Posts tagged Russia

“Spring Thaw” Event This Friday in February!!!

Whoever came up with this event at our university to have a “Spring Thaw” in February must be from California.  Anyone who grew up in these parts of Minnesota would not even consider to tempt the weather minstrels with the thought of spring thaws in February. We can have some of our worst blizzards or storms in February and March. It would be more realistic to have a Spring Thaw in April or even May based on experiencing past winters. We have nothing to complain about with our winter so far, nothing like the brutal beast of a winter we had last year.  However, to get into the mood for a Spring Thaw means that you are probably going south to Florida or even farther south during Spring Break which DOES happen in March.  One full week of no teaching, hurrah!!!

Today for this event I will be playing in a six piece orchestra that we have slammed together with practices every day for a week.  The music pieces we are using are from Broadway hits and movie hits.  Songs like Edelweiss, Beauty and the Beast, Circle of Life, Cabaret and Memory.  Then movie hits like Chariots of Fire, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Somewhere Out There.  Should be interesting to get the responses from people who show up for this fun activity of food, drinks, cashbar and photos and games.  I hope I can hold up playing my violin that I haven’t picked up for over 20-30 years!

This “celebration” starts at 4:30 today. Everyone will be there ON time (closing time for many office jobs) but they will be out the door and on their way home by 5:30 p.m. After all, it IS a Friday and people have their weekends planned out already.  I plan to go to a movie screening tomorrow titled “Nefarious: Merchants of Souls” which is about human trafficking. A friend of mine already went to it down in Texas and she had a hard time watching the whole thing. Victims’ testimonies but also footage from the traffickers themselves.  We live in a depraved world and unfortunately human trafficking is escalating instead of the numbers going down.  What does that say about our sin sick world?

I’m also watching the events unfold in Ukraine with extreme sadness. The Russian separatist terrorists (given equipment from Russia) are riddling the cities with civilians living there with bullets so that they can take over the east end of Ukraine. Their goal is to move on to Kyiv and then the other eastern European nations. The leader in Russia is not dealing with the reality or he is forcing the hands of many leaders from other nations. Things will be bleak for those living in Russia because their economy is currently plummeting. However, their “fearless” leader, who many Russians still believe in, is waiting for Ukraine to buckle first. After what Ukraine has been through over the century with the Soviet rule, the memories run too deep, they will NOT let Russia rule over them again.  They would rather fight and die first.

I wonder if this leader in the north has the same designs for the assets in Kazakhstan?  Would the Kazakh people be ready to fight and die for their own sovereignty?  I wonder…are we going back to the Cold War mentality.  So much for the spring that, right?

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What about Winston Churchill?

young ChurchillI have long admired the vision of Churchill for what he saw and knew about the former Soviet Union and Stalin.  He saw through the veneer that was presented during World War II and I am sad that more people didn’t pay attention to what he knew.  The media force from the area of Russia was doing a full court press to make sure that the unsuspecting didn’t believe the anecdotes that were coming out of Russia and other parts of the Soviet Union.  The Australians have long known the truths of what REALLY happened once WWII was over, other generals and those in combat with the Allied forces knew what was happening when the Soviet Union wanted to take credit for ending the war against the Nazis.  Pity those people who were in the Russian quarters of Berlin because they were either sent back to their country, killed or exiled to Siberia.  Churchill some how knew but perhaps his hands were tied along with others.  The truth came out in reports by Malcolm Muggeridge and other reporters who started paying attention to those people who tried to get the message out about what was going on when things settled down.

That is why I think we need to look closely at what Winston Churchill said 116 years ago about something else he knew something about.  That is perhaps why our U.S.president who gave his usual State of the Union address the other night gave back the bust of Winston Churchill to U.K. when he first moved into the Oval Office.  He obviously didn’t like what Churchill stood for because of his own thorough-going beliefs.  What do you think?  This was penned by a young, but already wise beyond his years, Churchill.

The attached short speech from Winston Churchill, was delivered by him in 1899 when he was a young soldier and journalist. It probably sets out the current views of many, but expresses in the wonderful Churchillian turn of phrase and use of the English language, of which he was a past master.
Sir Winston Churchill was, without doubt, one of the greatest men of the late 19th and 20th centuries. He was a brave young soldier, a brilliant journalist, an extraordinary politician and statesman, a great war leader and British Prime Minister, to whom the Western world must be forever in his debt. He was a prophet in his own time. He died on 24th January 1965 , at the grand old age of 90 and, after a lifetime of service to his country, was accorded a State funeral. HERE IS THE SPEECH:
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa , raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome .”
Sir Winston Churchill; (Source: The River War, first edition, Vol II, pages 248-250 London ).

