Saturday, April 25, 2015

WW 2 Movies

Next month is the 70th anniversary of V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) and this August is the 70th anniversary of V-J Day (Victory in Japan Day.) The best way for those of us who didn't experience World War 2 is to read books and watch movies about it. I have watched many war movies  - especially those about World War 2 - since I was little. Here is a list of the ones that I have seen and think show the war (the military battles, the bombings, the homefront, the Holocaust, the POW camps, the Resistance, the toll on regular people, etc.) I separated them into those made during World War 2, those made during the Cold War and those made Post-Cold War because there's a difference in what is shown and said. The movies made during World War 2 may not have all the facts or be pure propaganda as the war was still going on. The movies made during the Cold War could have a slant (pro or anti-Communist.) The movies made since the end of the Cold War, while they could have a propagandish feel, tend to show more of what happened during the war and its effects on the people involved in it.
Movies Made During War World 2:
- The Lion Has Wings  (UK - 1939)
- Caught in the Draft  (US - 1941)
- A Yank in the RAF   (US - 1941)
- Mrs. Miniver (US - 1942)
- To Be or Not to Be (US - 1942)
- Went the Day Well (UK - 1942)
- Bataan  (US - 1943)
- So Proudly We Hail  (US - 1943)
- The Fighting Sullivans (US - 1944)
- Hail the Conquering Hail  (US - 1944)
- They Were Expendable (US - 1945)
Movies Made During the Cold War:
- The Last Shop  (Poland - 1947)
- Border Street  (Poland - 1948)
- The Search  (US - 1948)
- The Hasty Heart   (US/UK - 1949)
- The Desert Rats  (US - 1953)
- Malta Story  (UK - 1953)
- Stalag 17 (US - 1953)
- Battle Cry  (US - 1955)
- The Colditz Story  (UK - 1955)
- A Town Like Alice  (UK - 1956)
- The Bridge On the River Kwai  (UK - 1957)
- Ballad of a Soldier  (USSR - 1959)
- The Diary of Anne Frank  (US - 1959)
- Kapo   (Yugoslavia/Italy/US - 1959)
- Exodus   (US - 1960)
- Judgment at Nuremberg (US - 1961)
- The Longest Day  (US - 1962)
- The Great Escape  (US - 1963)
- Atentat   (Czechoslovakia - 1964)
-Battle of the Bulge  (US - 1965)
- Is Paris Burning (US/France - 1966)
- Battle of Britain  (UK - 1969)
-  The Bridge at Remagen (US - 1969)
- Tora, Tora, Tora  (US/Japan - 1970)
- Jacob the Liar   (East Germany - 1975)
- The Hiding Place (US - 1975)
- Only Old Men Are Going to Battle (USSR - 1975)
- Midway  (US - 1976)
- A Bridge Too Far (UK/US - 1977)
- Holocaust  (US - 1978)
- Danger UXB  (UK - 1978)
- Sophie's Choice  (US - 1982)
- The Scarlet and the Black (US/UK/Italy - 1983)
-The Battle For Moscow  (USSR/East Germany - 1985)
- Escape From Sobibor (UK/Yugoslavia - 1987)
- Au Revoir Les Enfants  (France - 1987)
- War and Remembrance (US - 1988)
- Stalingrad  (USSR/East Germany - 1989)
- Europa, Europa  (West Germany/France/Poland - 1990)
- Good Evening Mr. Wallenberg  (Sweden/Hungary/Norway - 1990)
- Korczak (Poland/West Germany/UK - 1990)
- For the Boys (US - 1991)
Movies Made Post Cold War:
- Shining Through  (US - 1992)
- Schindler's List  (US - 1993)
-  Swing Kids  (US - 1993)
- Bent  (US/Japan - 1997)
- Paradise Road  (Australia/US - 1997)
- Miracle at Midnight  (US - 1998)
- Saving Private Ryan  (US - 1998)
-Ambush  (Finland  - 1999)
- Band of Brothers (UK/US - 2001)
- Enemy At The Gates   (US/UK/Germany - 2001)
- Enigma (US/UK/Germany/Netherlands - 2001)
- The Grey Zone  (US - 2001)
- Pearl Harbor  (US - 2001)
- Uprising  (US - 2001)
- The Pianist  (France/Poland/Germany/UK - 2002)
- Twin Sisters (Netherlands - 2002)
- Bon Voyage  (France - 2003)
- Babiy Yar  (Germany - 2003)
- Downfall (Germany/Italy/Austria - 2004)
- Island At War  (UK - 2004)
- The Great Raid  (US/Australia - 2005)
- A Love to Hide  (France - 2005)
- Sophie Scholl  (Germany - 2005)
- Black Book  (Netherlands/Germany/UK - 2006)
- Dresden  (Germany - 2006)
- Katyn  (Poland - 2007)
- The Counterfeiters (Germany/Austria  - 2007)
- Australia  (Australia/US/UK - 2008)
- Defiance   (US - 2008)
- Valkyrie   (US  - 2008)
- Winter In Wartime  (Netherlands - 2008)
- The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler    (US/Poland/Canada - 2009)
- The Round-Up    (France/Germany - 2010)
- Auschwitz   (Germany  - 2011)
- The Flowers of War  (China/Hong Kong  - 2012)
- Emperor   (US - 2013)
- The Monuments Men  (US - 2014)

