Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wake Up, the West is Losing...

Sarah Baxter's articleWake up, the West is losing in The Sunday Times caught my attention during my British stopover. It is a profile of David Selborne and his new book The Losing Battle with Islam. Here's a sample:
When David Selbourne flew into America recently, he had good reason to feel he had arrived in the land of the free. His new book, The Losing Battle with Islam, was featured at New York's Book Expo, the US publishing industry's trade fair last week, after it failed to find a British publisher.

One glance at the title and it is easy to see why. The Losing Battle With Islam is a blistering critique of the West's response to Muslim militancy. Publishers in London were far too pusillanimous and PC to take it on, says Selbourne indignantly. But in America, a nation with greater intellectual vigour, Prometheus Books stepped into the breach and it will be published in September.

The manuscript has already been circulating in intellectual circles in samizdat form and it may yet find a British publisher now the Americans are leading the way. But the big brush-off is a prime example of Selbourne's thesis that westerners are displaying a misplaced and muddle-headed sensitivity to Muslim feelings that is not always reciprocated.

I caught up with him in Washington, where he was meeting think-tankers, policy makers and opinion-formers. "It's a relief to talk to people who are engaged in this matter," he sighed. "This is the front line of what matters in the world." He feels the non-Muslim world is ignoring at its peril the challenge posed by a resurgent Islam.

What Good Are The Arts?

Here's a review by British novelist David Lodge of What Good Are The Arts? by John Carey, in the Sunday Times. I couldn't buy the book at Manchester Airport's Waterstone's while delayed changing planes for seven hours. But the review really makes me want to read what Carey has to say. Here's Lodge's plug:
The fact that some of the worst Nazi war criminals, including Hitler (fascinating evidence for this coming from a book by Frederick Spott), were connoisseurs of music, visual art and architecture demonstrates that high culture does not necessarily have an ennobling effect on those who appreciate it. The writer George Steiner, who wrestled long and hard with this paradox, came to the conclusion that ultimately art cannot be justified by purely secular criteria — that it is essentially a religious activity, since the artist seeks a kind of immortality through his work. Carey will have none of this: “talk of the immortality of art, in the absence of a belief in God, is childish and self- deceiving”.

I hope they put out an American edition, soon...

Khodorkovsky Convicted

The New York Times says he's been sentenced to 10 years, minus 19 months for time already served, ending in 2012.

It would certainly have been better for business if Bush had publicly pressed Putin on Khodorkovsky's case at Moscow's V-E day celebrations, perhaps with a speech at my university there--the Russian State Humanitarian University, founded by Khodorkovsky. Bush's strategy of bloviating in Latvia and Georgia, plus silence in Moscow, now seems weak and cowardly.

The thought of Khodorkovsky rotting in jail for 10 years will no doubt make investors think twice about doing business in Russia. Bush might recover this situation a litte by asking Putin to pardon Khodorkovsky, offering to admit the convicted tycoon to the USA as a political refugee. Putin could strip him of Russian citizenship, a shameful thing to proud Russians, and be rid of a political rival--yet improve the business climate by letting Khodorkovsky go.

The French "Non!"

France's vote against the European constitution may have resulted from electoral tactics on the part of the "Oui" campaign, which mailed a copy of the proposed EU constitution to every voter, accompanied by a slick PR blitz by celebrities. Its incredible length--over 200 pages--would have been enough to convince anyone to vote against it. If the EU tries this trick again, they might want to limit their revised constitution to the length of the US model, and precede the election with something like our "Federalist Papers" debate, featuring actual intellectuals arguing the pros and cons in the press, a true debate, which is what the French used to be famous for, at least when I went to college a generation ago...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Ann Coulter on Bill Moyers

Couldn't resist linking to this item at AnnCoulter.com:
As the extra little cherry on top, all Moyers' nut conspiracy theories were being broadcast on PBS, subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer. Not only that, but Moyers takes a cut of every video of his show sold, and he has family members on the payroll. Let's see now: a corrupt, partisan demagogue and his family caught feeding at the taxpayers' trough. Let's just hope he never took a free golfing trip to Scotland!

When Ken Tomlinson, chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, suggested that PBS was maybe a smidgen left of center, Moyers began his lengthy public nervous breakdown. Already well-known as an insufferable jerk, it turns out Moyers is also a crazy megalomaniac, too.

In a recent speech to the the National Conference on Media Reform -- a conference dedicated to increasing liberal representation in the media from 94.6 percent to 99.8 percent -- Moyers responded to his critics by reading from his fan mail, reading favorable news articles about himself, and comparing himself to Jesus Christ or, as he put it, 'one of our boys.' If it were possible that he actually believed in God, PBS would be doing a special report on Moyers after a remark like that.

Only thing Ann missed was a plug for my PBS book.

Special Offa: Walking the Offa's Dyke Path

Before we left on vacation some two weeks ago, I was thinking about writing a book about our walking holiday. Then, at a farmhouse in North Wales, I came across Bob Bibby's Special Offa: Walking the Offa's Dyke Path. I read the chapter on the bit we had just walked, a description of climbing up and down hills on hands and knees in rain and mud.No one could do any better than Bob Bibby, so I ordered this book from Amazon.co.uk...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Copenhagen's 'Pusher Street' Closed

In Copenhagen for a conference, discovered that Christiana's famous 'Pusher Street'--where drugs were openly traded--was closed by the government last year, a new conservative coalition. That, plus the fact that Danes have been targeted in a 'fatwa' calling for jihad issued by the local chapter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir (anyone want to blame this on poverty?) a few years ago, makes Wonderful Copenhagen seem more like a real-world place. Of course it is still weirdly perfect-seeming, beautiful canals, bicycles, driverless metros. And very expensive. Even the conference-goers from Germany find the prices here sky-high. Dinner last night at a Mexican restaurant near the Fredriksberg Shopping Center. The owner joked that he got here after being kidnapped from his Mexican village by a Viking. Actually, he comes from Mexico City. So the menu featured authentic Mole but not inauthentic Fajitas or Burritos.

The new glass and steel Opera House donated by Maersk SeaLand looks nice on the waterfront, though Danes apparently all hate it (who knew they hated anything?), and the Little Mermaid statue has been fully repaired, after past decapitations and amputations.

