Monday, March 2, 2009

Love bliss in Siberia after 60 years of separation

After sixty years apart a former Red Army soldier tracked down his wartime German sweetheart. It was love at first sight when they met in 1945 in Germany, but the aftermath of the war meant it was not to be.

Their love traveled across enemy lines and survived sixty years of separation, and they tied the knot last year in their eighties.

[ ... ]

They say they fell in love at first sight, despite disapproval from both sides.

Inevitably, Ivan was soon ordered to return to Siberia. On the train back he opened a letter from Liza, which told him she was expecting his child.

Their daughter was stillborn. They wrote for years, until the KGB instructed Ivan to stop.

Both Liza and Ivan eventually got married to different partners, but they were never truly happy.

After years of fruitless searching, Ivan eventually tracked Liza down in 2005. Three years later they wed.

~ more... ~

Also see Wartime lovers reunited in Russia

Latvians stage shoe-throwing protest

From Russia Today

Residents of the Latvian city of Daugavpils have thrown shoes at a photo of the country's parliament, the Saeima, in protest against the inefficient economic policy of the government and the local authorities.

The shoe-throwing rally, staged by the non-governmental organisation “Movement for City Development”, took place on Saturday, February 21. Around 400 people took part in the rally.

The organisers also urged the participants to throw snowballs at photos of local deputies and the city's mayor. An unpopularity rating was then made up based on the number of snowballs this or that deputy has merited.

With 100,000 population, Daugavpils is the second-largest city in Latvia.

The country is now suffering from both an economic and political crisis. In the fourth quarter of 2008 alone Latvia's GDP fell by 10 per cent. On February 20, the prime minister, Ivar Godmanis stepped down amidst criticism of his inability to handle governmental reform.

In mid-January a mass rally in the capital Riga against the government's anti-crisis programme turned violent.

Another night of violence for Guadeloupe and Martinique?

Dennis Jacobs writes in Chicago International Travel Examiner :

Negotiators reported progress Thursday in efforts to end a 37-day-old strike that has disrupted travel to the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Violent demonstrations on both islands have forced tourists indoors and caused many would-be visitors to cancel vacation plans.

The National Travel Agencies Organization of France reports about 10,000 tourists have fled the islands due to the closure of hotels and cruise companies are altering itineraries to avoid the hot spots. Royal Caribbean liner Vision of the Seas will not make planned visits to the island on its current cruise and the Holland America ship Noordam went to Dominica last week instead of Martinique.

Wednesday, violence erupted on Martinique for the second straight night. Protestors blocked off streets with burning trash bins and crashed vehicles into stores that were then looted.

Residents of both islands have been striking over low pay and the high cost of living. They want a $250-per-month increase in the minimum wage. There were conflicting reports Thursday afternoon about a possible deal to end the strike, with the French government offering to pick up $120-$200 of the monthly increase if business owners will provide the rest.

The Collective Against Exploitation, representing strikers, reportedly advised supporters today that they had reached an agreement to end the strike, but details still had to be finalized. It's hoped the possible agreement might stave off further violence. However, islanders appear increasingly frustrated and about 500 protestors disrupted business today at an upscale grocery store on Guadeloupe.

From Guadeloupe suspect faces preliminary murder charge

PARIS (AP) — Judicial officials have filed preliminary murder charges against a 35-year-old man over the shooting death of a trade union leader during recent unrest in Guadeloupe.

Police say four other suspects face preliminary charges for criminal association and violence against police in connection with the Feb. 17 killing of Jacques Bino on the French Caribbean island.

From France's empire strikes back

Slavery still an issue

The immediate problems in Guadeloupe, which France annexed in 1674, are a result of the global economic problems. However, the influence of slavery cannot be ignored and the former colonial power is being held responsible.

France did not revoke slavery until 1848 and the residue of colonialization remains. There is great resentment at the continued power of white families. Even now, the tiny minority who make up Guadeloupe's economic elite are the descendents of slave owners. Much of the population is descended from African slaves.

This racial power structure is reflected on France's other overseas departments, where global economic problems are opening up old divisions.

Failed effort to diffuse crisis

In a bid to defuse the crisis and prevent it from spreading, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a development package of $US 730 million for France's overseas “departments”. However, strikes have spread to neighboring French islands.

A general strike continues on the expensive Caribbean island of Martinique, where there has been rioting and looting this week, underpinned by racial and class tension.