War Truth

From the Stars and Stripes:
"'The truth needs to be told' about Japan's war history, some vets say"
Lester Tenney endured three hellish years as a Japanese prisoner during World War II, but with the passing of decades and repeated visits, he's made peace with his former enemy. Yet as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to address Congress next week, in the 70th anniversary year of the war's end, something rankles the U.S. military veteran about Japan's attitude toward its past. "They don't want the young people to know what really happened," complains Tenney, now 94. The Associated Press spoke to three U.S. war veterans about their surrender in the Philippines in 1942 and their exploitation as slave laborers in Japan. It's an episode of history most notorious for the Bataan Death March, when tens of thousands of Filipino and American prisoners of war were forced 65 miles on foot to prison camps. Thousands are thought to have perished. The AP also asked the veterans for opinions about Japan today. The U.S.-allied nation issued a formal apology to American POWs in 2009 and again in 2010 and has paid for some veterans to travel to Japan, leaving them with a more positive view of the Japanese people. All three veterans, however, remain adamant that their wartime experiences, and those of the POWs who didn't make it, should not be forgotten.Tenney, with the 192nd Tank Battalion, U.S. Army, said he was made to march for eight days after his capture. "You had to stand on your own two feet and you had to keep moving. If you fell down, you died. If you had to go to the bathroom, you died. If you had a malaria attack, you died. The Japanese would just kill you, period. You had to stay on your feet ... If you looked at a Japanese soldier in the wrong way, he would beat the hell out of you." After a 28-day journey by ship to Japan, Tenney worked at a coal mine near the town of Omuta run by the Mitsui Mining Co., shoveling coal 12 hours a day for three years. He said British, Australian and Indonesian prisoners also worked there and they had no protective gear, and they'd self-inflict injuries to get days off. His weight dropped from 189 pounds to 97 pounds. He said Mitsui has never responded to his letters calling for an apology. "If Mr. Abe comes here I would like him to say, 'I bring with me an apology from the industrial giants that enslaved American POWs.' He could say that very easily ... I'm afraid that when Mr. Abe leaves here, all of it's going to be forgotten. They're going to forget about apologies to the POWs, they're going to forget they did anything wrong. It's going to like whitewashing the whole thing." "You can't have a high-ranking country today if you're not willing to face your past. They have to admit their failures. If they admit their failures, then by golly they deserve to have the best." After the war, Tenney became a professor of economics at Arizona State University and today lives in Carlsbad, Calif. He has returned to Japan five times and was instrumental in starting Japanese government-supported "friendship" visits by POWs. "The Japanese people were wonderful. They were very kind, they were very hospitable, no question about it. They treated us beautifully ... And there's no reason why they shouldn't. We didn't do anything wrong (in the war)."
Harold Bergbower
Harold Bergbower, 94, was a private with the 28th Bomb Squadron, U.S. Air Force, when he was captured on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao and sent eventually to Davao penal colony. "We could not have been treated any worse in prison camp," he said. "It was inhuman." Intensely sick during the voyage, he can't recall the journey to Japan, in the broiling, closed holds of "hell ships" that carried POWs and Asian laborers. They were starved of food, deprived of water. Only decades after did he learn that the first ship he was on was hit in a U.S. bombing attack and forced to dock for repairs. Thousands died on such voyages. Bergbower spent two years in brutal labor, scooping ore into open furnaces at a steel mill in the city of Toyama. He was very bitter about his experience as a POW, and for more than 50 years he never talked about it, even to his wife and family. "When I got back to the States after the war, I was told to go home and forget about it and that's exactly what I did. I didn't talk to anybody." His view of Japan changed when he went on a friendship visit in 2011 and returned to the factory where he'd been enslaved. Staff there apologized "from the heart" for what the POWs had been through. "I came away with a much different impression of Japan. We couldn't have been treated any better." Bergbower, who lives near Phoenix, said he has forgiven the people of Japan, but not the government. He doesn't dwell on the past but said, "The truth needs to be told ... it needs to be told as it happened."
Darrell Stark
Stark, 93, was a new recruit of the 31st Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army, when he was captured and eventually shipped to Yokkaichi, the city in Japan where he was forced to shovel coal at a copper mill. Five years after the war, Stark received a letter from a Japanese man who showed him kindness and gave him food at the mill. Stark always regretted that he never replied. Stark suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, but he recovered and enjoyed a long career as a corrections officer in Connecticut. He went to Japan on a friendship visit last October, and the current deputy director of the mill clasped his hand and apologized. Stark has also exchanged letters with the son of the man, now deceased, who'd showed him kindness 70 years ago. "I found the people (in Japan) to be very friendly, the country very clean and the people that I talked to were very nice. It is amazing what the two countries have done together to accomplish what we have over all these years. It's also amazing that with all this we have accomplished, they are not completely coming out with the truth." "It really upsets me there are certain individuals who have completely ignored history and rewritten it to make it look like Japan was attacked, and that there was no Bataan Death March and no cruelty at all on their part. That's not all the people. But there are some. "I think when (Abe) comes, and if he really wants to do something great for his nation and maybe for the world, he should make an apology and be grateful, in a way of appreciation, for things the two countries have done together. That would just about wind it up right there, because we need to be allies. "Another reason I would love to see Japan and the United States and all countries get along with each other is that if we ever have a total conflict, the whole world is going to be destroyed. No question about it."

 ^ The truth always seems to  come out in the end no matter who tries to rewrite it. You would think that after 70 years it was long overdue for Japan to fully and completely take responsibility for its role during the war. ^

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dress War

From the MT:
"Michelle Williams’ Dress Caught In Ukraine-Russia Propaganda War"

Amid Kiev's standoff with Russia over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, even the latest spring fashion trend can find itself being used as a tool in the so-called “propaganda war” that is playing out on both sides of the border. The offending item? An orange and black leather dress designed by French fashion house Louis Vuitton and worn by American actress Michelle Williams on the cover of the April issue of Elle UK magazine. The dress' orange and black stripes recall the St. George ribbon that was first introduced in the 18th century as the highest Russian military decoration for valor and is often worn by Russians to commemorate the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany. More recently the ribbon has also been adopted by pro-Kremlin patriots and rebels in eastern Ukraine as a symbol of resistance to what they describe as the fascist “junta” in Kiev that rose to power after the ousting of the former pro-Russian government last February. So when a photograph of Williams wearing the leather orange and black dress was reused by Ukraine's Elle for their May edition and promoted on a billboard — just weeks before Russia celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany — some social media users were quick to spot a case of subliminal messaging.
^ All  I can to is sit-back and laugh. The "Dawson's Creek" star seems to have made quite a fuss. ^

Prescreen Canada

From the G & M:
"Foreigners to undergo prescreening measures before flying to Canada"

Starting early next year, millions of annual visitors who don’t require a visa to enter Canada will nevertheless need to obtain preapproval from Ottawa under a new border-security regime designed to bar unwanted arrivals – including returning jihadis. Air travellers will have to pay $7 and receive an “electronic travel authorization” (eTA) before boarding a flight to Canada under a 2011 deal between Washington and Ottawa to better protect North America from security threats.  The Canadian government announced Wednesday that this new prescreening regime, which has received relatively little public attention, will be mandatory as of March 15, 2016. The eTA will be valid for five years. “These amendments will enable Canada to adopt a strengthened methodology in order to better identify high-risk travellers, such as persons known to be foreign fighters, and prevent them from travelling to Canada,” the federal government said in a notice. It is specifically targeting air travellers from countries whose nationals are permitted to visit Canada without a visa, reasoning that this group receives the least scrutiny from authorities. “Visa-exempt foreign nationals are not systematically screened for admissibility until they arrive at a Canadian port of entry,” the government said. Similar prescreening systems are already in place in the United States and Australia. Americans will be exempt from this new air-travel requirement, as will some categories of foreigners merely passing through Canada, including air crews. The Queen and members of the Royal Family will also be granted a pass. The government concedes the measure could discourage visitors at first. “It is acknowledged that there may be some minimal short-term impacts on tourism associated with the transition to the new eTA requirements,” Ottawa said in a statement. It says this prescreening will save Canada the trouble of turning back unwanted arrivals after they’ve landed. More than 7,000 people from countries other than the United States – people who did not require visas to enter Canada – were found inadmissible after arriving at Canadian airports in 2012 and 2013. The government estimates prescreening will prevent more than 60,000 unwanted arrivals from flying to Canada over the next decade. Rob Taylor, vice-president of public and industry affairs at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said it’s crucial this new travel authorization is as easy as possible for visitors to obtain – or tourists frustrated by the requirement could head elsewhere.“The international marketplace for international travellers is extremely competitive,” he said. The new travel authorization will require people planning to reach Canada by air to give the Canadian government biographical details about themselves so authorities can check their names against databases to determine if they pose a “threat to the health … safety or security of Canada.”
^ This is an update on what I reported earlier. It seems things usually get pushed-backed in Canada (the biometric passport kept being moved further out.) This online registration is one thing, but to charge for it - the way the US and Australia does - makes it a visa. Governments can call it what they want, but if you have to pay to enter a country then it's a visa. ^

