Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thursday roundup

Here are some things from here:

--It is cold once again here in Kiev though not as cold as it was before. Going outside this afternoon, we saw various electronic thermometers reading anywhere from -15ºC to -9ºC. That’s a pretty big difference, anywhere from 5ºF to 15ºF. But it is cold whichever it is.

--There have been close to 800 deaths from the cold. Not good. Most of them have been the homeless and the intoxicated. We have called the ambulance before on guys passed out on the ground in mid-winter. They just don’t seem to be able to make it home. It’s a pity either way. Alcohol here is a scourge.

--Ukraine will not renew the agreement with Russia over the Crimean naval bases when it expires in 2017. Maybe this will relieve some of the tension there. Probably not.

--Yuschenko is apparently upset with the closed trial of the Gangadze defendants. I think Yuschenko wants it open to the public so that it will be made clear to all that something is being done about the murder. That will not satisfy all though and maybe not many. Some think Kuchma, the former president, ordered the murder because of Gangadze’s reporting. But there is no evidence of it other than some equivocal, though intriguing, statements on audio tape. It will be interesting to see if the court opens it up in response to Yuschenko’s appeal. My view of this will probably not endear me to too many people.

--261 houses still remain without heat in Alchervsk. We’re getting there though it looks like. There have been buses taking the elderly out of the city to warmer places, that is, warmer buildings in other areas of Ukraine.

--Yuschenko condemned the publication by a local newspaper of the cartoons that have caused such a storm of protests by Muslims. Basically, he considers it to have been poor taste. I can agree with him that some things ought not to be published if it is simply a matter of holdings something up for ridicule. To be able to publish something is not the same thing as saying that it is right to publish that thing. But the cartoon I am familiar with is anything but anti-Islam and publishing it does not ridicule Islam at all. As a matter of fact, it might be taken as saying that the actions of Islamists ridicules the prophet Mohammed and what he tried to do. I do have more to say on this but later.

And in the category of stories inspired by not quite true events, we suggest the following:

--The government of Ukraine continues to allege that the Russian military is using leased property in Crimea for commercial purposes. But a spokesman for the Russian military said that no leased property was being used for anything other than for military purposes. When asked what a McDonald’s franchise had to do with the military, the Defense Ministry spokesman pointed to the military inspired interior décor of the restaurant which was created by a decorator from the construction company of a top general. This, of course, explained everything.

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