Monday, March 31, 2014

Lucia Scythian gold

From the Wall Street Journal, an ancient gold exhibit from Crimea that has travelled to Europe, now may not be returned to it's mueseum given that Crimea is no longer part of Ukraine. Here's some background:

The Scythians were nomads who inhabited much of modern-day Russia and Ukraine from about 600 B.C. to 300 A.D. They fought off their enemies from horseback with bows and arrows and interred their nobility in elaborate tombs, where they buried horses, gold and other treasured items alongside the dead. Higher-ranking Scythian warriors often had elaborate tattoos, according to Greek historian Herodotus, who described the Scythians as barbaric warriors at times prone to indulge in marijuana.

Alexander Blok wrote about them in 1918, months after the October Revolution, in his famous poem "The Scythians." Frustrated by Russia's dragging involvement in World War I, Blok lashed out at Europe. He presented the Scythians as a savage eastern streak lingering in Russia's blood, ready to pillage Europe should the Continent neglect to end the war and fail to embrace the socialist uprising.

"Would we be to blame if your skeleton cracks to bits in our heavy, tender paws?" Blok wrote in the poem, addressing Europe's powers.

Such ideas of Russia's special Eurasian destiny opposed to Western Europe have undergone a revival under President Vladimir Putin, who since his return to the Kremlin in 2012 has promoted Russia as an alternative to Europe with different values.

The controversy over the Amsterdam exhibit isn't the first time Scythian gold has emerged as a flare-up in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian media outlets recently accused Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of smuggling Scythian gold treasures from Ukraine's national gold reserve to the U.S. as a guarantee for Western loans ahead of a March meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington. Ukrainian authorities called the claim a fantasy of Russian spin-doctors.

Related link: Scythian Gold Caught in Ukraine Dispute

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lucia Some important stories on the recent invasion of Crimea by Russia

On a crack down on independent journalism that doesn't follow the pro-Russia line : Russophobia, a Pretext for a War on Information ~ The World Post

Self explanatory: Booting Russia from the G8 Ends 16 Years of Pretending Moscow Should Sit at the Big-Kids Table What a relief ~ New Republic

The Polish response to the Ukraine crisis is to not overreact: Poland Is the Boy Who Didn't Cry Wolf ~ Huffington Post

Very worrying developing on crackdown on religious freedom in Crimea - if you're not Orthodox, then you're a potential traitor: Priest: Ukrainian Catholics flee Crimea to escape threats of arrest ~ Catholic Herald, UK

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fletch Traditional Marriage Defended In Two Minutes

Fiona O'Reilly from Catholic Voices defends traditional marriage over same-sex marriage in two minutes on BBC News. Well said!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lucia Comparing Mein Kampf to the Holy Bible is offensive

On the blogs and even on the radio just now, I have been hearing that some people find the Bible as offensive as Hitler's Mein Kampf. Aside from the obvious differences between the two books, I consider making the comparison extremely offensive, even though it's said as some sort of justification for Dot Com owning a rare, signed copy of Mein Kampf.

Medieval Bulgarian Bible - Source: Wikipedia
Let's see. One is a book written by a man who then went on to attempt to wipe out the entire Jewish race and the other is the story of the Jewish people, culminating in their (and our) Messiah being born on earth. And people want to call both offensive? I'm detecting a bit of anti-Semitism coming through in the attempted downplaying of Dom Com owning his personally signed book by the man responsible for the Holocaust.

Related link: Dotcom admits owning Mein Kampf ~ NZ Herald

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Andrei Another triumph for feminism

The two girls stood for an hour in a busy shopping arcade
They were filmed as part of a social experiment for television
Astonishingly, only one person stopped to help them
Is it any wonder - if a man like me started to talk to two little girls, personally unknown to me there is a high possibility I'd end up in jail accused of all sorts of nastiness.

Hell in this day and age it could even be a police sting to identify pedophiles - they do this on the internet so why not in a mall.

And men will not be seated next to unaccompanied children on Air New Zealand flights - men are dangerous to children you see.

After fifty years of feminist harping men have gone from being the protectors of women and children and been transformed into predators1

(1) I used Ele's post because she is a very nice woman, as all agree, to show just how pervasive the men as predators meme has become.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lucia Dealing with English teachers

I had parent/teacher interviews for both my boys on Monday night, and after a semi-argument with my older son's English teacher about criteria for success in a recent assignment, I think English as a subject, has been knocked off the pedestal that it commanded in my mind for so long.

English seems to have been taken over by spinsters with a mission, a mission to find out what our children think and feel about things. I always thought that English was about learning to communicate clearly and showing that there is understanding of reading, but no, that doesn't seem to be how it is now.

The teacher that I have the problem with has been working for NZQA since the time of University Entrance. Coincidentally, I was in the last year of pupils that took those exams before that system disappeared forever, to be replaced at the time with the precursor to NCEA - Sixth Form Certificate (which I did as well because we were made to do both).

I think there has been a lot of experimentation directed towards children at school by bored teachers and curriculum movers and shakers in New Zealand. Stay tuned ....

