Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Bowing to the inevitable

By Aussiegirl

Showing an amazing grasp of the obvious Yanukovych has resigned as Ukrainian PM.

Here's the article from the BBC:


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Now Election Commission weighs in

By Aussiegirl

Well, it looks like the final nail is being driven into that Yanu-koffin. The Election Commission has also rejected Yanukovych's appeals. Since his calls for an Orange-style people's revolution to march to Kyiv and take back the election failed to produce even one drunken lout, it looks like it's dustbin of history time for old Yanu. Been nice knowin' ya -- don't let the door hit you on your way out.

He's fallen out completely with Kuchma who has called on him to concede in the next two days. Yanu and his supporters are mad at Kuchma because Kuchma failed to call out the army and squash the demonstrators in a violent put down. Just to let you know where Yanu's side was coming from. They still haven't forgiven Kuchma for this breach of "thug ethics". Sometimes there's even no honor among thieves. Can you beat that!

Big Brother is preaching again

By Aussiegirl

In a great column in today's Townhall, Thomas Sowell lays out a broad theme which encompasses the current Vioxx hysteria and other liberal excesses.

Liberals have become self-appointed, self-righteous moral scolds who like to preach and instruct from on high -- starting with Rachel Carson and her hysterical screed against DDT, the banning of which has led to the deaths of countless millions of human beings from malaria, and has saved not even one bird -- and on to Ralph Nader who picked up the torch with his "unsafe at any speed" crusade, and many more.

And now there's a bunch of hysterical, moralizing panty-waists going after all the medicines that make people's lives better, even if at some small risk. The risk of removing these meds is greater than leaving them on the market and letting patients and doctors make an informed choice.

Next there is a law pending in Congress which will make the U.S. a signatory to an international agreement which will possibly ban most over-the-counter vitamins, herbs and supplements, thereby removing a large area of choice from patients and consumers.
Beware of Big Brother, he's coming after you.

Read the article at: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/ts/20041230.shtml

Supreme Court Rejects Yanukovych Appeals

By Aussiegirl

Ukraine's Supreme Court has rejected two key complaints lodged by Yanukovych against the recent election, including the complaint that disabled voters were disenfranchised. Since this was his main complaint, it is unlikely he will prevail on the two others still being considered, or will be sustained in his objections by the Election Commission.

If Yushchenko indeed names Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian reformist firebrand as his Prime Minister, he will be laying down a powerful marker of his intentions to clean house and to institute wholesale reforms in Ukraine. Read her powerful words below. She is not of the "let's just all get along" school of political accomodation. I hope they both have their heads firmly attached to their bodies and that they are very careful of the soup they eat from now on. They have chosen a bold path that takes great personal courage and also political savvy.

Here's the article:

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Thursday, 30 December 2004

Ukrainian Court Rejects First Vote Challenges

30 December 2004 -- Ukraine's Supreme Court today rejected two legal challenges brought by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych aiming to invalidate the presidential runoff won by his opponent, Viktor Yushchenko.
The court refused to review complaints alleging that the Central Election Committee failed to enforce voting law and failed to ensure that all disabled voters received home-voting rights.

The court rejected another Yanukovych challenge to the vote result announced yesterday. It continues to review a fourth and final complaint from the Yanukovych camp.

Electoral authorities are also reviewing complaints from Yanukovych that could nullify the 26 December runoff.

Allies of opposition leader Yushchenko said today they are confident that their side will win any legal challenges.
Meanwhile, Yushchenko suggested that he would support Yuliya Timoshchenko to be Ukraine's prime minister once he is president. Timoshchenko on Wednesday foreshadowed a new political order in Ukraine.

"When we come to power, opposition members will not be jailed or exiled as they were under [outgoing President Leonid] Kuchma,"
Tymoshenko said. "And their heads will not be cut off, as happened to [slain journalist Heorhiy] Gongadze, and journalists will not be beaten in their own homes, because we are coming to power with a completely different heart and a different mind. And I think you will be able to see and understand that."

Yushchenko has pledged that his new government will work to deepen Ukraine's cooperation with both the European Union and Russia

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Cabinet cancels meeting

By Aussigirl

According to the BBC, the Ukrainian Cabinet today cancelled a planned meeting after protestors barred entrance to the Cabinet building. Protestors have vowed to stay in Independence Square in Kyiv until Yushchenko is sworn in. Yanukovych has appealed the results of the election to the election commission. If that fails he has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court. Evidently the election will not be declared finally over until all appeal have been exhausted.

Yanukovych aspires, obviously, to become the Al Gore of Ukraine. I wish him much luck and fully as much success as Al Gore had in this country. Full speed ahead, Yanu -- more power to you. The people will just wait until you are finally gone. Then you can grow a beard and get fat and start screaming your head off like your hero.

Read the article at: http://bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4131277.stm

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

East meets west in Katya Yushchenko

By Aussiegirl

The Wall Street Journal ran a fascinating profile of Ukraine's new American-born first lady, Kateryna Yushchenko in yesterday's edition. In so many ways her upbringing mirrors my own, from the immigrant parents who were forced labor in Germany during the war to her education in Ukrainian culture, literature, religion and values as a child growing up. Unlike her, however, I could never imagine myself living in Ukraine. America is my home and I am as proud an American patriot as I am a champion of the culture of my ancestors in Ukraine. Growing up with one foot in one culture and one foot in another does present some problems, but in the long run, enriches and enlarges your life. Kateryna will be a great asset to her husband and her new country (if they ever get around to granting her her request for citizenship, that is -- there is more on this in the article). Also be sure to notice the proof of a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting and smearing Yushchenko which was personally ordered by Leonid Kuchma. One can't help but be struck by the similarities in methods with our own home-grown democrat party -- if you can't beat them fair and square -- then -- smear, smear, smear.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * **
(from yesterday's Wall Street Journal)

. . .Mrs. Yushchenko was raised in suburban Chicago as the daughter of an electrician and seamstress. During World War II, her parents were forced to immigrate to Germany and work as slave labor. They came to the U.S. in 1956 at the invitation of a Ukrainian Orthodox church. She grew up speaking Ukrainian at home, learning the national dances and attending a Ukrainian school and Orthodox church. "My parents felt they had to keep alive the culture and traditions they thought were being suppressed by the Soviet Union," she told me.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s she worked in the human rights office of the U.S. State Department. She also worked for the first President Bush in the Treasury Department. But her dream was always to help Ukraine become independent. So after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 she moved to Kiev. Her business degree from the University of Chicago helped her land a job with KPMG, the U.S. international auditing company, and she prospered training the country's economists in Western practices. She met Viktor Yushchenko when he was part of a delegation of central bankers she brought to Chicago. "He understood free markets, had a firm faith in God and knew what the right path for the country should be," she told me.
The two married in 1998, and they now have three children.

It is the strong bond he has with his wife that has helped Mr. Yushchenko through the tough campaign and it will likely be his relationship with her that will help him have a successful presidency. Perhaps the darkest moment for Mr. Yushchenko came this fall when he was poisoned. At first it seemed to be a case of the flu. His wife recalls him coming home one night during the presidential campaign and saying he felt sick. She noticed a strange metallic taste in his mouth when she kissed him. It turned out to be dioxin, a chemical compound found in Agent Orange and a well known poison.

Mr. Yushchenko has largely recovered, although the poison has left his face disfigured and the government has continued a three-year campaign to discredit him and his wife. After he was poisoned, the state prosecutor opened an investigation into the incident and then tried smearing Mr. Yushchenko by claiming he had a disfiguring case of herpes.

Tape recordings made by a disgruntled bodyguard for President Leonid Kuchma show that the president personally ordered a disinformation campaign against the Yushchenkos. Mr. Yushchenko was portrayed as a fascist puppet of Western bankers and Kateryna as an active CIA agent. She responded by winning a libel judgment against a Russian television station that accused her of disloyalty to Ukraine. But the government has refused to process her application for Ukrainian citizenship.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Liveblogging the revolution!!!

By Aussiegirl

By all means check out Le Sabot Post-Moderne -- http://www.postmodernclog.com -- the on-the-spot blogsite in English direct from the "maidan" -- Independence Square in Kyiv -- and from Yushchenko and Yanukovych headquarters -- find out what refreshments are being served at either camp, what the mood is like (3 guesses), and all sorts of fascinating inside info. Plus reports of the entertainment onstage -- rock groups, satirical songsters making fun of an infamous "egging" incident that involved Yanukovych, by a group dressed as two chickens and calling themselves -- "The Two Eggs" in Uke.

All the inside skinny on what it feels like to be at the center of a people's revolution.

Who needs live TV when we have live blogging!!

Local support for the Ukrainian election

By Aussiegirl

In a show of solidarity and support for democracy in Ukraine, Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic churches based in Washington, D. C. hosted 18 busloads of Ukrainians living in the United States yesterday morning who had come to the nation's capital to cast their ballots in the latest election.

Members of the parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Andrews, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy family combined forces to feed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, hash browns, sweet rolls, coffee and other tasty treats to hundreds of people who had traveled all night to have their chance to participate in the voting.

Spirits were high and it was exciting to be able to have a small part in the democratic revolution taking place in my parents' homeland.

Yushchenko is winner according to first exit polls!

By Aussiegirl

According to Fox News at 1:20 p.m., Yushchenko appears to have achieved a large margin of victory in the latest round of elections. According to exit polls (a bit of caution here) Yushchenko has polled something like 56.5% of the vote to Yanukovych's 41.3%.

Although both sides have complained of some instances of cheating, the election is believed to be much cleaner and more fair than the last one, and any irregularities that may have occurred are not believed to be enough to affect the final outcome. The Yushchenko forces say that the election was "clean enough" to ensure a large margin of victory.

