Thursday, November 30, 2006

International AIDS Day 2006: Sharing Affluence And Life On Earth Through Creative, Managed, And Non-Destructive Capitalism

"The cost of treating children infected with H.I.V. and AIDS is poised to plummet next year, under a deal announced today between two Indian drugmakers and former President Bill Clinton’s foundation.

Cipla and Ranbaxy Laboratories agreed to make 19 different anti-retroviral drugs designed for children available at an average price of 16 cents a day, or $60 a year, which is about 45 percent lower than the lowest current price, the Clinton Foundation said in a statement.

Because not everyone has access to the current lowest price, the plan will actually translate into a four- to six-fold cost reduction for many children, said Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for H.I.V. and AIDS in Africa.

The prices will be available to 62 developing countries and will lead to the treatment of an additional 100,000 people in 2007, the statement said.

A $35 million grant from Unitaid, a drug-buying consortium formed in September by France, Brazil, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom, will be combined with $15 million from the Clinton Foundation to assure the Indian drugmakers a volume of sales high enough to justify the lower prices." ...

Anand Giridharadas "Clinton’s Foundation Brokers Deal on AIDS Drugs" New York Times November 30, 2006

Józef Marian Chełmoński (1849 – 1914)
Odlot żurawi [Swans Alighting]
1870. Olej na płótnie. 44 x 58 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie [National Museum in Krakow].

[Click on image to enlarge.]

Image credit: via With thanks.

The Tatars: A Pre-Turkish European, Largely Sunni Muslim, Minority Of 10 Million Citizens In The Eastern Heart Of The New Europe

"Tatars (Tatar: Tatarlar/Татарлар), sometimes spelled Tartar (more about the name), is a collective name applied to the Turkic speaking people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Most current day Tatars live in the central and southern parts of Russia (the majority in Tatarstan), Ukraine, Poland and in Bulgaria, China, Kazakhstan, Romania, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. They collectively numbered more than 10 million in the late 20th century. Most Tatars are Sunni Muslims.

The majority - in European Russia - are descendants of Eastern European Volga Bulgars who were conquered by the Mongol invasion of the 13th century and kept the name of their conquerors. Tatars of Siberia are survivors of the once numerous Turkic-Mongolian population of the Ural-Altaic region, mixed to some extent with the speakers of Uralic languages, as well as with Mongols.

The original Ta-ta Mongols inhabited the north-eastern Gobi in the 5th century and, after subjugation in the 9th century by the Khitans, migrated southward, there founding the Mongol empire under Genghis Khan. Under the leadership of his grandson Batu Khan they moved westwards, driving with them many stems of the Turkic Ural-Altayans towards the plains of Russia.

On the Volga they mingled with remnants of the old Bulgarian empire (Volga Bulgaria), and elsewhere with Finno-Ugric speaking peoples, as well as with remnants of the ancient Greek colonies in the Crimea and Caucasians in the Caucasus.

The name of Tatars, given to the invaders, was afterwards extended so as to include different stems of the same Turkic-Mongol branch in Russia, and even the bulk of the inhabitants of the high plateau of Asia and its northwestern slopes, described under the general name of Tartary. This name has almost disappeared from geographical literature, but the name Tatars, in the above limited sense, remains in full use.

The present Tatar inhabitants of Eurasia form three large groups:

those of Crimea, Bulgaria, European Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Turkey.

those of the Caucasus,

and those of Siberia.

Due to the vast movements and intermingling of peoples along with the very loose utilization of the name Tatar, current day Tatars comprise a spectrum of ethnic groups that looks Mongoloid at one end and Caucasoid at the other. As to the original Tatars from Mongolia, they most likely shared characteristics with the Mongol invaders from Central Asia....

Tatars of the Crimean Autonomous Republic of Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland

Crimean Tatars

The Crimean Tatars constituted the Crimean Khanate which was annexed by Russia in 1783. The war of 1853 and the laws of 1860-63 and 1874 caused an exodus of the Crimean Tatars.

Those of the south coast, mixed with Scyth, Greeks and Italians, were well known for their skill in gardening, their honesty, and their work habits, as well as for their fine features, presenting the Tatar type at its best. The mountain Tatars closely resemble those of Caucasus, while those of the steppes - the Nogais - are decidedly of a mixed origin with Turks and Mongols.

During World War II, the entire Tatar population in Crimea fell victims to Stalin's oppressive policies. In 1944 they were accused of being Nazi collaborators and deported en masse to Central Asia and other lands of the Soviet Union. Many died of disease and malnutrition. Since the 1980s late, about 250,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to their homeland in the Crimea.

Lithuanian Tatars

After Tokhtamysh was defeated by Tamerlane, some of his clan sought refuge in Grand Duchy of Lithuania. They were given land and nobility in return for military service and were known as Lipka Tatars. They are known to have taken part in the Battle of Grunwald.

Belarusian Tatars

The Islam in Belarus spread in the 14th -16th centuries. The process was encouraged by great Lithuanian princes, who invited the Tatar Muslim from the Crimea and Golden Horde as guards of state borders. Already in the 14th century the Tatars were proposed the settled way of life, state posts and service positions. By the end of the 16th century over 100 thousand persons of Tatar population settled in Belarus and Lithuania, including those hired to the service, voluntarily moved, prisoners of war, etc.

The Tatars follow to the Sunni Hanafi Islam. Some groups of Tatar in Belarus have accepted Christianity and got assimilated, but mostly they adhere to Muslim religious traditions what ensures their definite endogamy and preservation of ethnic features. Interethnic marriages with representatives of Belarusian, Polish, Lithuanian, Russian nationalities are not rare, but do not result in total assimilation.

Originating from different ethnic associations, Belarusian (and also Polish and Lithuanian) Tatars back in ancient days lost their native language and switched mainly into Belarusian, Polish and Russian. However, liturgy is conducted in the Arabic, which is known by the clergymen. There are estimated 20,000 Tatars in Belarus.

Polish Tatars

From the 13th to 17th centuries various groups of Tatars settled and/or found refuge within the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. This was promoted especially by the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, because of their deserved reputation as skilled warriors. The Tatar settlers were all granted with szlachta (~ nobility) status, a tradition that was preserved until the end of the Commonwealth in the 18th century. They included the Lipka Tatars (13-14 centuries) as well as Crimean and Nogay Tatars (15th-16th centuries), all of which were noticeable in Polish military history, as well as Kazan Tatars (16th-17th centuries). They all mostly settled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, lands that are now in Lithuania and Belarus.

Various estimates of the number of Tatars in the Commonwealth in the 17th century range from 15,000 persons to 60 villages with mosques. Numerous royal privileges, as well as internal autonomy granted by the monarchs allowed the Tatars to preserve their religion, traditions and culture over the centuries. The Tatars were allowed to intermarry with Christians, a thing uncommon in Europe at the time. The May Constitution of 1791 gave the Tatars representation in the Polish Sejm.

Although by the 18th century the Tatars adopted the local language, the Islamic religion and many Tatar traditions (e.g. the sacrifice of bulls in their mosques during the main religious festivals) were preserved. This led to formation of a distinctive Muslim culture, in which the elements of Muslim orthodoxy mixed with religious tolerance and a relatively liberal society. For instance, the women in Lipka Tatar society traditionally had the same rights and status as men, and could attend non-segregated schools.

About 5,500 Tatars lived within the inter-war boundaries of Poland (1920-1939), and a Tatar cavalry unit had fought for the country's independence. The Tatars had preserved their cultural identity and sustained a number of Tatar organisations, including a Tatar archives, and a museum in Wilno (Vilnius).

The Tatars suffered serious losses during World War II and furthermore, after the border change in 1945 a large part of them found themselves in the Soviet Union. It is estimated that about 3000 Tatars live in present-day Poland, of which about 500 declared Tatar (rather than Polish) nationality in the 2002 census. There are two Tatar villages (Bohoniki and Kruszyniany) in the north-east of present-day Poland, as well as urban Tatar communities in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Białystok, and Gorzow Wielkopolski. Tatars in Poland sometimes have a Muslim surname with a Polish ending: Ryzwanowicz, Jakubowicz.

The Tatars were relatively very noticeable in the Commonwealth military as well as in Polish and Lithuanian political and intellectual life for such a small community. In modern-day Poland, their presence is also widely known, due in part to their noticeable role in the historical novels of Henryk Sienkiewicz, which are universally recognized in Poland. A number of Polish intellectual figures have also been Tatars, e.g. the prominent historian Jerzy Łojek.

