Friday, May 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday come on a Friday this week

1. I am thankful I am old enough to have enjoyed the source of the above reference.

2. The dogs got their annual haircut.  I comb them out for about a week first to remove the masses of fine insulating hair that grows in outdoor dogs.  Then Tanya wields the scissors.  Not fancy but a lot cooler. Volk flops down on the table and doesn't move.  Bobik sits or stands.  If we want him down we have to throw and hold him like a calf.  It all grows back by fall.


2. The garden is growing rapidly.  Tanya has already frozen huge amounts of fresh dill for soups and salads next winter and given away bags full.  That is why the corn and watermelon look weed free.  Next year Tanya says she will put in two more sprinkler hoses so they are 2.5 meters apart which she says is optimum.

Corn in the top left, strawberries front and centre

Watermelon in back, tomatoes front right

Vegetable garden

3. Work is progressing slowly but surely and well done too.  The new gates may be finished tomorrow.  Andrei has figured out the Weed Whip and our "lawns" are looking more like they should.

Bunch grass does not for a filled in lawn make

4. For Euro 2012, Ukraine bought several Hyundai passenger trains, two of which made the paired runs morning and evening between Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk.  Until they were all pulled for repair work under warranty.  We need to go to Kyiv on June 7 in the evening to catch the early morning plane but could not get information nor tickets.  Wednesday they announced that Kyiv-Dnipropetrovsk Hyundai service would be resuming June 1 and we now have our tickets.  So we don't have to take the morning train and kill 12 hours.

5. My good office chair is repaired and useable.  The man welding the gate frames welded the two broken legs for me.  Now if I can find new castor wheels, it is like new again.  The downside of a comfortable chair is that I fall asleep at the computer.

Google Autofill: I am thankful every hour of every day for Tanya.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ukraine - three days into a new chance to succeed.

Proroshenko is not wasting any time as there is none to waste. He told Putin that as far s Yanukovych being the legitimate president of Ukraine that no one had asked Putin or any other Russian to interpret the Ukrainian constitution.  And our Foreign Minister in response to Russian (Putin and Lavrov) continuous calls to "cease the violence in eastern Ukraine" suggested that they could blow that idea out the orifice of their choice and sent a protest note regarding Russian Border Service continually allowing heavily armed Russian terrorists to cross the Ukrainian border.  Their response: We didn't see anybody.

Proroshenko has also doubled down on the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). Pro-Russian terrorists made the mistake of getting separated from their civilian shields by capturing the Donetsk Prokofiev International Airport (rebuilt for Euro 2012).  The Ukrainian army blasted them out of there in a hurry, killing as many as 45, destroying an open truck load of terrorists on their way to reinforce their bandit brothers (Ukrainian version) or a closed truck with a Red Cross loaded with wounded on their way to the hospital (Russian version).

The Ukrainian military also wiped out a terrorist training camp in Luhansk, just a few hundred meters from the Russian border and potentially covered by Russian anti-aircraft guns and missiles.

Since the ATO has been as careful as possible about civilian deaths, the Kremlin backed terrorists are helping them, randomly shelling homes with mortar fire and randomly shooting civilians to create footage for Russian TV which can then be blamed on the fascist Ukrainian army.

Russian propaganda may have to look for a new theme, at least outside of Russia.  As the picture below illustrates, the Far Right did not do well in the Ukrainian election while in many European countries it took 20% to 25% of the popular vote for the European Union Parliament.  The European Nationalist Parties are very scary people who solidly support Putin's Russia, where Right Wing Nationalists actually are the government.  Timothy Snyder writes that Ukraine might be the solution to Europe's fascist problem.

Britain's UKIP took 27%, I believe.
Meanwhile back in the USSR...I mean Russia, they have banned a film about Stalin's deportation of the entire Chechen nation in 1944 on the grounds that it is "anti-Russian and a falsification of history".  Meaning it tells the truth, I suppose.

The West has put travel bans on a handful of Oligarchs but Putin has banned international travel for as many as 5 million Russians and the number may continue to increase.

Ukraine's problems are not going away any time soon as "The Survey Says"...  A recent Pew Research Center poll in Russia shows that 61 percent of Russian citizens think that parts of neighboring countries rightfully belong to the Russian Federation.  And Paul Goble, quoting historian Yuri Felshtinsky, “Putin’s Ukrainian complex can be compared only with Stalin’s Polish complex and Hitler’s Jewish complex.”