Denmark doesn't use the Euro, rather their own Kroner, and is suspicious of the EU. It is expected that the Danes will vote against the new EU constitution in an upcoming referendum, especially if France votes 'Non' on Sunday.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Just when you take a vacation...

Uzbekistan explodes.

Luckily, while we've been off on a walking holiday in Wales, Nathan Hamm's excellent Central Asia website Registan.net has been keeping up with the ever-changing news.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Docents, 1--National Gallery of Art, 0

Jackie Trescott's excellent Washington Post story on the docents recent victory over Earl "Rusty" Powell's inept administration of the National Gallery of Art in Washington isn't available online as text, but you can read it as an image file here, under the headline "Gallery's School Tours to Continue:Art Museum Officials Apologize to Docents."

Trescott deserves praise for reporting this, the docents for standing up to the bureaucrats, and the Post for running with the scandal. (Note to Pulitzer Prize Committee: Give an award to Jackie Trescott!)

Andrew Ferguson Predicts: PBS To Become More Boring . . .

Article in the Washington Post today about Democratic Congressmen calling for an investigation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS. When Senator Pressler did this a decade back, with some help from yours truly, the mainstream media called asking questions about taxpayer funded programs "McCarthyism" and "intimidation." the investigation shut down, and I published "PBS: Behind the Screen."

Now, if the Democrats really want to do this, let's actually investigate CPB, have public hearings, and let the American taxpayers find out who is really politicizing public broadcasting (HINT: it's not the Republicans). As Ronald Reagan said in another context: "Make my day."

In any case, adding his amusing two cents to the controversy over the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is Bloomberg.com's Andrew Ferguson:

Public broadcasting producers and bureaucrats aren't happy. A forum for producers in New York last year erupted in shouts and general rancor against the Tomlinson regime. One producer even complained that a new documentary series on terrorism amounted toCPB asking him to ``do the bidding of the Pentagon.''

Where will it end? Some press critics, most recently Jack Shafer of the online magazine Slate, have revived calls to privatize public broadcasting once and for all. But that's unlikely: We've been there before. Even those Republican congressmen fretting about bias like having CPB dollars flowing into their districts.

Others, me included, predict confidently that public broadcasting will survive, though perhaps a bit more boringly than before, if such a thing is possible.

Actually, a thorough congressional investigation might persuade Congress to reprogram CPB's entire appropriation to pay for armor American troops in Iraq need to protect them from terrorist attacks...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Moscow Times on Russia's V-E Day Parade

Nabi Abdullaev, one of the best writers, has a good account of Putin's Parade in Moscow:

As an orchestra struck up a triumphant march, the parade started on the square with a procession of cadet drummers and standard-bearers. They were followed by formations of soldiers wearing World War II-style uniforms and carrying insignias symbolizing the different military units that fought in the war. The formations included sappers carrying mine detectors and leading sniffer dogs on leashes; tank men in black uniforms and padded headsets; and infantrymen brandishing long Mosin rifles with bayonets.

As the cavalry passed by the viewing stands, the orchestra muffled its music to avoid scaring the horses, although some still shied nervously on the granite cobblestones.

A total of 7,000 soldiers participated in the parade.

When legendary wartime polutorka trucks entered the square, thousands of war veterans wearing shiny medals leaped to their feet in the reviewing stands. Veterans sitting in the trucks waved red carnations as tears ran down their cheeks. Putin smiled back at them, his own eyes red with tears. Ivanov, his eyes also watery with tears, applauded and pressed his hands over his breast.

Of the foreign dignitaries, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi cheered the veterans most enthusiastically. Japan's Koizumi was most reserved. 'His stern face meant that he was expressing respect,' a spokesman for the Japanese delegation, Akira Chiba, explained later.

As the trucks rolled through the square, 12 fighter jets -- in two formations of nine and three planes -- screamed overhead, painting the sky with red, blue and white smoke to form the national flag.
The Moscow Times also has a nice online photo essay.

German Jewish Leader Criticizes Holocaust Memorial

From South Africa's News24.com, comes this account of an attack on Berlin's newest public art project by Paul Spiegel, head of the Central Council of German Jews (thanks to Roger L. Simon for the link) : "Spiegel said any abstract work attempting to depict the Holocaust, such as Berlin's memorial, was fated to lose out in the bid to prevent people from forgetting past horrors. He underlined that the real Holocaust memorials - aside from Yad Vashem in Israel - were the former Nazi concentration camps, the mass graves and the burned-down synagogues in Germany and across Europe."

Indeed, Spiegel has a point. Perhaps all of Continental Europe might be seen as a Holocaust Memorial for the dead--and Israel as a Holocaust Memorial for the living...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Georgia: Torture Still Goes Unpunished

Some background for President Bush's visit to Tblisi from a recent report by Human Rights Watch
(Tbilisi, April 13, 2005)--Since the 'Rose Revolution'that brought a new government to power in 2003, the Georgian authorities have failed to end widespread torture of detainees in the criminal justice system, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today.The government hasn't adequately grappled with torture...The 27-page briefing paper, 'Georgia: Uncertain Torture Reform' describes the ongoing impunity for torture, a problem that persists despite some government measures taken to combat it.

The briefing paper documents how the new government's campaigns against corruption and organized crime led to new allegations of due process violations, including torture and ill-treatment. It also details the measures the government has taken to combat torture. These include outside monitoring of police stations and steps to improve police professionalism, particularly in the collection of evidence.

The briefing paper details several cases of torture, including cases that highlighted problems associated with the new plea-bargaining system that the current government enacted last year. Law enforcement officials used the plea-bargaining system to cover up allegations of torture, promising lower penalties to defendants who agreed to the officials' version of events, which did not include the allegations of police abuse. Officials asked for monetary payments in exchange for releasing the defendant from custody.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Another Picture Moment for President Bush

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.: Bush Wrong on Yalta

Writing in The Huffington Post, JFK's favorite historian says Yalta was a realistic deal based on the military balance-of-power on the ground in Europe.

Waypath - Blog Discovery Engine

I found the item about the US Army band via a google link toWaypath - Blog Discovery Engine. It's interesting...