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Andrei Respecting the Dead

It is a mark of a humane and decent society that being respected is not just a matter of having a large bank account

And this applies to the dead as well as the living.

Katrina Shanks an ex National MP has noted that those who receive paupers funerals are cremated even though their wishes would be to be buried and is suggesting that we cater for their wishes.

Lindsay Mitchel isn't impressed.

But for Catholics (discouraged) , Orthodox (forbidden) , Muslims (Forbidden) and Jews (forbidden by strict adherents of Judaism) cremation is a touchy subject.

I personally have been to Orthodox Funerals of paupers, where the deceased was cremated and very disturbing it was.

The last time was for a man who through no fault of his own but after years of debilitating illness died penniless and cremation is what he got.

We should be able to do better

Monday, March 24, 2014

Andrei Now the Rusyns want out

Did you ever see the movie "The Deer Hunter"? The main characters in that movie were Rusyns (called Russian in the movie and sometimes derogatorily called Hunkys in the USA)- Orthodox Christian refugees from the Austro-Hungarian Empire originating from what are today parts Poland, Slovakia, Hungry and Ukraine who found a new home in the USA - back when it stood for something worthwhile.

In the past week Rusyn families have been fleeing Ukraine for Slovakia (how large this exodus? Who knows it is not being reported)

Anyway FYI
Open Letter to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation
Most Honourable President of the Russian Federation!

We appeal to you… the President of a Great Country… a country that has traditional ties with our country, which wasn’t and isn’t unmoved by our colonial subjugation by the Ukraine, which wishes for our recovery, stability, and unity. We always appreciated the very high level of civilisational values ​​(education, science, employment, stability, and social benefits for Rusyns) that the fraternal Russian people brought to Podkarpatskaya Rus starting in autumn 1944, which deteriorated and rotted under Ukraine rule over the past 22 years.

An illegal seizure of power by Galician nationalists in Zakarpatya Oblast motivates us to issue this urgent appeal to you. At present, the menace of lawless Galician nationalism hangs over Podkarpatskaya Rus, the farthest Western outpost of the Russian World. On 29 January 2014, the pro-Galician neo-Nazi Balogh pressured the Deputies of the Zakarpatya Oblast Soviet to overturn the legitimate government in the region. The official Ukrainian government and the Constitution of Ukraine ceased to exist in Podkarpatskaya Rus with this vote on 29 January 2014, which means that the timeless autonomous status of the region came back into force. It’s clear that outsiders seized power in our region, under the guise of “integrating democratic European values ​​and reforms”. This began a humanitarian catastrophe for the Rusyn people, indeed, for everyone living in Podkarpatskaya Rus, at the hands of Galician neo-Nazis and their local collaborators. Officially, the junta and its law enforcement agencies are subject to a so-called Zakarpatya People’s Rada, which is unconstitutional. It’s possible that a massive new persecution of Rusyn s will begin, as it did 100 years ago in 1914 in the Austrian death camps of Terezín and Talerhof, in 1939 in the Dumen camp near Rakhova. Today, Clan Balogh and its Galician stooges seized control of the energy transportation systems owned by the Russian Federation and the Ukraine throughout Podkarpatskaya Rus.

In this situation, the People’s Government of Podkarpatskaya Rus and all the Rusyn people ask the President of the Russian Federation, in the spirit of fraternal agreements with the Ukraine, (which is almost a nonentity today because of its destruction by Galician neo-Nazis), to undertake a peacekeeping operation for a brief period, to allow the resumption of the pre-Soviet Republic of Podkarpatskaya Rus. The Ukrainian SSR renamed us Transcarpathian Ukraine on 26 November 1944. The results of the 1 December 1991 referendum show that our people desire the political restoration of the Republic of Podkarpatskaya Rus. We appeal to you, Mr President. We base our appeal on the decisions of the 2nd European National Congress of Podkarpatsky Rusyn s from 25 October 2008, the Act of Recreating the Republic of Podkarpatskaya Rus, the election of the national government of the Republic of Podkarpatskaya Rus, and the decisions of the First World Congress of Podkarpatsky Rusyn s on 25 April 2009 in Pardubice in Czechia.

The last international legal act of the will of our people in the USSR/Ukrainian SSR… legal under the “Law of the Ukrainian SSR on national and local referendums” passed in 1991… was a local referendum/plebiscite in Podkarpatskaya Rus held on 1 December 1991. That was 22 years ago, but this referendum and its results remain a legitimate and legal expression of the will of the people of Podkarpatskaya Rus. A majority of the people (76.8 percent) supported the legal stipulation, “Zakarpatya is a special self-governing territory, as a subject under international law not included in other territorial-administrative units”, that is, autonomy within the Ukraine. Today, those in the Rusyn lands don’t want to part of a Ukraine where Galician neo-Nazi rioters threaten Rusyn s with ethnic cleansing.

