PHOENIX, ARIZONA Topic: TiM READERS' FORUM
In this issue...Some reactions to... "A Little Christmas Story" (TiM GW Bulletin 98/12-4, 12/06/98 - TiM Readers' Forum)
Some reactions to... "Christianity Under Siege... Revisited" (TiM GW Bulletin 98/12-3, 12/05/98)
A special report from Russia's Far East: A Humanitarian Disaster in the Making?
Some reactions to... "A Little Christmas Story" (TiM GW Bulletin 98/12-4, 12/06/98 - TiM Readers' Forum)
U.S./MAINE: A STATE WHICH DOESN'T FORGET
PHOENIX, Dec. 7 - Roger W. Ek, a TiM reader from Maine, contributed the following moving story about a state which doesn't forget its war dead - his own state of Maine (for the TiM readers around the world who may not be familiar with America's geography, Maine is in the Northeastern U.S., just south of Canada). Ek was a helicopter gunship pilot during the Vietnam war, who flew missions in the Mekong Delta in support of the Navy river patrols and the SEALs in 1970-1971. His Helicopter Light Attack Squadron Three was known by its call sign "Seawolf." Ek was Seawolf 25. He signs his e-mail posts as the "Gentleman Flyer of the Delta." Mr. Ek's piece is most timely, as today is Pearl Harbor Day #57. May America, and not just Maine, never forget the veterans who died so we can continue to be the "land of the free and of the brave."
MAINE - Tonight is a special night in Maine. This year, once again, there will be 4,300 Christmas wreaths on tombstones at Arlington Cemetery for the fallen from Maine. People all over northern Maine begin "tipping" in late September. That's the harvest of balsam fir tips to be made into Christmas wreaths. Many families share this experience and it's part of the seasonal work pattern that keeps food on the table. Families make wreaths for sale locally, but most wreaths are made in seasonal factories for wholesale to gift shops and florists all across the country.
Four years ago, as the wreathing season was winding up in early December, the employees of Worcester wreath company in Harrington, Maine, made some extras for the graves of Vietnam Veterans in the Maine Veteran's Cemetery. The next year, they asked how many Vietnam graves there were in Arlington. Worcester employees stayed over after their regular shifts to make a wreath for every Maine Vietnam veteran buried there. Then, in 1997, they worked all night and made 4,300 wreaths for Maine's sons of all wars buried at Arlington. A Maine trucker brought them down and Maine people living in the Washington, D.C. area placed wreaths at the stones of every one of Maine's sons and daughters at Arlington.
Mike Sloniker, a former helicopter pilot friend of mine, and co-author of "The Helicopter War", went to Arlington to take a photo for me. In his words, "it was a very drastic transition for me to go from shopping at the Marine Corps Exchange at Henderson Hall, to walking around the Cemetery. You go from the noise, irritation, and impatience of crowds to the quiet of the Cemetery that is invaded with regularity by the noise of the Jet airliners at National Airport. The sky was clear; the temperature was 52 degrees, with a light breeze."
Mike stopped at the visitor's building and checked the directory for the locations of some Maine sites. He came in a back gate and walked up the knoll toward the site he had picked. The stones all faced away from him as he walked, but as he neared the row, he paused and looked back. His breath caught as he saw the wreaths. "It takes quite a while to find the Maine folks, but they stand out once you spot the wreath. There are just rows and rows and rows of stones in the garden of stone. The Sun was low and way down south at that time, so the shadows are really long." Placed seemingly at random among the many stones at Arlington were Maine's beautiful wreaths, some in clusters from the Civil War and some widely spaced among graves from the other 49 states.
Mike's photo accompanies this article. He continued; "So, at this time of Christmas, I celebrate the lives of the fallen and the things they showed us during their brief time around us. I looked at the Civil War names from Maine at Arlington and could not help but think these guys were young guys like our guys at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and the young guys honored at the Korean War Memorial."
Tonight, on the special night in Maine, the employees of Worcester Wreath Company, together with local neighbors, will work all night until they have enough wreaths from Maine - for every one of Maine's sons and daughters at Arlington. The scent of balsam and bright Christmas ribbons will remind anyone visiting Arlington that Maine's sons and daughters buried there are not forgotten.
Merry Christmas to all Maine veterans and their families. Thank them for me. And a very big thank you and Merry Christmas to Morill and Karen Worcester, and the folks at Worcester Wreath in Harrington and Topsfield, Maine. It means more than you know.
Roger W. Ek
U.S./NEW YORK:THE MORE, THE MERRIER...
NEW YORK - Really enjoyed your TiM Readers' Forum response posting, for a couple of perhaps incidental reasons.
On our "loop," one of my constant themes is that people need to "educate" media people of all stripes. Because journalists, if they are REAL professionals, don't operate in the vacuum of pre-planned, isolated, one-sided input. They do take in what is written to them, even if not in an immediate Damascus Road turnaround of providing an instant everything your "Dear Reader" wanted to see in print. And, when any journalist, anywhere, does some real, unbiased, investigative journalism and commentary, it's up to all of us to indicate that interest is "out there" and more journalists should begin to listen to facts. (No matter what topic is addressed.)
The fantastic IMF/World Bank posting you had yesterday shows people that others around the country, or around the world, do have many of the same concerns, as some of the frustrated and journalistically-underrepresented Americans. It offered well-detailed proof that a few courageous journalists in the U.S. are not "extremist kooks," but are ahead-of-the-curve of the awareness that needs to come. Our good guys need to be encouraged, by factual input "from everywhere." And then their continuing professionalism in covering issues gives encouragement to everyday ordinary citizens to keep on paying attention and talking up the issues.
