Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Here's a quick study of Palin. My first question was this: why, if she's so GOP FAMILY VALUES AND ALL, is she leaving a four-month-old special-needs baby, so that she can go off campaigning? How could a mother do this? Well, maybe because she's not the mother--
Posted by Patti McCracken at 8:56 PM
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
This is an earlier email (last week or so) from my colleague at the J school in Tbilisi--I was away and unable to update my blog.
She is frustrated by what she says is misinformation doled out by the Russians, and general lack of reporting beyond the political deals and military maneuvers.
She details what is going on with the individuals caught up in it:
Firstly, let me express my deepest gratitude to all those who sent messages, expressed concern, suggested help. My deep gratitude to all these people. Believe me, it is really very, very hard to be Georgian these days but current difficulties also have brought clarity, they have shown who is a true friend and who is not… My apologies for not writing separate messages to each of you. Time is very short and I try to do as much as I can. Many of you ask how you can help. At this point the major help from your side would be to disseminate correct information among your friends, colleagues, people who you know and who listen to you. Russians launched a very powerful information war and tell their “truth” to the world. It is necessary to present things how they are in reality.
Situation in Georgia at this point is still very complex. Despite signed agreement Russians are not quick on leaving this country. On Sunday they even expanded the area of their control. They occupy all hills between Gori and Khashuri. US State Secretary, French President and German Chancellor talked again with Medvedev on Sunday. He promised to start withdrawal on Monday afternoon. It is 4 p.m. and so far there is no sign of movement towards Russia. They destroyed both military and civilian infrastructure, separated Western and Eastern parts of the country and put us on the edge of ecological catastrophe. I don’t even mention endless cases of rape, robbery and killings of local population in two provinces of Georgia – Kartli and Samegrelo. They showed that all these are not about “defense” of small nations (25 thousand Ossetians and 50 thousand Abkhazs). This is about the third annexation of Georgia and its transfer to one, ordinary gubernia of Russia. In case of success Russians will go further on the way of restoration of Russian Empire in the boundaries of SU. Hopefully this will never happen. People who never had their statehoods before created independent states in the end of 20th century. Georgia with its long history should not loose its independence these days when it, first time ever, gets really very strong international support. Russia should be punished severely for what it did here. And this should be done first of all for the sake of Russians themselves. Majority of people in Russia have no idea what their government and army are doing. According to the last sociological research Russians think that Georgia is number one enemy for them and we are a nation of fascists with population 40 mln. This small nation (less than 4 mln including all ethnic minorities) which might be easily accommodated in two districts of Moscow looks so powerful thanks to endless lies and fairy tales that Russian mass media tells them! So, punishment should be severe and should help ordinary Russian people to open eyes, and feel how low their nation has fallen down and who they have as a government. You should see the alcoholic face of general Borisov who is a major commander in the current war. Sometimes he is so drunken that barely talks to the journalists. It’s an irony that due to orders of this man and his bosses Georgia has moved several dozens of years back, almost everything is destroyed what has been created with difficulties, struggle and pain and we have ahead very complex and desperate period of struggle in order to return back even to the prewar conditions. We certainly will manage to reconstruct destroyed infrastructure with the help of our friends but alas we will not be able to return back those innocent people who died during this war.
Of course the major question remains: was the Georgian government correct while giving reply to Russian army and getting involved in the war? Even if we haven’t started shooting first it was evident that by replying to shooting we are getting involved in the war. But was it possible not to reply to shooting from Russian side? I do not have firm answer to these questions. Time is needed to see how things will develop. In the best for us case we will come closer to the NATO accession, the issue of territorial integrity of the country will not be a question any more, international forces will replace Russian “peacekeepers” and world will revise its attitude towards Russia. If this happens we will be able to conclude that this war had a sense. Otherwise it will be very difficult for ordinary Georgians to justify those killings and destruction that occurred. At least Georgian side expresses readiness to provide all materials for international investigation which will give answer to the question what really happened and who is guilty for the beginning this mess.
Many of you asked whether you can forward my message to other people. You are welcome to use them as you want. My apologies for English. There definitely are language mistakes.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
My colleague at the Georgian journalism school reported on what it was like being in Gori those first days. She is still on the front lines. And since the front lines creep closer and closer to Tbilisi, more and more people are.
Here's a look at her report of accounts, along with photos (she's a photojournalist):
Monday, August 25, 2008
After a couple of weeks away, I'm back again.
Having spent nearly a year (in total over the past six years) in the Republic of Georgia, of course I've been keeping a close watch on the situation.
A Georgian colleague has been sending email posts about her assessment of the situation, and is kindly allowing me to reprint her accounts here. Her feeling is that the more the word gets out, the better. So here it is:
Russians are partially leaving Georgia. Their troops left Gori and adjacent villages, however they still remain in the gorge not far from Tskhinvali which was under Georgian control before the war and in Poti with the intension to control Poti Port and discourage commercial and humanitarian vessels to enter the port. Majority of us has a sense that they want to stay here for a long time and it will not be that easy to get rid of them. Their main goal at this after withdrawal stage is to isolate Georgia economically from the outside world.