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Welcome to the GREAT new year of 2015!!!

I was too busy traveling yesterday to give out my new year’s greetings, so today will have to do.  On Facebook I have put up the obligatory photos from our two week trip to AZ to see the kids and grandkids.  Now it is back to the stark reality of living in the cold of Minnesota.  We are bracing ourselves for a bit of “weather” which is coming in later today, making travel near impossible if too much snow comes with it.  My task is to dismantle the Carnegie building of our latest traveling display exhibit called “Electrifying Minnesota.”  How about a new display titled “Heating Minnesota?”  We got back to the house and our temps outside were negative 4 and then 9 and then 10 and then back up to 7 and 8.  Inside, of course, we cranked up the heat to 68 and it started to warm up from the 54 that we had set the furnace at.

However, being in Arizona didn’t mean it was warm all the time. In fact, Prescott was cool and meant wearing jackets outside and Tucson was cool and meant wearing socks inside our RV trailer unit.  We felt blessed to be able to rent this unit for a week and have the pool and bubbling spa at 105 degrees just a half block away from our place.  There was a fitness center and also a library.  My friend Suzi helped us find out about this place because she and her husband have been staying at this RV park for many years.  They come from Oregon. What a great tourist way to bring in money for this area of Tucson.  There are MANY “snowbirds” from all over the US who come down to AZ in the winter, even those from Canada.  They stay for a few months and then go back to their homes when it becomes warmer.  My husband and I only can afford two weeks and then it is back to our reality or work in order to pay the bills.

I think Kazakhstan should try to have an industry like this. A good tourism industry is needed for those who are stuck in Astana or north of there to have places that people can go to for a few weeks or a month to get away from the brutality of the winter up north.  Almaty and along the border of Kyrgyzstan certainly have beautiful places for a vacation and it IS warmer, even in the winter.  I bet if Kazakhstan had enough people skilled or trained to facilitate that, then it could be a booming industy to bring in more international visitors as well.

Is it true that the winter Olympics might be in Kazakhstan and NOT Norway? I just heard that from a friend of ours who helped introduce my husband and me about 21 years ago.  He said that after Russia spent so much money on their winter Olympics, who wants to try to top that?  It might end up in Kazakhstan because they may want to host it for P.R. purposes. Then afterwards they could use those Olympic buildings for other purposes to make money.  I know that the Norwegians have a LONG memory about Medeo when there was some kind of international competition (not Olympics) that was held during the Soviet Union.  Seemingly the record times were changed and the Norwegians did not get their expected medals or awards. Perhaps the Soviet athletes won but on suspicious grounds.  I recall that some of the same things happened in Russia last year where top athletes spun out because the tracks were too treacherous or the snow quality not right.

Well, I’m not sure how I got into that but I have to steady my course here on the home front and get all the Christmas mail that has accumulated. AND to see how I can get the work done at the Carnegie before a big winter storm rages through these parts.  What a great culture shock for us, to have to be thinking about whether we will make it back home from town when we just flew three hours from AZ to MN and experienced about 60 degree temperature drop.

Happy New Years wherever you are, warm or cold!  Make 2015 a GREAT one!

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World Cup and Malaysian Airline

I suppose I am your typical American, I did not watch any of the World Cup. I’m not interested in soccer or “football” as it is called elsewhere. I haven’t even watched our own games of baseball so I guess I am not “INTO” sports. I think Germany was a good win for the World Cup, they probably worked hard and a great team effort. Someone wrote that the main objective is to keep kicking the ball towards the net, the more you do that, you wear down the goalie and the ball is apt to get into the net for a score.

Life is like that in a way. If you keep working towards your objective, you will little by little achieve your goal. If you are wandering around the field with no good plan or teamwork, you will have no success. I have been getting stronger and stronger where I weeded a flowerbed that was entangled with quack grass and lilies of the valley plants. The latter had taken over and was very intense as a root system, superficial but irksome nonetheless. My husband helped me free the ground up because it was too big of a task for me. Now I have impatience plants and begonias replacing the tall grass. What a marked improvement in my flower bed that has old bed posts on the top and bottom of it with railroad ties on the sides.