A small community of Polish speaking Tartars settled in Brooklyn, New York City in the early 1900s. They established a mosque that is still in use today." ...


With thanks to Mariko for the interest and the trail. (And for N.)

European Tatar woman, 18th Century.

Source and image credit: Wikipedia (slightly adapted) and wikimedia. With thanks.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Euro Strong, The People Confident, Both The European Union And 'The Other Europe' Reach For Sustainable Economic Development

"The European Commission on Wednesday called for tougher than expected cuts to Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, slashing the caps of nine of 10 countries whose trading plans it assessed.

Stavros Dimas, environment commissioner, wanted a further 7 per cent reduction to the caps governments planned for the 2008-12 period, which is also 7 per cent below the level of carbon produced in 2005.

"Today’s decisions send a strong signal that Europe is fully committed to achieving the Kyoto target and making the EU emissions trading scheme a success,” he said.

“The Commission has assessed the plans in a consistent way to ensure equal treatment of member states and create the necessary scarcity in the European carbon market.”

Mr Dimas said the same standards would be applied to the plans that had yet to be submitted.

The changes would put the EU on course to fulfil its pledge to reduce its emissions by 8 per cent from 1990 levels by the year 2012.

However, the cuts to plans covering 42 per cent of total EU emissions was less than the 10 per cent many green campaigners and businesses said was needed to give the scheme credibility and investors security. ...

Germany, the EU’s biggest emitter, was told to reduce its cap by a further 6 per cent. The Commission also told it to close a 14-year exemption for new coal-fired power stations, which it considers constitutes illegal state aid.

Lithuania was asked to make the biggest cut, from a proposed 16.6m tonnes of carbon to 8.8m. In 2005 it produced 6.6m. Sweden, Greece, Slovakia, Latvia, Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg must all reduce their caps." ...

Andrew Bounds "EU emissions caps tighter than expected" Financial Times November 29, 2006

Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, Ignalina, Lithuania, European Union.

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Malta are in the European Union (and Turkey is expected to soon be in it); while the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and other European nations, are treated as poor (but often less polluted) cousins.

Photo credits: Wikimedia and With thanks.

'Boxcar, Autobus, And Jet Plane Civilization' For The Young, Strong, And Ambitious As The Eastern Half Of Europe Emerges From Its Great Depression

"Eight former communist countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia -- joined the European Union on May 1, 2004. Although the new EU members have a combined population of 74 million, their economies have initially added less than 5% to the EU's Gross Domestic Product. However, the next five to ten years will undoubtedly produce a major transformation of these economies, as well as others including Russia (pop. 143 million), Ukraine (pop. 47 million), Turkey (pop. 71 million), Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova. A great deal, however, will depend upon the choices that are made by individual governments and investing enterprises.

Labour costs in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia are well below those for the current EU states (EU15). In February 2004, basic median hourly pay plus social security costs (basic labour costs) stood at 17.77 euros across the EU15 countries. This compares with a weighted average of just 3.31 euros per hour in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Countries Hourly labour costs in euros [2] Unit labour va/hr in euros [3] Labour costs as % of labour productivity [4]

Old EU15 17.77 28.83 61.6%
New EU8 3.31 7.95 41.6%
Germany 21.31 36.1 59%
Austria 17.65 32.4 54.5%

Ukraine *** *** ***

Note that Social security includes total statutory employers' contributions to old age, disability, survivors, sickness, maternity, work injury, unemployment and family allowances as a percentage of payroll. Figures exclude the first week of employers' direct obligations (where appropriate) to pay sickness and maternity benefit. If employer pays these benefits after the first week, the payroll burden is estimated. Where statutory employers' liability insurance is required, the assumed premium is 5% of payroll.

It can be seen from the above table that basic hourly costs represent 61.6% of the labour productivity achieved in the EU15 states, but only 41.6% of the labour productivity in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. This is to be expected in rapidly developing market economies because a substantial amount of labour productivity is needed as capital for reinvestment by companies in new buildings, plant and equipment. However, as the economies of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia grow, employees will demand an increasing amount of the generated wealth in the form of pay and welfare benefits. The opportunities presented for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia will primarily depend on how they manage this cost/productivity gap as they move towards the general pattern of practice for the EU15 countries.

The established members of the EU15 club

The Benelux countries provide a well-ordered and generally stable environment for enterprises. Belgium's employment laws are still based on a needless division between blue and white-collar workers, and there are complex thresholds determining the operation of certain legal rights. The Dutch welfare system has tended to encourage absenteeism, but it is currently being modified to improve the incentive to work. The best example provided by the Netherlands for accession states is in its highly diverse cultural mix and tolerant attitudes towards minority ethnic groups, which are reinforced in the workplace by highly effective equal opportunity laws.

Denmark has driven up its wage levels to be the highest in the world by heavily taxing employees and relying heavily on collective bargaining to regulate pay and employment conditions. Although productivity levels are high and the social security burden on employers is very low by European standards, the system has grown out of particular historical origins and does not present a model that could be readily followed by any of the accession states.

The French government has long operated in awe of its numerically small, but highly militant trade unions. The official stance towards foreign-owned multinational enterprises has often been hostile and there has been a tendency to overreact to corporate restructuring by the application of penal sanctions. The 35-hour week has not been a success and the French government is now trying to unpick itself from many of its past policies.

Germany is the biggest and by far the most successful of the EU15 states. During the last fifteen years it has achieved a difficult transition in its eastern states from a system of state-run monopolies to a modern market economy. Complete integration has not, however, been fully achieved and a 20% to 30% wage gap still exists between eastern and western states. Neither has Germany been able to significantly narrow the equal pay gap between male and female employees. This is most evident in the state of Bremen where, in 2003, despite having a longer working week than men, women in production industries received only 74% of the gross earnings of their male colleagues.

Ireland provides the best example within the EU of a small country overcoming its lack of natural resources and peripheral geographical position to become a true 'tiger economy'. This has largely been achieved through a sustained strategy by the Irish Development Agency to attract manufacturing operations and then build on that achievement to generate higher value-added activities such as research and development. Ireland has not focused on being a low-wage location, but has concentrated on minimising bureaucratic burdens and keeping overheads such as social security costs to a minimum.

Italy has overcome many of its past economic and political instability problems, and its most recent Legge Biagi reforms have helped to encourage flexibility and open up the labour market. However, it has still not overcome its major north-south economic divide, reduced the bureaucratic burdens that it continues to place on employers, or resolved the inconsistent application of its complex employment laws.

The UK operates a very different corporate and work culture from the European continent. It has virtually abandoned sectoral collective bargaining and has been reluctant to embrace formalised systems of employee participation. It has tended to take a minimalist approach to all EU social and employment Directives and has refused to join the eurozone. Although this has helped to encourage the growth of new enterprises, much of the UK's advantage in attracting inward investment has been gained through its cultural and linguistic links with the USA. Labour costs, however, remain high by EU standards and productivity is well below the level that this degree of economic freedom should have achieved.

Both Germany and Austria have kept basic labour costs as a proportion of labour productivity below the weighted EU15 average - not because they have contained labour costs, but largely because each has generated such a high level of labour productivity....


The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia must be careful not to let labour costs rise too fast and take up the resources available for infrastructure investments. The best examples for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia to follow are Ireland for its long-term economic development strategy, the Netherlands for its ethnic integration policies, Finland and Austria for their practical, but highly participative approaches to labour relations and, above all, Germany for its culture of 'organised affluence'.

Germany is alone amongst the EU15 member states in achieving a high level of labour productivity, wage stability and the capacity to modify its employment policies in a relatively painless way. Where it falls down is in the continued wage divide between the eastern and western Lander and its inability to gain the most from its female human resources - as reflected in the significant gender pay gap."

Source (slightly edited): The Federation of European Employers, London, UK, 2005

With thanks to On An Overgrown Path for the trail-marking.



Presentation by Yuriy Fedun, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Ukraine); Visiting Scholar at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. Program sponsored by the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Thursday, November 30
12:30 - 2:00 p.m.

Voesar Conference Room
George Washington University
1957 E Street, NW
Suite 412
Washington, DC

RSVP at or 202.994.6340

A still fragmented and divided Europe 15 years after the end of the 40-Year Cold War -- mankind's greatest night terror, to date.