The sad legacy of all this is that Ukrainians seem to becoming infected with "Russian Disease", of “intolerance, aggression, militarism and chauvinism” in response to Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk.  I need to watch myself in this regard.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ukraine - Election

With 80% of the votes counted, Proroshenko maintains 54% of the vote, enough that a second round need not be held June 15.  This is a relief to everyone.  Turnout was reported at 60% which when adjusted for Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk worked out to 70% of those registered and able to vote. The election was given a clean bill of health by the international observers who said that the only real problems were the ones everyone knew about ie the terrorists in the east.

An attempt at hacking the Election Commission computer system and inserting a virus which would declare Right Sector(1) Candidate Yarosh to have won with 37% of the votes (requiring a run off ) was foiled only 40 minutes before Russian television went on the air and announced it.

Proroshenko is the best of a not a lot of choice.  Hopefully the desperate situation the country is in will force him to continue on the road to reform, though it will not be easy.  Here is what has been accomplished in the past three months.

Cleaning up the terrorists in the east will not be easy.  There are a lot of experienced fighters from Chechnya coming across the border and a great deal of heavy armaments and equipment.  Those of us who are arm-chair generals need to heed the following articles, Here and here, one of which starts Ukraine has the army it has. Which is to say Ukraine can only work with what it has.  Yesterday the SBU seized a few crates of arms headed for Mariupol which will come in handy for the army.

I have not seen a statement yet from Putin whether or not Russia will recognize the new president/government.  Putin was quoted yesterday as saying Ukraine could have votes on anything they wished but Yanukovych was still the legal president of Ukraine.  Of course Putin is also quoted as saying that Russia is practicality giving their gas to Ukraine and that the use of force to seize Crimea was justified as Ukraine's actions threatened them. Them who?  Crimeans or Russians?  Putin does seem to live in alternate universes.

Some links to other interesting stuff:
The video below was milked to death by Russian propagandists to prove how terrible the Nazi's were that took over the government.  The tall guy is the Oblast prosecutor in Zhytomyr and the heavy guy is a thug with Right Sector.  When I was sent this link as "proof" I was a bit skeptical as under Yanukovych the prosecutors were the most venal of all civil servants as they decide who gets investigated for everything including tax evasion and were all appointed from Yanukovych Party of not all from Donetsk.

That the heavyset guy is a thug was not in question as he was involved in criminal activity and since died in a hail of bullets in a legit police raid BUT there is always more to a story.

In an interview with the 2IC of Right Sector the interviewer asks about the story and here is the response:
In fact, Muzychko saved the life of this prosecutor. The latter released the man and put a brake on the case of the murdered woman. Armed people who gathered wanted to burn this prosecutor’s office together with him. Muzychko volunteered to stop the conflict and went to the prosecutor. If he had brought flowers to the prosecutor, people would have torn both of them. Thus, he settled the conflict. People were satisfied and the prosecutor re-opened the case.

Besides the fascist, Nazi stuff the Russians also wore out the record that Kyiv was prohibiting the speaking of Russian.  This link describes the law that was repealed though the repeal was vetoed. Since nobody ever read it everyone was quite prepared to believe that the law gave Russian special status.  Since it was about 18 minority languages and even under Yanukovych it was never implemented, there was a great deal of anxiety about nothing.  (sounds like the ACA).

Anyone interested in a little history of Crimea might find this of value - it is an article describing the construction of the canal from the Dnipro River that brings water to almost all of Crimea. The construction of this canal was one of the reasons Crimea was transferred to Ukraine in 1954.

(1) Note: The Right Sector is a Ukrainian nationalist organization that is repeatedly cited by Russian media as typical of the supposed “fascist” nature of Ukraine’s pro-Western forces.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Or as dey say in Park Valley and MINNeSOta, T'ankful T'ursday.