This morning I went after another area by our shop to put in holly hocks that I got from my mom. I found all sorts of metal pieces that had been thrown out perhaps 75 years ago. LONG nails and other ancient items that don’t decay with the soil. So, now I hope to have holly hocks growing, an old kind of flower.

That’s the thing, you have to keep fighting the weeds. If you give the weeds’ roots just an inch, it will go the full mile. Kind of like the northern neighbor to Ukraine. They want more land and are having a full out war over this. The Ukrainians want peace and do not want separatists or others that are known by another term in the eastern part of their country. It is like weeds, they need to be pulled out NOW otherwise, worse things will happen.

The commercial airliner that was just shot down with almost 300 people on board is an example of someone using their missile to take an aircraft out. The bodies are strewn throughout Ukraine over 7 miles, we know the impact happened in the air. Maybe it was a bomb on board coming from the Netherlands and its final destination was Malaysia. Not now, currently they will be pulling all the pieces together to find out what hit this plane that should not have been hit.

This is a world wide problem, this is not just some small incident. The World Cup was big, yes, but it seems that what is happening in Ukraine is much, much bigger and will start to affect us all.

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Heart wrenching news about Ukraine

Difficult to passively sit back and watch the events unfold in Ukraine as they are moving forward. The Ukrainians have taken three steps forward with their newly elected president but several steps back with what is happening in eastern Ukraine. Possibly the separatists are employing terrifying tactics of their own volition but I think the guy in charge in Moscow is not only encouraging it but aiding them. How do you get sophisticated missiles into the country to take down a Ukrainian plane that is landing at the airport, 49 dead as a result? Where do the tanks come from that are infiltrating Ukraine? Why do they not have their insignias on the armored vehicles or why do the agitator men NOT wear symbols on their clothes to show who they represent? This is an undeclared war that is going on and yet supposedly it is NOT happening because they are simply Russians who are dissatisfied with the Ukrainian government and want Russia to take over.

Meanwhile, the tourist trade is not faring very well in Crimea and that is a beautiful place to be at this time. The Tatars were aggressively moved out when Stalin wanted it for his own Soviet headquarters and now people who are catching on are leaving…that is, if they are able to now. I don’t know if they have the electricity or fuel or food they need. I believe they are living on ration cards now. So sad.

What I know from one of my friends currently living in western Ukraine is that some of the far eastern cities in Ukraine are without food, electricity or a means of transportation. Some people are hiding out in basements of apartment complexes because it is not safe for them to be in their homes or apartments. This means dire straits for those who do NOT want to be in this chaos. However, there are heroes who are doing what they can to help these people who want OUT!

My heart goes out to those who ARE helping people who have no means, Ukrainian unfortunates who are caught in the cross fire. I also know of brave, young men who are involved in the fight to help Ukraine return to order and peace. That is all anyone wants who LOVES their own country.

This makes me think of what would happen in the U.S. if it were to happen like that. Would we have people who would cave in and do whatever they are told by the “government?” Probably so, those who watch tv and are passive because they believe everything they are told by the media. Would we have others though, who would fight for our country to become what it used to be? I would hope so…for our grandchildren’s sake.

Freedom is important and so many people do not have that in their lives. That is the heart wrenching news from around the world. I continue to think about Ukraine…and Kazakhstan.

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Politely “Unfriended” because of Russian Politics

I have a “former” Russian friend or really she was more like an acquaintance from Kazakhstan who I knew several years ago in Almaty. Last week she informed me that her grandparents were from Belarussia, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland. They had undergone much heartache with the purges under Stalin. In no uncertain terms she told me that the Russians suffered under Stalin as well. I knew that.

She was responding to one of my posts on Facebook about the Ukrainian Holodomor. I guess she was warning me a week ago that I was offending her because she thought I was blaming the Russians for what is currently going on in Crimea. I told her I was very careful to NOT say that the Russians are attacking Ukraine but rather Putin is. He, in turn, expects people to follow his orders so those in the army, who happen to be Russian, are invading Crimea and eventually Ukraine. (I have an adopted Russian nephew whom I love dearly and I realize all Russians are living under some tragic circumstances, not of their own doing!)

I am careful to not blame the Russians because I realize they have been brainwashed about what really happened on Maidan. I was not there at Maidan, but I believe video clips and eye witness accounts from my friends who were there on the ground are reliable. Russia Today (RT) is not credible. That is why one American journalist, Elizabeth Wahl, had to quit. She had to step down because she admitted there was a lot of hatred being vented toward Americans. It continues to foment, unabated.

