Voices from Russia

Monday, 23 December 2013

23 December 2013. A Photo Essay. Our Great Russian Motherland… At the Top of the World… Vrangel Island

00 Vrangel Island RF. 01. Polar Bears. 07.12.13

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00 Vrangel Island RF. 02. Musk Oxen. 07.12.13

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00 vrangel Island RF. 03. Bird w Chick. 07.12.13

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00 Vrangel Island RF. 04. Snow Fox and Snow Goose. 07.12.13

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00 vrangel Island RF. 05. Snowy Owl. 07.12.13

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00 Vrangel Island RF. 06. Polar Bears. 07.12.13

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00 Vrangel Island RF. 07. Snow Foxes. 07.12.13

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00 vrangel Island RF. 08. Snowy Owl. 07.12.13

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00 Vrangel Island RF. 09. Snow Fox. 07.12.13

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00 Vrangel Island RF. 010. Polar Bear. 07.12.13

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Vrangel Island is in the Far North, in the Chukchi Sea, near the Bering Strait, administratively part of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug… that is, it’s near Alaska (but Sarah Palin can’t see it from her house… silly wabbit). It’s a large island, being some 7,600 square kilometres (2,930 square miles) in extent. To give you some perspective on its size, Long Island (including Brooklyn and Queens) is 1,401 square miles (3,630 square kilometres), roughly half its area. However, Long Island has 7.7 million inhabitants (5400/sq mi, 2,100/sq km), whilst Vrangel is almost uninhabited, having only two small settlements due to the severe polar climate. The Vrangel Island Federal Strict Nature Reserve takes up the entire territory of the island, in addition to nearby Gerald Island, and includes 40 kilometres (25 miles) of the waters immediately offshore the islands. The island is the northernmost UNESCO World Heritage Site.

BMD

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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Syrian Army Defeats Rebels in Aleppo


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Syrian troops repelled rebel attacks in Aleppo, the second most important city in the country. After three days of street fighting, the armed gangs retreated, failing to break government force defence lines. The army surrounded and crushed an al-Qaeda-linked rebel band that took part in the offensive. According to the SANA news agency, they killed over 100 mercenaries and terrorists. Syrian Air Force helicopters attacked a convoy of trucks moving to Aleppo from the Turkish border. The BBC reported that the fighting between government forces and rebels led to the destruction of a medieval market on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A fire started in the market situated in the Old City on Friday, 28 September, and it’s still raging now. The fire began because of a battle during which both sides used grenade-launchers and assault rifles.

30 September 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_09_30/Syrian-army-defeats-rebels-in-Aleppo/

Editor’s Note:

There’s no news on the Syrian victory in the Western media. If that isn’t proof that it’s unreliable propaganda, well, what is? Bashar al-Assad’s no prize package, but he’s not a bloodthirsty Islamist killer, either. Most Muslims are decent sorts who don’t want the kind of world that the Islamists want. Don’t fall for the hate from Fox News and from Willy’s camp.

Isn’t it funny… the people who peddle hate claim to love Jesus (trust me, He’ll tell them, “I know thee not!”)… it does make one think, doesn’t it?

BMD

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

12 September 2012. VOR Presents… New Jerusalem Ethiopian-Style… or, an Otpust to Lalibela

On 11 September, Ethiopians celebrate the New Year. According to legend, the Queen of Sheba chose this date upon her return from Jerusalem. The queen brought with her good news, which launched a new era for Ethiopia. Currently, perhaps, Ethiopia is the only country in the world that uses the Julian calendar not only for church affairs, but also in secular life. The Ethiopian calendar is behind the one familiar to us by seven years and eight months. Religious services in all the churches, both large and small, herald the Ethiopian New Year… in the early morning people dress in traditional clothes, go to church for services, and, only then, go home to a family meal. We’d like to invite you on the first day of the Ethiopian New Year to come with us to this exotic African country and see one of its main attractions… the churches carved into the living rock at Lalibela.

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Lalibela, located in the mountains in the heart of Ethiopia, is a place of pilgrimage not only for Christians, but for all who are interested in mankind’s historical legacy. Here, far traditional African villages, the Ethiopians built a “New Jerusalem” of monolithic cut right into the living rock at the end of 11th to the early 12th centuries.

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Lalibela was to become a New Jerusalem after the capture of Jerusalem by the Muslims in 1187. The Righteous Holy King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela decreed this role for the city. That is why the location and names of many of the historical monuments of the city repeat the names of the buildings of Jerusalem; even the local river is called the Jordan.

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The Lalibela churches are unique due to the fact that they aren’t built in the usual way; they’re cut into the living rock itself, all in a mountainous region some 2,500 metres (@8,200 feet) above sea level. From ground level, you can only see the top of the entire complex of buildings, which, in addition to churches, grottoes, and labyrinths, includes a whole maze of underground corridors connecting the churches one with another.

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The Church of St George is carved in the form of a cross, it’s located in a deep pit, and its roof is at ground level. You can only gain entrance to the church through a tunnel.

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A fragment of the iconography inside the Church of St George in Lalibela.

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The Ethiopians built the churches by cutting huge trenches into the rock, to a depth of about 12 metres (40 feet), the blocks of rock cut out became the raw material for other churches. Then, the churches in these pits were hollowed out, and were provided with all the customary details such as columns, capitals, ornaments, sculptures, cut-outs, etc.

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Almost all the inhabitants of Lalibela are Christians belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. In the image, we see clergy during a procession.

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The celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord on Epiphany (Timkat) in Lalibela.

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A priest at the entrance to one of the churches of Lalibela.

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There is an ancient Ethiopian legend that explains the rapid rate of construction of the church in only a few years… during the day, people worked on them, at night, angels continued the work.