The more than 15 point spread reflects the pre-election polls and appears to be accurate. Now -- if we can just make sure those servers don't "break down" and suffer a delay which miraculously awards millions of votes to the Yanukovych side.

Yushchenko may be making a victory speech in a little while.

Let me say though, that this is only the first battle in a long, long road to a free market economy and a greater democracy in Ukraine. The same forces which thwarted Yushchenko, who stole the last two elections, who bribed and intimidated opponents, who poisoned Yushchenko and who have worked against any attempts at reforms, are still in place throughout the country.

Yushchenko has an enormous task before him. Not to mention that even his life may still be in danger. Putin and Kuchma and the oligarchs who control not only billions in the Ukrainian economy and who also control vast parts of the countries natural resources and energy supplies still have many levers of power at their disposal and will now simply switch gears to undermining this new regime and thwarting any attempts at reform.

Yushchenko is going to need all his strength, courage and determination and a lot of political skill to navigate the treacherous waters that lie ahead.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A note on The Christmas tree and the problems of translation

By Aussiegirl

As my little contribution to Christmas I have posted below my own translation of Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi's children's story, "The Christmas Tree". It was originally published in a Ukrainian magazine in 1891 and has become favorite of Ukrainian children ever since. A much lighter work than his usual style, it nevertheless excels in its descriptions of nature, which was one of Kotsiubynskyi's great strengths.

My own memories of the story date back to my childhood in Australia. My father used to tell it to me at bedtime, and as I lay in the dark, visions of wolves in the night filled my imagination, and even though I knew how the story ended, I always breathlessly demanded to know if the little boy would be all right. Sweet memories.

Mykhailo Kotsiubynksyi (1864-1913) was a Ukrainian novelist whose subject matter varied from the abject human misery of his novels and stories, to man's shortcomings and imperfections in his numerous psychological works. From the realism of his earlier works his style changed to a more complex mode of impressionism. One of his unforgettable novels, entitled "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors", was made into a movie in 1964 that is available on video. There are a lot of lovely comments about it on the IMDB (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0058642/usercomments)

The novel describes the almost frightening rugged beauty of the mountainous terrain, and how the lives of the Hutzul people are inextricably woven into a web of ancient beliefs, primitive rites and the heartless forces that nature, love, life and death wield over man's fate. Ghosts and the shadows of forgotten ancestors haunt every page and every scene of the movie. It is an unforgettable experience if you can manage to find a copy. The Hutzul people lived in the mountainous Carpathian regions of Ukraine in the west.

I would like to make just a note about the problems of translation. Every translator faces at least one dilemma - does one try to be literal and to attempt to translate word for word, or does one try to capture the mood, spirit and essence of the piece for the reader, taking into account matters of differences in style and manner of expression? I have chosen the latter over a literal word by word translation.

The famous Italian writer Umberto Eco, author of "The Name of the Rose", always worked with his English translators when possible. He advised them to not get hung up on the word for word translation. Capture the essence and the gist, was his message. For instance, I remember reading that in one of the famous passages from one of his novels, the character is riding in a car and watching the passing scenery. As he sees some trees he quotes a passage of Italian poetry that is familiar to all Italians and conjures up a certain feeling or mood that is instantly understandable. Eco advised the translator to find a similar English snatch of poetry that might have a similar echo in the English reader's mind rather than attempt a literal translation of the Italian verse which would prove meaningless to an English reader.

So I have chosen to make the English as close to a natural sounding vernacular as possible, given the differences in expression between the two languages, Ukrainian tending to be much more of a flowery language, given to colorful and extended metaphors.

The Christmas Tree

By Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi
translated by: Aussiegirl

The Christmas Tree

It was Christmas Eve.

Yakim's house was bustling with preparations and activities. The borscht simmered in a big pot over the crackling fire while Vasylko's mother, Olena, prepared the cabbage rolls for their Christmas Eve supper. Vasylko, Yakim's son, sat on the floor grinding poppy seeds for the traditional Ukrainian Christmas pudding called kutya. He was twelve years old and the oldest child in the family.

As he went about his work he glanced over occasionally to where his two little sisters were happily playing with the family cat. He looked over at his father, who was sitting in the corner, and noticed his troubled expression. He wondered if his father was still sick, or if he was worried that there was so little money to buy what the family needed for the holidays.

Suddenly the door creaked and a stranger entered the house.

"Good day to you. I noticed that fir tree growing in your yard. I was wondering if you would consider selling it to me. I was sent to find a Christmas tree for the big manor house, and I've looked around and haven't seen one as nice as yours."

"How much would you pay for it?"

"Let's not haggle, my friend, name your price."

"How about 3 pounds?" said Yakim.

Suddenly Vasylko spoke up in a quavering voice. "But, father, that's my favorite tree. Don't you remember, you said it would be mine after I did so well on my school exams."

Tears welled up in the blue eyes of the fair-headed Vasylko. He didn't want to lose the graceful fir tree which was the only green thing which brightened the winter garden. Yakim gave his son a quick glance and Vasylko sank into silence, having recognized the expression of deep sadness in his father's eyes.

"Wonderful! I'll give you three pounds. Only you'll have to deliver it today as the master wants to have it all decorated for the children before midnight."

"I'm not sure how I can deliver it," said Yakim, "I haven't been well and my son is still quite young."

"He isn't too young." said the man, "and it's not that far, perhaps an hour. He could easily deliver it in time and return before dark."

Yakim thought for a moment and then waved his hand in assent, "We'll manage somehow. It isn't like it's the other side of the moon, after all."

The man paid for the tree and told them where to deliver it.

Yakim was pleased. What a stroke of luck, the three pounds would be just what he needed to get them through the holidays.

He got dressed, took an axe, and headed for the garden. Vasylko ran after him.

In the garden the snow lay deep. Yakim's heavy boots sank into the snow, leaving a necklace of deep holes behind him. Vasylko jumped from one bootprint to the next, raking the white powder with his feet. The bare trees, their branches stiff with frost, stood motionless in the breeze, giving no hint of life as they left a pale lacework of shadows on the sugary-white snow.

Before long the fir tree came into view in a green flash of pine needles.

Vasylko and his father stood and regarded it together for a moment. They were both sorry to lose the young tree. It was so green and cheerful, and it almost appeared to be waving a greeting to them with its graceful branches.

Yakim raised his axe and struck the first blow.� The fir tree shuddered from top to bottom as if it had not expected this sudden misfortune, and a few green needles fell to the snow. Again and again he swung his axe, and with each blow the fir tree shivered as if in a fever. It seemed to Vasylko that at any moment the tree might let out a moan. And then at last, it leaned over, cracked, and, finally severed, fell to the snow.

Vasylko nearly wept with grief as he watched his father take the fir tree by the trunk, swing it over his shoulder, and carry it off. And as it dragged along behind him, the tip of the tree left a long trail, like a narrow thread in the snow. �
As Vasylko looked down at the fresh tree stump, two small tears rolled down his cheeks. He just couldn't bear to look at that place where only moments before his fir tree had stood, and so he quickly began covering it up with a new pile of snow. Before long it was completely hidden from view.

"Vasylko, come here!" his father called from the yard. Vasylko ran to him.

"Get the sleigh ready, son, you have to deliver the tree. But you've got to hurry because it's getting late and you must get back before dark. I hope there won't be any snow," Yakim said, looking intently toward the horizon. "It looks like clouds are gathering." � � �

The fir tree was loaded on the old sleigh and Vasylko began getting ready for the journey. He harnessed the horses, put on a warm sheepskin coat, and drove out of the yard. �


A cold wind was blowing. White, almost milky clouds closed in from the edges of the sky. The mouse-grey horses stepped along, trotting in unison together. The road was slippery, and the sleigh skidded sideways from one rut to another. On either side of the road, as far as the eye could see, the fields spread out, covered in snow like a white tablecloth. The hard, blue-tinged snow sparkled gemlike in the sunlight. Large black ravens swooped down onto the snow in great congregations, and then lifted up again. The wind began to grow stronger. Snow clouds rolled in and swaddled the sky. The sun hid itself behind the clouds. It began to snow.

Vasylko called to the horses and they trotted along faster as they approached the woods that rose before them like a giant black wall. The forest marked the halfway point in their journey, and they would still have to drive a half hour through it to their destination. �

Vasylko drove into the woods. Huge, jagged oaks stood menacingly in large snowy drifts. They were impervious to the cold wind and blustering snow, but the wet flakes struck Vasylko in the face, plastering his eyelids shut and slipping under his collar. The grey horses, caked all over with snow, had turned completely white. In order to protect himself a little from the cold wind and snow, Vasylko pushed his hands up his sleeves, and pulling his cap down over his eyes he lowered his head. He didn't notice when the horses turned off the road and trotted toward the right.

Suddenly the sleigh went into a sharp skid and struck a snowbank. Crack! Something snapped on the sleigh and Vasylko was thrown headlong into the snow. The horses came to a halt.

Vasylko jumped to his feet, and shaking the snow off himself ran over to the sleigh which lay broken. The ancient, brittle runners had cracked from the impact.

Vasylko walked all around the sleigh inspecting the damage, and nearly burst into tears. There didn't seem to be anything he could do to repair it. "I'll just wait for a while," he thought, "maybe somebody will pass by and help me." He scanned the snowswept road, but the forest was empty. Only the wind howled through the trees, blowing showers of snow which obscured the distance in a curtain of whiteness. �

Vasylko took a few steps forward and then stopped, opening his eyes wide with fear and astonishment. In front of him there was a deep ditch that shouldn't have been there. Suddenly he realized that he must have wandered off the road. What should he do? Maybe it would be better to leave the sleigh and the fir tree where they were, and return home. He unharnessed the horses, and mounting one of them bareback, he turned back toward the road.