Graphic credit: European Immigration Lawyers Network. With thanks.


Bon voyage, Yuriy K.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Soto Voce, Babie Lato Arrives Late In Eastern North America

Babie lato by Józef Marian Chełmoński. This painting dates from 1875 and can be seen at the Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie [National Museum in Warsaw]. Below is the artist's sketch for the painting.

Web catalogue of Chełmoński's major paintings.

Image and caption credit: Wikimedia and With thanks.


Image credit: With thanks.

Possible Setback In Russian Federation For European Architects Seeking Third Way Other Than American And Asian Postmodernist Skyscrapers

"Gazprom City, a proposed complex of stylish modern buildings that evoke, among other things, a gas-fueled flame, a strand of DNA and a lady’s high-heeled shoe, would sit on a historic site on the Neva River here, opposite the Baroque, blue-and-white Smolny Cathedral.

In any of six designs under consideration, the main tower would soar three or four times higher than this city’s most famous landmarks, an alteration of the landscape that has drawn heated protests from the director of the Hermitage Museum and the head of the local architects’ union.

But Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy company, is determined to press ahead and is soon to announce the winner of an international design competition. As an arm of the Kremlin, opponents say, Gazprom usually gets its way.

During the summer the company invited prominent foreign architects to submit plans for a proposed business center for its newly acquired oil subsidiary. In an unusual gesture of openness, the company put its proposals on display here at the Academy of Arts — and on the Web at — and invited the public to vote.

[As of Nov. 27, a spiral by the British collective RMJM London held a narrow lead over proposals by Daniel Libeskind of New York and Jean Nouvel of Paris.]

While its proponents say the project will provide a needed economic transfusion for a city that has always labored in Moscow’s shadow, critics say there has to be a better way. “Even if it were made of solid gold,” said Vladimir V. Popov, the president of the Union of Architects of St. Petersburg, “it would nevertheless kill the city.”

The architects’ union has refused to participate in the jury Gazprom has chosen to evaluate the designs and has threatened to file suit to stop the winning version from being built. In addition to inveighing against the project, the Hermitage director, Mikhail B. Piotrovsky, has organized meetings of preservationists and architects to propose alternative sites.

“Something the city needs is development,” Mr. Piotrovsky said in an interview in his museum office in the Winter Palace, which itself established acceptable height limits for most buildings here for decades, “but let’s not destroy the old city.” ...

Steven Lee Myers "Russian Window on the West Reaches for the Sky" New York Times November 28, 2006

From left: RMJM London; Studio Daniel Libeskind; Herzog & de Meuron Architekten

Image credits: As above via New York Times. With thanks.


Smolny Cathedral, [St] Petersburg, Russian Federation. [Now a cultural and educational center.] With thanks to EducaCentre, [St] Petersburg.

Monday, November 27, 2006

MEDICI: GODFATHERS -- The Renaissance According To Contemporary Public Television In America

Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance - - Birth of a Dynasty/The Magnificent Medici

Birth of a Dynasty - After centuries in which the Catholic Church has controlled thought and ideas, one city at the heart of 15th-century Europe is poised on the threshold of an intellectual and artistic revolution. Cosimo de' Medici and his father have established the world's largest banking business, whose "clients" include popes and princes. Outwitting his political rivals and establishing his family at the heart of Republican Florence, Cosimo uses his phenomenal wealth to scour the continent for relics of antiquity, breathing new life into the study of the ancient past. As Cosimo's power grows, his friend Brunelleschi builds a great dome over the cathedral of Florence. It will become the greatest achievement in western architecture since ancient times. Donatello and Lippi create original works for the Medici family, and a great religious festival is held in Florence, sparking a new explosion of classical learning and inventive thinking. Florence flourishes as a new Rome. When Cosimo dies, the Florentine republic declares him "Father of the Nation." The Magnificent Medici - Withstanding attacks from bitter enemies, including the pope, Cosimo's young grandson Lorenzo becomes a driving force of the Renaissance. When his beloved brother is assassinated, his supporters take instant revenge on those who stand against the Medici family. With his power reinforced, Lorenzo delivers in full the creative revolution conceived by his grandfather. Some of the greatest artistic genius the world has ever known flourishes under Lorenzo: Michelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and more - and Florence is hailed as the cultural capital of the world. But a vicious backlash emerges. A young monk named Savonarola rails publicly against the decadence and sinfulness of the city. When Lorenzo dies in 1492, his family is driven from the city and Savonarola leads Florence in a fury of fundamentalist Jewelry, wigs, fancy clothes and many great works of art are purification. destroyed in the now infamous "bonfire of the vanities [sic]."

Tuesday, November 28 at 9 PM on WETA in the Nation's Capital. Two hours.

Savonarola leading Florence in a fury of fundamentalist Jewelry...

Photo credit: With thanks.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Renaissance Music

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Renaissance in Poland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine

National Public Radio Commits Intellectual Suicide; Millennium Of Music Continues In Catacombs Of The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Cappella Romana

Thursday, November 30, 2006, 7:30 pm, Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Cappella Romana, a leading Byzantine music ensemble of virtuoso singers from Greece, England, and the United States, performs "Medieval Byzantine Chant: Advent and Christmas from St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai, Egypt." The concert features music from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, including works by Manuel Gazes and St. John Koukouzeles. This concert is part of the Meyer Concert Series and is presented in cooperation with the J. Paul Getty Museum exhibition Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai.

Cappella Romana

Friday, December 1, 2006, 12 pm, Sackler Gallery of Art, level 1, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, December 2, 2006, 12 & 2 pm, Sackler level 1
Sunday, December 3, 2006, 12 & 2 pm, Sackler level 1

Experience the beauty of biblical texts as they were heard in Orthodox churches throughout the medieval world. They are performed by three members of the Cappella Romana ensemble: Artistic Director Alexander Lingas, a leading authority on Byzantine music; Stelios Kontakiotis, master chanter and choir director at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, D.C.; and John Michael Boyer, Protopsaltis of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco.

Chanting the Hebrew Scriptures

Friday, December 8, 2006, 12 pm, Sackler sublevel 1
Sunday, December 10, 2006, 12 & 2 pm, Sackler sublevel 1

Hear the recitation and chanting of Hebrew scriptures as they were originally prescribed in the tenth-century Aleppo Codex, the treasured manuscript on view in the exhibition In the Beginning. Leading the sessions are cantors Arnold Saltzman (December 8 at 12 pm), Ramon Tasát (December 10 at 12 pm), and Emanuel Perlman and Kim Konrad (December 10 at 2 pm). Presented in cooperation with the Cantors Assembly.

In the Beginning, The Bible Before The Year 1000, A Millennial Opportunity, at the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art, Washington, D.C., United States

Saints Sergius and Bacchos. Icon. Kyiv, Ukraine, Museum for Western and Oriental Art. Byzantine. 6-7th CE.

Image credit: Kyiv Museum for Western and Oriental Art via With thanks.

The Kyiv Museum for Western and Oriental Art shows art of Bellini, Perugino, Velasquez, Morales, Zurbaran;the old Netherlandish, Dutch and Flemish masters,the exquisite elegance of the French Baroque and Rococo.It has unique Byzantine icons of the 6th century CE.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ukraine's Orange Revolution Celebrates Its Second Anniversary

"Fueled by nostalgia and a little bitterness, Ukrainians gathered Wednesday on the capital's central square on the second anniversary of the Orange Revolution to mark an event that many in this ex-Soviet republic say failed to live up to its bright promises.

The leader of the mass protests, President Viktor Yushchenko, celebrated the day away from the crowds, for whom he is no longer a hero. Instead, he gathered supporters and diplomats to his presidential palace to defend what he insists was still a defining moment for the country.

"Two years ago, we made a revolution not only on the square, but also in our hearts and souls," Yushchenko, wearing an orange tie, told his guests as he raised a glass of champagne for Ukraine. "We are a nation of free people. Our freedom is like clean air, which you feel only when you lack it."

The Orange Revolution began hours after the polls closed in the Nov. 21, 2004, presidential election between the Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych and pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko. As the Central Election Commission began churning out fraudulent vote counts in favor of Yanukovych, Yushchenko summoned his supporters to Independence Square for night after night of rallies.

Twelve days later, the Supreme Court declared the vote count fraudulent and ordered a rerun, which Yushchenko won.

