art SAND ANIMATION a Moving Portrait of the Ukraine, 1941-1943 - Kseniya Simonova

art SAND ANIMATION  a Moving Portrait of the Ukraine, 1941-1943 - Kseniya Simonova

A magnificent art form in the hands of a master; her passion flows as freely as her medium.


Ms. Simonova captures the raw power of the earth-shaking events that descended on her homeland that morning in June – near a half-century before she was born - a million years, and a world far away from us now. The dusty tomes whose dry lines sadly record those dark days, when all humanity hung in the balance, seem like a bad dream; a scream across the years. Ukraine's trial by fire began 68 years ago this past June.

On the morning of June 22nd, 1941, some 4 ½ million Axis troops attacked across the mostly undefended borders between conquered German lands and the Soviet Union (USSR). Kseniya's homeland - the now independent state of Ukraine - ended up being the primary battle ground for upwards of 6-7 million troops for almost two blood-soaked years. Some 20% of Ukraine's population died both from the Nazis and Stalin's forces. Ukraine's Jews didn't have to concern themselves with the horrors of the boxcars and concentration camps. They were simply shot dead where they stood after being force-marched to a handy ravine or hastily dug pit. Summary executions by the roadside of Jew and Slav alike were a common occurrence.

Due to Hitler's grave tactical error of trying to "finish off" Tito's guerrillas in Yugoslavia first, delaying the invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa, "Red Beard," Germany's most popular ruler) from May 15th to mid-June – a fateful month (actually 37 days) – the Nazis could not, in the end, deliver the killing blow (though unlikely in the long run anyway) – by taking Moscow - and put Russia out of the war before the onset of General Muck and General Winter (Russia's secret weapons of war). The delay for Kseniya's people meant that, instead of the lion's share of the fighting taking place in the Volga Basin and points East, the Ukraine, along with present-day Belarus, suffered the brunt of the combat - including the largest tank battle ever - between two titanic forces, each equally determined to obliterate the other from the face of the earth. The flat cornfields of this breadbasket of Mother Russia witnessed the same units take and retake the same pieces of real estate over and over again until, mercifully, von Paulus' surrounded Sixth Army surrendered in Stalingrad and the battle moved west, towards the German homeland, for the final time.

In western Ukraine, Kseniya's people, having been brutally oppressed by Stalin, initially welcomed the occupation. As it became clear that the Germans saw them as untermenchen (sub-humans), worthy only for slave labor, a resistance sprang up. The Wermacht's (German Army) response to this was, in effect, kill 'em all and let Gott sort it out. History's largest battle was a crucible of endless and capricious death and destruction. For all enmeshed, there was no surcease and no escape for two very long years. That's what this simple Sand Art of Kseniya portrays. Just thought you'd like a little context.



Endure two years of sheer Hell, simmer gently for half a century, or so, invent a unique way to express the sadness and the outrage, and let creativity have its way with the tragic data. So beautiful. So Human.


P.S. It's okay to shed a tear. By sheer scale, the Soviet-Nazi war has no equal in human history.

NjW 09-27-09


Nigel Watson  freethinker  727.493.1990 freesense@Gmail.com

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." – Krishnamurti
-A good pun is its own reword.


crash08 Globalization Goes Bankrupt - Chris Hedges 09-21-09

I was just finishing up my Re-intro to Freethinkers (2.0), when I read Chris Hedges' latest column. This one can't wait. Chris is the best columnist out there right now. The raw power of his emotion explodes onto the page. More on this remarkable, latter-day Paul Revere another day..
I have taken the unusual step of doing a cut-and-paste for this piece. You will normally see a link, or an attachment. For the last two weeks, TruthDig, for whom Hedges writes, has been extremely poky in launching and changing pages within the site. While I know Chris is well worth the wait (upwards of 30-45 seconds), you may not. If you like this one, well, they're all like this one. You'll find Chris' archives - and his outstanding TruthDig buddies - here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090921_globalization_goes_bankrupt/

PS In case you were wondering why you can't have an intelligent conversation with a MSM-only news junkie (NBC, Newsweek, NPR, St Pete Times, etc..), read today's St Pete Times coverage of the thunderclouds now gathering over Pittsburgh that Chris refers to in this article. The link and a few pithy comments from your unstained wretch of an editor follow Chris' piece.