Dusk settled in the forest. Evening fell. Vasylko rode on through the woods. The horses sank so deeply into the snowdrifts that they were barely able to put one foot in front of the other. Before long Vasylko realized that he had lost the road altogether and and was blindly wandering through the forest. He stopped. "I've got to find the road," he thought. "I'll return to the sleigh and try to find the road from there." He turned the horses around and headed back. He rode for a long time, with the wind and the snow blowing in his face, but he could find no trace of the sleigh. "I must have gone too far in this direction," he thought, "so I should try going back the other way," and he turned to the left.

By now it had become completely dark in the woods. On the ground and in the air the snow swirled about, turning everything white, and the stark, frozen trunks of trees were lost amid the blowing drifts. �

Vasylko rode on, but still he couldn't find the sleigh. The horses, floundering on through the blowing gusts of snow and the deep drifts, grew tired and finally slowed to a halt. Vasylko was lost. He was cold and frightened. He began to cry. All around him the blizzard howled, the cold wind blustered and whirled the snow around, and suddenly Vasylko thought of his warm, cozy house.

The lamps would be burning cheerfully. The Christmas pudding would be set out. His father and his two sisters would be seated at the table as his mother served the Christmas Eve supper. Everyone would so happy, talking together and enjoying the holiday. Village boys and girls would bring holiday greetings and special Christmas foods to share, and they would ask about Vasylko. But -- perhaps the house wasn't happy and joyous tonight. Perhaps his mother was crying because Vasylko wasn't with them -- perhaps his father was worried and sad as he sat at the table not eating his supper.

"I've just got to get out of these woods and find the road and get back home."

Vasylko nudged the horses and they moved on and slowly plowed through the deep drifts. But what was this? Suddenly he thought he saw his house. It seemed to him that he could make out the lights blinking through the small windowpanes. He felt a stab of joy and turned toward it. But soon, it became clear that what had looked like his house was only a snow-covered bush. Vasylko let go of the reins and dropped his arms disconsolately by his sides.

What could he do? He looked around. The giant gnarled oak trees, like frightening scarecrows, stretched out their stiff black branches towards him. To Vasylko they seemed like hideous corpses reaching out to him with their white shrouds of snow. He became afraid. Suddenly, something ripped off his cap and icy snow showered onto his head. � A branch had caught his cap and knocked it into the snow.

No sooner had he worked up the courage to climb down from the horse after his cap than far off in the distance he heard a chilling sound -- awoooooo -- the lonely howl reverberated through the forest -- awoooooo -- came the echoing reply, and the howls rolled and resounded through the forest for what seemed like an eternity. �

Vasylko froze in fear. His hair stood on end and his heart seemed to stop beating in his chest. The thought of wolves flashed through his mind. In a frenzy he drove the horses on and quickly disappeared among the trees.

Soon he found himself on the outskirts of the forest. Beyond the woods lay a field and in the middle of the field stood a cross. Vasylko recognized the cross and felt a wave of relief.

"This must be the road to the village where my uncle lives. It can't be far now." Quickly he urged the horses onto the road.

But suddenly he saw something. What were those strange glowing lights that blinked at him from the edges of the trees? What were those black shapes moving in the snow? Suddenly the horses shied in panic and broke into a run.

Wolves! thought Vasylko. With all the strength he could muster he brought the whip down hard onto the horse's flank and grabbed on tight to its mane.

Terrified, bareheaded, and covered with snow, Vasylko galloped along the road into the icy wind. Chasing after him ran two wolves, arching their silver-gray backs. And the blizzard howled and whirled the snow, sweeping their tracks away.


Having sent Vasylko on his way Yakim breathed a sigh of relief. The fir tree had fetched a good price and the money would come in really handy at the moment, although he was sorry that he had to sacrifice his son's favorite tree.

Olena was busy with last minute preparations for the Christmas Eve dinner.

No one noticed that it was snowing outside.

Suddenly the girls exclaimed, "Snow, snow! Oh, mama, can we go out and play?"

Olena and Yakim looked out the window.

"Oh dear God, how will he get home in this weather!" she said. �

Yakim stepped outside. The sky was shrouded in snowclouds, and a gusty wind took his breath away. He became uneasy. � I hope nothing's happened to him, he thought.�

�"Well, how bad is it?" asked Olena, when he came back into the house. �

"It's a storm -- it might die down -- don't worry, Vasylko should be home soon."

But the blizzard didn't die down. Olena kept peering out the window, sighing deeply and wringing her hands in worry. �

It was growing dark and Vasylko still hadn't returned. �

"Oh, I wish we hadn't sent him so late in the day. We could have gotten by without that money." Olena was imagining all the horrible things that might happen to her son, how he might get lost or attacked by wolves.

Yakim said nothing, but he was no less worried than his wife. Every few minutes he stepped outside, peering into the darkness and cocking his ear to the howling wind, hoping in vain to see Vasylko or to hear his voice.

The neighbors had long since dined, but in Yakim's house they had forgotten what day it was. The girls fell asleep waiting for their supper, and the parents worried and the thought of food never crossed their minds.


In the morning a bright sun rose into the clear sky, revealing the effects of the snowstorm. The wind had died down. The clean, fresh snow sparkled silvery under the blue canopy of the sky. It was as if the earth had put on a fresh, white shirt for Christmas. �

Yakim borrowed some horses from a neighbor, intending to search for Vasylko. Olena pleaded to go with him and they set off together.

The sleigh creaked cheerfully on the new snow, and the horses trotted willingly, even though the road was quite drifted over. But the hearts of Yakim and Olena were heavy. They peered anxiously in every direction hoping to see some sign of Vasylko. But everywhere the landscape was flat and white and the glare from the snow hurt their eyes.

They came to the forest. Olena desperately looked among the trees -- it seemed to her that she was constantly catching sight of either the sleigh, or Vasylko's jacket, or the tracks of horses. �

"If only we could meet someone coming from the forest," Yakim finally said, "then we could ask whether they had seen anything further on." �
At last they happened upon a man riding a horse. Yakim explained what had happened and began to ask questions.

"I did see a broken sleigh with a fir tree on it," the man said. "Just continue on to your right."

"Oh dear God", cried Olena, "where is my child? What's happened to him?" �

From a distance the broken sleigh slowly came into view, and the green branches of the fir tree peeked out from under the drifts of snow.

Yakim pulled up to the sleigh. Olena jumped off first and ran over to it, her anguished cries filling the forest.

Yakim stood and hung his head in grief. "Yes, it must be true," he thought, "my Vasylko must have fallen prey to the wolves."

Suddenly they heard someone approaching. Yakim turned towards the sound and couldn't believe his own eyes. There before him stood his own horses harnessed to a sleigh being driven by Petro, his brother's hired hand. �

"Where did you come from?" cried Yakim.

"Your brother sent me to pick up your broken sleigh and to deliver the fir tree to the master's house. Vasylko's sleigh broke down last night. He wandered off the road, and barely managed to get to our place." �

"Vasylko is alive?" cried out Yakim and Olena in unison. �

"Of course he's alive! Just a short while ago he and his cousin set off for your house."

"Oh, thank God he's all right." they both exclaimed. �

As Petro loaded the fir tree onto his own sleigh, Yakim turned his horses around and hurried home.

Vasylko was already there when they arrived. Yakim and Olena wept tears of joy as they hugged their son. "We thought we'd never see you again!" they cried.

And all the while Vasylko was happily chattering away, telling everyone about his exciting adventures in the woods the night before.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Infinite

The Infinite

It was always dear to me, this solitary hill,
and this hedgerow here, that closes out my view,
from so much of the ultimate horizon.
But sitting here, and watching here, in thought,
I create interminable spaces,
greater than human silences, and deepest
quiet, where the heart barely fails to terrify.
When I hear the wind, blowing among these leaves,
I go on to compare that infinite silence
with this voice, and I remember the eternal and the dead seasons, and the living present,
and its sound, so that in this immensity
my thoughts are drowned, and shipwreck seems sweet
to me in this sea.

Giacomo Leopardi
(1798 - 1837)

I include this poem by Italian poet, Giacomo Leopardi, considered Italy's greatest 19th Century lyric poet, for no other reason than I found it beautiful. Can there be a better reason?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The American Thinker produces a lot of "Hot Air"

By Aussiegirl

Just mosey on over to The American Thinker and check out the great article by Timothy Birdnow entitled "Hot Air" -- one of the best summaries I've read of the real science which completely debunks the globaloney behind the Kyoto treaty and the entire global warming myth. http://americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=4115

Tim includes some fascinating bits of information I have not run across anywhere else, including the fascinating news that while sea temperatures have been rising based on careful measurements done by fishermen, satellite measurements of the atmosphere over the oceans shows no such rise. The answer seems to lie in the sun. And to those of us who actually try to read some science, it will come as no surprise that the sun has a great deal to do with our climate. If global warming was happening as a result of CO2 emissions, then the atmosphere would be warming. The fact that the oceans store the solar energy output of the sun seems to point to a solar sunspot cycle as the culprit in the recent neglible rise. He also makes some good points about how solar flares lead to the ozone holes that we have been seeing. So -- start spraying your hair again with those terrible cans with the propellant -- the ozone hole isn't your fault. And all that money wasted on banning CFC's was a total crock.

The news about the ocean temperatures also leads me to suspect that this may explain the recent increase in the numbers of El Ninos and also the changes that scientists have been noticing in the North Atlantic Oscillation, both of which have profound impacts on our weather.

And as for Global Warming -- subzero weather in the Midwest -- and 18" of snow expected in the Ohio Valley. The prospect of a bit of warming sure looks good right now. Santa's sleigh might need a lot of antifreeze to get even Rudolph's nose to light up.