We, Rusyns, and all other residents of Podkarpatskaya Rus, have grounds under international law to appeal to you, Mr President, for the recognition of the restoration of the statehood of the Republic of Podkarpatskaya Rus, and to call upon you to mount a peacekeeping operation to neutralise Galician neo-Nazism in Podkarpatskaya Rus. The successful resolution of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Crisis clearly showed Russia’s peacekeeping ability in world affairs. We believe that a peacekeeping operation of the Russian Federation in the Ukraine would be successful and in the best interests of the country.

With respect,

Pyotr Getsko
Prime Minister of the Republic of Podkarpatskaya Rus, Coordinator of the Rusyn Network

Ukraine is going the way of Yugoslavia - Pray God it is far less bloody

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fletch [Update] God's Not Dead


The film opened strongly this weekend in the U.S, making it the #3 highest grossing movie on Friday, and #5 for the whole weekend.

The low-budget PG-13 drama about a college student (Shane Harper) who sets out to prove God's existence raised eyebrows Friday when it brought in $2.8 million from just 780 theaters — an impressive $3,613 per-screen average. That was better than any movie in the market except for “Divergent” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It was running third after Friday and will likely come in around $8 million for the three days. ~Source
The biggest surprise of the weekend is undoubtedly the success of God’s Not Dead, an inspirational drama about a college student who defends his belief in God against a non-believing professor.
Here’s how the top five played out:
1. Divergent – $56 million
2. Muppets Most Wanted – $16.5 million
3. Mr. Peabody and Sherman – $11.7 million
4. 300: Rise of an Empire – $8.7 million
5. God’s Not Dead – $8.6 million  ~ Entertainment Weekly

A new film is opening today in the U.S called God's Not Dead. It sounds very good.
The film is about a college freshman just starting to attend university who comes up against the professor of one of his classes who is virulently atheist (is there any other type these days?).

Here's a synopsis.

Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him?
I've done a search on and can see no mention of the film showing here in New Zealand now or in the future (is it any surprise?) You can see the trailer above, and if you're keen, there is a preaching/sermon 'pack' download on their website that lets you download video of Josh's Last Lecture, the denouement where he confronts the professor in a classroom debate.

I wish that it were possible for more professors to be confronted in this way, but they are usually the ones with the microphone up the front (which they wield like a big stick) and the power to pass or fail.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fletch Donate To Help Kill Children and Receive FREE Gift

A U.S website for the DC Abortion Fund (an organisation that gives grants to women who cannot afford abortion) has a page where you can donate $10 a month to (as they put it), "make abortion access a reality for women in our community!". Just for donating, they'll send you a nice necklace with a coathanger hanging off of it. Yes, you read that right - a coathanger! (see the image).

It looks like they're not trying to disguise it anymore, or sugarcoat what it is they're doing; it's brutally honest and out in the open. It's the killing of unborn children.


h/t National Review Online

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Andrei Good heavens what were these New Zealand soldiers up to?

Enough of the self righteous posturing already

Lucia Eastern Ukraine is next in the Russian land grab

When I read the following article on New Republic by Julia Ioffe, it was called After Crimea, Putin is going to take Eastern Ukraine Next. It's now called The Maps That Show the Inevitability of a Russian Land-Grab in Eastern Ukraine, because when it comes down to it, Russia cannot support Crimea without taking the east. 

Already a gas plant in Ukraine has been taken over by Russian troops, a gas plant that supplies Crimea with gas.  On Sunday, the new pro-Russian prime minister of Crimea was appealing to Russia to send in the fleet to "protect" this gas plant.  Julia explains, based on the geography, why it's important to Crimea (and Russia) to get gas from the Ukraine and ensure that it's not cut off and how in order to do that, the likelihood is that Eastern Ukraine is next in the land grab:
Crimea qualifies as a peninsula on the slightest of technicalities, dangling from the Ukrainian mainland by an isthmus (Perekop, on the left side of the map) that, at its widest point, is just 4.3 miles wide. The rest looks like Greece, or lightly melted Swiss cheese.

What’s Crimea’s physical connection to Russia? Well, there isn’t one. There is just the bay just off of Kerch. No bridge there, nothing to connect it to Russia’s Krasnodar region just across the water (on the right side of the map).

... what happens if, as is quite likely, Kiev cuts newly-Russian Crimea off from gas, electricity, and water, which Crimea has none of on its own? How will Moscow, the new owner, supply its latest acquisition with the necessities?

Take a look at those two maps again.

If you’re Russia, do you really want to ferry the necessities across the bay, or build an expensive bridge, or lay down expensive new pipelines? Wouldn’t you rather use pre-existing land routes (and pipelines)? Wouldn’t it just be easier to take the land just north and east of Perekop and the Swiss cheese area, now that you’ve already put in the effort to massively destabilize it? And while you’re there, wouldn’t you want to just take the entire Ukrainian east, the parts with the coal and the pipe-making plants and the industry? You know, since you already have permission?

Related link: The Maps That Show the Inevitability of a Russian Land-Grab in Eastern Ukraine ~ The New Republic

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fletch FREE 40 Page Easter Devotional

Cover and sample page (click for larger)
If you're looking for some inspiration this Lent, I notice that Faith Gateway has a FREE 40-page devotional to download as a PDF. You have to register your email, so it might pay to use one you don't mind getting a few devotional snippets from upcoming books mailed to you.

Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with the publisher, and do not gain anything from this post. I got a random email about the download and just thought some people might like it :)


Lucia Radioactive ash threat from Russia

From NewsBusters, a threat directed at the United States, from Russia:

As of 11 P.M. Eastern Time Sunday evening, searches at both the Associated Press and at the Politico on "radioactive" returned nothing relating to a comment made on TV by Russian "journalist" Dmitry Kiselyov reminding viewers that his country, as translated by the wire service AFP"is the only one in the world "realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash." Reuters also has a story here. Further evidence of AP disinterest is the fact that its two "10 Things to Know for Monday" relating to Russia as of 9:03 p.m. noted the West's intent to impose sanctions and penalties but did not mention the Russian threat.

Kiselyov isn't some freelancer mouthing off for "look at me" attention. As such, the failure of these two outlets to report what is clearly a serious escalation in rhetoric emanating from Russia is breathtakingly negligent, even by their non-standards. It's as if they're desperately trying to keep Kiselyov's statement from becoming an item on the U.S. morning news shows.

AFP's Stuart Williams waited far too long — until the tenth paragraph — to fully describe Kiselyov's association with Vladimir Putin's government. From all appearances, Kiselyov might as well be Putin's press secretary.
In December, BBC reported that Putin put him in charge of a new state-run news entity called Rossiya Segodnya, which translates as "Russia Today" (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The new agency is to be headed by Dmitry Kiselev, one of Russian TV's most notorious anchors, known for his extreme anti-Western and homophobic views.

Mr. Putin's decree states that Russia Today's role will be to transmit to foreign audiences information about the "Russian Federation's state policy and public life in Russia."

It seems likely, therefore, that it will complement the work of the state-funded foreign-language TV station, RT, which when it was launched in 2005 was also known as Russia Today.

The new agency will be a "huge machine for propaganda in the West," tweeted liberal website editor Roman Fedoseyev.
The new Russia Today does not appear to be directly connected with its namesake - RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on Twitter that she found out about its launch from a Moscow radio station. Still, the choice of name for the new agency can hardly be a coincidence.

... Known back in the 1990s as one of the faces of "independent journalism", Mr. Kiselev has recently become notorious for his extreme and sometimes bizarre diatribes in his role as a top anchor on official channel Rossiya 1.
He has likened Kremlin opponents at home and abroad to the Nazis, used a Swedish children's TV show about toilet training to exemplify "Western values", and repeatedly demonised homosexuals.

... Mr. Kiselev himself told state news channel Rossiya 24 he saw his "mission" in his new job as restoring a "just attitude to Russia as an important country in the world which has good intentions."
The obvious point is that Kiselev wouldn't have said without Putin's implicit or explicit blessing.

Related link: Not Yet News at AP or Politico: Russian State Broadcaster's 'Turn Into Radioactive Ash' Warning to U.S. ~ NewsBusters

Lucia Russian annexation of Crimea

Men in Cossack uniforms standing guard outside the regional Parliament in Crimea on Friday ahead of the referendum (Source: NY Times)

Last week, an article from The Telegraph (UK), on sanctions to be imposed upon Russia if Crimea is annexed:
Russia risks a wave of capital flight and a shattering economic crisis as the West prepares a package of sanctions over the seizure of Crimea.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spelled out the danger for Russia in a speech that silenced pro-Kremlin voices in her own coalition and left no doubt that Europe is now fully behind the US on punitive measures.

“If Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, that will not only be a great catastrophe for Ukraine. It will cause massive damage to Russia, both economically and politically,” she said. “None of us wants it to come to this, but we are determined to act. Let me be absolutely clear; the territorial integrity of Ukraine is not up for discussion.”

The West has threatened visa bans and an asset freeze on individuals as early as Monday unless Russia steps back from the brink on the annexation of Crimea. This now looks certain since Russian troops are continuing to dig in across the peninsula before this Sunday’s vote on secession. “It can get ugly fast if the wrong choices are made, and it can get ugly in multiple directions,” said John Kerry, US Secretary of State.

The US and the EU will escalate to “additional and far-reaching” measures if the picture deteriorates, a likely outcome since Ukraine’s premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk has vowed to resist any loss of sovereign soil.

Russia has threatened to retaliate with “symmetrical sanctions” but Tim Ash, from Standard Bank, said it is a one-sided contest that Moscow cannot win. “Russia is facing the entire West. Its economy is already very weak and this could end up being as bad as 2008-2009, when GDP contracted by 9pc,” he said.

Russia cannot suspend oil and gas exports without cutting off its own source of foreign revenue. Any such move would destroy its credibility as a supplier of energy, accelerating Europe’s long-term switch to other sources.
Will Russia cut off the gas?  She has threatened to do so to the Ukraine, but not to Europe ... so far.