The euphoria ended as Ukrainians grew disillusioned with the power struggles, rising gasoline and meat prices, and allegations of corruption among a group that had promised to be squeaky clean. Ukraine's hopes of a quick embrace by the European Union proved premature, and its pro-Western leaders' tense relations with Moscow led to a worsening of ties with Ukraine's biggest trade partner and major energy supplier....

"Of course, there were missed opportunities and everyone wanted there to be greater economic development and that will come," U.S. Ambassador William Taylor said. "But that is less important than the Orange Revolution."

The deep disappointment, however, kept the crowds who turned out to mark the day small. Only about 4,000 Ukrainians, most of them elderly, rallied on Kiev's central square, listening to music and speeches of minor politicians. There was no stage, and no official festivities were planned.

"Despite what happened, it is a historical event. Such an event happens only once every thousand years," said 50-year-old doctor Halyna Kolesnikova, who took part in the revolution.

"Now we have a difficult time. But I believe it is a transition time, and we will overcome it."" ...

Associated Press "Ukraine marks 2nd anniversary of the Orange Revolution — quietly" Inernational Herald Tribune November 22, 2006

Photo credit: (c) Andriy Doriy. With thanks.

Maybe The National Symphony Orchestra Of Washington, DC Can Boost Attendance By Installing One Of These At The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts

A visitor travels down a slide by sculptor Carsten Höller at the Tate Modern, London, the United Kingdom.

"Carsten Höller is the seventh artist to undertake the challenge of creating an artwork to fill Tate Modern's vast Turbine Hall. Test Site continues his exploration of communal human experience."

Photo credit: Jonathan Player for The New York Times. With thanks.

Sparing A Turkey, But Not Civilians

"The number of civilians killed in Iraq last month reached a record 3,709, most of them the result of sectarian violence, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.

The report by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq blamed much of the killing on roadside bombs, drive-by shootings, kidnappings and police abuse. Revenge killings are also common, the report found. The majority of the bodies bore signs of torture and gunshot wounds, the report said." ...

Nancy Trejos "U.N.: Iraqi Civilian Deaths at New High" Washington Post November 22, 2006

Baghdad, Iraq

Photo credit: With thanks.

Panakhyda [Requiem/Memorial Service] For Victims Of The 1932-33 Holodomor [Forced Famine In Ukraine]

Panakhyda [Requiem/Memorial Service]
For Victims of the 1932-33 Holodomor [Forced Famine in Ukraine]

Sunday, November 26, 2006
1:30 PM
St. Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
15100 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

[The Ukrainian Orthodox Church separated from Moscow in 1921 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Ukraine was briefly independent, after the Russian Revolution, from 1917 to 1921. It is estimated that millions of persons -- like the Jewish Holocaust, exact estimates vary -- died in the Holodomor --Josef Stalin's forced famine in Ukraine -- in 1932-33.]

The first three archival photos document the genocide of Ukraine, especially in Kharkiv, the capital of Eastern Ukraine and the first capital of the Soviet Union. It is today Ukraine's second largest city after Kyiv. As forced Soviet collectivization failed, millions of peasants struggled to reach Kharkiv, and other Ukrainian cities, where most died. The last photo is a commemoration at the Holodomor Memorial in Kyiv. A new Holodomor Memorial is currently under planning and construction in Washington, D.C.

Photo credits: via Wikimedia. With thanks.

Mevlana Jelal ed-Din Rumi, Yunus Emre, And The Turkish Minstrel Tale Tradition Of Ercisli Emrah And His Beloved Selvihan

"Mevlana Jelal ed-Din Rumi (1207-1273) was one of the great spiritual masters and poets of the Middle Ages and founder of the Mevlevi order of Sufism, a Muslim school of thought grounded in love and tolerance. This mystical order’s whirling dervishes are renowned throughout the world today.

Over the course of eight centuries, Turkish culture has been infused by the spiritual message first articulated by Rumi in Konya, capital of the Seljuk Turkish dynasty of Anatolia. The popular embrace of Rumi’s themes of love and tolerance was made possible by Yunus Emre, another Anatolian Sufi poet of that era who recited Rumi’s teachings in vernacular Turkish.

Reflections of the spiritual message of these two poets can be seen in the Turkish minstrel tale tradition today. Professor Atis will reveal this in the story of Ercisli Emrah and his beloved Selvihan, a tale from the Turkish oral tradition that resonates with themes and values stretching back to Rumi and Yunus. The story’s Sufi metaphysics of love and poetic imagery display an artistic continuum that first appeared in Seljuk and Ottoman courtly traditions.

Next year, UNESCO and other organizations will commemorate the 800th anniversary of Rumi’s birth with celebrations throughout the world.

Sarah G. Moment Atis is Professor of Languages and Cultures of Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has taught and written extensively on Turkish literature, and is a founding member of the American Association of Teachers of Turkic Languages."


The Embassy of Turkey and the American Friends of Turkey

“Reflections of Rumi in the Turkish Minstrel Tale Tradition”

December 7th at 6:30 pm

Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C., United States

By RSVP only.

Mevlana Jelal ed-Din Rumi (1207-1273) whose 800th Anniversary will be commemorated by UNESCO and other international organizations in 2007.

Yunus Emre and Humanism

Image credit: With thanks.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Jennifer Homans And Joseph Cornell On The Memory Of Balletic And Other Performance-Based Art Forms

"Classical ballet today has enormous prestige, but not because it is thought to be aesthetically innovative or cutting-edge. Its current stature rests more on its tradition and its past. In recent years we have seen lavish productions and reconstructions of many nineteenth- and twentieth-century classics performed across Europe, Russia, and America by the Kirov Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, the Royal Ballet, and the Paris Opera Ballet. The modernist project of making ballet "new" is subsiding, and we are settling into a curatorial age dedicated to preserving the old. Ours is the era of the canon.

But what is the canon in classical ballet? In most arts, such a question would trigger passionate and even rancorous debate. Not so in ballet. A few works are universally known and accepted as "the classics": from the nineteenth century, La Sylphide, Giselle, Coppélia, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and La Bayadère; from the twentieth century, Les Sylphides, Petrouchka, L'après-midi d'un faune, Apollo, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, and Agon. Many would expand the list to include other works of the modern era by Jerome Robbins, Antony Tudor, Frederick Ashton, and Kenneth MacMillan; and we might easily agree to add more ballets by George Balanchine. But few would dispute the core group, which constitutes the canon in classical ballet today.

If we look closely, however, this list is quite peculiar. It includes only a handful of ballets, most of which originated in nineteenth-century France or late imperial Russia, with a smattering of twentieth-century works--and many of those by Russian-born choreographers. Even the nineteenth-century French ballets we have today are not really French: La Sylphide premiered in Paris in 1832, but the version we know originated in Denmark in 1836. Giselle was first performed in Paris in 1841, but as two French scholars have ruefully noted, "The only and true Giselle is Russian"--the version we know derives from the St. Petersburg production of 1884. Coppélia, from 1870, is in fact the only truly French ballet in the canon. This is quite remarkable, considering that the fundamental precepts of the art form were codified in France in the seventeenth century, and ballet has enjoyed an unbroken tradition there to the present day." ...

Jennifer Homans "The Memory of an Art" The New Republic On-line Post date: 11.18.06 Issue date: 11.27.06


Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination
Nov. 17, 2006 through Feb. 19, 2007
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., United States

"Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination" is a landmark exhibition that expands the critical and public appreciation of Cornell as a modern American master. This major retrospective, the first in more than 25 years, presents new insights into Cornell's career, illuminating the richness of the themes he explored across all media. The exhibition features 177 of Cornell's finest box constructions, collages, dossiers, films and graphic designs, as well as an array of source materials from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Joseph Cornell Study Center. More than 30 Cornell works will be on public display for the first time. "Navigating the Imagination" presents a number of new ideas and new opportunities for understanding Cornell's work. The exhibition marks the first time that his films, a greater range of his collages and the open-ended projects called "explorations" are being shown in the company of the box constructions for which he is best known.

"Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny."--Carl Schurz, Address, Faneuil Hall, Boston, April 18, 1859. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man.
ca. 1957-1958
Joseph Cornell
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Link to 203 images of Joseph Cornell's works in the current exhibition of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Mr Cornell was haunted by the ephemerality of the beauty of the balletic art form and ballerinas.

