January 20, 2000




We were back in the hands of that experienced leader of yore - but is it true that honesty is no substitute for experience? Anyway, Prez BOB reminded us that he was once again in charge, this announcement followed by desultory applause. At our table we had some fun with the 3 C's - consistency, etc., but you gotta admit it's a catchy refrain… BOB also reminded us that Rotary is perhaps the best kept secret of our time - nobody outside the family knows what the hell we do - and we do lots. My personal favorite is the Polio Plus program, but certainly our Ambassadorial Scholarships are a real help to students from around the world, and when you can pay $140 to allow someone who has been crawling ALL HIS LIFE to walk - that's pretty important. We've got plenty to brag about, and we shouldn't be hesitant to blow our own horns. Rotary is indeed Service Above Self.

BOB TROXLER led the Pledge - and I noticed that KEN LEVER was casting his eyes my way to see if I had extended my hand, but alas, I didn't. Next was PP STEVE DAY, trying to keep up with PP JIM DOWNIE as we got through The Battle Hymn of the Republic - that was SOME tempo, JIM! New member BOB YOUNKER gave an original and thoughtful invocation - even invited us to sit down, having realized even this early in his tenure that some of us needed the rest. SUSAN ALLEN followed with the introduction of visitors, who included Phil Pirone from Santa Monica, his guest Richard Pelke, and Hugh Travis, the Bay Area Council Boy Scout Executive. Prez To Be (should we start calling him PTB?) STEVE ADLER introduced DG Elect Vicki Radel, who is from the Redondo Beach Club. PP DOUG DESCH was accompanied by his niece, Cathy Desch Phair, and TED IHNEN told us about his friend, Lars Hogsta, who is the North American Director of Operations for Dragon Air, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific. .

NEVIN SENKAN next brought to the podium Dr. Stuart Slavin and Karen Fond, who each spoke briefly about how helpful the Reach Out and Read program is at the UCLA Pediatric outpatient clinic. This earned them some income, both from WVRC and from our Auxiliary. YOE has to report that he tried the program this past Tuesday at 1 p.m. - and it was, indeed, a pleasure. I read to a 5-year-old, Jesus, and later an 8-year-old - and he in turn read some of the book back to us. The boy's father was there, and was certainly encouraging - it's true, you will feel good about yourself by giving an hour, either at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. weekdays. Call Denise Matsuyama at (310) 794-9759 for an appointment - and for what it's worth, I guarantee to list your name if you Reach Out and Read, OK?

Apparently LEE DUNAYER let his cell phone ring, and lightning-quick Prez BOB nabbed him for a hundred clams, assuring LEE that he no doubt made at least that much money on the incoming call. A letter from the Venice Boys and Girls Club was read, thanking us for our support and recent donation. YOE repeated his earlier announcement about how helpful it would be if all the members would call him with news when one of our members is not well - please take the time to do this, since support from friends does help. Birthdays were next, and apparently the following were born at some time in the last Century in the month of January -SANDY SANDERSON, HARLAN LEWIS, PP RON LYSTER, PP BOB LUSK, PAUL SORRELL, DAVID MATSON, and DENNIS CORNWELL. This event was celebrated by a really jazzy rendition of Happy Birthday by the owner and operator of that amazing keyboard, PP JIM DOWNIE. Would you believe we still had some announcements?

25 January - District Breakfast (JIM GREATHEAD)

10/13 Feb. - visit of our Sister Club from Guadalajara (PP RALPH WOODWORTH)

There will be a cocktail reception at MIKE O'CONNELL'S home the evening of the 10th at 7 p.m. Please RSVP to RALPH. At (310) 271-2168 - we need a count!

12 February, Valentine's Sweetheart Brunch at the California Yacht Club (TED IHNEN) and our Guadalajara group will be attending.

Note to our WVRC Committee - the projected historic city tour cannot be given on the 12th or 13th - thus we need to be thinking about alternatives for the Guadalajara group, or perhaps changing the tour to the 11th which is Friday. Do we need to meet next week?

BRUCE HARRIS introduced our speaker, DR David H. Shinn, former Ambassador to Ethiopia and currently a Diplomat in Residence at UCLA. He is also a Rotarian from Yakima, and is one of only six Diplomats in Residence in the entire US of A. His topic was Conflict in the Horn of Africa, and some of us could have been embarrassed at our lack of knowledge of geography (which he eliminated with a basic map left on the tables.) Ambassador Shinn has served in 12 different African countries, speaks Swahili and French and does pretty good in English, also. He tried to cover five countries in 20 minutes, to allow time for Q&A - and he DID it! Much of Africa became independent in the 1950's, and in a concluding answer to a question, he contrasted then and now: Their problems in the 50's were those imposed and left over from their previous colonial masters, while their problems today are at least their OWN problems - and thus possibly more subject to correction by themselves.

Ethiopia has 60 million people, and we in Rotary were complimented and thanked for, so far, achieving 95% success with our polio vaccination program - this in a country with difficult terrain and many language differences. On that subject, Dr. Shinn estimates there may be 1,000 languages spoken in the entire continent of Africa - and if you count dialects, the number doubles to 2000 total - thus any effort to reach different tribes is most difficult under the best of circumstances. Ethiopia has been independent for the past two millenniums, but when Emperor Haile Selasie was overthrown in 1974, a Communist Committee took over. Local rebellions caused a major famine in the early 80's, which was overcome only by massive relief from the rest of the world.

The largest country in Africa is Sudan, which equals the eastern half of the United States in area, but with only 34 million population. After their independence, also in the 50's, a conflict based mainly on religion divided the north and south into warring camps. Somehow they had peace between 1972 and 1983, but now they are back to their deadly civil war. Eritrea has only 4 million people, but because of their location along the Red Sea, they were always active in offloading and transshipping cargo into both Ethiopia and Sudan. Somehow, they fell into a war with Ethiopia over border disputes, starting in 1988 - which ended their role as cargo dispenser. Tiny Djibouti with 500,000 total population, thus became the transshipping point and this remains their main role today. The last country discussed was Somalia, with a population of 7 million. She is famous chiefly because of a major error by the United States in trying to apprehend Adide, a local warlord. This led to the death of 23 US Special Forces soldiers, and the pictures of their bodies being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu were displayed worldwide. Before that, we had been able to open up the roads to safe transport, so famine again was avoided. But the price was high.

Q&A - AIDS - some countries in Africa have 25% of their total population infected, and the response of the various governments has varied considerably. Some have begun to have some success is reducing the rate of infection, while others simply deny that it exists. Were American oil companies responsible for the continuing unrest? With the price of oil where it is now, that doesn't seem to be a reasonable scenario. Why were the borders drawn so arbitrarily? Actually, there simply aren't very many natural borders in a country with so many diverse tribes and cultures. The good news is that the infrastructure within Africa is better than it was before independence, so many roads and railroads have been built and are working. Our thanks to Dr. Shinn for his insights. And now a final word, which has nothing to do with Rotary - but it does have to do with a major new telephone scam which was passed on to me. There are people calling on the phone, identifying themselves as a service technician for AT&T, conducting a test on your telephone lines. They state that to complete the test you should touch nine and zero, the pound sign, and hang-up. The Telephone Company tells us that if you follow these instructions,you are giving the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which allows them to place long distance telephone calls billed to your home phone number. These calls apparently originate from many of the local jails/prisons - and this Alert has been checked with Pacific Bell, MCI, Bell Atlantic, GTE and NYNEX.

Don't fall for it, OK?

YOE, Ernie Wolfe