Source: CNBC
Europe is highly dependent on Russian gas, and the worry is that in any escalation over the Crimean crisis, the gas could be turned off.  Over the last few years, Europe has been more focused on an alternative supply of energy, but these things move slowly. Last week, Poland announced that all gas sourced from shale in Poland would be tax-exempt for a number of years in order to incentivise it's production to reduce her own dependance, which is currently 60% of all imported gas.

We now know that the "referendum" will most likely result in overwhelming to join Russia.  Well, no wonder when it was being framed in Russia vs Nazis, as in the billboard below:

Billboard explains how Crimea referendum is being framed: Russia vs. the Nazis (Source: Washington Post)
New Zealand, like just about every single other country in the world will not recognise the results of the "referendum":

New Zealand will not recognise the result of today's referendum on the status of Crimea, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says.

"This referendum has been organised hastily, under the threat of force, and without any prior efforts to consult or negotiate a settlement consistent with the Constitution of Ukraine," he said.

And, the joke of the day from a Russian news source that cannot be accessed at this point (the server is overloaded or down or something):

Crimean referendum at 'gunpoint' is a myth - intl observers.  From the RT blog (a Russian blog).

Note the other article which I thought was ironic: Gunmen storm Crimea Hotel full of reporters on eve of referendum

That's how this whole thing is operating - Russia is insisting we all believe her version of events.  Well, that's not going to happen, not with the internet.  The message cannot be controlled to the extent that everyone will just go along with an expansion of Russia at the cost of neighbouring countries.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Andrei The Referendum

The sign reads
"With a Bander State
our ways part"
Stephan Bandera was a Nazi collaborator in World War 2, responsible for the massacre of Jews and Poles in Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia during those dark days.

He is a hero to some elements of the American installed junta in Kiev and his picture even hangs in some offices in the Rada

Friday, March 14, 2014

Andrei The blood is flowing in Kharkov and Donetsk

And the Godless EU wants to create an excuse to do to Ukraine what they did to Yugoslavia in the 1990s with the aid of American Bombers and cruise missiles.

The West is very good at spilling the blood of other people in other lands

Meanwhile the American installed Junta that has replaced the democratically elected Government of Ukraine is recruiting a neo Nazi militia to serve as the police force and military it doesn't have and can't pay.

Nato will find it harder though to occupy Ukraine with "peace keeping" forces than it was in Yugoslavia because the Russian Bear is at their doorstep.

And there are red lines that you cross at your peril.

Though the botoxed bozo, who looks like he has just been dug up from his grave, is promising "serious consequences" come Monday.

By the way the USA is bankrupt and have just been defeated by a bunch of sheep herders who are living as they have done since the seventh century AD.

And the USA needs Russia to be able to extract its people and equipment from that disaster - just another little detail that the walking corpse Kerry seems to have forgotten in his rush to pompously posture.

America still hasn't discovered it is easier to break sovereign States than to fix the mess they create when they do

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lucia Putin behind crackdown on protestors in Ukraine

Wow, journalists are going through the documentation that ex-Ukrainian President Yanukovych left behind when he fled to Russia. Part of that was information that they were being pressured by Russian President Putin:
Putin pressured Yanukovych to crack down on the Maidan protesters. Ukrainska Pravda found that the notebooks of Yanukovych's security chief, Kostyantyn Kobzar, detail a private meeting between the two leaders at Putin's residence at Valdai on January 8, as the Maidan protests continued to grow.

Ironically, Ukrainska Pravda found record of Yanukovych's suspicion of one of its own articles, an investigation into how special police were ordered to forcefully disperse the crowd on Independence Square on November 30. "Where did Ukrainska Pravda get the documents before the interrogation?" the notebook reads, and goes on to note that Yanukovych had plans to call Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka about the issue.
What are the chances that pressure isn't being applied in Crimea?

Related link: Read the Astounding Papers That Ukraine's Ousted President Left Behind ~ The New Republic

Lucia NZ - Land of the Big Hammer

In order to stop future inflation, the Reserve Bank has decided that our interest rates, already the highest in the world, need to be raised even more, thus increasing mortgage inflation. In an economy that is starting to recover, the Big Hammer comes out again making sure that the middle class stays down.

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler lifted the official cash rate a quarter-point to 2.75 per cent in the first move of a tightening cycle, and signalled potential for a steeper track for future hikes as he tries to prevent inflation accelerating.

"While headline inflation has been moderate, inflationary pressures are increasing and are expected to continue doing so over the next two years," Wheeler said in a statement. "The speed and extent to which the OCR will be raised will depend on economic data and our continuing assessment of emerging inflationary pressures."

Thanks, Graeme. I wish we could vote this bozo out.