Photo credit: (c) Estate of Joseph Cornell via Smithsonian American Art Museum. With thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Months After Israeli-Lebanese 2006 Summer War, Once Peaceable Kingdom Remains Littered With Large Number Of Civilian-Maiming Cluster Bombs

"The chief of staff of the Israeli military, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, ordered an inquiry today to determine whether the military followed his orders in its use of large numbers of [American-made] cluster bombs in Lebanon during the month-long war with Hezbollah there over the summer.

Several human rights groups have criticized Israel’s use of cluster bombs in the fighting, saying they were dropped in or near populated areas.

Cluster bombs are not prohibited in warfare, but much controversy surrounds them. The munitions spray out many small bomblets that explode over a wide area and may strike unintended targets. In addition, some of the bomblets do not explode when they first hit the ground, and effectively become land mines that can be unwittingly detonated by civilians long after the fighting has stopped....

Cluster bombs are considered effective against an enemy in an open area, because the hundreds of bomblets inside each individual shell can strike such a wide area.

But critics say that this also makes them imprecise, potentially causing widespread casualties beyond the intended target and remaining a threat for years afterward.

Lebanese officials say civilians there are still suffering numerous injuries and deaths caused by detonations of bomblets dropped months before." ...

Greg Myre "Israeli General Orders Inquiry Into Cluster Bombs" New York Times November 20, 2006

Edward Hicks (American, 1780–1849). The Peaceable Kingdom, 1833–34. Oil on Canvas. Brooklyn Museum, the United States.

Image credit: (c) With thanks.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mr Cogito Breaks His Promise To Himself And His Doctor And Opens The Belarusian Official State Newspaper

Finnish Santa Claus to visit residence of Belarusian Father Frost

"Belarusian Father Frost is now in Russia to meet with his Russian colleague and to congratulate him upon his birthday. He will also take part in the international forum “Father Frost – 2006” which opened in Moscow on November 17. Within the next two days, the forum will be held in the towns of Vologda and Velikiy Ustiug – the residence of Russian Father Frost.

Attending the forum are New Year and Christmas characters from Russian regions and other countries. They have gathered to exchange experience and to announce the beginning of the Christmas celebrations.

The participation of Belarusian Father Frost in the international forum attest to the growing interest of many countries in the fairy estate which opened in the Belovezhskaya Puscha three years ago, Galina Zaburianova, the head of the tourism department of the president’s property management department [sic], told BelTA. More than 170 thousand people from 67 countries have visited the residence of Belarusian Father Frost since 2003.

“Belarusian Father Frost is known all over the world, Galina Zaburianova noted. – During the forum he will hold the presentation of his residence which is supposed to grow bigger in the near future as new recreational facilities will be constructed”.

After his visit to Russia, Belarusian Father Frost will start preparing for meetings with his foreign colleagues. Finnish Santa Claus will become the first guest. This “summit” is scheduled on December 3.

“The character of Father Frost unites grown-ups and children by his kindness and I am sure that he will keep this quality for a long time, Father Frost told reporters. - People believe in this and everyone tries to touch my beard and make a wish”.

Belarusian [Official State]Telegraph Agency "Finish Santa Claus to visit residence of Belarusian Father Frost" November 17, 2006

Velikiy Ustiug, the Russian Federation – the residence of Russian Father Frost. Shown here during summertime. [Click link for William Brumfield essay A VIEW THROUGH THE LENS OF AN AMERICAN SCHOLAR-PHOTOGRAPHER.]

The State Historical-Architectural & Art Museum of Velikiy Ustyug is located at 20 architectural memorials and contains 96,000 museum pieces.

Address: 162340, RUSSIA,
Vologda Region,
Velikiy Ustyug-city,
Naberejnaya, 64
Phones: (817-38) 2-34-47
Director: Antonina Andreeva

Photo credit: WWW.CULTINFO.RU [Russian Federation]. With thanks.

Preventive Conservation Of UNESCO World Heritage Sites Complicated When Domain Of Conservation Shifts From Museums To Monuments

"Preventive conservation is more complicated in the domain of conservation of national monuments than in the case of museums. The conservation of national monuments not only investigates and deals with the sources of material degradation, e.g. unfavorable climatic conditions, the influence of light and microorganic infestation, but has to seek solutions for other sorts of problems such as the legal protection of UNESCO World Heritage sites and the loopholes therein, the quality of and the potential risk to the protection of the surrounding areas of cultural sites or the consideration of potential risks inherent in applications for inclusion in the World Heritage List. The topic of the conference, preventive conservation, is quite relevant for the conservation and protection of national monuments in general. University study programs and workshop training programs should reflect the concerns of experts and specialists responsible for developing concepts and methods in preventive conservation and those who put them into practice.

As Hildesheim is the venue of the conference, the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hildesheim Cathedral and St. Michael's Church will be involved. St Michael's Church is presently under restoration, which includes archaeological excavations. Following an architectural competition in 2005 the Cathedral will undergo comprehensive alterations."

Nov 23, 2006 - Nov 25, 2006
Hildesheim, Germany, European Union

"St Michael's Church was built between 1010 and 1020 on a symmetrical plan with two apses that was characteristic of Ottonian Romanesque art in Old Saxony. Its interior, in particular the wooden ceiling and painted stucco-work, its famous bronze doors and the Bernward bronze column, are – together with the treasures of St Mary's Cathedral – of exceptional interest as examples of the Romanesque churches of the Holy Roman Empire."


18th Century Old Wooden Synagogue outside of Grodno, Belarus, Future European Union. (Destroyed by the Germans in 1941-44.)

"Wood was the main building material in Belarus up to the end of the 19th century. Artistic styles of stone architecture influenced greatly the development of worship wooden architecture. The process of the form development in wooden architecture was more complex than in stone architecture, for it presupposed not just renewal but also a return to the cultural roots. Therefore, in 17th and 18th centuries, two types of the Polesye architectural schools emerged - those of the Western Polesye and of the Eastern Polesye.

The Western Polesye school has formed itself in the territory between Brest and Pinsk [southwestern Belarus]. The typical edifices of the zone are marked by the peculiar construction, planning design, organizational pattern of the yard and architecture. Typical for the school temples were frames, different in size and form, united under a single plastic shingled roof (St. Nikita Church in Zditovo). In addition, churches were constructed with pyramidal tower roofs, with their upper parts cut off (Spasopreobrazhenskaya Church in Otlusha), temples with steeples built to the main facade etc. This architectural school has common features with the architecture of Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland.

St. Nikita Church in Zditovo is a monument of wooden architecture. It was constructed in 1502 in the village of Zditovo of the Zhabinka Rayon on the right bank of the Muchovets River. The temple sizes 9,40 x 15,65 x 6 meters. The Church has three right-angled frames and the apses, covered by a joint pent roof. In the 19th century a frame tambour was attached to the entrance. The walls are covered by vertical wooden planks."

Photo (1) and caption credits: UNESCO World Heritage Site Pages for Gemany and Belarus. Photo (2): With thanks.


Germany has 31 sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List; Ukraine and Belarus , sites of massive Nazi human and economic destruction during World War II, each currently has only two listed UNESCO World Heritage sites [Kyiv, Lviv, Nesvizh, and Mir].

American And International Workers Need Greater Economic Security In Order To Contribute Better To True International Human Development

"Overall macroeconomic growth is not translating into significantly improved economic well-being for most families. In addition to the well-documented stagnation in median wages during the past three decades, American families now face substantial new economic risks: The chance of family income dropping considerably from one year to the next has risen significantly. Workers are individually bearing more of the risk associated with health insurance and pensions. At the same time, the safety nets for those who are hit by economic shocks have frayed.

Government policies to help workers and families cope with these new risks must strike a delicate balance. On the one hand, shifting excessive economic risk to individuals can harm both economic growth and family well-being. On the other hand, poorly designed programs to protect against risks can distort economic incentives and impair overall economic performance. To date, most economic policy discussion has focused on this second potential problem. This briefing paper puts forward an alternative strategy for navigating between both potential problems, recognizing that well-designed policies can provide a basic level of economic security that is beneficial not only for families, but also for national economic growth."

Full text

Bordoff, Deich, and Orszag "A Growth-Enhancing Approach to Economic Security" Strategy Paper of The Hamilton Project/The Brookings Institution September 2006

United State Economic Gross National Product and Income Reports

United Nations Human Development Reports

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, North America on August 28, 2002 and September 2, 2005.

