Gu Kailai, the wife of senior Chinese party leader Bo Xilai, has been arrested for the murder of an English businessman. Bo, until his sudden fall from power this year, one of the most popular politicians in China, the leading figure of the Chinese New Left and Party Committee Secretary of the megacity of Chongqing, has completed his downfall by being expelled from the politburo and stripped of all party positions. The collapse started in February, when his top lieutenant, Wang Lijun, was suddenly demoted and then fled to the US consulate for a day - supposedly, either attempting to defect or to give incriminating evidence on Bo and Gu to the Americans for safekeeping. [more inside]
Growing up, she was a beloved celebrity in her home country. Thousands of girls were named after her. So was a bestselling perfume. But Josef Stalin's "Little Sparrow," his only daughter, (born Svetlana Stalina) defected to the United States in 1967. Upon arriving in New York, she promptly held a press conference that surprised the world, denouncing her father's regime. Svetlana became a naturalized US citizen, moved to Taliesin West, married an American, changed her name to Lana Peters, then returned to the Soviet Union in 1984, declaring that she had not been free "for one single day" in the U.S., only to once again return to America in 1986. She lived out her remaining days in a small town in Wisconsin. Mrs. Peters passed away from colon cancer on November 22nd, at the age of 85. [more inside]
“My bet is that, within two years, you’re going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church.”
Paul Haggis Vs. the Church of Scientology. Haggis' defection was discussed previously on the blue, as were allegations of abusive practices in Scientology's Sea Org. This week's New Yorker includes a massive investigative piece by Lawrence Wright, part of an upcoming book by Wright that has already been the subject of some speculation.
Defectors say Church of Scientology hides abuse. Two defectors from Scientology's Sea Org, raised and married in the church, have been interviewed by the New York Times, hoping to expose the abusive treatment of even loyal staff members. [more inside]
Cuban players have long been a mainstay in baseball. After Fidel Castro made it impossible for people to leave the island, the flow of players stopped to a drip. That changed with the defection of Rene Arocha in 1991. [more inside]
At the end of the Korean War, James Veneris was an American POW awaiting repatriation. But when his time came, he—along with twenty other Americans and a Briton—declined to leave and chose to cast his lot with Mao and the Chinese Communist Party. Over time, almost all of these men became disillusioned with Marxism and eventually returned to their homelands. The Cold War that informed their decisions has become a chapter in the history books but the story of Western defectors to the Communist bloc is just now being written.