministry said they knew nothing
about them and could not comment.

However, the situation appeared to reflect long-brewing resentment
over the presence of a U.S. aid program initially designed to help
developing countries. While many communities across this vast
country welcome the Peace Corps volunteers, some officials grumble
that Russia is treated as if it were simply another impoverished
Third World backwater and that the American volunteers are ill-
prepared for their assignments in this former superpower.

Another explanation that has been presented is that the Russian
government is using the Peace Corps to send a message to the United
States government that there has been a change in the overall U.S.-
Russian relationship. This would not be the first time the Peace
Corps has played this role in US foreign policy. For example,
beginning around 1977-78, the Brazilian military government's
displeasure with the U.S. anti-nuclear proliferation treaty and
criticism of Brazil's human rights policies contributed to ending
the Peace Corps' presence in Brazil. Brazil's foreign ministry
simply stopped issuing visas to trainees until no volunteers were

Are these the last days of the Peace Corps in Russia? What went
wrong in Russia and how can the Peace Corps avoid similar situations
in the future? Is this a result of internal Russian politics or a
signal to the US government that there has been a change in U.S.-
Russian relations? Has the Peace Corps overstayed its welcome, or
are Russian complaints about the "skill level" of PCVs sent to
Russia justified? Read the story and leave your opinion at:


Read and comment on this story from the Washington Post that says
that the controversial USA Freedom Corps' TIPS Program, a sister
program to the Peace Corps, is being scaled back even before it
starts and that the government no longer plans to ask thousands of
mail carriers, utility workers and others with access to private
homes to report suspected terrorist activity.

Under revised Justice Department plans announced on August 9, the
program would involve only truckers, dock workers, bus drivers and
others who are in positions to monitor places and events that are
obviously public, officials said. Officials also stressed that the
initiative would be voluntary. Read the story at:

PCOL supports the government's decision to cut back on TIPS and
protect Americans' civil liberties but continues to believe that it
is not a good idea to have even a voluntary spy program like TIPS
under the same USA Freedom Corps umbrella as the Peace Corps. Read
our original coverage on TIPS along with what RPCVs said about the
program at:


Scores of Peace Corps volunteers are coming forward saying that over
the past 12 years they suffered crippling paranoia, anxiety,
hallucinations, memory loss, suicidal behavior and physical ailments
from seizures to vision difficulty because of the drug handed out by
government doctors to prevent malaria.

Many of those affected were medically evacuated and some were
hospitalized because of problems volunteers said were caused by
Lariam, also called mefloquine. Others risked contracting malaria
when they secretly violated Peace Corps rules and quit taking the
drug because side effects bothered them so much. Some say that
debilitating problems that began when they started taking the drug
have continued for years after they stopped.

"This has been the big story among Peace Corps volunteers for 12
years," said Allen Hoppes, a volunteer in Mali, West Africa, in
1992. That was three years after the Peace Corps began using Lariam,
which continues to be the Peace Corps' drug of choice.

"The Peace Corps told us if we did not want to take mefloquine, we
did not want to be Peace Corps volunteers," Hoppes said. Read the
story at:

In a related story, a domestic violence expert who advises the
Pentagon said on August 8 that the military should look into whether
Lariam, an anti-malaria drug associated with aggression and suicidal
thinking, could have triggered any of the recent incidents in which
four Fort Bragg soldiers are suspected of killing their wives and,
in two of the cases, also killed themselves.

Read our continuing coverage of the Lariam controversy, decide for
yourself if the health concerns of Lariam's side-effects have been
overstated, and leave your opinion at:


Last month we put up our Peace Corps Cartoon called "Trip" and asked
our readers to come up with the funniest caption. See what RPCVs
wrote and compare it to the original caption. Then, take a look at
our cartoon for this month - "Protest" - and come up with your own
caption for it at:


Read and comment on this exclusive report from Mike Learned,
National Coordinator, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual RPCVs, on Director
Vasquez's speech to the World Affairs Council in San Francisco on
July 30 in which the Director was asked about the trips he has made
to California since he was confirmed and whether he is planning to
run for the US Senate seat from California in 2004. Director Vasquez
said he will "absolutely not" be a candidate. This is good news for
the Peace Corps because the Director has demonstrated that he is an
eloquent and passionate advocate for the Peace Corps and that with
the unprecedented challenge of doubling the number of volunteers in
the field by 2007, he recognizes that the agency requires his
undivided leadership and dedication. Read the story and leave your
view at:

While in California Director Vasquez met with members of
California's ethnic media and made a strong case for the need to
diversify the Peace Corps. "People in other countries need to know
Americans fall in all origins and faiths", said Vasquez. "A Peace
Corps volunteer in a village or community will probably be the only
American those people will know," he said. Vasquez addressed one of
the main barriers for many immigrant families to join the Corps:
economic need. Vasquez hopes that initiatives such as student loan
forgiveness and other economic incentives will encourage more
families from ethnic communities to let their children serve in the
Corps. What ideas do you have for helping the Peace Corps attract
more diverse candidates to the Peace Corps? Read the story and leave
your opinion at:

Also take a look at our story on Maggie Koziol, the daughter of
Polish immigrants, who will join the Peace Corps in January and head
for Central or South America. Ms. Koziol got interested in the Peace
Corps when she remembered that her high school social studies
teacher had served in the Peace Corps. Many recent volunteers have
told us that the vision of JFK and the New Frontier that animated
the first PCVs in the 1960's is as distant from them as FDR, the
great depression, and WWII were to the first volunteers and that the
primary catalyst for many joining the Peace Corps now has in many
cases been a family friend, a relative, or a teacher somewhere in
their past who has told them about the Peace Corps.

The third goal isn't just to tell people what it was like to live
and serve overseas but what it was like to be a volunteer. We salute
the many RPCVs who have gone on to teaching careers who have
motivated the next generation of volunteers and highlight the
importance of RPCVs making themselves available to schools and youth
groups and especially for your RPCV group to start planning now to
participate in Peace Corps day in a local school on March 1.

What more can RPCVs do to help the Peace Corps recruit volunteers in
the future? What are your ideas for possible programs for RPCVs to
help recruit volunteers? Read the story and leave your opinion at:


Read and comment on this op-ed piece from the New York Times by
Thomas Friedman, author of the Lexus and the Olive Tree, on the
three faces that America shows the world - the face of the Peace
Corps, the face of multinationals and the face of American military
power and his sense that lately the balance has gone wrong and the
only face of America we see now is the one of military power and it
really frightens the world. Read the op-ed at:


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