And a merry tip of the Christmas Santa hat to Tim for generously posting my "Religion and Democracy" article on his own blogsite called Birdblog, along with some kind comments and a link. Check out Tim's site for some wonderful writing, and links to his other excellent articles already published in the American Thinker. http://tbirdblog.blogspot.com/

He's one of the best thinkers around -- armed with facts, history, science and good writing -- you can't get any better than that. We'll all be able to say "We knew him when" one day -- mark my words.

More to come in a day or so

By Aussiegirl

Blogging has been light because of Christmas preps. Tune back in a day or so when I will post a favorite Ukrainian Christmas story in my own translation - stay tuned -- all about Christmas trees and snowstorms and -- wolves -- perfect to read on a cozy night with a hot toddy (what IS a hot toddy anyway? -- I'll have to look up a recipe on the internet).

Meanwhile, Yushchenko and Yanukovych had a televised debate the other day. According to the blogger on Orange Ukraine, the laugh-o-meter at the local Ukrainian bar showed that Yanukovych pretty much made a fool of himself. Having fallen out with Kuchma, he is now ridiculously trying to position himself as the opposition candidate working against the forces of oppression. These people make the dem spinmeisters look like positive amateurs.

Just a quick observation on the Rumsfeld brouhaha. I remember distinctly that last year Rumsfeld had surgery on a thumb to correct a severe case of arthritis. He wore a cast on that hand for quite some time following the procedure. Having suffered with a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome not that long ago I can tell you that sometimes just signing your name can be extruciatingly painful -- and awkward. It could very well be that Rumsfeld began to have those letters signed with the auto pen back in those days, and for all we know he may still experience problems writing by hand for any length of time.

According to some families who have lost loved ones in Iraq, Senators Feinstein and Boxer also sent letters of condolence signed by auto pen, and you can bet they have fewer of these letters to sign. Whether or not this is the answer, this is a rather small matter, and is only coming out now as part of the "gotcha" campaign which was begun with the staged question at the Rumsfeld Q & A session with the soldiers in Kuwait.

Rumsfeld had a great answer to Bret Baier of Fox News today who asked him how he felt with all the criticism being directed his way. He responded that he wakes up every day thinking of what the servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere are doing -- and he figures if they can stand it -- he can stand whatever it is that is going on. Puts all this nonsense into perfect persective.

We know if Clinton had been asked this question he would have spend at least 15 minutes whining about how unfair all the attacks are and how hard he has worked, blah, blah, blah.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yevshan continued

By Aussiegirl

Thanks to Window, who gave UT a plug for mentioning the Yevshan zil'ya (Ukrainian word for herb) on his great website at http://windowglass.blogspot.com

Check out this wonderful site for great up-to-date information on the latest happenings from on the ground in Ukraine. Read particularly a moving speech delivered by leading contemporary Ukrainian writer, Yuri Andrukhovych to the European Parliment in Strasbourg on December 15, 2004 on the subject of "Saving a 'cursed' Ukraine".

Andrukhovych lays out eloquently and poetically his dreams for a Ukraine which is naturally reaching out to Europe in its striving for democracy and freedom and human dignity. It is no wonder that Ukrainians have managed to survive as a recognizable entity through all these centuries of oppression and domination -- it has been the voices of their poets and writers that have kept alive the spirit of a people through unimaginable horrors.

Ultimately, guns and terror cannot triumph over the human will towards freedom and the power of words to inspire and lead.

Potato chips to the rescue

By Aussiegirl

Well, it had to happen -- my favorite snack food has turned out to have life-saving health properties! It turns out the fake fat in Olestra, which is used in a number of snack foods like potato chips and corn chips, is a superior way of clearing dioxin from the body. Somebody please send Mr. Yushchenko a year's supply of Wow! Chips and Doritos immediately.

Seriously -- if anyone can contact his campaign and his doctors have not previously looked into this it certainly looks like it is worth exploring, especially the part about the chloracne clearing quickly. That must be awfully painful, not to mention disfiguring, for the presidential candidate.

Here's an excerpt of the article from Express Newsline.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

. . .Perhaps Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko should try an "Olestra diet" to rid his body of dioxin.

It wouldn't be the first time that the "fake fat" product was used as an emergency agent to flush out dioxin, one of a group of chlorinated hydrocarbons that are toxic, lipophilic (attracted to fat) - and persistent in the environment and animal tissues. About five years ago, two Austrian women suffering from dioxin poisoning were given olestra snacks, which resulted in removal of dioxin at 10 times the normal rate, according to some reports.

In an as-yet-unpublished study, researchers at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, along with Trevor Redgrave at the University of Western Australia, treated a patient with PCB toxicity over a two-year period with olestra in the form of fat-free Pringles. The patient's chloracne disappeared and the PCB level in fat tissue dropped dramatically.


Friday, December 17, 2004

The poison in the chalice was pure dioxin

By Aussiegirl

Well, bad sushi seems to have morphed into the most purified form of dioxin known to mankind, available only from three possible sources, either a WMD lab, a lab doing pure research work, or a very clever chemist, according to the following AP article appearing in today's Las Vegas Sun.

Hmmmm -- do you suppose it was accidental? Or on purpose. And WHO do you think might be behind such a dastardly deed?

And you thought politics was a boring subject.

Read the article at: www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/tech/2004/dec/17/121709948.html

Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned by TCDD, the most harmful known form of dioxin, the scientist who conducted tests on the presidential candidate's blood said Friday. . .

. . .However, the tests conducted by Brouwer at BioDetection Systems in Amsterdam found Yushchenko was poisoned with pure TCDD, not a mixture. . .

. . .Yushchenko, who faces Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych in a repeat presidential election on Dec. 26, fell ill after having dinner with Ukrainian Security Service chief Ihor Smeshko and his deputy Volodymyr Satsyuk on Sept. 5.

Yushchenko reported having a headache about three hours after the dinner, and by the next day had developed an acute stomach ache. He later developed pancreatitis and gastrointestinal pain, as well as a severe backache.

About three weeks after his first symptoms, Yushchenko developed severe facial disfiguring which is the hallmark of dioxin poisoning.

Yushchenko told the AP on Thursday that he is convinced he was poisoned at the Sept. 5 dinner.

"It was a project of political murder, prepared by the authorities," Yushchenko said.

Religion as the moving force of democracy

By Aussiegirl

In an article in today's Wall Street Journal, Adrian Karatnycky discusses the religious dimensions of the recent Ukrainian democracy demonstrations, and finds interesting parallels to the role of faith in America's recent elections and the faith of our own President and First Lady in shaping their attitudes towards their service to their country.

This is an encouraging sign to see in a country which had been under communist domination for 70 years -- an atheistic regime which attempted to completely stamp out religion in any form. My mother still remembers vividly when the churches were destroyed in her home town. As the bell towers were demolished the massive bells, which had pealed for hundreds of years, came crashing down with a cacophonous clanging as the horrified townspeople looked helplessly on, crossing themselves in terror and praying silently. She remembers their expressions of shock and fear. It was like the end of the world had come. She remembers the sickening thud as the heavy bells hit the ground. And she remembers all the anti-religious and anti-clerical slogans and songs and poems she learned as a child. They were inculcated in her so deeply that she can still recite them to this day.

"Religion is the opiate of the masses" was the rallying cry. She remembers that icons and any religious artifacts in the house were forbidden, and that her mother, who used to pray before the icon that always hung in the corner of every Ukrainian house, had to hide hers away. Still she found that her mother secretly prayed at night after the children had gone to bed (she discovered her one night by sneaking out of her bed). My grandmother wanted to protect her children from this sight, as children were also routinely indoctrinated to inform on their parents to authorities, and many in their innocence did. One such little boy who did, and whose parents were subsequently arrested for their "crime", was labeled a hero of the revolution. Every schoolbook bore his portrait and name and a statue was erected in his honor.

One day she told me she found her grandfather on his knees saying his daily prayers in front of the portrait of Taras Shevchenko, of whom I have written earlier -- the spiritual father of Ukraine and beloved bard. A portrait of Shevchenko also hung in every Ukrainian household. Having been inculcated with anti-religious propaganda at school, my young mother (she was about 7 years old) teased her grandfather. "What are you doing praying to Shevchenko?" she said, "he's not God." Her wise grandfather answered, "Do not scoff, my child, he is a holy man and it is permissible to pray to him as well."

When Czechoslovakia had its Velvet Revolution and the poet and playwright, Vaclav Havel, for years incarcerated and persecuted by the communists, became the new President, he said something so profound I have always remembered it. He said that it would take many years to heal the wounds inflicted on his country by communism. But the wounds that would take the longest to heal and that were by far the most profound, were not the economic and political injuries, but instead the wounds inflicted on the soul of the people -- the numbing, dumbing down of moral values, where the system reduced people to little more than animal status, keeping their heads low, staying out of trouble, and just trying to find enough food to eat and a little comfort to shield them from their sense of hopelessness and helplessness. He correctly realized that neither the political nor the economic renaissance of a country could take place without the spiritual renewal of the population.

And so I am gratified to see that this has taken place in Ukraine, and am not really surprised to find that a renewed sense of national pride and a desire for democracy and freedom has sprung from a renewed sense of religious faith. It is an ecumenical renewal, with all faiths -- including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish -- taking their place in the sphere of public life.

Here are some excerpts of the article.
Read the complete article at:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

...But there is another side to Ukraine's peaceful revolution. Interspersed with earnest youths, families and grandmothers who braved subzero temperatures at daily rallies for Mr. Yushchenko were nuns bearing orange sashes, proto-deacons and priest-monks.