How can American and international workers be best equipped to contribute fully to international human development and to withstand terrible shocks such as those of September 11, 2001, December 26, 2004, and August 29, 2005?

Photo credit: With thanks.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

National Geographic Society 'On The Beaten Track' Survey Ignores World Heritage Sites Of Ukraine, Belarus, And Much Of Russia

"In 1973, when the U.S. became the first country to sign the World Heritage Convention, the idea was for global recognition to encourage protection of the world's great natural and cultural sites. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) would administer the program, and nations could apply to have a site inscribed on a World Heritage List, if the site was protected and of "outstanding universal value." Tourism traffic wasn't even part of the equation.

It is now. If you look at the destination as a whole—the site plus its neighboring region—tourism management can protect it, or degrade it, often more than any other factor.

World Heritage has been popular. It now totals 830 sites. To see how some of these places are doing, National Geographic Traveler and our National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, with George Washington University, conducted our third Destination Scorecard survey. A panel of 419 experts in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship rated 94 World Heritage destinations.

A third of these places appeared in our first Scorecard, conducted late in 2003 and published in 2004. Most of their scores have moved only slightly, but a few showed dramatic changes. The Galápagos and the Belizean reef have plunged; St. Petersburg and Guanajuato have surged. In many places, tourist fees help maintain historic sites. But in others, like Angkor, tourism is spiralling out of control. And in the Galápagos, a tradition of deft, sensitive tourism that helped protect the islands for years is now in danger." ...

Jonathan B. Tourtellot "World Heritage Destinations Rated" National Geographic Traveler November/December 2006

The List, by Score:

87 Norway: "West Fjords"
81 France: Vézelay
81 Spain: Alhambra and medieval Granada
80 New Zealand: Te Wahipounamu
80 Mexico: Guanajuato
79 Spain: Historic Córdoba and mosque
78 United Kingdom: City of Bath
78 Portugal: Évora
77 Austria: Salzburg historic center
77 France: Versailles and environs
77 Canada: Historic district of Québec City
77 Italy: Siena
76 Belgium: Historic center of Bruges
76 Switzerland: Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region
76 France: Paris, banks of the Seine
75 France: Loire Valley
75 France: Historic center of Avignon
75 Italy: Assisi
75 Australia: Uluru (Ayers Rock) and environs
74 Japan: Ancient Kyoto
74 Germany: Upper Middle Rhine Valley
73 Norway: Bryggen, Bergen
73 Greece: Delphi and environs
73 Canada/USA: Waterton-Glacier parks
73 Poland: Krakow's historic center
72 Australia: Greater Blue Mountains Area
72 Italy: Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast)
71 Hungary: Budapest
71 Brazil: Pantanal
70 Italy: Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and islands
70 United Kingdom: Jurassic Coast of Dorset and East Devon
69 USA: Historic San Juan, Puerto Rico
69 Israel: Masada
69 Chile: Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
69 Mexico: Oaxaca and Monte Albán
68 Croatia: Dubrovnik and environs
68 Latvia: Historic center of Riga
67 South Africa: Cape Floral Region, with Table Mountain
67 India: Ellora and Ajanta Caves, and Aurangabad
67 Russia: Historic center of Saint Petersburg
66 China: Qin Emperor Mausoleum, Xi'an
66 Spain: Toledo
66 Argentina: Península Valdés
66 Sri Lanka: Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and environs
65 Czech Republic: Historic center of Prague
65 Syria: Aleppo
65 Germany: Cologne (Köln) cathedral and city
65 Italy: Florence
65 Turkey: Göreme and the rock sites of Cappadocia
64 Zambia: Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambian side only)
64 Australia: Great Barrier Reef
63 Morocco: Medina of Marrakech
63 Greece: Medieval city of Rhodes
63 USA: Pueblo de Taos and Taos, New Mexico
63 Croatia: Diocletian's Palace, Split, and surroundings
62 France: Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay
62 Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
61 Tanzania: Serengeti National Park and environs
61 Honduras: Copán and environs
61 Argentina/Brazil: Iguazú and environs
61 Portugal: Sintra
61 Brazil: Historic center of Salvador (Pelourinho)
61 Tunisia: Site of Carthage
60 China: Suzhou town and gardens
60 Saint Lucia: the Pitons and environs
59 Tanzania: Kilimanjaro
59 Bosnia and Herzegovina: Old Bridge area of Mostar
59 Jordan: Petra and environs
58 Mexico: Sian Ka'an and environs
58 Indonesia: Borobudur and environs
58 Egypt: Thebes/Luxor
57 Cuba: Old Havana and fortifications
57 Tanzania: Stone Town, Zanzibar
56 India: Agra and sights—Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri
56 United Kingdom: Stonehenge and environs
55 China: The Great Wall
54 Peru: Cuzco (1983), Machu Picchu, and the Sacred (Vilcanota) Valley
54 Jerusalem: Old city and its walls
53 Mexico: Chichén-Itzá
53 Greece: Acropolis, Athens and environs
53 Egypt: Islamic Cairo district
52 Dominican Republic: Colonial quarter of Santo Domingo
52 Peru: Nasca lines and environs
52 China: Lijiang and Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan
50 Egypt: Pyramids of Giza and environs
50 Vietnam: Ha Long Bay
48 Cambodia: Angkor and environs
48 Ethiopia: Rock-hewn churches, Lalibela
47 Belize: Barrier Reef
46 China/Tibet: Potala Palace, Lhasa, and environs
46 Italy: Venice and its lagoon
44 Ecuador: Galápagos Islands
41 Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo
39 Nepal: Kathmandu Valley

Renaissance Research's Short List of World Heritage Sites Missing In Action:

Lviv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saint Sophia Cathedral and Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra
Mir, Belarus
Nesvizh, Belarus, Radziwill Family Cultural Complex
Białowieża Forest , Belarus and Poland

Ukrainian Properties submitted on the Ukraine Tentative List:

Historic Centre of Tchernigov, 9th -13th centuries (1989)

Cultural Landscape of Canyon in Kamenets-Podilsk (#) (1989)

Ruins of Ancient City of Khersoness, 4th B.C. - 12th century (1989)

Tarass Shevtchenko Tomb and State Historical and Natural Museum - Reserve (1989)

National Steppe Biosphere Reserve "Askaniya Nowa" (1989)

Dendrological Park "Sofijivka" (#) (2000)

Bagçesaray Palace of the Crimean Khans (2003)

Beech Primeval Forests of the Carpathians (2005)

Archaeological Site "Stone Tomb" (2006)

Belarus Properties submitted on the Tentative List:

Augustow Canal (2004)

Saviour Transfiguration Church and St. Sophia Cathedral in the town of Polatsk (2004)

Kamyanets Tower (2004)

SS. Boris and Gleb (Kalozha) Church in the city of Hrodna (2004)

St. Nicholas Monastery Complex in the city of Mahilyou (2004)

Brest Fortress (2004)

Palace and Park Ensemble in the city of Homel (2004)

Edifices for Worship of Fortress Type in Belarus, Poland and Lithuania (2004)

Architectural ensemble of Francysk Scaryna avenue in Minsk (1940's -1950's) (2004)

Worship wooden architecture (17th -18th centuries) in Polesye (2004)

Russian Federation Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List:


Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad (1993)
Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye (1994)
Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent (2003)
Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands (1992)
Curonian Spit (2000)
Ensemble of the Ferrapontov Monastery (2000)
Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent (2004)
Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin (2000)
Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments (1990)
Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings (1992)
Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl (2005)
Kizhi Pogost (1990)
Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow (1990)
Struve Geodetic Arc (2005)
White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal (1992)


Central Sikhote-Alin (2001)
Golden Mountains of Altai (1998)
Lake Baikal (1996)
Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve (2004)
Uvs Nuur Basin (2003)
Virgin Komi Forests (1995)
Volcanoes of Kamchatka (1996)
Western Caucasus (1999)

Russian Federation Properties submitted on the Russian Federation Tentative List:

Historical and Cultural Jeyrakh-Assa Reservation (1996)
The architectural and historical complex "Shelter of count N.P. Cheremetev" (1996)
The Valamo archipelago (1996)
The National Park of Vodlozerof (1996)
The Bolgar historical-architectural complex (1998)
The ensemble of former city building of Sviyazhsk (1998)
Centre historique d'Irkoutsk (1998)
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (1998)
Rostov Kremlin (1998)
Railway Bridge Over Yenissey River (2000)
Historic Center of the Yenisseisk (2000)
Church of Prince Dimitri "On Blood" (2001)
Great Pskov (2002)
Petroglyphs of Sikachi-Alyan (2003)
The Teberdinskiy Reserve (extension of the “The Western Caucasus”) (2004)
Daurian Steppes (Daursky State Biosphere Reserve) (2005)
The Commander Islands (Comandorsky State Nature Reserve) (2005)
Magadansky State Nature Reserve (2005)
The Putorana plateau (Putoransky State Nature Reserve) (2005)
Nature Park "Lena Pillars" (2006)


Kyiv, Ukraine. Holy Trinity Church of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (1106). The site is part of Kyiv, Ukraine's extensive system of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Photo credit: Astro of [Saint] Petersburg University, the Russian Federation. With many thanks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Suleyman The Magnificent, His Wife Roksolana Of Ukraine, Composer And Humanist Wojciech Bobowski Of Leopolis, And Sultan Mehmed IV Of Constantinople

"Leaders from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds on Monday announced a United Nations initiative to resolve the conflict between the West and the Muslim world.