Police from the French mainland have been sent to Martinique as the violence over prices and wages continues. The island is tightly bonded to France, inhabitants rely on basic goods imported from France and sold in French-owned supermarkets at high prices.

On the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, a strike has been called for March 5. Facing similar problems as the other departments, protest groups are watching developments elsewhere. The department of French Guiana on the north-east coast of South America also has a developing protest movement.

Selling body parts to make ends meet a sign of the times

From Sandy Sand in Digital Journal

Throughout the ages, people have been doing whatever is necessary to keep body and soul together. The world has seen everything from men selling off their daughters for a few cows and sheep, to women being prostitutes. Today, it's selling body parts.

Today, the cash-strapped people who earn meager salaries, or have run out of unemployment benefits and can't find work, are literally selling parts of themselves as their only means of carrying on.

Selling body parts is not a new idea, but it's being done more and more by more people today who never dreamed of doing such things.

For years, male college student have been using the bounty of their sperm to earn money for everything from books to beer busts. More people are taking lessons from them and giving up parts of themselves to meet expenses.

Selling off one's hair, sperm, eggs, blood or participating in medical studies may be one of the ultimate signs of just how bad the economy is for many people.

“Economic times are hard now, but for me they were also hard last semester and the semester before. This is a good way where I am making money and not having to work a full-time job,” Melanie Burnett, a kinesiology (study of how the body moves) major at California State University, Northridge.

Last year Burnett earned $6,000 selling her eggs to a fertility clinic, and this spring she expects to earn a similar amount.

Fertility clinics in and around Los Angeles are reporting an up-tick in business. California Cryobank reported that during the past 18 months, donations by men are up 15 percent, and egg donations up by 25 percent.

~ more... ~

[ via Aftermath News ]

On the route to a renaissance - A town attempts a renewal on old Route 66

Bill Strubbe reports in the Boston Globe :

At first glance dusty Winslow still appears a bit hardscrabble, but it has made a remarkable comeback reclaiming some of its heyday past. Once a prominent location on both Route 66 and the transcontinental railway, and home to an airport designed by Charles Lindbergh, Winslow was northern Arizona's largest town until the 1960s. With the decline of rail travel and the advent of nonstop coast-to-coast flights, the death knell was sounded when Interstate 40 bypassed downtown in the 1970s. Winslow's shops boarded up; many residents moved on; and it became a near ghost town.

Central to Winslow's resurrection was the restoration of La Posada Hotel a stone's throw from the train tracks. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel's plight caught the attention of Allan Affeldt, a California resident who believed that if the hotel were properly restored, it could jump-start a citywide renaissance.

Showing me around the hotel, Affeldt explained that in 1928, Mary Jane Colter, the genius behind tourist facilities like Hopi House and the Lookout Tower at the Grand Canyon, was commissioned by the legendary Fred Harvey Co. to design La Posada to cater to the burgeoning tourist trade coming to admire the nearby Grand Canyon, Little Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest. Rather than another posh lodge, Colter incorporated indigenous Southwest motifs and styles to create a work of art right down to the painted-tin light fixtures and whimsical jackrabbit ashtrays.

~ more... ~

Beware of the Big Lie Bill

by Tula Connell, Feb 27, 2009

Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress made their Big Lie into a bill Wednesday, when Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) introduced the so-called Secret Ballot Protection Act.

Before we go further, let's clear up the bill's false implication right now:

The Employee Free Choice Act would not—repeat after me—would not, take away the secret ballot National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election process if workers seeking to form a union wanted to use it. The Employee Free Choice would ensure workers made the decision of whether to select a union via majority sign-up (card-check) or via ballot process. Choice is good. That's one reason why we called it Employee Free Choice—because it would enable employees, not management, to make the decision of how to form a union.

The official goal of S. 1312 is to:

amend the National Labor Relations Act to ensure the right of employees to a secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

But the real objective of the DeMint-Enzi—and, of course, the autoworker-hating senator from Tennessee, Bob Corker—crowd is to force senators to be on record in support of it before the Employee Free Choice Act is up for a vote and to get free PR for their lies.

~ more... ~

ArtWave Athens Festival

Deadline for participants to register is 22 May, 2009

Herzog on the obscenity of the jungle

Werner Herzog gives his view on the jungle of South America during the making of Fitzgeraldo.

Musical Innerlube: A Perfect Circle - 'Thinking of you'

[Warning: Contains language and images some may find disturbing]


image from

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