Armenian Saints

From the BBC:
"Armenian Church canonises '1.5m genocide victims'"

The Armenian Church has held a ceremony near Yerevan to canonise 1.5 million Armenians it says were killed in massacres and deportations by Ottoman Turks during World War One.  The church says the aim of the ceremony was to proclaim the martyrdom of those killed for their faith and homeland.   On Friday commemorations will mark the 100th anniversary of the killings.  After the ceremony, bells tolled in Armenian churches around the world.  The beatification at the Echmiadzin Cathedral did not give the specific number of victims or their names.  It is the first time in 400 years that the Armenian Church has used the rite of canonisation.
^ I've been to a few Armenian Churches (in Russia and the US) and even though I couldn't always understand what they said  - most of it was in Armenian - you could still feel that it was a close-knit group of people. It's nice that the Church remembers those murdered during the genocide. I found a website in several languages that has a lot about the 100th anniversary of the Genocide at the following link:    ^

Happy Canada

From the G & M:
"Canada ranked 5th happiest place on earth"
Where are the world’s happiest people, and what makes them so upbeat? Switzerland is in the top spot – and Canada fares well too, landing in fifth place of 158 nations, according to the third world happiness report, which analyzes well-being through measures such as life expectancy, per capita incomes and perceptions of corruption.  “We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first,” said Prof. Helliwell. “Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises.” Canada has moved up a notch from its last report in 2013. Compared to its southern neighbour, “the U.S. is higher on GDP per capita, but Canada is higher on all five of the remaining variables: healthy life expectancy, social support, corruption, generosity, and freedom to make life choices,” noted Prof. Helliwell. “The net effect of the latter is much larger than the former, putting Canada significantly higher than the U.S.” The rankings, based partly on the Gallup World Poll, reflect issues such as social supports, life expectancy, GDP per capita, generosity, perceptions of corruption and “freedom to make life choices.” (One of the indicators, for example, reflects the share of respondents who say they have someone to count on in times of crisis. In this measure, Iceland and Ireland fare best). The findings come in the same month as the release of another global report on well-being, called the Social Progress Index. It looked at measures such as crime, health and social inclusion, and ranked Canada sixth of 133 countries. Wealthier, northern countries lead the rankings in the happiness report. It shows Switzerland is on top, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Finland. The United States is in 15th place. Togo, Burundi and war-torn Syria are at the bottom. The report also examined happiness by age and gender. It found men and women report similar levels of life satisfaction in Canada, though women are slightly more happy. “Despite what people may think about gender inequality, on the happiness front [the difference between men and women] is generally very small,” said Nicole Fortin, UBC professor who wrote the chapter on gender and age. In English-speaking countries, levels of happiness tend to rise as people age, with those near or in retirement the most happy. The report comes in the same week Statistics Canada published a study on life satisfaction among Canadian cities. It found people in Saguenay, Trois-Rivières and St. John’s report the highest degrees of satisfaction, while those in big cities – Toronto and Vancouver – are less satisfied.
^ I wonder what other, ordinary Canadians think about this new survey. One survey found that Denmark was the best place to live on the planet and then they had the violence against Jews there so it's clearly not the best place for everyone. Canadians generally do seem happy on the outside, but I think it's a little superficial. No one can be so happy and polite and yet openly discriminate against having a non-Protestant monarch or not allowing Canadians who weren't born in Canada to give Canadian citizenship to their children. ^

Aiding Ties

From the MT:
"Moscow's Armenian Community Marks 100th Anniversary of Genocide"

Ahead of President Vladimir Putin's visit to Yerevan on Friday to attend the centennial commemorations of the Armenian genocide, an atrocity that molded family histories and continues to fuel contentious political debate, Moscow's Armenian community convened to remember its victims and thank those who selflessly saved their relatives' lives.  Friday marks 100 years since the Ottoman Empire embarked on a series of massacres and deportations of its ethnic Armenian community that resulted in the deaths of more than one million people. Ottoman leaders, according to some historical accounts, accused Armenians — a Christian community of some two million living in what is modern-day eastern Turkey — of sympathizing with Russia, the empire's World War I foe.
Russia was and remains a pivotal country for the Armenians who fled their homeland to escape the genocide. The country is home to 1.18 million ethnic Armenians and 60,000 Armenian nationals, according to the 2010 census. According to Moscow's official statistics service, there are more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians in the capital alone.  Russia is also among the score of countries that have officially recognized the Armenian genocide. Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, vehemently rejects the term "genocide" to describe what happened to its Armenian population during World War I.  The State Duma adopted a resolution in 1995 condemning the "perpetrators of the extermination of Armenians" and declaring April 24 a day of remembrance for the victims of the genocide. More than 2,000 events are being held across 640 Russian cities to mark its 100th anniversary, according to Russia's Union of Armenians.  The Duma's resolution on the genocide states that through Russia's leadership, the great European powers of the First World War had in 1915 labeled the Ottoman Empire's actions against its Armenian community a "crime against humanity."
Russia's assistance to Armenian refugees went far beyond ideological support or religious affinities, according to Yury Navoyan, president of the Russian-Armenian Association.  Navoyan claims that some 200,000 Armenian refugees had sought refuge in the Russian Empire's North Caucasus by the summer of 1915, and that in total, more than 300,000 Armenians, among whom were many women and children, fled to Russia to escape the genocide. The tsarist government, according to Navoyan, provided Armenian refugees with two million rubles in financial assistance and assisted in their resettlement.  Many of the Armenian refugees died as they fled, according to various scholarly accounts of the events. A local newspaper from the period quoted by the Russian-Armenian Association reported that out of the 70,000 refugees located near the city of Echmiadzin (the modern-day Armenian city of Vagharshapat), 700 were dying each day from exhaustion, hunger and disease.
"Thanks to the Russian soldiers from the tsar's army, many Armenians who would have otherwise perished were saved," Archbishop Ezras Nersisyan, head of the Nor-Nakhichevan and Russian diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, told The Moscow Times earlier this week. "There is a famous picture from the time showing a Russian soldier cradling an Armenian baby. That baby is someone's grandparent today." Just as nearly every Russian has a personal story about World War II, the family histories of Moscow's Armenian community are intrinsically tied to the events of 1915. At the opening of the Armenian Museum of Moscow and Culture of Nations on Wednesday, descendants of genocide survivors, with forget-me-not flower pins on their lapels, recalled the horrors of the past. The director of a Moscow publishing house, Artur Artenyan, said that his great-grandfather was the only survivor of an extended family of 46 who fled the Ottoman Empire. Artenyan's great-grandfather had bribed an Ottoman soldier, hoping that he would spare his life. The soldier obliged but killed the man's brother with one shot to the back.  Even those who did not necessarily lose relatives in the Armenian genocide — like 57-year-old shopkeeper Nazani Oganesyan, who moved to Russia from Yerevan in 1999 in search of work — are brought to tears by their people's historical baggage.  "We have a legend according to which Armenians used to have blue eyes but their sorrow turned them black," she said, her bloodshot chestnut eyes welling up.  But on Wednesday, as it inaugurated a new 2,000-square-meter high-tech museum equipped with a 3-D movie theater and interactive exhibitions to honor the victims of the genocide, Moscow's Armenian community did not mope or wallow in collective self-pity. Its message was clear: Armenians had benefitted from other nations' largesse, but they have returned the favor and will continue to do so.  Speakers at the opening ceremony recalled the role of Armenians in the Soviet armed forces during World War II. According to Yury Bulatov, a faculty dean at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the Soviet Army's 89th Rifle Division, composed primarily of Armenians, played a key role in the Battle of Berlin, which gave the final blow to Nazi Germany in 1945. The Allied victory over Nazi Germany, whose 70th anniversary Russia will mark with great pomp and ceremony on May 9, is attributable in part to the Armenians who fully embraced the country that had accepted them in their time of need, Bulatov said.  "There are only something like 10 million Armenians on the planet. But it feels like there are many more," Stanislav Govorukhin, chairman of the State Duma's culture committee, said at the opening ceremony of the museum, enumerating world-renowned ethnic Armenians such as French chanson star Charles Aznavour and Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian.