Related link: OCR up to 2.75pc ~ NZ Herald

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lucia Soviet synonymous with Russian - A History

The maximum territorial extent of countries in the world under Soviet influence after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and before the official Sino-Soviet split of 1961 (Source: Wikipedia)

Andrei and I have been having an ongoing conversation about what is going on in the Ukraine with regards to the removal of the duly elected President (who seems more than a little corrupt) and the consequent invasion of Crimea by Russia. Rather than continue in the comments with this, I thought this post important enough to become it's own entity, in response to Andrei saying:

Ukraine as it is drawn on the map today is an accident of history - nobody even called themselves "Ukrainian" until the Romantic movement of the 19th century - Ukraine was a region of Europe where Catholicism meets Orthodoxy - the Western parts of the modern state were in the Austro-Hungarian Empire 100 years ago while the Eastern parts were in the Russian Empire and always had been

Anyway by quirks of history Ukraine as a "nation" came into being with its current borders in 1991 and if it was to have any hope of survival and becoming a nation the last thing it needed clueless,idiotic Americans stirring up trouble in the name of "promoting democracy".

However, Ukraine as a nation with different borders did come into being nearly a century ago. From an article I've been meaning to comment on (Eastern Ukraine Is Still Fighting Its Past Life under Stalin's long shadow):

For five years, between the 1917 Revolution and the end of the Civil War, Ukraine had a brief and tumultuous experiment with independence, as did other former Russian colonies and future Soviet republics, like Georgia and Armenia. Those few years of independence gave Ukrainians a taste of national liberation that they would not soon forget and were marked, as now, by lengthy sit-ins in public squares, by rowdy parliamentary debate, and by diverse factions of Ukrainian society jockeying for influence. Then, in 1920, Ukraine—like the republics of Georgia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and others—began signing a series of vague military and economic treaties with Moscow that gave shape to what we would come to know as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Then we get to the really interesting bit, which agrees with Andrei's point that the Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire, albeit now a Soviet Empire:

Very quickly, though, the Union became a distinctly Russian entity. According to Soviet historian Geoffrey Hosking, this was no accident. Stalin “wanted to see a political framework which would give expression to the dominance Russia had assumed in the world revolutionary movement,” in which communist patriotism was sublimated into Russian patriotism. Vladimir Lenin was slightly horrified by all this, seeing it, correctly, as a revanchist moment and a return to the bad old days of imperialism. He even prepared a memorandum in protest and was to deliver it at the Twelfth Party Congress in 1923. He demanded that, in the new Union, some form of autonomy be returned to the various national republics.

But Lenin had his third and final stroke before he could go on record with his protest, and Stalin and Leon Trotsky had the memorandum suppressed. (It came out after Stalin’s death.) As a result, notes Hosking, “the new [Soviet] constitution embodied Stalin’s conceptions rather than Lenin’s.” Moscow and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic got to run the show, not just in terms of military and diplomatic matters, but in pretty much everything else. Ethnic Russians made up nearly three-quarters of the Communist Party, and official business all across the USSR was done in Russian. Which is all to say that, when the older respondents of Cherkashin’s poll in Donetsk say they are Russian, what they mean, mostly, is that they are Soviet.

Now, the final sentences above show the importance of "Russian speakers" in Ukraine - it's those who are more likely to identify with Soviet Communism, and not see themselves as part of an independent nation:

In the last tense months, the conflict in Ukraine has been described as a fight over Ukrainian identity—in terms of language, territory, and great-power influence. Maps on television and in newspapers show a country conveniently cleaved in half between Ukrainian speakers in the pro-Yulia Tymoshenko west and Russian speakers in the Yanukovych east. The former love Europe; the latter love Russia. The former have been oppressed for centuries by the latter, who want to see a return to the days of the USSR.

But Cherkashin’s informal office lecture [note by Lucia - it's in the link, as I haven't included it in my post] demonstrated that the truth is more complicated, as it always is. The real split is generational. Unlike Cherkashin, his students were all born after 1991, in an independent Ukraine, and they see their country’s close relationship with Russia very differently than their older professor. In fact, Cherkashin’s own research confirms this division. The younger a citizen of Donetsk, the more likely she is to view herself as Ukrainian. The older she is, the more likely she is to identify as Russian. And this is the crux of it all: What we are seeing today is the reverberation of what happened more than 20 years ago. This is still the long post-Soviet transition. And this is what it’s like to wander in the desert, waiting for the old generation to die off.
Things change.  What defines a nation?  History or a shared vision for the future?  Or force?

Ukraine is no longer Polish, I've let that go, and I'm sure that Poland has too.  There is some long history there of Ukraine being part of the Polish borderlands, but no more.  The Russian Empire no longer exists either, nor does the Soviet Union.  Russia needs to come to terms with her history, but recreating the past is not the way to do it.  Instead, an honest examination of what has been before is needed, and I've not seen much evidence that Russia wants to go there, or will be able to go there in the near future.

Related link: Eastern Ukraine Is Still Fighting Its Past Life under Stalin's long shadow

Lucia Ukraine and Poland

Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw, Poland, lit up in blue and yellow, in solidarity with Ukraine (Source: The Economist)

An important article on the deep understanding that Poland has with what is going on in the Ukraine right now. As an example:

Yanukovych's regime, together with the Kremlin, have been telling us that the protestors are anti-Semites and Nazis—while simultaneously telling their riot police that the protestors are gays and Jews. This is bewildering to most Europeans. It is much less bewildering to Poles. They have experience with just this kind of shameless—and absurdist—mendacity. After all, they remember the Stalinist regime promising to protect Jews from the anti-Semitism of the anti-communists, while conducting an anti-Semitic campaign of its own. And they remember March 1968, when the communist regime justified its suppression of demonstrators against censorship by accusing protestors of engaging in a Nazi-Zionist conspiracy against Poland.