U.S. Army Band Marches Through Kremlin

This interesting item on the 60th Anniversary of V-E Day celebrations in Moscow, fromThe Greatest Jeneration :
When someone called to strike up a stirring military march for a parade through central Moscow, hardly anyone ever imagined it would be 'The Stars and Stripes Forever.' Or that the Stars and Stripes itself, hoisted aloft by an Army sergeant, would lead the U.S. Army Europe Band up the Russian capital's main thoroughfare, past cheering crowds, to greet a train full of Russian war veterans.

'I've met every president. I've met hundreds of kings and queens. But marching through Moscow behind three of my soldiers carrying the American flag is pretty much the highlight of my career,' said Lt. Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, commander of the Army band, which came here along with President Bush and other U.S. officials to help mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. 'We played inside the Kremlin walls! We played 'The Stars and Stripes Forever'
The Russian Army band played "The Holy War," a number from World War II. Some lyrics: "Rise up, great country/ Rise up for mortal combat/ Against the dark fascist force,/ Against the damned horde!"

Invitation to a History of Beheading

In Middle East Quarterly - Spring 2005: "Islamic civilization is not a historical anomaly in its sanction of decapitation.[36] The Roman Empire beheaded citizens (such as the Christian Saint Paul) while they crucified noncitizens (such as Jesus Christ). French revolutionaries employed the guillotine to decapitate opponents. Nevertheless, Islam is the only major world religion today that is cited by both state and non-state actors to legitimize beheadings. And two major aspects of decapitation in an Islamic context should be noted: first, the practice has both Qur'anic and historical sanction. It is not the product of a fabricated tradition. Second, in contradiction to the assertions of apologists, both Muslim and non-Muslim, these beheadings are not simply a brutal method of drawing attention to the Islamist political agenda and weakening opponents' will to fight. Zarqawi and other Islamists who practice decapitation believe that God has ordained them to obliterate their enemies in this manner. Islam is, for this determined minority of Muslims, anything but a 'religion of peace.' It is, rather, a religion of the sword with the blade forever at the throat of the unbeliever."

Putin's V-E Day Speech

In his address, Vladimir Putin made a direct connection between WWII and today's Global War on Terror:
Six decades later, this memory and the solidarity our people showed are still important to us. And we need a clear-sighted, lucid attitude to the lessons of war, in connection with the danger of contemporary threats.

There should be no illusions: the ideas of fascism and racial superiority still persist. They are still very strong and may, by setting nations on to fight and by duping people, lead to a new catastrophe.

Similar ideas lie at the base of extremism and terrorism, which the modern world has already encountered. And they are just as ruthless as Nazism. Understanding this, we must strengthen cooperation in the war on this evil, which genuinely threatens civilisation.

I am certain: the international community has every capability for this. A resource of cooperation has already been built up. There is an understanding of the need to prevent new dangers together. And together to oppose them.

Without exaggeration, a recognition of this was earned by suffering in the period of the Second World War. It was strengthened and built up as we emerged from the era of global ideological confrontation. And it is required once more, in our times, during the formation of the international anti-terrorist coalition.

Denver Post: Pull the Plug on PBS

Michael Booth writes:

Pull the $390 million federal plug on the PBS parent and the local stations, -- and force some change. If the old shows have a following, find a way to put them online, then spend that federal money more wisely by helping hook up poor households to broadband Web service.

Experiment with video blogging, podcasting and cellphone transmissions, where all media must eventually go if they want a future audience. The public is finding its voice in ways that have little to do with old concepts of public television, and the medium needs to change radically to survive.

Or not. Local stations could stick with the formula that generates 85 percent of funding and make it work. Unhook the federal tether and use local donors' money to serve the local area. The people, as individuals or foundations, already give most of the money. They should feel at least half of the programming is generated locally and aimed straight at them. If local stations want to buy national programming, they would use their membership and local foundation and university money to seek material from providers rejuvenated by new competition.

The counterarguments have become as old as the programs. This nation will not be funding public television with European-style dollars anytime soon. A new tax on other media to better fund PBS is about as likely as Howard Stern hosting 'NOVA.'

It is time to search for new ideas rather than hunker bitterly behind the old ones.
(Thanks to Artsjournal.com for the link)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

WSJ: Bush Should Visit Graves of Stalin's Victims

David Satter writes: "It is too late for President Bush to decline to go to Moscow as the presidents of Lithuania and Estonia have done, citing Russia's refusal to admit and apologize for crimes committed in the Baltics. Mr. Bush, nonetheless, would be doing a real service to history if, in addition to participating in the celebrations, he would also visit the Butovo firing range south of the city where the bodies of at least 20,000 victims of Stalin's Great Terror lie in mass graves. In contrast to the meticulous attention devoted to anything to do with World War II, Butovo is neglected. There is no museum or general memorial. The common graves are marked off with ropes. Until recently, the area was choked with weeds and used as a garbage dump. The number of visitors is minuscule--about 4,000 a year, mostly Orthodox believers and relatives of those buried there."

Kremlinologists of the World, Unite!

And decipher the meaning of this small talk at Putin's house on Sunday:

PRESIDENT PUTIN: Mr. President, allow me to cordially welcome you to Moscow. I'd like to thank you for having decided to visit Moscow to participate in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, giving confirmation by that fact to the immense role played by the United States, Soviet Union and Russian Federation in the victory over Nazism.

Tomorrow we'll be pleased to receive our guests of ours. But the visit by the President of the United States is of special importance. On top of that, even today, we've enjoyed a very large volume of cooperation between our countries. And I hope that this cooperation will be helpful to us in addressing our domestic problems in both countries.

And I'm aware of the fact that you currently are confronted with immense tasks with respect to social sphere. (Laughter.) So if we are very positive in addressing those energy-related and security-related questions, that will be very helpful in addressing the problems which are confronted by people in the street in our countries. Besides, I recently visited the Middle East. Therefore, I'd like in this conversation with you today, to compare the notes regarding the current state of the Middle East.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Vladimir, thank you for having me. It's such an honor to be here. This locale where we are is a place where the President welcomed me and Laura two years ago. And it's great to be back here. I am looking forward to the celebration tomorrow. It is a moment where the world will recognize the great bravery and sacrifice the Russian people made in the defeat of Nazism. The people of Russia suffered incredible hardship, and yet the Russian spirit never died out.