They issued a framework for their effort, prepared over the past year, that singled out the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a primary source of the deepening split.

“No other conflict carries such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge among people far removed from the battlefield,” Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, said at a news conference. “As long as the Palestinians live under occupation, exposed to daily frustration and humiliation, and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and in dance halls, so long will passions everywhere be inflamed.”

The report was drafted by 20 scholars and other leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Mohammad Khatami, the former Iranian president, and others from many nations. It calls for collective action on issues of education, youth and immigration.

Members of the panel and Mr. Annan emphasized their view that the causes of tensions are primarily political, not religious.

The secretary general will appoint a representative to oversee the follow-up of the recommendations, which, Mr. Annan warned, will have little impact if Muslims in violent places — whether Iraqis, Afghans, Chechens or Palestinians — continue to perceive their situation merely as a case of being made victims by non-Muslims.

“If these conflicts or difficult situations can be resolved, it will have a positive impact on the work we are doing here,” Mr. Annan said.

The host of the event, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, emphasized the symbolic importance of holding it in Istanbul, which bridges East and West and is the leading city in a predominantly Muslim country taking steps to join the European Union." ...

Sebnem Arsu "World Leaders Release Plan for Resolving East-West Rift" New York Times November 14, 2006


"Tomorrow the English-language news channel of Arab TV station Al Jazeera starts broadcasting. With four studios around the world, and presenters including Sir David Frost, Dave Marash and Darren Jordon the new service has summarised its ambitious plans as ‘building a bridge between cultures’ and ‘a forum for the West to speak to the Muslim world’. Impressive sounding rhetoric, but it is worth telling the story of how a 17th century scholar achieved exactly these aims using music instead of satellite broadcasts.

Wojciech Bobowski was born a Pole in 1610 in Lwów, then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and now part of the Ukraine. He was raised as a Protestant and trained as a church musician. These were times of great instability, with Lwów suffering frequent raids from Crimean Tartars. In one of these the eighteen year old Bobowski was taken prisoner by the Tartars, and his musical training meant he was sold to the court of Mehmed IV in Constantinople, whose reign saw the first flowering of Ottoman-Turkish music. Bobowski was a particularly valuable property as his enslavement in the sultan’s seraglio coincided with the growth of Calvinoturcism, a religious movement which is now forgotten, but interestingly stressed the common elements of Islam and Protestantism in opposition to the Catholicism of the Habsburg Empire.

The sultan (portrait below) provided an excellent education for Bobowski, with the result was that the Pole converted to Islam and took the name Ali Ufki. He learnt fourteen languages including Arabic, French, Greek, Hebrew and Latin, translated the Anglican catechism and Bible into the Ottoman, and wrote a Latin explanation of Islam. But today he is remembered primarily for his music" ...

Bob Shingleton "Ali Ufki - a 17th century Al Jazeera" On An Overgrown Path November 14, 2006

Photo credits: Wikimedia. With thanks.


Perhaps the most beautiful European and Muslim Renaissance-era painting of Roksolana of Ukraine is in the collection of the Lviv History Museum. It is presently believed to be an early reproduction of a lost work by the famous Danish/German [Flensburg] artist Melchior Lorichs [1527 - aft 1594] who stayed at the court of Suleiman the Magnficent and painted portraits of the Sultan and his retinue, as well as a grand panorama of Constantinople. The director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, in Washington, D.C., Dr Julian Raby, an Islamicist art and architecture historian, is currently assisting the Lviv History Museum in efforts to determine the authorship of the Lviv Museum's famous portrait of Roksolana.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Imagine If The International Community Curbed Globalization And Raised Taxes To Fund Childhood Hunger And Disease Prevention

"World Children’s Day 2006 at McDonald’s is a worldwide fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and other children’s causes that takes place annually in November.

This year in the United States, from November 10-19, customers can show their support by purchasing paper cut-out hands for $1 and personalizing a brick to post in the participating restaurant. Also, from November 17-19 in participating U.S. restaurants, a portion of sales from Happy Meals, Mighty Kids Meals and Extra Value Meals will be donated to RMHC and other vital children’s causes.

World Children’s Day is celebrated and supported in unique ways all across the globe. In Chile, McDía Feliz will benefit the country’s first Family Room. In Japan, a concert with pop stars will support World Children’s Day. In Poland, McDonald’s will sell phone straps with RMHC logos to benefit the charity. In Mexico, fifth-anniversary T-shirts will be sold with profits going to RMHC. And in Switzerland, McDonald’s is selling RMHC stuffed Elk toys to benefit the charity.

World Children’s Day exemplifies the philanthropic spirit of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, who believed in giving back to the communities McDonald’s serves. And with 30,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries, McDonald’s now has a lot of communities to give back to.

More than fifty million customers walk through our doors every day. Imagine if everyone just gave $1."



And imagine if the international community raised taxes by $500 billion to fund world childhood poverty and disease prevention?

Now six-year-old Vietnamese Agent Orange victim Xuan Minh (r) is shown in 2005 photo when he was 5 years old.

Life on Earth v. Circus on Earth ... 'Happy Meals' v. Human Happiness

Photo credit: With thanks.

In Re The National Capital's Trench Warfare Between Public Radio Classical Music Humanists And Public Radio Republocrat Maximizers And News Junkies

"Anew report from the National Endowment for the Arts blasts public radio, saying it fails to fulfill its obligation to provide music that commercial stations won't touch. The NEA says public radio -- once dominated by classical, jazz and other minority forms of music -- is retreating ever further from that mission, choosing to focus on news and talk.

National Public Radio pleads guilty to using its new resources to build a stronger news operation, but rejects the NEA's notion that public radio is abandoning its cultural mission. Rather, NPR maintains, it plans to use the Web and other emerging technologies to introduce a new generation of listeners to music you can't hear on the radio.

The NEA study, prompted by the dramatic decline in classical programming, hits public radio especially hard for the practice of duplicating news programming on multiple stations in a single city. Washington is the prime example of that phenomenon, with formerly classical WETA (90.9 FM) airing the same NPR News programs at the same time as WAMU (88.5 FM).

"There appears to be a tendency for public stations to discourage music programming in favor of news/talk broadcasts as a way to draw larger audiences," the NEA study says. But because it receives tax dollars, "public radio has an obligation beyond maximizing audiences." ...

Marc Fisher "To the NEA, News-Laden NPR is Making a Classical Mistake" Washington Post November 13, 2006

Coming soon as guest soloists (or guest conductors) to an American Symphony Orchestra League Symphony Orchestra nearest you, National Public Radio Car Talk's 'The Magliozzis'!

The Descent of Man: Under the NEA's tutelage, the NEA's New Music America and PBS's Alive From Off-Center morph into NPR's Car-Talk Every Hour On the Hour.

Photo credit: With thanks.

Case Studies In The Human Development That Is Lost During Time Of Warfare

"For a stark reminder of the Vietnam War, people living near the airport in this central industrial city can still stroll along the old stone walls that once surrounded a U.S. military base. But Luu Thi Nguyen, a 31-year-old homemaker, needs only to look into the face of her young daughter.

Van, 5, spends her days at home, playing by herself on the concrete floor because local school officials say her appearance frightens other children. She has an oversize head and a severely deformed mouth, and her upper body is covered in a rash so severe her skin appears to have been boiled. According to Vietnamese medical authorities, she is part of a new generation of Agent Orange victims, forever scarred by the U.S.-made herbicide containing dioxin, one of the world's most toxic pollutants.