For Putin, it is all about hatred of the U.S. and other western nations. That is what he is broadcasting to his own people, believing there are Russians trapped in the former Soviet countries. He still has the Soviet Union mentality when it was a “super power.” I believe his own country is about to implode, economically and emotionally. His own people are not happy with the way things are going. Indeed, some are satisfied with Putin. In fact, they are very proud of the Russians’ records at the latest winter Olympics. However, talk to the people who lived next to all that construction in Sochi. I’m wondering if those construction workers who helped build all the opulent buildings for the Olympics were actually paid. I believe they were slaves who HAD to do this for Putin’s own ego.

In my devotional yesterday I came across several verses that applied to Putin from Psalms 33:16-19:
“No king is saved by the multitude of an army. A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety, neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him. On those who hope in His mercy to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.”

Yes, the Ukrainians have the famine of 1932-33 deeply ingrained in their very being. Those who survived told their families about it. They do NOT trust anything coming out of Moscow because of what happened last time. So, due to Russian politics, I have been unfriended on Facebook. I will be praying for this individual who is feeling hurt because she is probably misunderstood and feeling ostracized by other westerns where she is living in Turkey. (I’d hate to be living in Turkey next year, because of what the young Turks did to the Armenians in 1915, but that is another tragedy.)

Here is what my friend wrote to me: Sorry, I am writing you a personal message – not on your wall, just to let you know that I am unfriending you and blocking on top of it. I don’t really believe you know what God is – this is your personal opinion. Instead of living and being friends you are spreading messages of hate. You and people like you splitting others. All the best.”

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Lost Malaysian Jet and Humpty Dumpty Politics

Let the mourning begin. The closure can now happen for all those families whose loved ones perished in the Indian Ocean with the Malaysian airliner tragedy. I can’t even begin to know or understand what the family members went through with the misinformation that was thrown their way. Twenty-six countries were involved in the search and rescue and maybe that is what muddled things in the first place due to language and cultural barriers. They were trying to use the latest in technology and pinning the blame on the pilot. I have a difficult time believing that a pilot would willfully take down hundreds of people on a suicide mission. Once they find the jet’s black box and the bodies, they will know what happened. Until then, the puzzles remain.

I get many comments still on what I wrote on this blog over five years ago. I just got a comment from a Voron who is Kazakh, teaching in Malaysia. He was saddened by my misperceptions of his great country of Kazakhstan. I responded that I must have been having a bad day, week, month, well year teaching at the university in Almaty. I saw things that were over-controlled and dealing with minute details to the fraction of points on how to grade composition papers. What was most galling to me was the composition teachers would assign nearly impossible writing assignments which made it easier for them to grade but made it very difficult for students to write. If these same teachers had done their own assignments they would have found out what a crazy assignment it really was. Some of these “English” teachers could not put a sentence together in English to save their soul. I am still angry about what I went through under that system that was still very Soviet in nature.

It is true what Voron wrote that I didn’t have a chance to really know and understand what is under the surface of the Kazakh culture. I have a very high respect for Kazakhstan and what they went through in their long and troubled history. In fact, when I write about what happened in Ukraine during the Holodomor (forced starvation period of 1932-33), I cannot neglect to try and educate people that Kazakhstan went through the same devastation. You only have to read “The Silent Steppe: The Memoir of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin” by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov, published in 2006 to know what the typical Kazakh survived during the purges.

That is how this blog got its name, “Kazakhnomad,” in honor of what Mukhamet wrote out in his ten years of seeing what Stalin was doing to his country and how it affected his family. Right now, the focus is on Ukraine and what Putin will do next. I would hazard to guess that Kazakhstan is very vulnerable right now in the northern area of Kazakhstan because Putin would use the same logic of saying that he needs to protect the Russian speakers from the Kazakhs. No different than what he is saying about going into eastern Ukraine to protect those of Russian ethnicity. I saw a joke something to the effect of a Russian in eastern Ukraine not speaking Russian anymore. How come? Well, he didn’t want Putin to come and save him from the Ukrainians. The Russians in Ukraine have more freedom than the Russians in Russia. Eventually what Putin is trying to do may implode on him. While all his troops are off to Estonia or Moldova, he will have unrest in his own capital.

For now, we just wait and see and try to puzzle out what remains of the former Soviet Union that Putin is trying to put back together. Probably no different than when the experts finally find the big pieces of the Malaysian jetliner. Only thing is that Putin is really Humpty Dumpty and “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

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