I'm equally grateful that you would take -- invite me and Laura for dinner tonight. And having had one of your meals before, I'm looking forward to this one a lot.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: Recently I took a look at the coverage of your meeting with the press corps. Well, I could see how Laura attacked you sometimes, so at today's dinner we will have a chance to protect you. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: She was quite the comedian. But I'm looking forward to -- Russia is a great nation, and I'm looking forward to working on -- together on big problems. And I want to thank you for your work on Iran and the Middle East. And there's a lot we can do together. And so thank you for having us.


Khodorkovsky Case Clouds V-E Day Celebrations

Catherine Belton, in The Moscow Times:
Even as the Air Force prepares to prevent the clouds from raining on the Victory Day parade, there is one cloud that is likely to hang conspicuously over the head of President Vladimir Putin.

While the president plays host to world leaders on Monday, his country's most high-profile prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, will be awaiting a verdict a week later in a case seen as a turning point toward greater Kremlin dominance over political and economic life.

Prosecutors have called for a maximum, 10-year sentence for Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, and their lawyers have said they expected no leniency on May 16. Some observers, however, have said they would not be surprised by a reduced sentence of five years.
If Putin seriously wants more American investment, he might want to let Khodorkovsky go.

Edward R. Murrow on VE Day

You can Hear It Now, thanks to a tip from Little Green Footballs.

This photo says it all...

Putin shows Bush how to drive his 1956 Volga sedan. Photo from the White House website.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

For Whom the Drum Rolls

Alexander Golts says that Putin is taking this year's Victory Day celebrations away from WWII veterans, in The Moscow Times:

Thus Victory Day, appropriated for Putin's private use, has become a tool for settling international scores.

The Russian people, veterans included, have no place in the festivities. This was made abundantly clear not long ago by Nikolai Kulikov, a Moscow city government liaison with law enforcement agencies. 'Our hope is that the weather will be conducive to traveling out of the city and that the majority of Moscow residents will leave for their dachas.' Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov later attempted to correct Kulikov's tactless statement by asserting that millions of Muscovites would join in the festivities. Never mind that they'll only be able to 'join in' on the outskirts of the city. Metro stations in the city center will be closed on May 9, and road traffic within the Boulevard Ring will be severely restricted. The organizers have also made it as difficult as possible for people to reach the Bolshoi Theater, a traditional meeting place for war veterans. On May 8, Putin will meet with a group of heavily vetted veterans; those without special passes will be turned away. On May 9, Pushkinskaya will be the closest working metro station to the Bolshoi Theater, meaning that vets in their 80s will have to walk about two kilometers to meet up with their comrades-in-arms.

This is not simply a matter of bureaucratic incompetence in the mayor's office and the presidential administration. The Victory Day celebration plans clearly demonstrate the Kremlin's desire to exclude the people from this most popular of holidays. And they seem to have succeeded. Russians were indignant when the Latvian president made a scornful remark about veterans here celebrating Victory Day by setting out dried fish and vodka on a sheet of newspaper. Well, that's exactly what's going to happen because, as it turns out, the leadership of this country treats its veterans with equal disdain. Masking this disdain with speeches and drum rolls doesn't change a thing.

Richard Lawrence Cohen on NYC's Third Avenue Bombing

From Richard Lawrence Cohen:

845 Third Avenue

Maybe there'll be something I can write about in the Times today? I thought as I headed for the computer, and there it was on the front page of the online edition: a building where I used to work, its lobby windows shattered by a bomb. 845 Third Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Streets, is a high-rise office building that houses the British consulate, so the attack must be connected to today's election. It was jolly decent of that Brit, though, to set it off at 3:50 am when no one would be hurt. The bomb consisted of two toy grenades -- one of them the size of a pineapple -- filled with gunpowder.

I worked there from September 1977 to September 1979, reading manuscripts for a literary agency. It was a schizoid agency -- on one hand its clients included Norman Mailer and Garry Wills and a mob of successful genre writers, and on the other hand it charged reading fees to amateurs. I've calculated that I read 3,500 manuscripts there in five years (there had been an earlier stretch at a different address), typing a million words a year. The outside world did not know that the reading fees paid the agency's overhead; the legitimate stuff was all gravy.

I was one of the half-dozen 'fee men' who read who skimmed two or three full?length books each working day and, for each book, pounded out a 2,000-word rejection letter containing various proportions of formulaic advice, sarcastic or sincere consolation, genuine craftsmanly evaluation, and false encouragement. We sat in a white room the size of a smallish bedroom, divided into six cubicles, each with a heavy battleship-gray IBM Selectric that, under our abuse, needed a new ribbon every week or two and frequent oilings and alignments. That was where I learned to pour out copy. I had got the job straight out of college by taking a test consisting of reading a Western short story -- cunningly crafted to include every possible literary and marketing flaw -- and writing a letter to the author. I got the job despite the fact that I couldn't type, and by necessity I got my speed up to 100 words a minute with four fingers . . .

Friday, May 06, 2005

Michael Rubin: Sharansky is Right

From Middle East Forum: "While true democracy is the Achilles heel of Middle Eastern dictatorships, insincere commitment to democracy can undercut peace and security. The sincerity of terrorists should no more be trusted than that of dictators. They may adopt democratic rhetoric - but words are cheap. Any organization that targets civilians for political gain should be irredeemable regardless of whether, like Hamas and Hezbollah, the group provides social services: If Oxfam or Save the Children blew up buses, they would be terrorist groups, not humanitarian organizations."

Bush's Baltic States Blunder?

In a Moscow Times story titled Victory Day Promises Pride and Pomp, the authors analyze President Bush's revival of the controversy over the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in the context of the May 9th Victory Day celebrations:
Ahead of the world leaders' visit to Moscow, Russian diplomats and lawmakers have sought to justify the Kremlin's refusal to condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, arguing that the treaty was dissolved by Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Also, since the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet in 1991 denounced the treaty's secret protocols that detailed the carve-up of Poland and the occupation of the Baltic states, another denunciation is not necessary, Pikayev said.

Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Putin's envoy to the EU, said that Russia would not apologize to the Baltic states either. Soviet troops were not occupiers but welcome liberators, he said.