For decades, the United States and Vietnam have wrangled over the question of responsibility for the U.S. military's deployment of Agent Orange. But officials say they are now moving to jointly address at least one important aspect of the spraying's aftermath -- environmental damage at Vietnamese "hot spots" such as Nguyen's city, Da Nang -- that are still contaminated with dioxin 31 years after the fall of Saigon.

Though neither Nguyen nor her husband was exposed to the Agent Orange sprayed by U.S. forces from 1962 to 1971, officials here say they believe the couple genetically passed on dioxin's side effects after eating fish from contaminated canals. "I am not interested in blaming anyone at this point," the soft-spoken Nguyen said on a recent day, stroking her daughter's face. "But the contamination should not keep doing this to our children. It must be cleaned up."

Vietnamese and U.S. officials last year conducted their first joint scientific research project related to Agent Orange. Testing of the soil near Da Nang's airport, where farmers say they have been unable to grow rice or fruit trees for decades, showed dioxin levels there as much as 100 times above acceptable international standards." ...

Anthony Faiola "In Vietnam, Old Foes Take Aim at War's Toxic Legacy" Washington Post November 13, 2006

Human young adult victims of the American Agent Orange poisoning of the Vietnamese ecosystem.

Photo credit: (c) Agence France Presse archives. With thanks.

The Human Development That Is Lost During Time Of Warfare

"Farzaan Siddaqui beat up the last health workers who visited his home to vaccinate his children for polio. Like many Muslims in India, he thought the program was an infidel plot to make his community infertile.

Local health workers tried again Sunday, this time led through Siddaqui's Muslim neighborhood by a cleric, one of scores of community volunteers for an antipolio campaign in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.

The campaign aims to vaccinate about 50-million children across the impoverished state, which has had 438 polio cases this year, 25 of them in the past week.

Smaller numbers of cases have emerged in other states, raising fears of a resurgence of a disease once nearly wiped out in the country.

Sunday's campaign focused on Uttar Pradesh's Muslim neighborhoods.

Siddaqui assaulted health workers in August as they tried to persuade him to immunize his son, 3, and daughter, 1. But this time, Muslim cleric Wajhat Valdi walked in while the health workers stayed outdoors. It took Valdi 15 minutes to win over Siddaqui....

Polio infects children younger than 5, spreading through contaminated water and attacking the nervous system. The disease can cause paralysis and deformation or be fatal.

Three years ago, India almost wiped out the disease after a nationwide vaccination campaign, but a combination of factors - including illiteracy and superstitious beliefs - kept many children from receiving immunizations."

Associated Press "Clerics win minds for polio campaign" St. Petersburg Times November 13, 2006

Girls who have been disabled by polio and other diseases queue up at the Amar Jyoti Rehabilitation and Research Centre in New Delhi, India.

Photo credit: (c) Global Campaign by Sebastiao Salgado and thanks.

India Campaign by Sebastiao Salgado

Thousands Ignore National Gloom To Attend Groundbreaking In Washington, D.C. Of The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

"Thousands gathered on the National Mall today for the groundbreaking of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, ignoring cloudy skies to celebrate the inclusion of a monument to the civil rights leader on ground largely reserved for Presidents and the veterans of major wars.

The King Memorial is the first on the National Mall honoring a black American, and will occupy a spot midway between monuments to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln -- presidents whose contributions included the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery.

It is, organizers say, a fitting spot for the man who helped force the country to make good on the promises of those other leaders.

President Bush said the monument gives the civil rights leader his "rightful place among the great Americans honored on our Mall." He said King's message of justice and liberty "continues to inspire millions across the world."

"Dr. King was on this earth just 39 years," the president said, but his ideas are "eternal."

"It belongs here," said former President Bill Clinton, who signed the legislation in 1996 authorizing the King memorial and was among a number of dignitaries and celebrities to speak at the event.

Jefferson "told us we were all created equal" and Lincoln abolished slavery, but both "left much undone," Clinton said, speaking on a stage festooned with the words democracy, justice, hope and love. King was "the voice and spirit of the movement to lift the last legal racial barriers to our more perfect union."" ...

Howard Schneider and Petula Dvorak "Dignitaries Gather for King Memorial Groundbreaking" Washington Post November 13, 2006

Resurrection City, Washington, D.C., Spring 1968

Photo credit: (c) Bill Wingell and With thanks.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How Many Manmade Objects Can Be Seen From Space?

"Science and art merge in a stunning new Smithsonian exhibition featuring planet Earth as seen from above. Some of the satellite images show the home planet as only astronauts can see it, others taken with special instruments show things even they can't see.

There's a myth that the Great Wall of China is the only manmade object that can be seen from space, but that's not true, explains exhibit curator Andrew K. Johnston. And he proves it, pointing out satellite images of the Great Pyramids, downtown San Francisco, New Orleans while flooded by Hurricane Katrina, container ships in the harbor of Hamburg, Germany, and a nighttime view of the globe showing city lights.

Johnston, a geographer at the National Air and Space Museum, organized the exhibit, which opens Saturday. It will remain at the Air and Space Museum until Jan. 7 and then begin a tour of cities around the country.

The images were made by a variety of satellites operated by government and private companies. Most of the satellites circle the globe at around 600 miles altitude; captions on each picture show the satellite that took it.

One unique shot shows Mount Taranaki, New Zealand, surrounded by what looks like a circular shadow. It turns out to be Egmont National Park, which was created by drawing a circle around the mountain. The dark area inside the circle is forest reserve, the lighter surrounding lands are farms.

For folks who have vacationed in the Caribbean, there's a view of those islands highlighting the shallow water around them and the darker deep water nearby.

For residents of colder climes there's a picture of the Great Lakes, vividly illustrating the lake-effect snowstorms that plague the region.

Clouds blowing along the ocean break into great swirls and twists where islands reach up into them, images reminiscent of the bow-wave of a giant vessel.

Also evoking the ocean are wave after wave of sand in Yemen, contrasting with blue rocky land nearby. The picture is said to include the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, though in this uninhabited area that line has yet to be surveyed.

An image that would please Benjamin Franklin clearly shows the warm waters of the Gulf Stream moving across the Atlantic. It was Franklin who first suggested such a current existed, moderating the climate of Europe.

Perhaps the most striking image is the multicolor picture of the great delta of the River Lena in Siberia. The dark blue river divides into twists and turns and threads through the green land in this summer view of the area.

And speaking of rivers, the Nile Valley glows with light in a composite nighttime image of the Eastern Hemisphere. The great cities of Europe -- London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin -- sparkle, it's possible to trace railroad lines in Russia, and at the far edge Japan is a bright crescent." ...

Associated Press "Exhibit Shows Earth As Seen From Space" November 9, 2006

The Lena River flows north for over 2,800 miles (4,500 km) through Russian Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. As the Lena enters the ocean, it divides into many channels and forms a large delta. The Landsat 7 satellite acquired this image in July 2000, and it is featured in the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service exhibition, "Earth from Space."

Image Number: WEB10541-2006

Copyright: Public Domain via NASM, Smithsonian Institution.

Distinguished National Gallery Of Art Lecture Series On 'Really Old Masters: Age, Infirmity, and Reinvention' Opens Sunday

The Fifty-fifth A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts 2006
Really Old Masters: Age, Infirmity, and Reinvention

Simon Schama University Professor, department of art history and archaeology, Columbia University

November–December, 2006
East Building Auditorium
Lecture Guidelines

Lectures are held in the East Building Auditorium (eba) at 2:00 p.m. Lectures are free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is not required.

November 12
To Start with: Finito?

November 19
The Elixir? Jacques-Louis David and Revolutionary Rejuvenation; Goya and Infirmity

December 3
Indistinct Vision: Turner and Monet

December 10
Picasso and Matisse: The Endgames of the Avant-Garde

December 17
Losing It: The Case of Willem de Kooning


A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts

The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts were established by the National Gallery of Art's Board of Trustees in 1949 "to bring to the people of the United States the results of the best contemporary thought and scholarship bearing upon the subject of the Fine Arts."

Willem de Kooning, Woman and Bicycle, 1952-53

Image credit: (c) Willem de Kooning via the University of Southern California. With thanks.