By Chris Hedges


 (mini-bio under this link)

The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can't blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly, this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism. 

Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do—stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.

"The leaders of the G-20 are meeting to try and salvage their power and money after everything that has gone wrong," said Benedicto Martinez Orozco


, co-president of the Mexican Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), who is in Pittsburgh for the protests. "This is what this meeting is about."

The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who were executed in other periods of human history. They know the awful cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign concept. 

The delegates to the G-20, the gathering of the world's wealthiest nations, will consequently be protected by a National Guard combat battalion, recently returned from Iraq. The battalion will shut down the area around the city center, man checkpoints and patrol the streets in combat gear. Pittsburgh has augmented the city's police force of 1,000 with an additional 3,000 officers. Helicopters have begun to buzz gatherings in city parks, buses driven to Pittsburgh to provide food to protesters have been impounded, activists have been detained, and permits to camp in the city parks have been denied. Web sites belonging to resistance groups have been hacked and trashed, and many groups suspect that they have been infiltrated and that their phones and e-mail accounts are being monitored. 

Larry Holmes


, an organizer from New York City, stood outside a tent encampment on land owned by the Monumental Baptist Church in the city's Hill District. He is one of the leaders of the Bail Out the People Movement
. Holmes, a longtime labor activist, on Sunday led a march on the convention center by unemployed people calling for jobs. He will coordinate more protests during the week. 

"It is de facto martial law," he said, "and the real effort to subvert the work of those protesting has yet to begin. But voting only gets you so far. There are often not many choices in an election. When you build democratic movements around the war or unemployment you get a more authentic expression of democracy. It is more organic. It makes a difference. History has taught us this."

Our global economy, like our political system, has been hijacked by a tiny oligarchy, composed mostly of wealthy white men who serve corporations. They have pledged or raised a staggering $18 trillion, looted largely from state treasuries, to prop up banks and other financial institutions that engaged in suicidal acts of speculation and ruined the world economy. They have formulated trade deals so corporations can speculate across borders with currency, food and natural resources even as, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.02 billion people on the planet struggle with hunger. Globalization has obliterated the ability of many poor countries to protect food staples such as corn, rice, beans and wheat with subsidies or taxes on imported staples. The abolishment of these protections has permitted the giant mechanized farms to wipe out tens of millions of small farmers—2 million in Mexico alone—bankrupting many and driving them off their land. Those who could once feed themselves can no longer find enough food, and the wealthiest governments use institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization like pit bulls to establish economic supremacy. There is little that most governments seem able to do to fight back.

But the game is up. The utopian dreams of globalization have been exposed as a sham. Force is all the elite have left. We are living through one of civilization's great seismic reversals. The ideology of globalization, like all utopias that are sold as inevitable and irreversible, has become a farce. The power elite, perplexed and confused, cling to the disastrous principles of globalization and its outdated language to mask the political and economic vacuum before us. The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic and political constructs caused the crisis. It led the G-20 to sacrifice other areas of human importance—from working conditions, to taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution—on the altar of free trade. It left the world's poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits in human history. Globalization has become an excuse to ignore the mess. It has left a mediocre elite desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved and, more important, trying to save itself. "Speculation," then-President Jacques Chirac of France once warned, "is the AIDS of our economies." We have reached the terminal stage. 