His comments were echoed by Federation Council member and last Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, who said that the Baltic countries 'should be grateful' for Soviet occupation. These countries 'should themselves apologize' for the fact that some of their residents fought on the German side in the war, Interfax reported him as saying.
I'm not a diplomat or a historian, but I'd say Bush may be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory here. Does he really want to get into a fight over this issue? America's record isn't perfect, either. First, the US itself stayed neutral until December 7, 1941 as Hitler smashed his way across Europe. American companies such as Ford and Standard Oil did business with the Nazis during this period. Second, the US refused to open a second front until June 1944, after Russia had bled considerably to stop the Nazis, bearing the brunt of the fighting, and England had been almost crushed by the Blitz. Third, the US agreed to the division of Europe at Yalta, a very sore point among Polish-Americans at the time. Finally, the USSR renounced the pact already.

If Bush were just to make a public statement congratulating the USSR (a nostalgic fantasyland of power, plenty and peace in the minds of many Russians today) for renouncing the carve-up of Poland and the Baltic States, pocketing that victory and sharing credit with Russia, then moving forward to the future, that might be a diplomatic advance. Instead, Bush appears to be moving backwards and stoking old resentments.

Bush must remember that Nazis killed some 20 million Russians and devastated the country. Cold war propaganda made much of the fact that the US was siding with former Nazis against the USSR. Yes, many Russians still see Estonians, Latvians, and Ukrainians as Nazis. Bush and the US should be sensitive to that perception--and explain why they are not Nazis now, why they are better off as part of the West, how America helped them out of a totalitarian past, and will help Russia likewise.

Rather than raise painful disagreements about tragic events of 50+ years ago, Bush might do better to a outline a positive vision for full US-Russian partnership in confronting the new mutual enemy of Islamic fundamentalism: announce that the US will no longer support Chechen terrorists, offer partnership with Russia in stabilizing Iraq, and demand the Russians take some concrete steps towards a more US-friendly society, such as releasing Mikhail Khodorkovsky...

UPDATE: By way of contrast, President Clinton handled the 50th Anniversary of V-E day Moscow ceremonies adroitly. You can read the agreements on nonproliferation and the future of Europe, resulting from his diplomacy with Boris Yeltsin, here. A sample result:

Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin conducted a thorough review of progress toward their shared goal of a stable, secure, integrated and undivided democratic Europe. They agreed that the end of military confrontation, ideological conflict, and division of the Euro-Atlantic region into opposing blocs has created an historic opportunity for all of its peoples. They emphasized their determination to cooperate closely to ensure that in the future, all peoples of the Euro-Atlantic region shall enjoy the benefits of a stable, just and peaceful order.

Bush might do well to come up with a similar joint statement regarding the Middle East in his one-on-one meeting with Putin.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Jack Shafer: Time to Pull the Plug on PBS

From Slate, PBS Unplugged - President Bush gives us a new reason to wean public broadcasting from the government teat: "For the longest time, calling for the defunding of public broadcasting was a Republican pastime. Now that the GOP rules public broadcasters, who will be the first Democrat brave enough to call for the end of PBS and NPR as we know them?" (thanks to artsjournal.com for the link).

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Election Day in Great Britain

You can follow the voting on Sky News. I'll stick my neck out and make a prediction: Tony Blair will be re-elected Prime Minister, when Labor wins control of Parliament.


Just came back from a Vappu party at the Finnish embassy here in Washington. It wasn't as wild as the Finnnish celebrations of May Day that took place in Finland, at least not by the time I left, but it was a lot of fun. They even had furniture that looked straight out of the set of an Austin Powers movie . . .

The Soviet Army's Role in WWII

As V-E Day approaches, this seemed like a good item to share with readers. I recently received a copy of an email from a WWII vet, who had been an officer in the US Army's 6th Armored Division in Germany at the time of V-E Day. Here's what he had to say to a friend about the Russian role in the Second World War, sparked by the new German film on Hitler's last days in the bunker:
. . . yeeesss that horrid rat slime bag, adolph hitler and his mistress eva braun died in that bunker in berlin as the ussr RED army troops were closing in on him,, he shot her and then took poison,,, his S S men then set fire to them out side of the bunker,!!!! in a dirt ditch. as the RED ARMY took over all of Berlin... and all the nazi troops gave UP !!!! P S. brieuc ,, the RED army WON ww2,,, i say that loud and clear !!!!!!!!! if it was not for the RED army,,,, we will still BE in NORMANDY... au revoir,, bon soir, MEL . . .

The Liberation of Dachau, 60 Years Ago

A personal account by Felix L. Sparks Brigadier General, AUS (Retired) about the April 29, 1945 liberation of the notorious Nazi camp:
After I entered the camp over the wall, I was not able to see the confinement area, and had no idea where it was. My vision was obscured by the many buildings and barracks which were outside the confinement area. The confinement area itself occupied only a small portion of the total camp area. As I went further into the camp, I saw some men from company I collecting German prisoners. Next to the camp hospital, there was a L-shaped masonry wall, about eight feet high, which had been used as a coal bin. The ground was covered with coal dust, and a narrow gage railroad track, laid on top of the ground, lead into the area. The prisoners were being collected in the semi-enclosed area.

As I watched about fifty German troops were brought in from various directions. A machine gun squad from company I was guarding the prisoners. After watching for a few minutes, I started for the confinement area. After I had walked away for a short distance, I hear the machine gun guarding the prisoners open fire. I immediately ran back to the gun and kicked the gunner off the gun with my boot. I then grabbed him by the collar and said: 'what the hell are you doing?' He was a young private about 19 years old and was crying hysterically. His reply to me was: 'Colonel, they were trying to get away.' I doubt that they were, but in any event he killed about twelve of the prisoners and wounded several more. I placed a non-com on the gun, and headed toward the confinement area.

It was the forgoing incident which has given rise to wild claims in various publications that most or all of the German prisoners captured at Dachau were executed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The total number of German guards killed at Dachau during that day most certainly not exceed fifty, with thirty probably being a more accurate figure. The regimental records for that date indicate that over a thousand German prisoners were brought to the regimental collecting point. Since my task force was leading the regimental attack, almost all the prisoners were taken by the task force, including several hundred from Dachau.