^ Russia the United States have the highest percentage of Armenians outside of Armenia. Russia did do a lot to aid the Armenians fleeing for their lives during and after World War 1. Many went to the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic but they also went to other parts of the Soviet Union. That refuge and aid shouldn't be forgotten regardless of any new political disagreements. ^

Russian Blackmail

From the MT:
"Russian Court Rules Against Gay Teacher Who Was Fired"

A St. Petersburg court has ruled against a homosexual music teacher who lost her job after being outed by an anti-gay activist.  Ksenia Kirichenko, the lawyer for a gay rights organization representing the teacher, said Thursday that the court this week refused the teacher's demand to be reinstated.  The teacher, who would agree to be identified only by her first name, Alevtina, is one of several gay teachers who lost their jobs in St. Petersburg after being targeted by the activist.  While most resigned quietly, Alevtina decided to fight her dismissal in court — an unusual step in Russia, where gays have faced increasing pressure in recent years. Kirichenko said the teacher planned to file an appeal.

^ It's "nice" to see that people can get away with blackmail (or any kind and person) in Russia. The anti-gay bigots outed the teachers and are rewarded for it by the state. It seems Russia continues to move more into a banana republic rather than a respectable country of laws.  ^

Recognition Time

From the MT:
"Armenian President Says Ready to Restart Reconciliation with Turkey"

Armenia's president said on Wednesday he was ready to normalize relations with Turkey, two months after he withdrew peace accords from parliament, blaming a Turkish lack of political will to end 100 years of hostility. Speaking ahead of Friday's centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, which is at the heart of the problems between the countries, Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said there should be no preconditions in restarting the peace process and would not insist the Turks accept they committed genocide. "We shall at the end of the day establish normal relations with Turkey, and establishing those normal relations should be without any preconditions," Sarksyan told a group of foreign journalists. Armenia, a country of 3.2 million, signed accords with Turkey in October 2009 to establish diplomatic relations and open the land border between the countries, but the agreements stalled in the parliaments of both nations, with each side accusing the other of trying to rewrite the texts and setting new conditions. The deal could bring huge economic gains for landlocked Armenia as well as burnish Turkey's credentials as an EU candidate and boost its clout in the strategic South Caucasus. Muslim Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians died in partisan fighting during World War I, but denies the Armenian assertion that up to 1.5 million were killed, and that it amounted to genocide. Ahead of the centenary, the pope and the European Parliament angered Ankara by using the word genocide to describe the killings. On Wednesday, Turkey called a similar declaration by the Austrian parliament outrageous and said that no country should "lecture others on history." Sarksyan said the reconciliation process could restart "when Turkish leadership is ready to establish normal relations without any preconditions. Dozens of government delegations, including the presidents of France, Russia, Serbia and Cyprus are expected to take part in the commemorations on Friday. U.S. President Barack Obama is not expected to use the word "genocide" in a statement to mark the anniversary, something Sarksyan said was just to avoid angering an important ally. "We, of course, would want Mr. Obama to use the word genocide in his statement," Sarksyan said. "It's not that the United States does not recognize the genocide, it just does not want to use this particular word in order not to insult their ally Turkey." 
^ It's long overdue for Armenia and Turkey to officially recognize each other. While the Armenian Genocide is a very important and Turkey should official recognize what the Ottoman Turks did during World War 1 it shouldn't stop the two countries, that border each other, to open themselves up. It would help bring both countries and their people closer together. ^

Century Songs

From Wikipedia:
"Songs of the Century"

The "Songs of the Century" list is part of an education project by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. that aims to "promote a better understanding of America’s musical and cultural heritage" in American schools. Hundreds of voters, who included elected officials, people from the music industry and the media, teachers, and students, were asked in 2001 to choose the top 365 songs (not necessarily by Americans) of the 20th century with historical significance in mind. The voters were selected by RIAA, although only about 15% (200) of the 1,300 selected voters responded.

1. "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland in 1939
2. "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby in 1942
3. "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie in 1940
4. "Respect" by Arteha Franklin in 1967
5. "American Pie" by Don McLean in 1972
6. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the Andrew Sisters in 1941
7. "West Side Story" Album by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim in 1957
8. "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" by Billy Murray in 1908
9. "You've Lost That Lovin Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers in 1964
10. "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin in 1902
11. "In The Mood" by Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1940
12. "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley in 1954
13. "When The Saints Go Marching In" by Louis Armstrong in 1938
14. "You Are My Sunshine" by Jimmie Davis in 1939
15. "Mack The Knife" by Bobby Darin in 1959
16. "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones in 1965
17. "Take The A Train" by Duke Ellington in 1941
18. "Blueberry Hill" by Fats Domino in 1956
19. "God Bless America" by Kate Smith in 1938
20. "The Stars and Stripes Forever" by Sousa's Band in 1897
21. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye in 1968
22. "The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding in 1967
23. "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" by Tony Bennett in 1962
24. "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys in 1966
25. "Stand By Me" by Ben E King in 1961