Our granddaughter Masha will be 12 in August
 1. I am thankful for Masha's love of and ability to dance and that she took first place in the regional competitions again. She has milked Turkish dancing for four Firsts in the past two years and I think it is time to retire the routine.
Irrigation for Tanya's vegetable garden
 2. I am thankful for irrigation for Tanya's flowers and kitchen garden.  With low water pressure we could not automate watering and she had to stand there for hours making sure everything was watered.  Now she can control it all by turning a few valves.

Our masonry chimney showing a crack down the centre.
 3. I am thankful we found we needed to replace our chimney before it fell apart in the middle of winter.  We had winter chimney problems a few years back and it is no fun to be without heat or for Yuri who had to climb on our roof and add a long section of pipe.

Iris and Lily in glorious colour
 4. I am thankful for Tanya's love of flowers and her ability to make our yard so beautiful all summer long from April to October.  I am so proud of our yard and it is all her doing.

Photo bombing the Iris patch
5. I am thankful Tanya still loves me and hasn't murdered me yet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Happy Campers

Tanya has a fancy new tap on the sink in the downstairs bathroom.  The increased water pressure proved too much for the old one.  My shower this morning was not quite enough to peel the skin off but oh, what a feeling.

The most important wonderful thing of all today was laying sprinkler hoses in Tanya's flower gardens and in her kitchen garden.  She now has a regular irrigation system in the important half of her garden.  The corn and watermelon can look after itself between rains but everything else can be watered at the turn of a tap.  She is so happy.  And when Tanya is happy, I am happy.

Of course, the unexpected always should be expected.  Removing the cracked and breaking parging on the masonry chimney revealed that we in fact need a whole new chimney.  Not sure what the local brand of Selkirk chimney is but that is what we are getting.

Since there is a crew working in the dogs' yard getting ready to pour cement, the dogs spend the day tied up in Babushka's yard in the tall grass and trees.  The gates are closed when the guys go home and the dogs go back in their yard for the night.  Except tonight I forgot to close the door at the other end and when I let them off their leashes they promptly ran out the back to freedom.  It was short lived as they cycled through the house yard once too often when I went after them and Andrei and Tanya each grabbed one.

We got a quote on high quality plastic gutters (eavestroughing) today and it was about $500.  I have no idea if it is good or bad but at least the rain will not drip off the roof all along the edge of the house anymore.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Home Improvement

No sooner said than started.  We have two crews here today.  The first crew has chopped out the old asphalt floor in the room in the outbuilding where the dogs' little hut is in winter and are preparing it for concrete.  They will also pour 1 meter wide of new concrete along the north edge of the house, slopping away to carry water away from the foundation. We will do the other three sides this fall.

Trucks have been here with cement, sand and gravel and hauling away the used asphalt to be recycled.  The crew have also cleared all the junk out of another outbuilding room room and stacked firewood there from all the trees we cut down.

The second crew is working on fixing out water supply.  We have had no decent water pressure since we moved in her 7 years ago and a new neighbourhood line was put in along the street at the same time.  Today we found out why.  Down in the bottom of our sump hole, where the line comes in from the street was an ancient rusted tap.  It had no obvious handle and appeared to be just a fitting.  Our plumber who is sized right to get down into the sump and work found it to be a tap which was partially closed.  None of the previous guys we had her to look at it could solve the problem.

Now we have water pressure.  We can flush a toilet and still wash our hands. Now Tanya can use sprinkler systems to water her garden and not have to stand there for hours.

In the mean time, Tanya, Sveta and I were busy cleaning out the attic storeroom, in preparation for when the roof comes off.  Mostly it involved sorting and throwing away.  Many of the books of Tanya's boys hit the pile.  As Tanya said, her grandchildren (or others) won't be reading them.  Sveta saved a few dozen though.  I went through all my beef files and emptied one shelf of all my binders full of course material, and one shelf of magazine storage boxes full of brochures, reprints, photocopies and publications.  It was not easy but it was necessary.  Anything I need now I can find on the internet or in my own computer files.

Tomorrow should finish it.  Garbage is loaded into nylon mesh sacks and when the roof comes off, they will be lowered outside.  Suitcases and boxes full of everything imaginable are stacked in the spare bedroom upstairs.

We had two nice little rains Sunday and Monday nights.  Last night's rain was accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning.  The three cats (Vovochka seems to be permanent) sat on the table on the front landing and were enjoying the show until Tanya made them come in the house.  Everything is green so I took a few more pictures.