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A religious procession in Lalibela.

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Welcome to Lalibela!

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11 September 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/photoalbum/87867375/87867386/

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Holocaust is About Today and Tomorrow

11 April: International Day to Remember the Liberation of the Prisoners of the Nazi Concentration Camps

Yefim Tsvik

1985

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Holocaust Remembrance Day, 19 April, falls on the anniversary of the heroic Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943, when a Nazi SS brigade that was herding its population to death camps paid a heavy price in blood for weeks at the hands of Jewish fighters armed with Molotov cocktails. The commemoration day designated by the UN General Assembly, 27 January, is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. These two dates reflect an evolving perception of the Holocaust in our newly-inflamed post-September 11 world, from a uniquely Jewish catastrophe to a universal one. As a survivor of Auschwitz, and currently an Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy of UNESCO for Holocaust education, I’m commemorating that tragedy with the Jews of Turkey… a country that’s welcomed and protected them from the time of the Spanish Inquisition to Hitler’s “Final Solution”.

My mission isn’t only to lament the victims, but also to alert world leaders and the public at large to the risk of new catastrophes that may destroy their universe, as they once destroyed mine. The ashes of Auschwitz speak to us about the present and the future, as well as the past. In the 1930s, when rampant economic and political upheavals unleashed insecurity and fear, popular folly recruited diabolic “saviours”. This is how democracies perished and the hunt for scapegoats began. Since my liberation from Dachau by American GIs, new genocides, ethnic cleansings, and other mass atrocities confirm that the human capacity for evil knows no bounds. Indeed, that the unthinkable is again possible, with plagues of toxic gas, atomic mushroom clouds, and ballistic missiles in the dangerous hands of new despots and fanatics.

Thus, when incendiary demagogues with nuclear ambitions reopen our wounds by calling the Holocaust a “myth”, we, the last living survivors, have a visceral obligation to testify that it was both a gruesome reality for us and an existential warning for all mankind of horrors yet to come. However, we must follow our words with action, with concrete policies of remembrance and education that can raise public awareness of how such slaughters erupt and how we can prevent them. Today, I can attest that this process has begun.

For last year’s commemoration, I found myself in Auschwitz at the behest of “Project Aladdin”, launched by the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah and UNESCO. Two hundred Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders met in Paris for that pilgrimage, including heads of state, mayors of major capitals, Chief Rabbis, Grand Muftis, and Cardinals. In the cursed barbed-wire enclosure of Birkenau, where I once saw the proud ship of civilisation go under, where I lost my family and all the children of my school, it fell upon me to bear witness. Surrounded by relics of gas chambers and crematoria, united by common pain and shared human values, our unlikely assembly transcended all racial, religious, and political strife and prayed to the same God.

After that manifestation of solidarity, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives invited a group of us to testify before it. There, we reiterated the warning that unless we dissipate the abysmal ignorance and distortion of the Holocaust, unite against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and terrorism, and espouse the core moral values inherent in our great creeds… spiritual and secular… the forces of darkness will return to doom our future. However, my principal focus was on the promising potential for expanded dialogue, revealed by the encounters in Paris, Auschwitz, and Washington. The Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Dr Mustafa Ceric, who was also with us, confirmed that potential with these words, “I came to see for myself the evil man can do to man, and to say that those who deny the Holocaust of Auschwitz or the genocide of Srebrenica, are committing genocides themselves”.

True, one swallow does not make a spring, but his declaration profoundly moved all his coreligionists, of every stripe and from every continent; the palpable evidence of Nazi barbarism shocked them, as it did the rest of us. It was also obvious that the barbarians of today who kill and maim innocents at random, including their own kin, equally disturbed them. This raised the hope of a more tolerable coexistence between vast silent majorities of people who don’t consider themselves “sworn enemies”. That “Project Aladdin” is now making available, in cooperation with local institutions, Turkish, Arabic, and Iranian versions of Holocaust books like The Diary of Anne Frank, films like Shoah, and other links for people-to-people contacts suggests that the hope is real.

It also suggests that political or diplomatic skirmishes of an altogether different nature mustn’t derail UN organisations entrusted with lofty fundamental responsibilities from their legitimate specialised tasks, especially UNESCO. This is all the more so in a deteriorating international environment that’s pushing us toward a fateful crossroads… shall we retreat into a dark age of unmanageable global turmoil, or, shall we move forward with new leaps of imagination, innovation, and creativity that could revive the enthusiasm and energies of younger generations?

Having experienced the lowest depths and a few summits of the human condition in the course of my tortuous odyssey, I’ve learned and written that there’s a way free of hatred and violence to deal with the intractable challenges of our time. That way calls for collective efforts to liberate the inexhaustible resources of human intelligence, knowledge, and compassion that exist in ample measure among peoples of every region, race, colour, and faith. Developed and made accessible through the precious channels of education, science, and culture, these resources can usher in a new era of tolerance, prosperity, and peace… before it is too late.

19 April 2012

Samuel Pisar

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20120419/172913663.html

Editor’s Note:

We must refuse to support those who offer violence as a first resort in international, domestic, and personal venues. That’s why we must vote against all Republican candidates in the coming election. That’s what they stood for in the Reagan and Bush years, that’s what they stand for now, and that’s the sort of policy that Mitt Romney and Company would implement. Remember the secret torture facilities run by Langley and the Republican coddling of gun nutters and racists when you vote… if you vote for the GOP, you vote FOR hidden torture in secret locations, the scrapping of all reasonable gun laws, indiscriminate bombing of civilians, the protection of racist vigilantes, and perpetual warfare in foreign parts.

We CAN avert that…

BMD

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