The article also points out that there was a lot of murdering of Poles by Ukrainians during WWII:

[I]n September 1939, the Wehrmacht invaded Poland from the west, and the Red Army invaded from the east. The Polish state ceased to exist, and eastern Galicia and Volhynia became Soviet Ukraine. In 1943, with the Ukrainian lands now under Nazi occupation, Ukrainian nationalist extremists embarked on a campaign of ethnic cleansing: They herded Poles into churches and set them on fire. They shot Poles with bullets and beat them to death with farm tools. There were hangings and decapitations. Poles responded, sometimes in kind. After the war, the Polish government, finding concentrations of ethnic Ukrainians inside Polish territory undesirable, "resettled" thousands of Ukrainians in western Poland, murdering some in the process.

Not something I like to think about too much, as my father's family was from that part of the world. The irony being that their deportation to Siberia by the Soviets most likely saved my dad's life, as they weren't home to be set on fire in church, or beaten to death by farm tools. I'm not really too sure what to make of that as it's only something that just occurred to me recently.

Related link:  The Bloody History Between Poland and Ukraine Led to Their Unlikely Solidarity ~ New Republic

Andrei Tuesdays Poem

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

From the Poems of Alfred Tennyson

The events described in the poem occurred many years before Joseph Stalin was born, you might be surprised to learn.

They even happened before the American civil war, a decade earlier as it happens.

That is a long time ago!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fletch Pope Francis: The 'Schindler' of Argentina

Well, Pope Francis continues to surprise. Apparently, the story below came out late last year, but I didn't hear about it until reading the latest NZ Catholic, where it was reported.

According to the story (and a new book), Pope Francis – when he was a priest in the 1970s and early 80s – rescued at least 1000 people using a secret network during Argentina’s “Dirty War”.
ROME – Perhaps the single public figure on the planet right now least in need of rehabilitation of his image is Pope Francis, who’s got poll numbers in most places of which politicians and celebrities alike can only dream.

Nevertheless, rehabilitation is precisely what Italian journalist Nello Scavo delivers in his new book Bergoglio’s List: The Untold Story of the People Saved by Francis during the Dictatorship, which was presented today at the headquarters of the Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica in Rome.

In reply to persistent charges that the young Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was complicit in Argentina’s infamous “dirty war” from 1976 to 1983, when roughly 30,000 people disappeared, Scavo asserts that Bergoglio was actually a Jesuit version of Oskar Schindler – quietly saving lives rather than engaging in noisy public protest.

The future pope, Scavo writes, saved as many as a thousand targets of the military dictatorship by providing shelter in a Jesuit college, passing them off as seminarians or laity on retreat, then helping them move out of Argentina.

In one case, according to Scavo, Bergoglio gave a man who bore him a passing resemblance his own passport and priest’s clothing to make his escape.

In other cases, Scavo says, people were saved “indirectly” by Bergoglio, because the targets he helped stay out of prison would have named others who would also likely have been arrested and tortured.

Scavo provides names and details for roughly a dozen people rescued by Bergoglio and claims that each one of those people told him they knew “at least 20 or 30 more.” Taken together with the indirect effects of his actions, Scavo says, Bergoglio was arguably responsible for saving more than the 1,200 lives attributed to Schindler’s intervention during World War II.

One such survivor is today a mayor in Uruguay named Gonzalo Mosca, who was accompanied by Bergoglio onto the airplane that carried him to safety while being hunted by the police. Another is an Argentine lawyer and human rights activist named Alicia Oliveira, whose three small children were lodged in a Jesuit college by Bergoglio while she remained in hiding. Twice a week, she said, Bergoglio would take her to see her children, despite the fact that a warrant was out for her arrest.

“Nobody needs to explain to me who Jorge Bergoglio is,” she told Scavo. “He helped many persecuted people escape, putting his own life at risk.”

The rescued also include Alfredo Somoza, an atheist novelist who today lives in Milan, and Ana and Sergio Gobulin, a married couple now living in the Italian province of Pordenone. The pope has remained friends with the Gobulins, according to Scavo, speaking from time to time on the telephone.

Scavo claims the story of Bergoglio’s pipeline has been previously untold because Bergoglio himself has never called attention to it, and in fact the pope didn’t cooperate with the book project.

There are already plans for translations of the book in at least eight languages, including English, and there’s also been at least two proposals for a movie a-la “Schindler’s List.”

Friday, March 7, 2014

Andrei Hollow teleprompted talking points.......

Below is a quote from Barack Obama's address to the nation on Ukraine - I'll post a clip of the entire address at the end of this post but I want to highlight this bit and examine the axioms that underlie it and we all know if your axioms are wrong then your reasoning will be incorrect - no matter how logical it might appear at first glance.

Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014 we are well past the days when borders can be withdrawn over the heads of democratic leaders

The first bit I put in bold are the fine words "legitimate government" and we have to ask is the government in Kiev legitimate?

Were they elected? Well they were if election means installation by an armed mob but if it means were they elected by citizens via the ballot box - no they are not.

Even worse those deputies (MPs in our parlance, what we in days of yore called representatives)who currently grace the Rada (parliament) have to pass through a cordon of armed thugs to get to work and many have been intimidated into not participating at all. And if the people currently being portrayed as the legitimate government of Ukraine can be considered democratic leaders then I'm a monkey's uncle.

To call a spade a spade, in the name of promoting democracy™ the clowns in the State Department have actually broken it, and Ukraine.

And no flowery teleprompted logic can change that nor put the genie thus unleashed back into the bottle

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lucia Justification for military intervention in the Crimea a bit thin

From a Polish post on the situation in the Ukraine, an explanation on why there are so many Russian speakers in Crimea:

Stalin deportował większość Tatarów Krymskich, dokonując w ten sposób, czystki narodowościowej o cechach ludobójstwa. Następnie, osiedlał na Krymie głównie rosyjskich komunistów, tak jak Car swoich, tych najbardziej zasłużonych – potrzebujących ciepłego klimatu i wygód życia w po carskich kurortach.

ZSRR, podarowała Krym Ukrainie (za Chruszczowa), po śmierci Stalina, nieoficjalnie w zamian za ludobójstwo – jakiego się dopuściły władze komunistyczne na narodzie Ukraińskim (okres wielkiego głodu), a oficjalnie z wielkiej przyjaźni a tak naprawdę, dla konsolidacji obu narodów w nowy twór państwowy, którą to przyjaźń, na naszych oczach, teraz Rosja szybko marnotrawi.

Now the translation using Google Translate. Unfortunately, my Polish is not good enough for me to translate this properly myself.

Stalin deported the majority of Crimean Tatars, making in this way, the ethnic cleansing of the characteristics of genocide. Then, settled mainly in the Crimea Russian Communists, like their car, the most deserving - in need of a warm climate and the comforts of life in the tsarist resorts.

USSR gave Crimea, Ukraine (Khrushchev), after the death of Stalin, unofficially, in exchange for genocide - which is committed to the communist nation Ukrainian (famine period), and officially with great friendship and really, for the consolidation of the two nations in the new creation state, which is friendship, in our eyes, now Russia quickly wasted.

What I find interesting is that it is not that difficult to find out that Crimea was full of Tartars prior to the Soviet Union's double purge of the local population; first by starvation during the period 1917-33, and then mass deportation to remove the population completely in 1944. Yet, this very recent history of the region is not really mentioned in many of the numerous news reports that we are getting. Instead, the justification for Russia taking back Crimea seems to be because it contains a majority of Russian speakers, and that there is some sort of Russian naval base there.

Well, that line of reasoning is kinda dangerous, I think.

Not that I think that Muslim slave traders (albeit in the past) are the best sort of neighbours.

However, it will not end in Crimea. As this writer of the New Republic says, Russia is suffering from phantom limb syndrome, seeking to consciously or unconsciously recreate the old empire. Made easier by how the previous satellite states are comprised:

The internal issues of former Soviet republics, you see, are not truly internal issues of sovereign nations. This is because, by Stalin's very conscious design and very deliberate border drawing and population movement, most former Soviet republics are ethnic hodgepodges. So Ukraine has a sizable Russian population. Ditto Estonia, ditto Georgia, ditto Kazakhstan. And, according to Putin's unspoken doctrine, anywhere Russian citizens are determined to be at risk, Mother Moscow can intercede with force on their behalf.

In other, blunter words, Russian ethnicity and citizenship trump national sovereignty. At the very least, they provide a convenient pretext for territorial expansion, as they did in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where Russia was also ostensibly protecting Russian citizens—also newly minted for the occasion. Just this week, for instance, Russia introduced a law to make it easier for Ukrainians to get Russian citizenship—you know, to give Russia someone to protect.

Russia manufactured this crisis to create a pretext for a land-grab. There are now protests swinging Russian flags and hailing Russia's glory not just in Crimea but all over the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine. I was just in Donetsk, Yanukovich's hometown, on Monday. It was calm, calmer than calm. There were a couple dozen people guarding the Lenin statue in the center of the city from vandals, but that was it. A muckety-muck in the city's administration told me, "If they send new people in to replace us, we'll leave peacefully, we won't try to hang on." The same was the case in Simferopol, in Crimea. And then, out of nowhere, men with unmarked uniforms were taking over government buildings and airports, and huge demonstrations were pumping on town squares all over the regions. The Kremlin often refers to "a well-organized informational war" when their enemies broadcast something they don't like on repeat. And now, looking at the alarmist, blanket coverage on Russian television—now all loyal to the Kremlin—about fascists and radicals staging a coup in Kiev, it's hard to think of a better term. This was indeed a well-organized informational war.

Is all of this justified? I suppose it depends on which side you are on.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Andrei Painting of the Day