It was one of the worst experiences of my life.  The room in my Moscow student dorm was infested with bedbugs. After two painful and sleepless nights, I was taken to a Soviet hospital to face a doctor with a needle as big as her hat, and made for horses, full of something they said was supposed to calm my suffering.

Cimex Lectuarius showing his affection

You are testing new weapons against us Americans!” I told them. They just shrugged their shoulders.  For some societies, bedbugs are a given.

But not in France where Cimex Lectularius was driven out in the 1950s by chemicals that are now forbidden. “Invasion!” “The Plague!” “End of the world.” The French press compete in hyperbole to describe their return: “Bedbugs!

Banjul, May 5, 2012 – When Europeans went to Berlin with their scissors in 1884 to cut up the map of Africa, they played a sick joke which is still felt today. The British wanted the Palm oil from the Gambia River so they took that out of French West Africa and today the place is called a country: 60 kilometers wide at the Atlantic it snakes 338 kilometers up river where it is just a dozen kilometers wide. French diplomats like to refer to it as the finger in the ass of Senegal. The metaphor is à propos this year as the country obsesses over all things anal.

The idea of a universal, government run, health care system seems from this side of the Atlantic a ‘no-brainer’. At 17% of GDP, or more than $7,500 per American per year, you are paying double what any of the other industrialized nations pay where everybody is insured, while in the US 46 million go without health coverage.

Trikiri, The Pillion, Greece – June 15, 2008: Kiriaki is a small cove three hundred meters below the village of new Trikiri at the far tip of the Pillion.  It is a small fishing village with a working harbor and busy little shipyard. The village will be ruined soon by the new road just built to it with tourist bus parking at the edge of town and all thanks to EU money.  But for the moment only adventurous foreigners make it here.  The village is still fairly isolated.  I am told electricity arrived here in the 1970s and a small winding road from Trikiri opened the town up in the early 80s.