During the early period of our entry into the camp, a number of company I men all battle hardened veterans, became extremely distraught. Some cried, while others raged. Some thirty minutes passed before I could restore order and discipline. During that time, the over thirty thousand camp prisoners still alive began to grasp the significance of the events taking place. They streamed from their crowded barracks by the hundreds and were soon pressing at the confining barbed wire fence. They began to shout in unison, which soon became a chilling roar. At the same time several bodies were being tossed about and torn apart by hundreds of hands. I was told later that those being killed at the time were "informers." After about ten minutes of screaming and shouting, the prisoners quieted down. At that point, a man came forward at the gate and identified himself as an American soldier. We immediately let him out. He turned out to be Major Rene Guiraud of our OSS. He informed me that he had been captured earlier while on an intelligence mission and sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out.
You can read more about Sparks in his biography, Sparks: The Combat Diary of a Battalion Commander (Rifle, WWII, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division, 1941-1945) by Emajean Jordan Buechner.

Yevgenia Albats on Victory Day in Moscow

From her column in The Moscow Times:

The long, festive brunch would evolve into preparations for dinner, when my parents' best friends and relatives would start to arrive. Uncle Yasha, Dad's best friend, began the war as a soldier in the people's militia, which was called up to defend Moscow when the Germans were on the outskirts of the city.

They were given one rifle, made in 1896, and a few bullets to share among five soldiers. Clearly, they were intended to defend Moscow with their bodies, as the majority of them did. Uncle Yasha survived, however, and was in Lithuania when the final victory came four years later.

Now aged 89, he feels even sicker than he already is when he hears from the Baltic states about the memorial erected to the soldiers of the Wehrmacht and the SS veterans marching the streets there.

The 60th anniversary of Victory Day, which Moscow will celebrate with much fanfare next Monday, along with some 56 visiting heads of state and other dignitaries, has nothing to do with my old folks. My 84-year-old mother was given an envelope with 1,000 rubles ($35) and a gift -- a cheap duvet that can hardly comfort her, dying as she is from cancer. The money is less than the price of the medical procedure she needs each day.

Uncle Yasha received the same 1,000 rubles, plus two wristwatches. Why two? He doesn't know, but he laughs: 'Two watches are exactly what I need right now, seeing as I've one foot in the grave.'

None of them even received a simple thank-you postcard from the president -- or anyone else, for that matter. (At least, 10 years ago, a card signed by Boris Yeltsin arrived in each veteran's home.)

Of course, next week's celebration is not about those who fought on the front lines defending the country. It is about the regime, whose best grandchildren are back in charge.

Russia to Alter Weather for V-E Day

Matt Drudge made fun of this headline, Russian pilots vs clouds at V-day parade, but as I wrote in the case of Moscow's Mayor Luzhkov earlier (see archives): while Americans might only talk about the weather, Russians do something about it...

Some Problems with the State Department Terrorism Report

According to B Raman, writing in Asia Times Online , American officials still miss some significant dots in global terrorism patterns, especially the dot in the Binori madrassah of Karachi:
There is now a growing convergence between the US analysis and mine, but there are still important differences. While throwing the spotlight on local and regional jihadi organizations, the State Department's analysis still fails to see them in the larger context of the role of the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People. It projects the ideologies of the local organizations as inspired by that of al-Qaeda and fails to take note of and analyze the impact of the Deobandi ideology of the Pakistani jihadi organizations on the thinking of bin Laden and his organization.

In my assessment, the birth of the concept of a global jihad against the US and Israel could be traced to the Binori madrassa of Karachi; and the role of Ramzi Yousef of Pakistan and other perpetrators of the explosion at the New York World Trade Center in February 1993 in the spread of this concept has not been adequately analyzed by Western, Israeli and Australian experts. The New York explosion of February 1993 was the first shot in this global jihad and the preparations for it were made in the Binori madrassa and not in any set up of al-Qaeda.

It is surprising that these experts, who often tend to over-focus on the writings and statements of the late Abdullah Azam, have paid so little attention to the interview given by an unidentified leader of the HUM (then known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar) to Kamran Khan of the News of Islamabad in February 1995, which was carried by the paper under the title Jihad World-Wide. This interview contained a detailed account of the role of the HUM in the jihad in the southern Philippines. Kamran Khan subsequently came out with another investigative report on the efforts of Ramzi Yousef to export jihad to Saudi Arabia.

The repeated mistakes in analysis of the US could be attributed to the inclination of its experts to make their analyses suit the political agenda of their leaders, thereby failing to read the writing on the wall. Unless and until there is adequate self-correction, one cannot rule out a repeat of the terrorist attacks in the US, Bali, Mombasa, Casablanca, Madrid, etc.

COVERING CUBA 4: The Rats Below

Agustin Blazquez has a new documentary. It's called COVERING CUBA 4: The Rats Below. Here's the description from Cuba Collectibles:

Finally, the fourth installment of the series COVERING CUBA by the acclaimed filmmaker team of Agustin Blazquez and Jaums Sutton is available in a limited Special Edition DVD , exclusively through CubaCollectibles.com.

This limited Special Edition DVD features COVERING CUBA 4: The Rats Below. This 105-min. documentary exposes to the American people how the mighty power of a corporation influences the U.S. government - in this case the corrupt Clinton administration - and brings tragedy to an innocent child and everyone else in the way, using the Gold Rule of power, money and greed.

It is a fascinating story of intrigue and deceptions that the U.S. media censored because of the economic and political leverage of this corporation that sponsors many of the leading political programs on the major TV and Radio networks.

It is a story kept hidden because of the prevalent U.S. media dislike for a minority group in America.

It is a story of secret corporate manipulation of the U.S. government, the media and the American people creating support for their corporate greed, all while staying hidden just under the surface.

A Word from Our Sponsor

Just had to mention a conversation with Ben Wattenberg at the American Enterprise Institute after Tyler Cowen's talk. He asked me what I thought of the New York Times article on Ken Tomlinson's efforts at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I answered that I didn't think much of Tomlinson or CPB, and added that the last PBS series hosted by a conservative on economics, that I knew of, was Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose," in 1979, that the last PBS series hosted by conservative was his show, Think Tank, which first went on the air in the Clinton administration. Wattenberg replied that his PBS series did start in 1994, but that his production company didn't get a dime from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or PBS. He called Think Tank's relationship with PBS a "bastion of free enterprise," privately sponsored . . .