^ I like music (as most people do) and found this list of supposedly the best American music from the 20th Century. The ones in bold are the ones I think should be on the list. I'm not sure why the Sousa's song from 1897 is on a list for the 20th Century as it's from the 19th. I don't think most of these represent the vast American music of the last century. ^

Adopting Poppies

From Yahoo:
"Ukraine, in snub to Moscow, to adopt British war-time symbol, ditch Soviet war name"

Ukraine, in a break with tradition that is certain to rile Moscow, is ditching the Soviet name for World War Two and aims to adopt the poppy, a mainly British wartime symbol, to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. The moves, signaled by Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk on Wednesday, marked an attempt by Kiev to distance itself from Moscow's Soviet-style celebrations, planned for May 9, as the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine drags on. In another break with the Soviet past, Kiev will align its calendar with that of its European allies by adding for the first time May 8 - known in the West as Victory in Europe Day - as a national holiday. A decree signed by President Petro Poroshenko fixed May 8 as a day for reconciliation between those Ukrainians who fought only the Nazis with those who, after the war, went on to fight Soviet rule also. Ukraine will then mark Victory day on May 9 with its own war veterans' march in Kiev and several other big cities. Kiev, with most Western governments, is boycotting the World War Two victory festivities in Moscow because of Russia's role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies it is arming the rebels. Kiev has announced plans for a sweeping security operation involving tens of thousands of police across Ukraine to guard against attacks by separatists or Russian agents during the festivities. Yatseniuk, whose government is set on a program of integration into the European mainstream following the ousting of a Moscow-backed president in February 2014, urged people to wear a poppy during the May victory celebrations in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. He described it as a "European symbol".  "Let all the other ribbons be worn by the Russian Federation which claims it was Russia that won the Second World War," Yatseniuk said. Yatseniuk's phrasing made clear he supported proposals to drop the Soviet name Great Patriotic War to describe the conflict against Nazi Germany that in the West is generally referred to as the Second World War or World War Two. The remembrance poppy was initially used, chiefly in Britain and among military veterans groups in its Commonwealth allies including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to honor those killed in the 1914-18 war. But its use on remembrance day on November 11 has been widened to commemorate armed service staff killed in all conflicts since 1914, including World War Two. The move is part of broader changes undertaken by the pro-Western leadership to rid Ukraine of vestiges of Soviet rule following the conflict in the east in which more than 6,100 people have been killed.
^ It is important for every country that was involved in World War 2 to remember the men, women and children - military and civilian  - who were impacted (especially those wounded or killed.) Each country should tailor their celebrations or remembrance to suit their individual history. With that said I do not know if using the poppy to show Ukraine's contribution to defeating the Nazis is right. It is not a European symbol, but a British and Commonwealth one.  ^

Turning Auschwitz

From the BBC:
"Auschwitz 'may turn away people' amid record visits"

The former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz is attracting so many visitors people may have to be turned away, staff there have warned. The Polish site, now a museum and memorial, saw a 40 per cent increase in visits in the first three months of 2015, compared with the previous year. Staff advise people wishing to visit to book in advance online. More than a million people, mostly Jews, died at Auschwitz during World War Two. "We already see that on particular hours, long waiting may be necessary in order to enter the former camp," said Andrzej Kacorzyk, the museum's deputy director.
^ From 1945 to 1991 Auschwitz was behind the Iron Curtain in Communist Poland and many people couldn't go visit there. Since 1991 there have been an influx of visitors and it seems that this year - the 70th anniversary of both the liberation of Auschwitz as well as the end of World War 2 has seen even more people visit. ^

Rosie The Riveter

From Yahoo:
"Model for Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter painting dies at 92"

Mary Doyle Keefe, the model for Norman Rockwell's iconic 1943 Rosie the Riveter painting that symbolized the millions of American women who went to work on the home front during World War II, has died. She was 92. Keefe died Tuesday in Simsbury, Connecticut, after a brief illness, said her daughter, Mary Ellen Keefe. Keefe grew up in Arlington, Vermont, where she met Rockwell — who lived in West Arlington — and posed for his painting when she was a 19-year-old telephone operator. The painting was on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943. Although Keefe was petite, Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter had large arms, hands and shoulders. The painting shows the red-haired Rosie in blue jean work overalls sitting down, with a sandwich in her left hand, her right arm atop a lunchbox with the name "Rosie" on it, a rivet gun on her lap and her feet resting on a copy of Adolf Hitler's manifesto "Mein Kampf." The entire background is a waving American flag. Rockwell wanted Rosie to show strength and modeled her body on Michelangelo's Isaiah, which is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Keefe, who never riveted herself, was paid $5 for each of two mornings she posed for Rockwell and his photographer, Gene Pelham, whose pictures Rockwell used when he painted. "You sit there and he takes all these pictures," Keefe told The Associated Press in 2002. "They called me again to come back because he wanted me in a blue shirt and asked if I could wear penny loafers." Twenty-four years after she posed, Rockwell sent her a letter calling her the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen and apologizing for the hefty body in the painting. The Rosie painting — not to be confused with a poster by a Pittsburgh artist depicting a woman flexing her arm under the words "We Can Do It" — would later be used in a nationwide effort to sell war bonds. Keefe said people in Arlington didn't make too much of a fuss about her being in the Rosie painting, aside from teasing her a little about Rosie's big arms. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in dental hygiene, and was working as a dental hygienist in Bennington, Vermont, when she met her husband of 55 years, Robert Keefe, who died in 2003. They had four children and lived in Whitman, Massachusetts, and later in Nashua, New Hampshire. Keefe's family will receive friends and take part in a memorial Mass on Friday at McLean Village in Simsbury. A graveside service is scheduled for Saturday at Park Lawn Cemetery in Bennington.

^ It's sad one someone so iconic  - who inspired women to leave their traditional roles and to help win World War 2 - passes away. ^


Obama Falls Short

From Yahoo:
"Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'"