One quarter of Tanya's kitchen garden. 
Old Bubushka's yard next to us

I love these tiny perfect flowers

These little guys are so tough they bloom 12 month of the year

The front flowerbed, yellow iris nearly done, fancy iris just starting 
I love poppies so I am allowed one (and only one).

Monday, May 19, 2014

No matter how you pronounce it, it is expensive

The other day I made a list of things that needed to be done around our place and ran it past Tanya, suggesting Andrei could organize crews as necessary.  One of the things on the list was a new roof on the house as this one is at least 25 years old.  Andrei's contractor friend, also Andrey, came out that evening to have a look.  Andrey climbed up on the north side and took a bunch of pictures.  I wish I had them.  The roof was in terrible condition with cracks and broken pieces all over it.

Asbestos roof on our outbuilding
In Soviet times, roofing was corrugated grey asbestos sheeting, maybe 10 mm thick.  Every house and cottage had the same dull grey look with added dirt accumulated over the years. Our roof  was no different.  Our house has steel rafters 1.5 meters on centre, with wooden strapping to which the asbestos sheeting was spiked.  I have no idea what is in the  attic for insulation.

So we looked at roofing options.  Andrey recommended Onduline which has been used here in Ukraine for about 10 years.  It has a 15 year guarantee.  For our 180 sq metre roof it would run about $5,000 including new strapping, insulation, gutters (eavestroughing) and labour.  It does not have a smooth finish, more like the asbestos but comes in several colours.  There are several examples in town which I looked at.

Second option was metal which is slightly more money but not enough to worry.  It looks good on the roofs we saw including our neighbour's.  But it was very flimsy; nothing like I was expecting which was like the metal cladding on a machine shed.  14 year guarantee.  And noisy in a rainstorm.

This morning we looked up Onduline problems on the internet in both English and Russian and it was not good news.  The 15 year guarantee was for water leakage only.  There were problems with colour running, and every other bad thing you could think of.

My personal preference was to put a proper Canadian roof on it - OSB sheeting, and asphalt shingles.  Andrei and Andrey showed up this afternoon and priced that out for us at roughly $10,000 (which had been my ballpark estimate a couple years ago).  Long conversations back and forth including new asbestos sheeting.  that is out as the stuff they make now is thin crap.

So it was back to Onduline for a couple minutes but Tanya never did like it so I guess it is metal after all.  The 14 year guarantee is at least a guarantee.  Tanya has more experience as a general contractor than I have.  She built the house in the first place and also oversaw the renovations we did 7 years ago.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ukraine - Next Sunday (25th) is Election Day

This coming week is going to be real interesting to see how Putin intends to derail the election slated for the 25th.  The interim government in Kyiv has been counting on this to give them the legitimacy they lack, having had to appoint an acting president and cabinet in February.  Once they have an elected president who then appoints his or her cabinet Putin and Lavrov lose one of their pressure points.

The terrorists in Luhansk and Donetsk have said there will be no presidential elections held there which will give Russia all the excuse it needs to not recognize it.  Putin is a tactician which is to say he can adjust tactics to changing conditions.

So far none of the probable scenarios have worked out.  There has been no support for the Pro-Russian separatist terrorists (they have now been legally named as such by Kyiv) in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiyev or Odessa in spite of attempts to stir things up which in Odessa culminated in the deaths of over 40 people on May 2.

There has been no slaughter of the innocents, in spite of all the foaming at the mouth of Russian media so no excuse other than blatant aggression for an invasion.  The anti-terrorist operation (ATO) lost at least 24 soldiers, no count on the terrorists killed, but they don't seem to make any headway in clearing out the viper's nests.

After the phony referendum last Sunday, the "Leader" of the DPR thugs and gunmen called on Putin to invade and save them but no one moved.  I wonder if they feel abandoned or do they know what comes next?  The extreme right neo-Nazi groups in Russia are advertising on social media for "volunteers" to fight in Ukraine.

A militia group, trained and financed in Dnipropetrovsk was headed to Mariupol when Akhmetov suddenly came to life and sent some of his 250,000 employees in coal and steel to clean out the city of pro-Russians and maintain the peace.  He signed an agreement with the city and as I understand it with the "Donbass People's Republic(1)" as well.  No one knows which side he is on but everyone knows he will look out for himself.