The scene at Kiev's Independence Square was part political rally, part rock concert and part fireworks display. But it was also a religious experience. Each day's protest opened with prayer. On weekends, religious leaders held liturgies and prayer services for Orthodox Christians (whose adherents represent more than 60% of the population), Eastern Rite Catholics (10%), Protestants, evangelicals, Jews and Muslims. (Some 25% of Ukrainians say they are nonreligious.)
Mr. Yushchenko, who typically ends his speeches with "Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Ukrainian People, and Glory to the Lord, Our God," is a devout Orthodox Christian from northeastern Ukraine who regularly takes confession and communion.

His faith is reinforced by his American-born wife, Katya Chumachenko, who last week told the Chicago Tribune: "We're strong believers in God, and we strongly believe that God has a place for each one of us in this world, and that he has put us in this place for a reason."

Such sentiments echo the way that President Bush has spoken of his own faith. And like Mr. Bush, Mr. Yushchenko is careful to sound an ecumenical tone in his public remarks. At a Dec. 6 interfaith gathering, Mr. Yushchenko observed that "the spiritual harmony that rules among religious leaders on the platform is an image of the spiritual harmony present in Independence Square."

As a result of such careful balancing, Mr. Yushchenko's cause has strong backing from two influential religious leaders:

Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of the Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic Church, who on Dec. 6 declared that "at the root of the crisis is an immoral regime which has deprived Ukrainian people of their legitimate rights and dignity." A leader of Kiev's Jewish community, Anatoly Shyhai, has told pro-Yushchenko protesters that Jews see the Ukrainian state as "an independent, democratic and European country at the apex of rights and interfaith amity." Thus religious values have become an important part of Mr. Yushchenko's moral appeal and his campaign to cleanse Ukraine of high-level corruption and crime.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sixty years ago today

Carol sends the following article from the New York Post along with her comments . A timely reminder indeed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The road to victory has always been paved by bloody battles. And, in the past we had a press that understood the deep and great sacrifices that were made. Those Americans? The famous infantry division: THE BIG RED ONE. They saw action, starting in 1942, against Rommel. In the desert. At one time General Patton was leading them.

Then, with success in North Africa, they pulled into Europe through Sicily. High mountains. Difficult terrain. And, they pushed Hitler and his minions out. Mussolini would fall. And, from here, after seven months of training in secret, these men stormed Omaha Beach. And, Continental Europe was ENTERED HERE.

When the article says "six months" ... that was some six months! To get to the Battle of the Bulge. Where the depleted Germans made their last stand. By handing rifles to ten year olds. And, by having old men fighting our seasoned troops. In the cold. And, the bitter weather. (There's even a picture of General Patton pissing in the Rhine. He had promised to do so. And, he did!) But it was a very costly victory ... and, where is European support for the USA now? Anyway, the article from the NY Post is wonderful. And, a good reminder ... so that we never forget that tyrants must be fought tooth and nail. The article's conclusion makes a point well taken. CAROL


December 16, 2004 -- Sixty years ago today, Allied forces in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg unexpectedly found themselves face-to-face with Hitler's last great offensive of World War II the Battle of the Bulge had begun.

Six months after the invasion at Normandy, the war seemed won: Americans had retaken most of western Europe; German forces were being forced back to their borders for a last stand.

Yet in 10 days, Hitler's panzers opened a 50-mile bulge in the Allied lines, effectively dividing U.S. and British armies; it took weeks of heroic struggle in sub-zero temperature to reverse the losses.
In the end, the Battle of the Bulge was the single biggest engagement in which U.S. troops have ever fought.

And among the bloodiest: Over those six weeks alone, America suffered more than 80,000 casualties including 19,000 killed and nearly 24,000 captured.

The Battle of the Bulge also produced one of the most inspiring moments of the war: When the Germans, having surrounded his 101st Airborne in the Belgian city of Bastogne, demanded his forces' surrender, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe replied with a single dismissive word: "Nuts!"

One can only imagine how today's press corps would have responded to that: How dare the general be so flippant in a moment of crisis!

Commentators would be demanding to know why U.S. intelligence didn't foresee the offensive. And howling for Gen. Eisenhower's scalp, to boot.
Even at the battle's low point, Eisenhower understood that Hitler had gambled and lost. When the attack stalled, Germany was spent in the West.
Victory followed.

As U.S. troops continue to struggle in Iraq, more than year after toppling Saddam Hussein, the Battle of the Bulge is a useful reminder that war is usually about surprise and setback.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is no different. Patience and courage made the difference in the Ardennes; it will again in Iraq.


BonnieBlueFlag adds her own eloquent comments:

Carol, that was a nice remembrance of the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, thank you for posting.

After the 100 mile march of Patton's 3rd Army, and just prior to the Battle of the Bulge, Gen. Patton asked a chaplain for a prayer for good weather. The prayer follows:

"Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations."

To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God's blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.

Patton ordered 250,000 copies to be printed, and for every officer and soldier to be given a copy of the prayer for good weather.

To this day, my Father, who was with Patton through the 100 mile march to the Battle of the Bulge, still carries his copy of that prayer in his wallet.

I wonder when the ACLU will have Patton's prayer for good weather erased from our history as well.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

BonnieB. -- Thanks so much for sharing those memories -- that was so moving to hear. We cannot even imagine what those men went through in those horrendous months. They were the greatest generation, indeed. It is a debt the world will never be able to repay. As I told you before, my own family was liberated by the Americans as they huddled in a shelter, nearly starved to death at the end of the war. They have never forgotten the kindness and good cheer of the American GI's who showered them with chocolates and gum and rations. At that time my parents could only dream that someday they would have the opportunity to live in this great country of America. And as you know, my mother still thanks God almost daily that we managed to wash up on these hallowed shores. Thank your father for us and all freedom-loving people. I was so moved to read that he still carries that prayer in his wallet. He and the others like him are true heroes.


Yevshan -- the herb of remembrance

By Aussiegirl

When I posted the website of the Ukrainian online store called Yevshan down below, I suddenly remembered what the name means in Ukrainian.

The word "Yevshan" has a rather charming definition. It is the name of a legendary or mythical Ukrainian herb. This herb was said to have the magical power to cause the person who ate or drank it to remember who they really were. The reason for this is that in Ukrainian history, so many Ukrainians were taken prisoner and removed to the lands of the Turkish sultans. Many of them became Janissaries -- the foreign slave armies of the Turks. These Ukrainians were said to be in captivity for so long that they forgot their language and forgot their heritage. But if they were to be given this herb to drink -- they would remember who they were.

I've always thought that was such a lovely legend and it occurred to me that the people in the "maidan", the Independence Square in Kiev, who were demonstrating recently must have drunk this herb, because they have finally recovered their sense of self-identity -- of being Ukrainian.

Perhaps this is the antidote to the poison that was slipped into Yushchenko's food and which he said has been poured into the Ukrainian soul for so long.

Perhaps all nations need the herb of remembrance. Because any nation which forgets its roots loses its national identity -- and its will to survive.

Need an unusual gift for that special someone?

By Aussiegirl

It's that time of year again. And if you are looking for something out of the ordinary for that special someone, or that particularly difficult person on your list who seems to have everything already, and if you just can't afford the baubles from Neiman-Marcus this year like his and her diamond-encrusted jet planes -- well -- look no further. Why not check out the Ukrainian online shopping site called Yevshan at http://www.yevshan.com/

Check out the songs of the Orange Revolution. Listen to Ukrainian rap and rock and roll. Listen to Ruslana's latest English-language album -- "Wild Dances" -- I think she just won the European title of pop artist of the year or something like that -- I guess it's the Euro equivalent of a Grammy award. There's also lots of Ukrainian arts and crafts, embroideries, dolls, ceramics, icons, posters, videos, books and lots more. The website is in English -- so fear not -- and many of the books and items are also in English. If nothing else it is a fun place to browse.

I get no commission from the website. I just enjoyed looking through it myself last night and wanted to pass it along.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

You read it here first

By Aussiegirl

Looks like the Los Angeles Times has been reading my blog. They echo all the themes already laid out here on UT days ago and hit all the high spots in this editorial from yesterday's edition:



An Old-Fashioned Poisoning
December 14, 2004

The Iron Curtain is no more, or so we thought until the news that Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western presidential candidate in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, was poisoned with dioxin, possibly by Ukraine's own security services.

This brings to mind a flurry of associations, from campy James Bond movies to John le Carre thrillers, not to mention actual history. Stalinist regimes and poison have a long connection. Bulgarian agents, most famously, used a poisoned umbrella in 1978 to kill dissident Georgi Markov in London. In Russia, the czarist advisor Rasputin was allegedly poisoned in 1916, and the Kremlin has its own long history of political and royal assassinations, though some of them occurred by suffocation. Past critics of Ukrainian President Leonid D. Kuchma also have died under questionable circumstances.
The good news for Yushchenko, despite his suddenly pockmarked features and tales of excruciating pain, is that he survived the attempt and now seems poised to win the Dec. 26 reprise of his runoff against Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Indeed, Ukraine already seems to be a far different country than it was on Nov. 21, the day of the tainted runoff election. Faced with large domestic protests, international condemnation and a Supreme Court decision against the rigged vote, Kuchma succumbed to calls for a new vote and to a package of reforms that promise to make Ukraine a more democratic nation.

Russia's President Vladimir V. Putin is the big loser in all this, having campaigned for Yanukovich. Putin has freely meddled in the affairs of Russia's "near abroad," the former Soviet republics. For Putin, being rebuffed by Ukrainians yearning for closer ties with the European Union is especially difficult, given Kiev's status as the cradle of modern Russian civilization.
The West has often been too deferential to Putin and too timid in openly supporting democratic voices in the region. The Bush administration in particular has sought to placate the Kremlin in exchange for its support against Islamist terrorism, which is how Putin describes Russia's brutal civil conflict with the separatist region of Chechnya. It's no accident that Putin practically endorsed President Bush on the eve of the U.S. election.