"Each of Globalization's strengths has somehow turned out to have an opposing meaning," John Ralston Saul


wrote in "The Collapse of Globalism." "The lowering of national residency requirements for corporations has morphed into a tool for massive tax evasion. The idea of a global economic system mysteriously made local poverty seem unreal, even normal. The decline of the middle class—the very basis of democracy—seemed to be just one of those things that happen, unfortunate but inevitable. That the working class and the lower middle class, even parts of the middle class, could only survive with more than one job per person seemed to be expected punishment for not keeping up. The contrast between unprecedented bonuses for mere managers at the top and the four-job families below them seemed inevitable in a globalized world. For two decades an elite consensus insisted that unsustainable third-world debts could not be put aside in a sort of bad debt reserve without betraying Globalism's essential principles and moral obligations, which included an unwavering respect for the sanctity of international contracts. It took the same people about two weeks to abandon sanctity and propose bad debt banks for their own far larger debts in 2009."

The institutions that once provided alternative sources of power, including the press, government, agencies of religion, universities and labor unions, have proved morally bankrupt. They no longer provide a space for voices of moral autonomy. No one will save us now but ourselves.

"The best thing that happened to the Establishment is the election of a black president," Holmes said. "It will contain people for a given period of time, but time is running out. Suppose something else happens? Suppose another straw breaks? What happens when there is a credit card crisis or a collapse in commercial real estate? The financial system is very, very fragile. The legs are being kicked out from underneath it."

"Obama is in trouble," Holmes went on. "The economic crisis is a structural crisis. The recovery is only a recovery for Wall Street. It can't be sustained, and Obama will be blamed for it. He is doing everything Wall Street demands. But this will be a dead end. It is a prescription for disaster, not only for Obama but the Democratic Party. It is only groups like ours that provide hope. If labor unions will get off their ass and stop focusing on narrow legislation for their members, if they will go back to being social unions that embrace broad causes, we have a chance of effecting change. If this does not happen it will be a right-wing disaster."

St Pete Times' version of reality (and the reason Mr. Hedges is unlikely to ever grace that paper's op-ed):09-21-09






 Mute testimony to how clueless the Times and the others are can be tracked by where a given story appears on a rag's premium real estate - its waterfront property, if you will - the front page. But, just as the Gulf brings more bucks than riverfront, a small lake is almost on page A22. You will find the focus of Hedges' early paragraphs below the "fold," in the lower-left corner, in easy-to-understand, Q&A format (so the big people don't get too confused).

Here we learn that the leaders of the G-20 will hear their economies are "on the mend." Whew! That was a close one, wasn't it? But, wait, stuff called 'trade tensions" are on the rise; "protectionism" too. Could these "tensions" possibly be Hedges' "rage of the disposed"? Trade tensions sounds so less upsetting. Let's go with that. Too, readers may take it upon themselves to assume that trade unions are stirring up all the trouble. But, what can we do about that? Folks should be free to make up their own minds, shouldn't they?

If you wonder if (Editor, Paul) Tash & Company are even on the same planet, let alone country, as Mr. Hedges, I hereby grant you absolution for the sin of even trying to align these competing views of reality. And that's just one term! You will find one or two reality checks in every "Answer" - "hard to live up to fair-trade pledges" (protectionism), "pulling together is extremely important... fragile recoveries" (only way oligarchs can maintain control), and so on.

You might also parse "What about protests?' Today's MSM has honed to a fine art the craft of maximum words with minimal meaning. The groups identified in the answer are all a result of our hostile and determinidly unrepresentative government. These groups cover the waterfront of our discontent. They are the people. If the Times had the balls god gave Crusader Rabbit, they would state that flat -out. The gentle term "house" (soft 's' - an extreme oxymoron; house in a parking lot? How's? Add a roof?) doesn't begin to describe the temporary prison camp it really is. Free speech is not attenuable by clause. The First Amendment's "expression" and "association" clauses must work together, or they don't work at all. . By restricting the protesters to a zone (a remote one, at that), Pittsburgh apes precisely the actions of St Pete in fencing out the Pride protesters.

You can have fun winkling out the rest of the weasel terms and "even-handed" journalistic niceties that have relegated the dead-tree model to the dustbin of history - short-term, not a good thing for any of us, but they appear determined to plunge the dirk by their own hand.

Nigel Watson  freethinker  727.493.1990

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
– Krishnamurti
-A good pun is its own reword.
-"The burden is always on the intelligence."
- Nigel j Watson 1981