President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to fulfill a campaign promise and use the politically fraught term on the 100th anniversary of the killings this week. Officials decided against it after opposition from some at the State Department and the Pentagon.  "The president and other senior administration officials have repeatedly acknowledged the historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred and marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Wednesday. "As we have said in previous years, a full frank and just acknowledgment of the facts is in all of our interests, including Turkey's, Armenia's and America's." As a senator and presidential candidate, Obama did describe the killings of Armenians as "genocide" and said the U.S. government had a responsibility to recognize them as such. As a candidate in January 2008, Obama pledged to recognize the genocide and at least one of his campaign surrogates — the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power — recorded a nearly five-minute video at the time imploring Armenian-Americans to vote for Obama precisely because he would keep his word on the issue. But Obama has never used that description since taking office, mainly out of deference to Turkey, a key U.S. partner and NATO ally, which is fiercely opposed to the "genocide" label. Tuesday's announcement, accompanied by word that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will attend a ceremony in Armenia on Friday to mark the anniversary, was made shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry met with Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Washington.  In brief comments to reporters at the State Department, neither Kerry nor Cavusoglu mentioned Armenia or the upcoming April 24 anniversary. Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks, an event widely viewed by scholars as genocide. Turkey, however, denies the deaths constituted genocide and says the death toll has been inflated. Several U.S. officials said there had been a sharp internal debate over whether to use the 100-year anniversary to call the killings "genocide" and make good on the president's campaign promise, particularly after Pope Francis used the term earlier this month. That comment by the pope prompted an angry response from Turkey, which recalled its ambassador to the Vatican over the matter. Several European governments and parliaments are also expected to use the word in discussions of the events 100 years ago. Negative reaction to the announcement was intense from both the Armenian-American community and members of Congress who have championed the Armenian cause. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said he was "deeply disappointed" by the president's decision. "The United States has long prided itself for being a beacon of human rights, for speaking out against atrocity, for confronting painful chapters of its own past and that of others," said Schiff. "This cannot be squared with a policy of complicity in genocide denial by the president or Congress."
The head of one of the Armenian-American groups briefed on the decision by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes went further."President Obama's surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace," said Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Council of America. "It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust."

^ I am ashamed, but not surprised at Obama. He has always said one thing and done something else. He had a chance to not only fulfill one of his promises, but also to do the right thing for the world and he failed. His terms in office are over this January and then we can start repairing the mistakes he has made (ie Obamacare, fighting ISIS, fixing the economy with full-time jobs, standing-up for the Ukraine, etc.) He will soon go the way as Ford and Carter did  - become a mere footnote in US and World History. I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate if a government official from anywhere in the world said that there was no such thing as slavery in the US - it was only a time of servitude. That's actually the case with him using the word massacre instead of the reality of genocide to the Armenians and everyone else. ^

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

20 Hour Runner

From Time:
"Venezuelan Runner With Muscular Dystrophy Finishes Boston Marathon"

It took him just under 20 hours to complete the race Maickel Melamed, a Venezuelan college professor with muscular dystrophy, completed the 119th Boston Marathon early Tuesday morning in just under 20 hours. Melamed, 39, has completed marathons in Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo, and he finished the 26.2-mile run down Boylston Street with a flock of supporters cheering him on and physically supporting him when he grew tired. They also counted in Spanish for every step he took.  Melamed told reporters after finishing the race that Monday’s marathon would be his last. He’s physically unable to run another after the toll on his body and weight loss. “It was tough, the wind, the rain, the distance, the cold, everything today was overcome,” Melamed said, reports CBS Boston. “For me I’m so grateful for Boston and to Boston this is an amazing city.” Melamed’s family took him to Boston when he was young for life-saving treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, according to CBS Boston. He ran the marathon with supporters from the group VAMOS Boston to spread a message of peace, and will be presented with a finisher’s medal by Boston mayor Marty Walsh on Tuesday.

^ I saw his story on the local news and thought it was a great story. It may have took him 20 hours, but that just shows how determined he is. He could have easily given up many times (especially when you see that he was struggling at times in the video) but he kept with it until the very end. He has accomplished a lot in his life - he's a college professor - and now he can add the Boston Marathon and bringing more awareness to people with muscular dystrophy. ^


This was recently on BBC America (after originally airing on the regular BBC.) I'm not a big Sherlock Holmes fan, but this show is pretty cool. Each season is only about 3 episodes long, but they are really well thought-out and made. It is also fast-paced and not one of those long, drawn-out shows. Not only does  it have a lot of facts and figures, but it has a lot of humor - British humor that you can easily understand. There are several running-gags throughout the show (like Holmes' hat.)
Benedict Cumberbatch (the guy who played Alan Turing in the "Imitation Game") plays Sherlock Holmes. He is the typical Holmes and yet he isn't the typical Holmes. Cumberbatch gives this Holmes a wide-range. He (Holmes) doesn't have the normal views and social understandings of most people and believes he is superior to them yet at the same time he starts to become more "normal."
Martin Freeman (the guy who played Bilbo Baggins in the "Hobbit" movies) plays Watson. In this series Watson is a doctor who was in the British Military in Afghanistan. Freeman brings this Watson out of the shadow of Holmes and makes him a central character.
The show brings the Sherlock Holmes' character to a new generation. It has all the main aspects of the books, but updates them. Instead of writing a journal Watson writes a blog, etc. It also deals with current issues that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wouldn't have thought about when he wrote the books in the late 1800s: homosexuality and terrorism.
I only wish the show had more episodes and was more widely-known in the US.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Real Lidice

After just writing about the Czech movie about Lidice I wanted to now focus on what the Germans did to that village and its people during World War 2. On May 27, 1942 Czech resistance fighters from London shot Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi who ruled German-occupied Czechoslovakia (he later died.) In response the Germans killed 157 people throughout the country. When the Czechs who killed Heydrich were got and killed by the Germans they found they had a link to the village of Lidice. Hitler then ordered the following on the inhabitants of Lidice: 1. Execute all adult men. 2. Transport all women to a concentration camp. 3. Gather the children suitable for Germanization and place them with SS families. The rest of the children would be killed. 4. Burn down the village and level it completely.
On June 10, 1942 173 men, 15 and older, of Lidice were rounded-up and shot in a farm. 203 women and 105 children from Lidice were rounded-up and kept in a nearby school. The children were taken from the women and sent to Lodz, Poland where 7 of them were chosen for Germanization. On July 2, 1942 Adolf Eichmann sent the rest to the Chelmno Death Camp where they were murdered in gas vans. The women were sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany on June 14, 1942.
Out of the 105 children from Lidice, 82 were murdered in Chelmno, 6 died in SS orphanages while only 17 returned home after the war. Only 173 women from Lidice survived the war and returned to Czechoslovakia. The Germans proudly acknowledged their massacre during the war.
 After the war ended the Czechs kept the ruins of Lidice as a memorial and built a new Lidice nearby. It's important  to remember the men, women and children who the Germans imprisoned and/or murdered. They were innocent victims and should always be remembered.

Lidice (2011)

I watched this Czech movie about the German massacre of Lidice, Czechoslovakia in 1942 and have to say I don't think this film did that massacre justice. The movie focuses on a man who had an affair, killed one of his sons and spent most of the war in a Czech prison. He was Lidice, but wasn't killed as he was still serving time. It also follows another married man who lies to a woman that he is in the Czech Resistance so he can make her love him. The movie should have focused more on the innocent men, women and children before, during and after the massacre. What the Germans did in Lidice was nothing less than war crime and by portraying the events surrounded around a father who killed his son cheapens what the Germans did. You are meant to feel sorry for the murderer rather than his friends and family (his other son was murdered by the Germans and his disabled wife died in a concentration camp.) The story of the people of Lidice needs to be told, but in a way that focuses on the innocent and not real criminals.