But Ukraine's saga, much like the fall of the Iron Curtain, which once stood well to the west of Ukraine, is a reminder that a society spontaneously demanding to decide its own future cannot always be poisoned back into submission. The trick for Bush in his second term will be to find a way to maintain constructive ties with Putin but not at the price of abandoning clamor for more democracy in the former Soviet Union.

Democracy on the march

By Aussiegirl

A wonderful article on Opinion Journal by Claudia Rosett discusses the march of democracy throughout the world in the last decades as exemplified by the recent Orange Revolution in Ukraine. She quotes Oleg Rybachuk, Yushchenko's Chief of Staff, who talked about the recent past and the plans for the future of Ukraine's democracy movement as well as the deeper meaning that this has for Ukrainians and their sense of self-respect:

"Fluent in English, and sporting the same kind of bright orange scarf that has become Mr. Yushchenko's trademark, Mr. Rybachuk had a great deal to say about his party's plans. He stressed such gritty basics as monetary stability, unhooking Ukraine from Big Brother in Moscow, and joining the European Union. He described the inspiration Ukraine's democratic opposition has drawn from Poland--once a Soviet vassal state, now a member of the EU.

"All these matters are important, and if Mr. Yushchenko becomes president, there will no doubt be plenty of devil in the details. But what came through most clearly in Mr. Rybachuk's conversation, the point to which he returned again and again, was his pride that the people of Ukraine have stood up for their freedom. Not so long ago, there were few believers that this could happen. Ukraine achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, only to be written off in short order as a basket case. The country has been run for the past 10 years by a former Soviet party boss, President Leonid Kuchma; sunk in corruption and lamed by generations of subservience to Moscow. When Mr. Yushchenko set out upon his campaign for the presidency, says Mr. Rybachuk, there were people "laughing in my face, saying we are idiotic, or romantic, or naive."

"As it turned out, the voters of Ukraine thought otherwise, and when Mr. Kuchma tried to steal the election, they spoke up. With their flags and vigils and calls for fellowship from the democratic nations of the world, they have been insisting on their right to choose freely and fairly who will govern their country. "This is real independence day," Mr. Rybachuk told me, "because we have kids who will never be slaves again."

"In such statements is a world of promise for the people of nations where the moment of democratic truth has not yet arrived. Ukraine is telegraphing around the globe a reminder that freedom brings with it the great gift of dignity. That is precisely why it is so stirring to watch such revolutions. They speak to the best part of the human spirit, because we are witnessing people, often against big odds and at great risk, recovering their self-respect."

As I've said in these pages before, President Bush's visionary policy of promoting freedom and democracy in the 21st Century as a means of ensuring enduring peace and prosperity for the future of the world is nothing short of historic. It will be looked back on by future generations with the same respect and awe with which we regard the bold policies of both Ronald Reagan and Sir Winston Churchill.

Read the entire article at: http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=110006028

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

That's why we have jurors and not lawyers

By Aussiegirl

In a verdict for common sense and decency a jury has found Scott Peterson not only guilty of first-degree murder in the grisly deaths of his pregnant wife and unborn son, but has sentenced him to face the ultimate penalty. For months and months all the talking legal eagles had been telling us ad nauseaum -- that the prosecution had put on a horrible case -- that Mark Geragos was a legal genius who had charmed the jury and had laid waste to every prosecution witness thereby laying the groundwork for a case of reasonable doubt -- that there was only circumstancial evidence -- that Scott Peterson would walk even though he was probably guilty -- that the prosecution and cops had badly botched the case, etc. etc. etc.

Fortunately lawyers do not routinely (although they do occasionally as normal citizens) sit on juries -- and this jury of average and citizens found no such problems at all. And in a triumph of common sense, 12 reasonable people of varying backgrounds came forth with the correct and obvious verdict. There was no other explanation than that Scott was undeniably, 100% guilty of this heinous and monstrous crime.

And following on this logic of guilt I had felt all along that they would come back with a sentence of death. If they were sure of their verdict, how could they fail to see that death was the only fair sentence to impose for such a monstrous crime against those whom he should have protected and cherished.

The lawyers were stunned. Geraldo was wrong. He had said that domestic crimes are never punished by death. Another lawyer opined that only serial killers and predators should be sentenced to death. After all, there was only the public's safety to consider. As if Scott had not preyed on his own wife and child. As if only a stranger-on-stranger murder that endangers the community at large should warrant such a penalty. What they forget is that the average person sees the need for justice -- and not simply the expedient of protecting the public at large from random predators. After all, that's what we are seeking in a court of law -- justice -- redress -- and yes -- retribution -- and punishment.

These the jury delivered in a just verdict and for the right reasons. They didn't do it because of public pressure, they didn't do it because they had been tainted by the publicity, they didn't do it because a bunch of lawyers had gotten lots of bucks to endlessly opine on Greta, et al, they didn't do it because they wanted their moment of fame. They did it because each and every one of them was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Scott, in cold blood, and with premeditation and malice aforethought did callously and cruelly carry out the horrific murder of his wife and their unborn baby. And in a cold and heartless way had dumped their bodies in the cold, dark waters of the San Francisco Bay where they would be exposed to all the cruel elements. And while his wife and baby lay at the bottom of the bay, he pursued his new mistress and lied to everyone he met. The jurors had all the qualifications they needed to make this judgement -- they are human beings with hearts, and consciences and souls. And they were repelled and horrified by his crime.

Now the Speculation Channels will have to move on to other trials and other speculations, while Laci and Connor and the Rocha family have gotten at least some justice, if not peace, out of this horrible business. May God grant them his unfathomable peace and comfort for the rest of their days. And may Laci and Connor rest in peace, in that place where there are no sighs, nor tears, nor pain, nor sorrow -- but eternal life and light.

Eternal memory.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Updates and things

By Aussiegirl

Just lots of loose ends to tie up and little tidbits to fill out the news from Ukraine today.

On a bright note, Ukrainian heavyweight boxer,Vitaly Klitschko, who just a week or so ago was demonstrating for democracy with the crowds in the snow in Kiev and vowed before the crowds to win the championship for Ukrainian democracy, defeated American Danny Williams in Las Vegas on December 11th, taking the World Heavyweight WBF Championship. Congrats to Vitaly. A real champion in more ways than one.

The Yushchenko poisoning story has really hit the airwaves, with prominent stories on all the major networks and interviews by Yushchenko's American-born wife, Ekaterina, on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. Oleg Rybachuk, Yushchenko's Chief of Staff has also been giving interviews to Fox and ABC news in which he stated that he had been receiving intelligence from former Security Services and KGB operatives that a decision had been taken at the highest levels to dispose of Yushchenko by means of poison which would render him too ill to continue as a viable candidate. They nearly killed him, as it turns out, and only the intervention of high-tech medical help at an Austrian clinic enabled him to continue his campaign, at times even with a morphine catheter inserted into his spine to quell the intense back spasms which all but crippled him. The catheter has now been removed and the doctors say that he should make an eventual complete recovery.

The matter of the poisoning has been taken up by the Parliament and a new prosecutor appointed under the reform rules recently adopted. Yushchenko has urged that the investigation into the matter be postponed until after the election in order not to influence the vote beforehand. Another example of his being an honest and upright candidate.

Meanwhile Yanukovich and his gang of thieves are falling out with one another, with Kuchma blaming Yanukovich and vice-versa. A predictable outcome. Yanukovich is still showing some feeble signs of life as he reflexively accuses the United States of interference in his country's elections.

For anyone (like the MSM) fastidiously concerned about United States financial backing for the democracy movement in Ukraine, let me just point out, that Russia poured fully three times as much money into the campaign, all of it sent directly to supporting Yanukovich's campaign and for efforts to rig the vote tallies, while U.S. dollars went primarily to efforts to ensure a free and open election. Big difference. But then, why are we even surprised.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian example is having repercussions in Belarus, which recently also underwent a suspect election in which a Kremlin stooge was installed in power. Belorussian activists have been streaming into Kyiv to participate in the demonstrations there (currently winding down as the country prepares for the upcoming election), and also learning methods to be used in their own country.

In another development a group of Russians demonstrated in Moscow in support of the Ukrainian Orange movement and also demanded democratic reforms in Russia. Putin must be feeling the unmistakeable tap-tap of Slavic stirrings of freedom nipping at his heels.

As I have talked about in a posting below, the Iranians are also demanding reforms in their country and are also similarly inspired by the Ukrainian "Orange Velvet Revolution".

In an encouraging move, the Bush administration also appears to be taking a harder line with Putin after the recent shenanigans with the Ukrainian election. It's high time that Washington stop always taking Moscow's side against Ukrainian interests. It has long been in the interests of the United States to support an open and democratic Ukraine as a buffer to the increasinly autocratic rule of Putin in the Kremlin.

President Bush has come very far indeed from his father's infamous "Chicken Kiev" speech when the elder President Bush urged Ukrainians not to give in to "suicidal nationalism" and to keep the Soviet Union intact rather than vote for independence.

All in all, I must say that the forces of liberty, democracy and goodness seem to be winning over the forces of darkness in Ukraine. All eyes will be on the outcome of the December 26th election.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

It was dioxin

By Aussiegirl

Well, it's final. Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin. According to an article describing a high exposure to dioxin to residents of an Italian town, dioxin poisoning symptoms included the severe skin reaction called chloracne and affects on liver and liver enzyme levels. Ultimately the effects were reversible and of no consequence to long term health. There is no scientific consensus based on current human evidence to demonstrate that dioxins are human carcinogens. Let's hope that's the case and Yushchenko recovers his health completely to serve his full term. Here's the latest from My Way News:

Doctors: Yushchenko Poisoned With Dioxin

Dec 11, 9:50 AM (ET)

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Dioxin poisoning caused the mysterious illness of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, a doctor said Saturday, adding that the poison could have been put in his soup.