He can control his employees but not the Dnipropetrovsk militia so he figured to preempt them, I guess.  His future depends on staying part of Ukraine.  The Donbass, like Crimea, is a net drain on Ukrainian finances even when on the up and up.  The coal mines and steel mills need huge subsidies to stay in business.  Across the border in Russia all but three of the underground coal mines have been shut down as Russia relies on open pit mines now and the last thing the Russians there want is for Luhansk and Donetsk to join Russia.

The ultimate goal is the "federalization" of Ukraine which would allow Russia to derail any movement towards the EU or NATO and allow the mob to continue to control their territory.  The result would be essentially two Ukraines, east and west.  One can also be certain that the destabilization activities would move into other Oblasts.  Decentralization, yes, but federalization, especially as proposed by Russia, absolutely NOT>

The interim government has begun a series of round-table talks on the future of Ukraine but it seems hard to find actual leaders who speak for people from the southeast that will talk.  Obviously the terrorists have no intention of talking; their role is to disrupt.  Actually things never really heated up until Kyiv offered to meet with and discuss language and other issues with the south east (or east, whatever you want to call it) of Ukraine.  that was when gunmen and thugs started terrorizing the place, to make sure that the talks could not take place in a constructive atmosphere.

You may have heard that some of the Russian military on the other side of the border is decked out in UN peacekeeping colours.  This may seem a bit presumptive on their part, don't you think?  Anyhow, to counter it, they claim that a Ukrainian helicopter in UN colours participated in an attack on Sloviansk, complete with a video on YouTube with the commanding officer giving a speech, all intermingled with footage of the Sloviansk action.  It seems the video of helicopter and speech were from a Ukrainian peacekeeping mission in Africa (Congo?) TWO years ago.   You can be certain that information will never find its way behind the Iron Information Curtain.

(1) Have you ever noticed that any place named People's Republic is anything but?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Moscow Hijacked the History of Kyivian Rus

How Moscow Hijacked the History of Kyivan Rus

(This essay was first published in a collection by Yaroslav Dashkevych, PhD. History, “Learn to Speak the Truth with Non-Lying Lips” – K:Tempora, 2011, 828pp)
In creating their nation, Ukrainians need to examine and analyze their own history, based on truth, verified facts and historical events. For centuries under the rule of conquerors, Ukrainians were basically deprived of the opportunity to influence the formation of national awareness and the the development of their history, with the result that Ukraine’s history was composed predominantly to the advantage of their conquerors. Especially troublesome is the question of the pretensions and demands of Moscow, and later Russia, concerning the the historical legacy of Kyivan Rus.
In his historical work “The Land of Moksel or Moskovia” (Olena Teliha Publishing House, Kyiv 2008, 2009, 3 vol.) V. Bilinsky presents historical sources (predominantly Russian) which testify to the total misrepresentation of the history of the Russian Empire, which was geared to create a historical mythology about Moscow and Kyivan Rus sharing common common historical roots, and that Moscow possesses “succession rights” to Kyivan Rus.
Moscow’s outright fraud that appropriated the past of the Great Kyiv kingdom and its people dealt a severe blow to the Ukrainian ethos. Our obligation now is to utilize hard facts to uncover the lies and amorality of Moscovian mythology.
Let’s examine these problems.
Continue reading here:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ukraine - Reading list.

Well, I was close.  Donetsk claims 81% turn out and 90% in favour while Luhansk claims 75% turnout and 94 to 98% in favour of whatever the terrorists say the question meant.  And Lavrov says that all foreign embassies in Ukraine should base their reports on what they see on Russian TV. Right.

Russia has already announced they accept the results of the "referendum" and recognized the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The referendum is supposed to be a sham and a lie as is everything that has happened in Ukraine since Russian troops began to take over Crimea.  The in-your-face obviousness is simply a taunt to EU and America to do something is they dare.  In the mean time the folks at home lap it up.

EU has added some more sanctions today but nothing too serious, I think.

For your reading pleasure:

The ideologist behind Eurasianism.