Genocide Recognition

From Wikipedia:
"Armenian Genocide recognition"
Armenian Genocide recognition refers to the formal acceptance that the massacre and forced deportation of Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire in 1915–1923 constitutes genocide. The overwhelming majority of historians as well as academic institutions on Holocaust and Genocide Studies recognize the Armenian Genocide. As of 2014, the governments of twenty-three countries, including Russia, France, as well as forty-three states of the United States of America, have recognized the events as 'genocide'. The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny the Armenian Genocide
International Organzations' Recognition of the Genocide:
- European Parliament (1987, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2015)     - Council of Europe
 -  Union for Reform Judaism (1989)      -  Anti-Defamation League (2007)
Countries' Recognition of the Genocide:
- Argentina (2003)       - Armenia (1988) - then part of the USSR
- Belgium (1998)         - Bolivia (2014)
- Canada (1996)           -  Chile (2007)
- Cyprus (1975)              -   Czech Republic (2015)
- France (1998)                - Greece (1998)
- Italy (2000)                    - Lithuania (2005)
-  Lebanon (1997)             - Netherlands (2004)
- Ottoman Empire (1919)      -   Poland (2005)
- Russia (1995)                    - Slovakia (2004)
- Sweden (2010)                 - Switzerland (2003)
-  Syria (2015)                     - Uruguay (1965)
-  Vatican (2000)                 -  Venezuela (2005)
Regional governments' Recognition of the Genocide:
Australia:    - New South Wales (2007)      - South Australia (2009)
Brazil:    - São Paulo (2015)     - Ceará (2006)     - Paraná (2013)
Bulgaria: - Plovdiv -   BurgasRuse  - Stara Zagora     -  Pazardzhik.
Spain: -  -  Basque County  -  Catalonia  - Balearic Islands  -  Navarre
Iran:     - Tehran
United Kingdom:    - Wales     - Scotland    -Northern Ireland
United States:
The states in red officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. The ones in White and the Federal Government do not.
- Alaska (1990)   -  Arizona (1990)   - Arkansas (2001)   - California (1986)   - Colorado (1981)   - Connecticut (1990)    - Delaware (1995)    - Florida (1990)   - Georgia (1999)   - Hawaii (2009)  - Idaho (2004)     - Illinois (1990)     - Kansas (2005)    - Louisiana (2004)     - Maine (2000)    - Maryland (1987)   - Massachusetts (1990)   -  Michigan (1986)     - Minnesota (2001)     - Missouri (2002)    - Montana (2004)   - Nebraska (2004)    - Nevada (2000)    - New Hampshire (1990)    - New Jersey (1975)    - New Mexico (2001)     - New York (1975)     - North Carolina (1996)   - North Dakota (2007)      - Ohio (2007)    - Oklahoma (1990)     - Oregon (1990)    - Pennsylvania (1990)   - Rhode Island (1990)     - South Carolina (1997)     - South Dakota (2015)     - Tennessee (2004)    - Utah (2001)     - Vermont (2004)     - Virginia (1990)    - Washington (1990)     - Wisconsin (1990)

 ^ This is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and it's important for everyone around the world to know the truth about what happened and to recognize that truth. It was a genocide the same way the Holocaust was for the Jews. It's time for every country to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. ^

Ancestry Search

For the past decade I have been researching my family's ancestry. In that time I have found a lot of information, dates, names, pictures, articles, etc. I have always been interested in history, languages and traveling so doing this allowed me to use all those areas. I have been able to collect information and pictures on every member of my immediate family as well as tracing the main lines back to the 1400s. Many sources are in different languages: French, Polish, German, Spanish,  Russian, Catalan, Latin, etc. so it's nice to be able to use the Internet to help translate them.  Even some of the documents in English need to be "translated" from the old-style English that we don't use nowadays.
While doing my research I have found some very interesting links, facts, secrets, etc about my family. There are links to royalty and the nobility. Some were rich, some were poor. Some worked the land, some owned the land. Some were soldiers and some were victims of repression. Some had large families and some were orphans. Some had one last name and a dozen children while others had one child and a dozen last names.
Doing the research is not enough. You can find many people with the same last name you are looking for, but you have to be careful to connect them and make sure they really are linked to your family. I've had my work officially checked and verified and so far everything checks out (knock on wood.)
I have put most of the information I have collected on an online family tree.  It doesn't have everything on it yet - there's a lot to do and it takes a good amount of time to complete. While I have done this mostly for myself and my own knowledge I don't mind sharing it with other family members that help me with all of this. Some family members do not want to help even when asked yet want me to simply share everything I find with them - I am not going to do that. I worked hard with no real help from anyone (except for some clarifications here and there.) I'm not getting paid for any of this, but it would still be nice to get "paid" with other family members giving me their stories, pictures and whatever else they have so I could include that to the tree.
Having a person's name, date of birth, date of death, picture, etc is good, but I am more interested in the stories behind the person. I have found a large collection of newspaper clippings, diaries, documents, etc that give more background. I still have a ways to go through all my findings, but so far I am pleased with everything I have seen. Not only does it help me (and other family members) to learn more about that particular ancestor but it also lets me know what people in the past was newsworthy.

German Manners

From the DW:
"According to YouGov, at least, manners count in Germany"

Hold the door open for the person behind you, offer your seat to someone who needs it, be on time - the pollster YouGov has found that Germans feel people are not as polite as they used to be. But manners still do count. The younger and the older generations agree that manners are not what they used to be in Germany. According to a survey conducted by YouGov Internet market researchers, three out of four Germans agree that people used to be more polite and that young people aren't as respectful of older people as in the past. Only 16 percent don't see much of a change. Fifty-nine percent of the people questioned earlier this month say it is up to parents to teach their children manners, and only 1 percent feel that it is the sole responsibility of a child's teachers. About 38 percent say both parents and teachers are responsible. Independent of their age, people apparently feel a need for manners. Ninety-four percent say it is important to offer seniors or pregnant women a seat on a crowded subway or bus. Seventy-eight percent feel that men should open the door for women, and 95 percent appreciate punctuality. Irrespective of age, 91 percent feel that it is impolite when people they are talking to are distracted by the cellphones they continue to peek at all the time.
Many Germans polled for the survey say they are often unsure how to address others: using the formal "Sie" or the informal "Du" commonly used for family, friends and private circles. More often - and not surprisingly - it tends to be a dilemma for younger people. Only one out of four people polled say it is OK to be addressed informally by a waiter in a cafe. The older generation dislikes being addressed informally without first being asked permission.