"There is no doubt about the fact that Mr. Yushchenko's disease has been caused by a case of poisoning by dioxin," said Dr. Michael Zimpfer, director of Vienna's private Rudolfinerhaus clinic.

Zimpfer said Yushchenko's blood and tissue registered concentrations of dioxin - one of the most toxic chemicals - that were 1,000 times above normal levels.

"It would be quite easy to administer this amount in a soup," Zimpfer said, adding that tests showed the dioxin was taken orally. "There is suspicion of third party involvement."

Tests run over the past 24 hours provided conclusive evidence of the poisoning, Zimpfer said.

He is now in "satisfactory" condition and his dioxin levels have returned to normal, Zimpfer said.

My Way News -- Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin -- http://apnews.myway.com//article/20041211/D86TGIKG0.html

Friday, December 10, 2004

You win a little, you lose a little

By Aussiegirl

According to the Washington Post, Yushchenko has vowed to prosecute criminal acts by politicians when he gets into office. This is rather a surprising announcement to make before the election, as prosecution is what Kuchma fears above all else, and has been one of the primary motivations behind all the election chicanery from the Kuchma camp. It does, however, show that Yushchenko is an honest and courageous politician, willing to lay his cards on the table and play for keeps, even at the risk of his own life, as we see from the recent reports of his poisoning by the opposition.

Also, I think it will prove to to be a powerful issue in the upcoming rematch. It has long been a sore point for Ukrainians that there is no accountability for crimes. None of the Soviet-era criminals responsible for the executions and enslavement of millions has ever been brought to justice, and in recent years, rampant crime by those in the highest offices has also been committed with impunity. This is either a gutsy move -- or a foolhardy one. We'll know when the votes are counted.

This brings us to the second important issue raised by this article -- the thorny problem of counting those pesky votes. Parliament has approved a far-reaching reform of election laws. Specifically addressed are a number of issues that were pivotal in the rigging of the recent elections, including the problem of absentee ballots and the hacking of the computer servers which relayed vote totals to Kiev.

In exchange for these reforms Yushchenko was forced to settle for a reduction of his presidential powers beginning in 2006. Although controversial in his own ranks, it was thought that this was the only way to push election reform through the heavily Kuchma-dominated parliament. I'll be holding my breath to see if in the meantime Kuchma and Putin haven't figured out some OTHER way to steal the election. According to Dick Morris, speaking on the Sean Hannity radio program, Yushchenko unquestionably won BOTH of the previous elections, including the initial one that had a number of additional candidates. But both were stolen by the Kuchma/Putin hacks.

Morris described how he had to meet in secret with Yushchenko in a neighboring East European country when he advised him on election strategy. Morris volunteered his services and was an unpaid consultant. Thanks, Dick, you are really making up for your sins when you worked for the Clintons.


Yushchenko Vows to Prosecute Political Crimes if Elected Opposition Leader Puts Priority on Ukraine's Admittance to the E.U.

By Peter Finn and Daniel Williams
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 9, 2004; Page A22

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 8 -- Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, vowing to restore "the letter and the spirit of the law," said Wednesday that if he were elected president, his government would prosecute select political and economic crimes that have been linked to the administration of President Leonid Kuchma, including the murder of a journalist.

In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday, the day parliament passed electoral reforms in advance of a second presidential runoff, Yushchenko said he would pursue an independent foreign policy and make winning Ukraine's admittance to the European Union his top priority. He said he wanted to ease the tensions that arose during the election campaign and its chaotic aftermath.

Yushchenko said that while he was not interested in a sweeping legal examination of the past, "there will be accountability" for certain acts. He mentioned the 2000 murder of Ukrainian investigative reporter Heorhiy Gongadze, whose decapitated body was found in a forest near the capital. Kuchma was allegedly tape-recorded by one of his bodyguards telling a cabinet minister to get rid of Gongadze. Kuchma has said the tapes were fabricated.

Yushchenko also pinpointed the privatization of a huge steel plant, the Kryvorizhstal factory in eastern Ukraine. It was sold to a consortium that included the president's son-in-law, at a heavily discounted price, according to the opposition.

"There will be accountability for these crimes," Yushchenko said. "Kryvorizhstal was stolen. The entire business community looked at it with shame. The letter and the spirit of the law in Ukraine will be restored."

But he stressed that many other controversial sales of state assets fell within the law of the time and would not be challenged. He spoke in offices that his campaign commandeered on the edge of Independence Square, the scene of 15 days of noisy but peaceful mass demonstrations on his behalf. He held two young daughters to his chest as he greeted his American-born wife, Kateryna Chumachenko, shortly before addressing the flag-waving throng outside. "I am very proud as a citizen because during these 15 days, one can say that a nation was established in Ukraine," he said in the interview. "This is a huge victory and I'm happy," he added.
In the dim light of the office, his face showed the effects of what he called a poisoning last summer by government authorities: He was scarred and blackened from forehead to chin. Doctors in Vienna who treated the 50-year-old former prime minister said they have not established the cause, but have not ruled out deliberate exposure to a toxin. Yushchenko played down the transformation of his formerly youthful good looks. "Eighty percent of the people in the same situation never came back to this world, even in a wheelchair. I didn't pay the highest price," he said. . .

. . .The reforms alter the composition of the Central Elections Commission as well as regional and local commissions, allowing each candidate equal representation at all levels. Absentee ballots, which Western monitors said were a major source of abuse in the last round of voting, will have to be signed by representatives of both Yushchenko and Yanukovych to be valid.
Voting at sites other than polling stations, by the disabled and others, will be restricted to prevent what was another major source of alleged fraud. Each campaign will get voter lists four days before the ballot to check for anomalies. The electronic transfer of vote counts from the regions to the center will have to match tallies sent by telegraph.

Yanukovych, who campaigned in eastern Ukraine Wednesday, said he was "not happy" with the parliamentary decision, describing it as a "soft coup d'etat."

Passed by a 401 to 21 vote, with 19 abstentions, the reforms will redistribute power among the president, the parliament and the country's administrative regions, ostensibly allowing no single branch of government to dominate political life as Kuchma has for the past 10 years. For Kuchma and the current government, the changes will provide a hedge against Yushchenko if he wins the presidency and uses his office to assault their political and economic position. . .

. . .In the interview, Yushchenko said he now wanted to harmonize relations between his domestic supporters and those that have opposed him, who are largely concentrated in parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that have large populations of Russian speakers. . .

. . .Some politicians in eastern Ukraine have raised the possibility of breaking from the rest of the country if Yushchenko wins the presidency. Yushchenko reasserted that Russia is a strategic partner of Ukraine's, but noted, "We don't want my country to be shown as a colony or feudal enclave." For many people, Russia is "a nostalgic thing, so we have to take this into account," he said.

Yushchenko said his primary policy goal was to join the European Union and anchor Western values in Ukraine.

He said he wanted "a non-corrupt power . . . an open and competitive market and freedom of speech" in a country where a "journalist's head is not cut off because his position is different from the authorities." Yushchenko appeared to choose his words carefully when discussing a recent parliamentary decision to pull Ukraine's 1,700 troops out of Iraq. He said their mission to help dispose of weapons of mass destruction was largely over because no such weapons have been found. Any withdrawal would be coordinated with the Iraqi government and "our partners and allies," and military participation would be replaced with financial aid and active diplomacy, he said. When he mounted the large stage to face the crowd at Independence Square, which was decked out in the orange colors of his campaign, tears came to Yushchenko's eyes. The demonstrators chanted his name --
"Yu-shchen-ko!" -- and he responded by placing his hand on his heart. "The glory of the orange revolution is glory to you," he said. "The most important part is: Everything we did, we did without a single drop of blood. "


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Liberty Century marches on

By Aussiegirl

There are interesting developments in Iran that in some ways parallel the situation in Ukraine.

There has been a nationwide effort, involving all sorts of disparate Iranian civic and political groups, to engineer a referendum on the power of the presidency and a demand for a new constitution based on human rights. I was listening to the John Batchelor show last night. He interviewed an Iranian expatriate who is helping to spearhead this nationwide effort. The group hopes to garner at least 6,000,000 signatures. What fascinated me was that he was so excited that for the first time, disparate groups had joined forces to finally dispense with the power of the mullahs. He said how inspired the people of Iran were by what was happening in UKRAINE!! And not only was I proud and happy, I realized that we are living in an entirely new world. One which in the future we may hardly recognize. The forces of darkness and oppression and the forces of democracy and liberty are warring like never before.

And George Bush was right when he called the upcoming century, "Liberty Century". Although that phrase has not caught on, I predict that it will gain traction and be eventually remembered as a brilliant and prescient philosophy promulgated by a great president, much as Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech has had unimaginable reverberations through the years.

Iran is geographically sandwiched between Afghanistan and Iraq. With Afghanistan firmly on its way to being a functioning democracy, and Iraq teetering on the brink, the Iranian mullahs are in somewhat the same position as the one in which Putin finds himself -- namely -- either they coopt and thwart the nascent democracy on their western border, or they find themselves isolated. Hence the concerted effort by Iran to influence the upcoming elections in Iraq, just as Putin is waging a last ditch effort to keep Ukraine in his sphere of influence. Democracy on both borders will eventually prove untenable to the rule of the mullahs.

Read the referendum -- and see if it doesn't remind you of an American document we all celebrate on the Fourth of July. Freedom is a wonderful thing -- and it appears that the craving for it is universal, as George Bush has repeatedly stated. And do take note of the role of the internet and email -- and most important, the role that the United States can play in supporting democratic aspirations in these totalitarian states.