We were warned 6 years ago:

Self explanatory:

Several by historian Timothy Snyder.  Understanding what is happening in a historical context

If you read nothing else, please read this one by Timothy Snyder:

A very funny read of Russian history though if you red some of the comments, apparently the are those with no sense of humour who do not think it funny.

Russian History Is onOur Side: Putin Will Surely Screw Himself

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ukraine - "Referendum" Day in Luhansk and Donetsk-

The "referendum" in Luhansk and Donetsk is going ahead today as Putin knew it would.  His advice to "postpone" it was so much plausible deniability.  The troops he "ordered pulled back" have not moved.  He thinks now the Presidential election set for May 25th is a good thing and should go ahead which means he has an ace up his sleeve.

One good thing, it no longer appears to be an invasion.  Those of us who predicted it are quite pleased we are wrong.  It could still be triggered by a huge increase in violence if the civil war he started gets out of control.  The forces near the border are now carrying UN Peacekeeping insignia.  As if.  Without a UN Security Council resolution, Ukraine will treat them as an invading army and act accordingly.

He is now caught between a rock and a hard place as western sanctions will come down like a ton of bricks if he does and the ultra nationalism he has been encouraging for the past couple of years will attack him for betraying the very people he claimed to have started all this to protect.

There should be a pool for guessing the results of the "referendum" as Ukrainian Security Forces stopped a vehicle with 100,000 pre-marked ballots all for the  YES side.  Since the ballots are being run off on a photocopier, it just seemed simpler this way, I guess.  Instructions are to pick a number and run with it. (YouTube) The Kremlin's instructions concerning the Referendum in Donetsk

At any rate it was certainly done on the cheap.  According to Kyiv Post The slapdash referendum was coordinated solely by volunteers with no prior experience and cost a mere $1,600, according to vote organizers. Nearly $700 of that money went to toner for printers used to create more than three million ballots, they said.

Hard to say how the actual turnout will be as killings, abductions and beatings continue to terrorize the Oblasts. This site HERE has a current list.  You can get your car windows all smashed just for having a small Ukrainian flag on display. Anyone who is pro-Kyiv stands to be "dealt with" by the terrorists. A pro-Kyiv presidential candidate has been abducted; whereabouts unknown so far.

 The voting list is two years old, not that it matters, you can vote in any polling station you like, including all of them.  Schools were taken over at gunpoint to use as polling stations.  There are no international observers, not even extreme rightists as in Crimea.  Journalists have been chased out of polling stations at gun point.

Terrorists report high turnout in Luhansk 65% by noon; journalists say that in Luhansk turnout is very low, maybe 30% and the acting governor says  people are against the referendum but afraid to come out. Lineups in Donbass are huge as there are insufficient polling booths 1:100,000 instead of 1:2000 in some of the cities.

What do you think?  83% turn out and 97% in favour sounds reasonable.  After all it worked last time.  Stay tuned.

Update to a previous blog - if you have seen or heard anything about a pregnant woman murdered in the Odessa fire on May 2, ignore it. There was no pregnant woman in the building, even though the article with all the gruesome pictures showed one claiming to be someone cleaning the building at the time of the fire. The picture was fake.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Corollaries to Murphy's Law

My thanks to Ken McDonald for these.

  1.Law of Mechanical Repair
 - After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to pee.

Law of Gravity
- Any tool, nut, bolt, screw, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible place in the universe.

Law of Probability
The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

Law of Random Numbers
If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal; someone always answers.

5.Variation Law -
If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now.

Law of the Bath
- When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone will ring.

Law of Close Encounters
The probability of meeting someone you know INCREASES dramatically when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of the Result
When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, IT WILL!!!

Law of Biomechanics 
The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

10.Law of the Theater & Hockey Arena
At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle, always arrive last. They are the ones who will leave their seats several times to go for food, beer, or the toilet and who leave early before the end of the performance or the game is over. The folks in the aisle seats come early, never move once, have long gangly legs or big bellies and stay to the bitter end of the performance. The aisle people also are very surly folk.

The Coffee Law
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy's Law of Lockers
If there are only 2 people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Physical Surfaces
The chances of an open- faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet or rug.

Law of Logical Argument
Anything is possible, IF you don't know what you are talking about.

 Law of Physical Appearance
If the clothes fit, they're ugly.

Law of Public Speaking

Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy
As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it OR the store will stop selling it!