The typical picture while Russians withdrawal looks as follows: Russian tanks and heavy lorries are full of robbed items: furniture, dishes, dresses, mattresses and pillows, lavatory pans and sinks, forks and spoons. They leave Georgia and Georgian land is in fire – before moving back they pour petrol on the roads, fields, in the forests and leave heavy fires; many roads, bridges, railway stations, gardens and orchards, fields and crossroads are full of bombs. Russians leave Georgia and leave destroyed military camps, exploded Poti Port and damaged railways. Russians leave dead bodies of Georgian soldiers who are almost naked – this is called “production without remains” – Georgians were not only killed but they were robbed by representatives of the “powerful” army. Russians leave Georgia and leave country with more than 550 hectares of burnt forests, thousands of tons of oil that was poured in the Black Sea while sinking and exploding Georgian ships and that makes Black Sea an object of ecological catastrophe. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park was the largest park in the Caucasus with more than hundred year of protection regime. The park included pristine forests, sub-alpine meadows and represented habitat for many endemic, rare and relict species. Now everything is damaged and many dozens of years will be necessary to restore the forest. There is some danger that we will not be able to restore some rare types of animals and insects. Very high probability of landslides has emerged due to high inclination angle of the slopes of mountains that presents a real danger for villages. Russians leave Georgia with smile on their faces and with the confidence of accomplished mission. Before leaving Russians give freedom to some of the captives. Their majority are elderly people whose ages are more than 60. Many of them are beaten. There are many people who still remain in the prisons of Tskhinvali. Their relatives and family members are desperately searching for them, Georgian government unsuccessfully tries to negotiate release of military captives that there taken by Russians after cease fire document was signed by three presidents. Frustrated, frightened, injured and offended Georgians look at leaving Russians and go back to the main question: for what reasons they got such punishment? Why a big and “powerful” nation might be so brutal and cruel in the 21st century?
What is the next? Each of us have been asking one question (are Russians leaving?) hundred times in a day during the last two weeks. Now we ask another question: what is the next? I bet nobody knows exact answer to this question however everyone is certain that we have an extremely tough time ahead for several years. We should clean the country, get rid of everything that reminds Russian invasion, start building of villages and towns and take care for those who lost beloved ones, conduct diplomatic and information wars, analyze what happened with us and ask many, many questions to our President and the government. But even before that we should find forces to accept the hard reality, defeat frustration and pain, evoke a philosophical attitude towards life (according to which life is an exam and blessed are those who successfully pass it) and try to act. Action is the best cure in such crisis. We have done this for many times along our history. Hopefully we will manage to do it this time.
I want to express my deep gratitude to all those who followed events in Georgia, talked about them with family members, friends and colleagues, sent messages, expressed concern, frustration, support, wrote articles and participated in the discussions. I personally got convinced once more that we cannot be fully independent from each other and the world really is a global village where all nations are somewhat connected. We really are like different parts of one body – when one part suffers another cannot feel well.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
No posts for awhile. I've been away and with only sporadic internet access.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 6:49 PM
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Arrived in London this morning.
In the kitchen, chattin with my niece. She was complaining about the rain, wondering why her mom left sunny Florida for rainy England.
"She did it for love, but what's my excuse?" I said. "I could live anywhere and I pick.... small town in landlocked, lederhosened Austria? Where flirting involves exchanges of constipated looks? I could have lived in coastal Italy, on a Greek island, but..."
My niece looked at me like Yea, What were you thinking...
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I had a friend who thought "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" was really "party on the easy street." Patrick Somebodyorother at Countryside High School thought "beast of burden" was "pizza burnin," and then there is "Forever in Bluejeans" as "Reverend Bluejeans."
But here's a little subtitle and hieroglyphic help for Joe Cocker's friends. Don't wet yourself laughing.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Heuriger literally means "this year's" but in Austria it means wine. This year's wine on this here place.
These are wine cellars located just outside of Prellenkirchen.
Most of the vintners are part-time and the tradition is passed down from generation to generation.
This is an "aus g'steckt"--a branch adorned with ribbons stuck out on a pole to indicate that the Heurige is open.
Oh yea, what's a Heurige? Generally speaking, it's an Austrian wine tavern. But unlike any other wine tavern in the world (really).
I wrote an article about the tradition of Heuriger for the latest issue of the Brussels inflight magazine.
When my Ukrainian guests trundled back through Austria on their way home, I met them for breakfast at their gasthaus in Deutsch Altenburg, a village outside of Hainburg that also hugs the Danube. It was already a beautiful day. Round sun, fresh air, fresh coffee.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
From Guenter Grass' The Tin Drum:
Posted by Patti McCracken at 4:13 PM
Saturday, August 02, 2008
I was having a coffee with Rudi yesterday and asked him if he knew any "finger wrestlers" -- so-called athletes who, from time to time, deck out in lederhosen and pull each other across tabletops with their middle fingers, to Austrian/Bavarian folk music accompaniment.