Find this page online at: http://www.iran-press-service.com/ips/articles-2004/december/referentum_71204.shtml


By Eli Lake and Safa Haeri
Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2004
By Elie Lake

NEW YORK, 7 Dec. (The New York Sun) After years of bitter internal divisions and a series of crackdowns from the Islamic Republic, the Iranian democratic opposition in the last two weeks has organized a united front to push for a referendum on the powers of the supreme leader.

In an exclusive interview with The New York Sun�, a founder of the new front, which comprises the major student groups as well as leading lawyers and activists inside the country, said organizers this week began fanning out across Persia to collect the names of fellow citizens for a petition supporting changes to the constitution to allow a referendum.

"We think this is a good step that all the opposition groups are united in one direction, the direction of the referendum", Mohsen Sazegara said in a telephone interview from London. "As far as I know, this is a unique event, all groups from monarchists to republicans, from left to right are now behind us and they support the referendum movement".

Perhaps most important though, the new unified front includes the Islamic student organizations active in the country's universities. These groups originally supported the 1979 Islamic revolution but in recent years have demanded more political freedoms for the Iranian people.
Mr. Sazegara told the Sun yesterday that Tahkime Vahdat sought to enlist handwritten signatures for the referendum petition inside the country to post on their new website, www.60000000.com,a site that hopes to eventually get that many supporters for the referendum. "We have received in the last two days already 350 emails, containing the names of whole families, in some cases with 50 names each. This shows that the referendum is supported by the youth and their parents." In the last two weeks, the website says it has already received 19,000 people who support the national vote.

So concerned have the Mullahs been about the web site that they have blocked it nside the country, borrowing a tactic from Communist China that bars its citizens from accessing even western newspapers. "It's fine that they want to block the website, we are just going to get the people to participate through the email," he said.
Mr. Sazegara said his organization planned to present the names of Iranians who sought the referendum to the United Nations and other international bodies. "We want to show the international community that this is the will of the Iranian people."

We ask all Iranians, progressists and patriots, to join us in our call, and, by signing the present Appeal, echo our voice, with strength and determination, throughout the world

Mr. Sazegara told the Sun yesterday that he was interested in enlisting support from western democracies including America, the country he fought against in 1979 when he was a member of the revolutionary guard.

"We need America to defend the democratic rights of the Iranian people. We want this right to vote in a referendum, we don't want the current constitution, we want to change it", he said. "We need practical help to defend Iranian people. If the Americans can use international policy and sanctions, not against the Iranian people, but against the officials of the regime, this would be good. The people of Iran would like to see the bank accounts frozen for the regime officials. If they publish the bank accounts, the Iranian people will be very happy". Mr. Sazegara also said he would like to see the State Department publicly call for the release of journalists and bloggers arrested in the last month.

Below is the text of National Appeal for Referendum in Iran

Translation from the Persian text and introduction by Ramin Parham

Iran will not recover its lost dignity and place among the free nations of the world and the Iranian people will not enjoy the right to freely and responsibly pursue their individual and collective happiness, but in the hands of Iran.

As recent history has shown, the support of the community of democratic nations will be instrumental in freedom's final victory. But, it will act only as a booster. Iranians alone are the main engine of change. The years of discord and disbelief may be behind us. The battle-ground is no longer blurred by political maneuvering and demagogy. The face of the enemy is emerging, sharper than ever: the fundamental discourse, ideology, constitution, and institutions of the political system known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Obsolete is increasingly exposed in its worn out fibers and venomous essence. The New is on its way. Its form and its content will be determined by the people of Iran.

The first practical step has now been taken: what follows, is the English translation of a national call that deserves our resolute support. We are "Sixty Million"�. The theocrats are alone. Let us blow them away!

National Appeal for Referendum in Iran

The experience of the past 26 years along with dozens of disasters, big and small, which have befallen on the people of Iran, belittling the nation and politically isolating Iran, all indicate that there remains only one indisputable way to resolve the ongoing crisis and liberate the oppressed people of Iran:

The organization of democratic governance based on the Universal Charter of Human Rights.

Such a system, backed by the will of the majority of the people and on the basis of our national integrity, interests, and cultural and economic values, while building a trust environment with the international community, is the only one which can steer our battered country towards salvation. To achieve this, drawing up a new Constitution and defining the political system we aspire to, constitute the first and vital step. In particular, the experience of the past 8 years clearly demonstrates that no reform will ever be conceivable within the structural framework of the current Constitution. Therefore, given the fact that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic along with the behavior of the Institutions that emanate from it:

Is in fundamental opposition with the Universal Charter of Human Rights and with the individual and social rights and liberties of the people;

Has made official inequalities between Iranian citizens through the legalization of religious, ideological, and gender apartheid, and, based on religious despotism, has, in effect, denied the Iranian people its sovereignty;

Has erected a major barrier on Iran's progress in all areas, including economic development and the realization of social justice; and,

To the detriment of Iran's national interests in diplomatic relations, has prevented our country from joining the concert of free nations.

Therefore, we, the signatories of the present Appeal, call for the organization of a referendum, expressing the people’s free will under the monitoring of international institutions, in order to convene a Constituent Assembly and draft a new Constitution on the basis of the Universal Charter of Human Rights and its Additional Protocols.

We ask all Iranians, progressists and patriots, to join us in our call, and, by signing the present Appeal, echo our voice, with strength and determination, throughout the world.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Yushchenko was poisoned after all

By Aussiegirl

It sounded like the plot from a James Bond movie, or a John Le Carre spy thriller of the Cold War era, but in this case, it turned out to be true. The Times Online has this article on their website today:

Who poisoned Yushchenko?

From Jeremy Page in Kiev

Doctors at the Austrian clinic that treated Ukraine's opposition leader confirm there was a plot to kill him

MEDICAL experts have confirmed that Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's opposition leader, was poisoned in an attempt on his life during election campaigning, the doctor who supervised his treatment at an Austrian clinic said yesterday.

Doctors at Vienna's exclusive Rudolfinerhaus clinic are within days of identifying the substance that left Mr Yushchenko's face disfigured with cysts and lesions, Nikolai Korpan told The Times in a telephone interview.

Specialists in Britain, the United States and France had helped to establish that it was a biological agent, a chemical agent or, most likely, a rare poison that struck him down in the run-up to the presidential election, he said. Doctors needed to examine Mr. Yushchenko again at the clinic in Vienna to confirm their diagnosis but were in no doubt that the substance was administered deliberately, he said.

"This is no longer a question for discussion," Dr Korpan said. "We are now sure that we can confirm which substance caused this illness. He received this substance from other people who had a specific aim."

Asked if the aim had been to kill him, Dr Korpan said: "Yes, of course." ...

Read the entire article at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1393172,00.html

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Agreement reached on election reform

By Aussiegirl

According to the AP an accord has been tentatively reached between the parties for election reform to ensure an honest vote. The parliament should be voting on the measure today.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Latest on the election machinations

By Aussiegirl

Never was it truer that there is many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. Even though the Supreme Court invalidated the previous vote and ordered new elections to be held on December 26th, there are still many tricks up the sleeves of the Kuchma/Yanukovych/Putin gang and complacency is definitely not in order.

Here's the latest: Yushchenko forces are organizing a nationwide effort to mobilize as many election and poll watchers as possible, in all regions of Ukraine, in hopes of forestalling the kind of wholesale rigging of balloting that went on in the previous election. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has also called for large numbers of observers to be present to ensure fairness and honesty.

In the meantime the Kuchma/Yanukovych camp may take the option of withdrawing Yanukovych's name from the ballot. This would result in two different scenarios, depending on when he does it. Here is the rundown of the likely scenarios via Hotline: http://hotline.net.ua/eng/content/view/2712/37/

"Magera, a member of the Central Election Commission, believes it is realistic to expect that the Central Election Commission will manage to organize the re-run of the run-off presidential elections within the terms of the Supreme Court decision.

"Magera� explained, during an interview with journalists, the provisions of the Law "On the elections of the President of Ukraine" in the event Yanukovych withdraws his candidacy. If Yanukovych withdraws more than 10 days before the re-vote, the candidate who took the third place on the first round of the elections, Moroz, will be included added to the ballot for the re-vote. But if he withdraws less than 10 days before the re-vote, only the candidacy of Yushchenko will remain in the ballot.

"At the same time, Magera mentioned that in this case Yushchenko will have to get more votes "for" than "against" to win the elections. "He will have to get at least 1 vote more," said Magera."

In theory this would make stealing the new elections a bit easier for the Kuchma/Yanukovych forces. With the election widely discredited, and TV stations in Ukraine telling the truth for the first time in a long time (although these stations are still being jammed in the eastern provinces), Yanukovych is pretty well completely discredited. Yushchenko is polling a full 16 points higher than his opponent. But by withdrawing at some point, it is theoretically much easier to steal enough votes to prevent Yushchenko from gaining the 50% plus 1 vote that he will need to be declared the winner. Although this is not nearly as exciting and exhilarating as orange-clad crowds jamming the streets and singing and chanting through the snowy nights, the devil is still in the details.

Kuchma and Yanukovych have refused to resign in spite of the no-confidence vote. And the Central Election Committee's makeup is entirely unchanged. Also, parliament's failure to enact election reforms leaves all the same rules in place that allowed for massive fraud the first time. For instance, in addition to the massive stuffing of ballots, which resulted in a higher than 100% turnout in some eastern regions (a percentage that would make even Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein green with envy), there was evidence presented to the Supreme Court of government collusion to hack the servers which sent results to Kiev. There was a strange delay in the servers sending these results, and miraculously, at the end of the delay -- there was an overwhelming increase in the votes for Yanukovych! How do you suppose that happened?

Stay tuned. For those suffering from election withdrawal in the United States -- there's always the Ukrainian election to keep us hopping with plots and counterplots.

As always, check out Le Sabot Post-Moderne for the best analysis and some wonderful new photos from the demonstrations in Kyiv.