Doctors' Law -
If you don't feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there, you'll feel better. But don't make an appointment and you'll stay sick.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ukraine - Moscow says Crimean Referendum was a Fraud

From the "We Knew It All The Time" department.  It is now official.  The leader of the Crimean Tatars had previously said that he knew from his sources that the FSB had reported to Moscow a 34% turnout.  I am not sure where the 123% turnout in Sevastopol came from but it sounds typical.

Vladimir Putin’s own "Council on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights" has confirmed that the turnout for the so-called “referendum” on the Crimea’s status was much lower than reported, and the results also far less overwhelmingly in favour of joining Russia. The website in Russian is HERE

While the official results of the referendum were 83.1% turnout with 96.77 in favour of joining Russia, the actual results as reported on the front page of the
Council's official website (briefly before being moved WAY to the back) were quite different.

According to Halya Koynash, the report finds that while the overwhelming majority of residents of Sevastopol voted for joining Russian (turnout of 50-80%), the turnout for all of Crimea was from 30-50% and only 50-60% of those voted for joining Russia.  The authors also noted that Crimean residents voted less for joining Russia, than for what they called an end to corrupt lawlessness and thieving rule of people brought in from Donetsk (where Viktor Yanukovych and most of his people were from).  It was only in Sevastopol, they say, that people genuinely voted for joining Russia.  They add that the fear of “illegal armed formations” was higher in Sevastopol than in other regions of Crimea. 

This discrepancy mars still further the already questionable reputation of those members of far-right and neo-Stalinist parties whom Russia invited to “observe” the event.  None found anything untoward about the running of the vote or the alleged result.

Her report goes on to list many of the problems identified by the council that the citizens of Crimea are now facing as a result of the annexation.  The confusion is simply horrendous and while Putin makes promises in Moscow the local government is in many cases doing the exact opposite.

This article Svetlana Gannushkina:Notes of a Russian Human Rights Defender in Crimea provides in great detail the problems faced by Crimeans.  She returned from Crimea to Moscow on 19 April. She had been there with Olga Tseitlina, our lawyer at the Migration and Law Network based in St Petersburg, Zhenya Bobrov and also Andrei Yurov, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council (an organization of which she once was a member).  Her article tells of her experience there, what she saw, and people she spoke with.

Monday, May 5, 2014

But Life Goes On

It rained last night.  Today the green of the earth stands out against the black of the soil.  There are a few blooms in Tanya's garden though the tulips, daffodils and lace peonies are pretty well done.  The rose bushes are starting to grow; we lost all the climbing roses last winter and they are coming from the roots now. The petunias and geraniums are all transplanted.  Sunday saw a few more flowers added in, purchased at the local market.

The kitchen garden is looking wonderful.  Better than last year.  Potato bugs finished off some tomatoes but they have been replaced and all sprayed. Corn, cucs, melons and squash are all up too.

The tulip pictures are from April 23.  They sort of inserted themselves where they felt like it.  Tanya took the pictures...hmmmm...

Bonya walks the line
Tulips from two weeks ago

Tigritsa stalks something in the grass
Grey skies; green fields
Neighbour's potato patch front centre

Front flower bed - lots of greenery anyhow

Front flowerbed exactly opposite above picture 

Side flower bed from the street

Side flowerbed from the back

Our lawn needs cutting, when it dries up, maybe tomorrow

Kitchen garden, main veggies
Flowers from a couple weeks ago

All vines in the back corner
Tulips from a couple weeks ago
All corn in the top centre

Ukraine - Propaganda War

The anti-Ukraine Russian led militants have their martyrs.  The exact details of who did what to whom that led to the deaths of the 30 odd people inside the Trade Union Centre are irrelevant. The anti-Ukraine side are spinning it that the victims were forced inside by the Kyiv led fascists and who then set the building on fire.  This is the version that Russian propaganda will milk and "We will not forget Odessa" will be the "Remember the Alamo" of the terrorists.

The conduct of the Odessa police is certainly called into question.  They were "in-conference" for two hours after the pro-Russian thugs attacked the football fans on their march.  This site has a video showing the riot police protecting the pro-Russian side while from behind them one of the militants is using a Kalashnikov.  It also gives yet another version of events.