^ This seems to be a growing problem around the world. I remember being at the Opera in Munich several years ago and was in my seat. Several people came through the row and wanted to move past me yet just stood there and didn't say a thing  (like "Excuse me" etc.) Yet it made me look rude because I didn't immediately jump to my feet to let them pass. More recently, when I was in Germany last December taking a crowded train from Cologne to Dortmund I saw a guy (who looked like Leonard from "The Big Bang Theory" ask the people in the aisle to please let him through to his seat and some young guys started making a scene and calling him things (I didn't understand what they said as it was in German) but you could tell they were being rude to him even when he was asking them nicely. As I said this isn't only a German problem. I do not like being in a store or business where the people there use my first name (usually from my credit card) as though we are friends. English, unlike most world languages, doesn't have a formal or informal "you" but it is still possible to address people in a rude way. People, mostly the young, are getting lazy with texting and other social media and the fact that for about 20 years parents have tried to be their children's friends that the young  now believe that everyone is their equal and so tend to treat everyone (bosses, the elderly, strangers, etc) as though they were all friends. Just because you "collect" 500 friends on Facebook or Twitter doesn't mean you have that number in real friendships. There's a saying that if you can count your true friends on one hand then you are lucky and I believe that. Parents need to start teaching their children the truth. They are not all winners and everyone is not your friend. You should treat your: boss, teacher, the elderly etc in a polite and more former way and leave the slang and symbols to your brothers, sisters and friends. ^

Holocaust Accountant

From NBC:
"'Accountant of Auschwitz' Oskar Groening Set to Stand Trial"

Dozens of Holocaust survivors and their relatives from around the world are expected to converge on a German courtroom Tuesday as the so-called "accountant of Auschwitz" is due to go on trial. Former concentration camp bookkeeper and guard Oskar Groening, 93, is accused of being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews."Many of the survivors, who are co-plaintiffs in the trial, are stepping on German soil for the first time since the end of Nazi regime," Christoph Heubner, the executive vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee, told NBC News from Berlin. A total of 63 Holocaust survivors or their relatives from the United States, Canada, Israel and elsewhere have joined the prosecution as co-plaintiffs in the closely-watched trial. Around 30 are expected in court in Lueneburg. Groening's trial comes 70 years after the liberation of Adolf Hitler's concentration camps. He is accused of working as a guard at the Auschwitz death camp between May and June 1944, when some 425,000 Jews from Hungary were brought there and at least 300,000 almost immediately gassed to death. German prosecutors allege that Groening was responsible for dealing with the belongings and money stolen from camp victims, which is why he has often been referred to as "the accountant of Auschwitz" in the German media. As fugitives age, the case is likely to be one of Germany's last Nazi trials. Authorities say it is intended to be "an important signal for the last remaining survivors of the Holocaust."  But while the proceedings highlight Germany's last push to bring Nazi criminals to justice, critics accuse the country's judicial system of "disastrous failings." Following the Nuremberg trials in 1949, German authorities for decades had only targeted individuals linked to specific atrocities. An estimated 6,500 Nazis who worked at SS concentration camps were alive at the end of World War II. However, just 43 men from Hitler's elite SS units faced court afterward. Nine received life sentences, 20 received prison terms between three and 15 years and 10 were acquitted, according to the Fritz-Bauer-Institute in Frankfurt, a Holocaust research center. "It is a black stain on Germany's map," Heubner said. "The culprits were welcomed in the midst of society and the general public kept silent. Groening was a wheel in the murder machine of Auschwitz and therefore, also had blood on his hands. The 2011 prosecution of John Demjanjuk, an autoworker who lived in the U.S. for years after the war and was convicted of 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder, was a game-changer for the German legal system. The court's ruling that Demjanjuk could be convicted on his service record alone, triggered a search for dozens of suspected Auschwitz guards who were still believed to be living in Germany. According to the federal office investigating Nazi crimes, there are currently 11 open investigations against former Auschwitz guards, and "charges have been filed in three of those cases including Groening's case," prosecutor Thomas Will told NBC News. If convicted, Groening could face up to a 15-year prison sentence.        
^ I've said it before - it's nice to finally see the German Government doing the right thing and go after everyone that worked at the concentration and death camps. True it should have been done decades ago, but back then many in German society and the German Government were former Nazis themselves or helped them and so didn't want to do much to punish them. There is something wrong when a Government gives state pensions to former Nazis or Communists and there are many in Germany that still do. ^

Airing Special

From Disability Scoop:
"ESPN, ABC To Air Special Olympics World Games"

For eight days this summer, some of the world’s top athletes with intellectual disabilities will be featured on national television. ESPN said this week it will air coverage of the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles across its networks. The event’s opening ceremony will be broadcast live on ESPN co-hosted by Robin Roberts from ABC’s “Good Morning America” and ESPN’s Lindsey Czarniak and Kevin Negandhi. Subsequently, ESPN, ABC or ESPN2 will air daily coverage of the weeklong event including features and key results from the competition. A “best of” special recapping the World Games will also be broadcast over two days a week later. “The Special Olympics World Games is a truly compelling event, filled with some of the most extraordinary sports stories and people you will ever see, and we are looking forward to showcasing them,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president of ESPN International. “Sports has the power to be unifying, uplifting and life-changing, and this event will be a remarkable and tangible example of that power.” Previously, ESPN provided more limited online coverage of the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece. The Los Angeles games are expected to bring together some 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries in addition to 500,000 spectators for the event July 25 to August 2.

^ It's good that the Special Olympics will be broadcasted. It should be done for every Special Olympics the same way the Summer and Winter Games are. I plan on watching it. ^

20th OKC

From the Stars and Stripes:
"Empty chairs honor 168 victims of Oklahoma City bombing"
Every day when Dr. Rosslyn Biggs goes to work as a federal government veterinarian she is reminded of her mother, one of 168 people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing and honored Sunday on the 20th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil until Sept. 11, 2001. Biggs has the same job once held by her mother, Dr. Margaret L. "Peggy" Clark, as a food safety veterinarian at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She interacts often with some of the people who worked with and recall her mother's professionalism. "I remember her spirit and her dedication," Biggs said as she and other family members gathered around an empty chair adorned with flowers in a field of empty chairs designed to memorialize the victims of the April 19, 1995 bombing. "It's wonderful to see that people still remember and still care," Biggs said. Former President Bill Clinton, who was president when the attack occurred, spoke at Sunday's service at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood. Memorial officials estimated that 2,500 people attended the observance. "Oklahoma City, you have chosen well," Clinton said. "For 20 years you have honored the memories of your loved ones. You have inspired us with the power of renewal." Clinton said the city has recovered from the terrorist attack "in the face of mad, crazy people who think that differences are all that matter." "The whole world needs you now," the former president said in reference to other deadly terrorist attacks that have occurred around the world. The service started with a 168-second moment of silence to honor each of those who died. It concluded about 90 minutes later with survivors and tearful relatives of the dead reading the names of those killed. "This was a place of unspeakable horror and tragedy," said Frank Keating, who completed his first 100 days as Oklahoma's governor the day before the attack. "How some evil individual would do what he did ... is unforgiveable and absolutely unimaginable."

^ It's never easy to remember anniversaries of terrorist attacks, but it is necessary to do so that those that died or were wounded didn't do so in vain. ^