The New Yorker Profiles Douglas Feith

Pentagon war planner Douglas Feith is profiled by Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Yorker. The author tries to answer the question: Was General Tommy Franks correct when he characterized the Harvard and Georgetown Law grad as 'the f*****g stupidest guy on the face of the earth?'

Eugene Robinson on the Meaning of Abu Gharib

In yesterday's Washington Post: "Twenty years from now, how will we remember this 'global war on terrorism''? Assuming it's over by then -- assuming we haven't escalated a fight against al Qaeda into an all-out clash of civilizations -- will we look back on the GWOT, as Washington bureaucrats call it, and feel pride in the nation's resolve and sacrifice? Or will history's verdict be tempered by shame? The answer will depend on how this Congress comes to terms with the documented mistreatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Iraq and who knows where else in the secret archipelago of U.S. detention."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Is Grover Norquist an Islamist?

Daniel Pipes asks: "Is Grover Norquist an Islamist? Paul Sperry, author of the new book, Infiltration, in an interview calls Grover Norquist 'an agent of influence for Islamists in Washington.'" Norquist has been a major Republican fund-raiser, and used to work with Jack Abramoff, now under a cloud himself. The National Review Book Service gave this summary of Sperry's conclusion: "The ultimate goal of these subversives, according to Sperry -- quoting verbatim from some of the most respected and "mainstream" Muslim leaders in America -- is to replace the U.S. Constitution with sharia (Islamic) law and turn America into an Islamic state."

More on Italian Objections to Pentagon Iraq Cover-Up

AP reports: "The 52-page Italian report, written by a diplomat and a general assigned to Italy's secret services and released Monday, said no measures were taken by U.S. officials to preserve the scene of the shooting. It said the car was removed before its position was marked, for example. The soldiers' vehicles also were moved.

It also noted that an Italian general was denied access to the site immediately after the shooting, and that duty logs were destroyed after the soldiers' shifts."

Sharansky Quits Israeli Government

According to The Jerusalem Post, Natan Sharansky has quit the Sharon government, in protest against Israel's Gaza pullout. He said that Israel's military move was premature, and should instead follow full Palestinian democratization. He told interviewers: "I have always believed that the disengagement plan is a heavy price to pay and encourages terrorism." (thanks to Little Green Footballs for the tip)

Sharansky's resignation letter can be found on Winds of Change.

60 Years Ago, This Week

Also on the BBC, 'Hitler's nurse' breaks silence on the last days of the Third Reich:

Mrs Flegel said that after Hitler's suicide, Goebbels took over as leader, but no-one paid any attention to him.

'His last subordinates shot themselves in succession,' she said. 'And those who didn't shoot themselves tried to flee.'

She said she remained, however. 'I had to look after the wounded.'

In the newspaper interview, Mrs Flegel described the atmosphere in the bunker as the noise of approaching Soviet forces grew.

'You could feel that the Third Reich was coming to an end,' she said. 'The radios stopped working and it was impossible to get information.'

Mrs Flegel added that when the Soviet troops arrived, they were well-behaved and advised her to lock her door.

She said she stayed for several days, and was one of the last people to leave the bunker.

There's a fuller version of the story in The Guardian:
On the morning of May 2, 60 years ago today, Russians soldiers poked their head round the bunker's entrance.

"By this stage there were only six or seven of us left in the bunker," Ms Flegel said. "We knew the Russians were approaching. A [nursing] sister phoned up and said, 'The Russians are coming.'

"Then they turned up in the Reichschancellery. It was a huge building complex. The Germans were transported away."

Ms Flegel insists that the Russians she had encountered treated her "very humanely", despite the mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers elsewhere in the city. They had a "look round", discovered the bunker's underground supplies, and then left, she said, advising her to lock her front door.

The Red Army allowed her to continue work as a nurse for the next few months, treating wounded Russians, until she ended up in the hands of the US Strategic Services Unit, one of the precursors of the CIA.

Ms Flegel said her "interrogation" by the Americans in November 1945 was little more than an informal chat over dinner. "They invited us to have dinner with them and treated us to six different courses in order to soften us up. It didn't work with me, though."

Ms Flegel's testimony - including her conviction that Hitler was dead, an important statement for the victorious allies - was deemed sufficiently important that it remained classified.
You can read the full transcript here.

Pentagon Evidence Tampering in Italian Iraq Deaths?

The BBC reports that the Italians are angry at what looks like a fumbled Pentagon cover-up:

The censored sections include recommendations that the American military modify their checkpoint procedures to give better and clearer warning signs to approaching vehicles.

The official Italian report on the incident expected to be published this week will accuse the American military of tampering with evidence at the scene of the shooting.

The Americans invited two Italians to join in their inquiry, but the Italian representatives protested at what they claimed was lack of objectivity in presenting the evidence and returned to Rome.

Relations between Rome and Washington remain tense.

"Tense" is diplomatese for bad. You can read the full accounts here.

Invitation to a Beheading

VDH's Private Papers has this account of doings in Saudi Arabia's "Chop Chop Square" from "R.F. Burton":
Allah's will is done.

That's how it's supposed to go. The beheading Fred witnessed went off a little differently. The executioner botched the job.

'I don't know if the prisoner had a short neck or he just jerked funny when they jabbed him in the back, but the blade glanced off his shoulder and only cut through half his neck,' Fred said.

'He fell over sideways,' he said. 'I never saw so much blood. It was squirting out all over the place from the gash in his neck. He started moaning. It was awful. Even though he was doped to high heaven, it must have hurt like hell. It took two more swings to hack his head off.'

'When it was over, I'll be damned if a doctor didn't walk over to the body and check his pulse,' Fred said. 'It was weird, seeing him kneel down next to a headless body, holding the wrist to make sure he wasn't going to get up and walk away.'

Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide

I met James Bowman yesterday at a talk by George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen at the American Enterprise Institute about his new book Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing World Cultures. But it seemed that many in the audience were more interested in Cowen's views on local restaurants than world affairs (he talked about New Zealand mussels and BBQ in his lecture; as well as Mexican food, including his personal recipe for mole sauce, in the Q & A). I wondered why so much talk about food, until Cowen mentioned that his online dining guide is the most popular page on his personal website (it was written up in the Washington Post).

In the contest between local and global, even at a globalization talk by a libertarian economist in Washington DC, it seems that local interests win out.

Elinor Burkett: Today's Marco Polo

Just finished Elinor Burkett's So Many Enemies, So Little Time.

I liked it a lot. It's really a Marco Polo travel diary for today. Burkett provides needed background to world events, in a lively personal style. Fun to read, and you can think about it afterwards, too.

The book recounts Burkett's adventures in Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, Burma (officially Myanmar), China, Vietnam, and Cambodia during the 2001-2002 events, when she was a Fulbright Scholar. I agree with her view that the Fulbright program is one US government initiative that really works as it was intended. She explains how her view of the world changed after her experience teaching abroad in the wake of 9/11--just the kind of growth experience Senator Fulbright wanted.

Burkett has a real gift for noticing the interesting detail. Her description of the little things at her university in Bishkek--such as wandering around the hall trying to find a classroom after being kicked out for some sort of seminar--tracked pretty exactly to my experience at UWED in Tashkent (which I was pleased to see she called the Harvard of Central Asia). Burkett's observations are generally acute, the most telling ones based on her personal confrontations with age-old traditions.

Most of all, I enjoyed Burkett's Kyrgyz anecdotes, which I think reflect a certain mentality--and reality--in the region:
While walking in the countryside, two Uzbeks and two Kyrgyz fell in a hole. "I'll give you a hand up," the younger Uzbek said to the older. "Then, when you're on solid ground, you can pull me up." The older man agreed, the Uzbeks freed themselves and then went on their way.

The two Kyrgyz men looked at each other grimly, and one began climbing out of the hole on his own. "Hey, you can't do that," yelled the other man, pulling on his companion's legs. "If you get out, I'll be alone and stranded."

Monday, May 02, 2005

This Just In...

After many years I ran into James Bowman today, and he told me he had his own website ("not a blog"). So I took a look. It's got some interesting tidbits, especially movie reviews. For example, a piece on "A Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy." His URL is http://www.JamesBowman.net.

PBS Back in the News

Today's New York Times headline: Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases.

The scare story ("the Republicans are coming!") is actually more like business-as-usual Washington "jobs for the boys" cronyism than anything political, ideological, or educational on the part of Ken Tomlinson (Full disclosure: my only program recommendation to CPB--Agustin Blazquez's documentary on Elian Gonzalez featured on this blog and in a Wall Street Journal editorial--was sidelined by Tomlinson's CPB staff and PBS executives).

When I see Ann Coulter with her own nightly PBS talk show, instead of Charlie Rose, then I'll agree that CPB is affecting PBS programming -- and maybe helping increase PBS's lousy ratings.

Until then, who cares about PBS and NPR ? We have the blogosphere, after all...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Russian Dilettante on Putin's Speech

There's some interesting analysis on The Russian Dilettante's Weblog. A sample:
Putin's State of the Nation address:

A good speech overall, but it must be about some other country in a parallel world. I'm going to pick one bit that I know all Russia-watchers in Blogistan will get exercised about.

Also certain is that Russia should continue its civilising mission on the Eurasian continent. This mission consists in ensuring that democratic values, combined with national interests, enrich and strengthen our historic community.

Judging by the context, Putin is talking about Central Asia. Russia shooting itself in the foot again... Here's why. First, 'civilizing mission' gab is hopelessly pass?. Nobody cares about the mission; instead, you'll get branded a racist, imperialist, neo-Kiplingian and whatnot. Even Americans, out on a mission in Iraq, don't dare to call it by its proper name.
Ahhh, Civilization--the love that dare not speak its name...

May Day Still a Russian Holiday: Orthodox Easter

And Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin officially wishes everyone a Happy Easter this Sunday...

A Conspiracy of Kindness

PBS is actually showing what looks like an interesting film,Sugihara: A Conspiracy of Kindness. Here's an email from Eric Saul, who put together the touring "Visas for Life" photo exhibit about diplomats who saved Jews during WWII. (Full disclosure: My mother's family was saved by another diplomat, Portugal's Aristides de Souza Mendes) Sugihara's story is interesting because Japan was allied with Germany:
We are happy to announce the public airing of an important new documentary telling the story of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara.  The documentary is called "Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness."  The Visas for Life Project has been working with film producers Rob Kirk and Dianne Estelle for the last several years.  We congratulate Dianne and Rob for their years of hard work.

As you may know, Chiune Sugihara was the first diplomat depicted by the Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats Project.  The Visas for Life Project was happy to introduce Sugihara's rescue story to the United States in January 1995. 

The documentary has had some wonderful reviews, including the Wall Street Journal and an upcoming article in US News and World Report.

We believe this is one of the best documentaries ever produced on diplomatic rescue during the war.  Several Sugihara family members, including his widow Yukiko Sugihara, are interviewed in this moving documentary.  Many Sugihara survivors are also interviewed.  One is Ben Fischoff, of New York, who helped finance the film.

A particularly moving segment of the Sugihara documentary was taken at Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel, during the April 1998 Visas for Life Project tour of Israel.  As you may know, Sugihara issued more than 300 visas and saved an entire Jewish religious academy from destruction by the Nazis.  Many of the former students and teacher pay tribute to Mrs. Sugihara.

The documentary will be shown as part of the 60th anniversary commemoration of the end of World War II, and as a part of Yom Hashoah at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Please mark your calendars and watch this remarkable documentary honoring one of our courageous diplomats.  Also, please pass this information along to your family and friends.

Aljazeera: Worldwide protests mark May Day

Aljazeera.Net reports on global protests on this former national holiday of the USSR. Meanwhile, The Nation recounts May Day's American origins:

On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day protest in history. Within a few years, the fight was won. But, in the early part of the 20th century, the US government, recognizing May Day's galvanizing potency, tried to curb May 1 celebrations and their radical resonance by establishing an alternative: Labor Day, a holiday devoid of historical significance--but one offering a paid day off!