Yesterday, a pro-Russian crowd of 1000 to 3000 (depending who you read) attacked the police station forcing the release of prisoners taken after the fight. They were to have been transferred to Kyiv but prosecutor reportedly stopped it.   42 prisoners had been transferred and were not released.

The anti-terrorist operation in the east also seems to have ground to a halt. Dmitry Tymchuk's military blog is a good assessment of what is wrong in all of Kyiv's attempts to maintain control of the situation in Ukraine - lack of leadership in the military, mixed loyalties on the part of the police and total infiltration of all levels of law enforcement by Russian sympathizers.

Considering that until February 20, Ukraine was in many ways under Russian influence, it is understandable impossible to sort out and create a loyal, non-corrupt  law enforcement and judiciary overnight.

Russia appears to be winning not only the war on the ground but more importantly the propaganda war.  They have had quite a number of years advantage in this regard, including 70 years experience in the Soviet system.  Putin controls virtually all media in Russia and new laws mean that the internet is now included.  The Great Firewall of China has become the Iron Curtain of Russia.

Countries with Russian speaking minorities made a gave mistake at independence in not establishing Russian language TV channels. They were so focused on re-establishing their own language after decades of repression that they forgot about the speakers of the colonizer's language.  Russia did not forget about them and Russian TV channels freely available in all of the former USSR and Warsaw pact countries.  Since these were the same channels that Russian speakers were used to, they continued to watch them.

Russia has used this fact with great effect to sow discord and dissatisfaction among ethnic Russians who found themselves on the "wrong side of the border".  In the Baltics and eastern Ukraine they have been constantly telling ethnic Russians how hard done by they are by the governments of the countries in which they live.  And many of them are quite receptive to this.

They are like the Texan with the inferiority complex who didn't think he was any better than anyone else.  The ethnic Russians are finding out that they are no better than anyone else and consider it to be discrimination.  They used to be in charge; their language and the Russian version of history used to be official.  No longer and they are bitter.  (Think about white males in America).

Part of the problem in eastern Ukraine is that they no longer run the country.  Under Yanukovych all cabinet ministers were from eastern or central Ukraine, including 10 from Donetsk, none from western Ukraine.  (They may have been criminals and they may have robbed the East worst of all but they were THEIR criminals). Today the situation is reversed.  Cabinet ministers are all from western or central Ukraine, including 10 from L'viv with none from eastern Ukraine. WELL!!!!

Anyone familiar with the garbage spewed by both left and right wing media in America and Canada which is eagerly gobbled up by the true believers should not be shocked to learn that people actually believe the stuff on Russian TV.

The Fascist regime in Kyiv is building concentration camps in eastern Ukraine for ethnic Russians and anyone opposing their government.  This from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
"We are deeply concerned about the information spread by mass media about the construction of large temporary detention centres for thousands of persons in Ukraine, supposedly for illegal immigrants. Ukraine does not have that many illegal immigrants, while the buildings being construct, according to mass media, remind of Nazi concentration camps. It pushes to question if the Kyiv regime is going to use them for locking up the dissenting people of South East Ukraine".

Ukraine has actually been forced to rebut it though of course that doesn't cut much ice with those who believe they are building "death camps".

"The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship consider it necessary to officially clarify that in September 2009 Ukraine and EU started a collaborative project «Re-admit », which involves construction of two temporary detention centres for illegal immigrants — in Donetsk and Mykolayiv Regions. Each of the centres will be able to host up to 100 illegal immigrants at a time. Currently the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has two facilities to host illegal immigrants: in Volyn and Chernihiv Regions. These facilities can host up to 165 and 208 persons and are situated near western and northern borders of Ukraine Construction of similar centres in Donetsk and Mykolayiv Regions will allow reducing the cost of delivering the illegal immigrants caught in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine to the detention facilities. It should also be noted that these facilities are only for aliens and stateless persons who broke migration laws and are subjects to compulsory deportation from Ukraine."

For other goofy things swallowed whole in eastern Ukraine read HERE.

Do not read this if extremely gruesome pictures bother you.  This is how the fire in Odessa is being spun by Russian propaganda.  If you only see Russian, there is a link at the top to English as well.  There must be an independent investigation.