The second point that needs to be repeated often is that when "we" find helpful, factual information, we need to help circulate it into the stream of public awareness. Share it. Talk about it. Find other articles that relate to it. Don't let any topic with good information rise or fall on the single leg of one journalist's column, and think Q.E.D., nothing more needed. (Aircraft carriers don't make 180 degree turns in a quarter-mile, and neither does the American public opinion.)
With the growing outlets for public input grow, it is becoming more apparent every day that many Americans have a much better grasp of issues, and a much better ability to write than many of today's present-day "professionals." (Witness the stunning compilation of fact and analysis by Anita Sands!)
We learn from each other, as well as from "professionals." Americans are learning to assess "news" much better than they used to, and to "speak back" much better than they used to. We have a long way to go yet, but the journey is started; and, with any luck at all, there may be a lot of incompetent celebrity journalists finding themselves out in the cold and recognizing the need for remediation in their "craft," as they like to call what they do.
On the Christmas shopping, we have our own agenda, aside from giving to worthy causes where we know there is better use for the money and it's better used when it gets there. We not only refuse to buy the things from China flooding stores, we comment to clerks regarding the oversaturation and the overpricing. We also go through counters checking labels and commenting in tones just loud enough to carry to a few bystanders. "Nope, made in China, made in China, made in China. Put it back." Too coincidental that all buyers in every store in America suddenly decided on their own to buy all the good, bad and indifferent stuff from China, and simultaneously decided not to feature any of the dwindling supply of good-quality American stuff.
---------------Some reactions to... "Christianity Under Siege... Revisited" (TiM GW Bulletin 98/12-3, 12/05/98)
U.S./MASSACHUSETTS:PERSECUTION OF GREEK CHRISTIANS UNDERREPORTED BY MEDIA
MASSACHUSETTS - One of the most underreported Christian communities facing persecution has been the Greek Orthodox of Turkey. Within the first two decades of this century, there were between one and a half and two million Greek Christians residing in Constantinople, Thrace, Asia minor, and the Black Sea region of Pontus.
When an independent Greece entered WW I on the side of the West, against Germany and the Ottoman empire, Athens was promised that it would be allowed to liberate portions of Asia minor where Greek Christians (and Armenians) made up a majority. In 1919, Greek troops landed in Smyrna, the first time Greeks in Anatolia had been free in centuries. At first, Britain and the United States supported Greece. France and Italy, jealous at being denied territory in Asia minor armed and supported the Turks against the Greek and Armenian Christians.
As late as 1921, the Christian armies of Greece had driven the Turks back and were maybe forty miles away from Ankara. In the east the Armenian Christians, genocide victims between 1915 and 1917 were given a homeland. Ultimately, the neo-imperialists among the western powers in their greed came to an agreement with Turkish leader Mustapha Kemal. Subsequently, an embargo was imposed on Greece while Turkey was armed to the teeth.
Ultimately, the Greek and Armenian Christians were betrayed and in September 1922, Turkish forces entered the Christian city of Smyrna and engaged in a mass slaughter of its Christian population. Over 200,000 Greek and Armenian Christians died. The Greek Metropolitan of Smyrna, Chrysostomos, in full view of the French troops. was taken by the Turks to have his beard shaved, hands, ears, and eyes cut out.
When the Greek army in eastern Thrace attempted to liberate Constantinople soon after, they were threatened with war by the four major western powers. Ultimately, the new Turkish regime of Mustapha Kemal expelled all the Orthodox Christians from Asia minor. Asia minor had been Christian for two thousand years. The New Testament mentions the Apostle Paul's missions there. The Book of Revelation mentions the Churches of Smyrna, Ephesus, Philadelphia etc.... .
As part of the peace agreements signed at Lausanne in 1923, Turkey agreed to allow 100,000 Greek Orthodox to remain in Constantinople along with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This was significant, because the Greek Orthodox sought to maintain ties with their holy city. Constantinople is to the Greeks what Kosovo is to Serbs, and Jerusalem is to Israel.
In 1955, when Cyprus emerged as a dispute between Athens and Ankara, the Turkish authorities conspired to expel the Orthodox Christians. The government organized pogroms against the Greeks of Constantinople. Mobs proceed to beat Greek men and rape Christian women. Christian stores, homes, and churches were burnt. Mobs proceeded to destroy Orthodox churches, and desecrated hundreds of icons, gospels, and relics.
A 90-year old monk was burnt to death when a church was set on fire. Turks entered Christian churches to defecate inside the sanctuaries. Tombs containing the remains of Patriarchs of Constantinople were ripped open and their remains scattered throughout.
The only "support" for these Christians from NATO, Europe, and the United States was a letter from American Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, to the Greek Prime Minister, threatening to cut aid to Athens if Greece did not make up with Turkey. The policy of blaming the victim was always intact.
In 1964, Turkey expelled 10,000 Christians while thousands of others fled. In 1971, the Patriarchate's only seminary was closed. It remains closed to this day, and its opening provides the only immediate prospect of survival for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. All future candidates for the Holy Synod will have to come from outside Turkey, as the Christian flock has been eradicated.
Today, only 2,500 Greek Orthodox remain in Constantinople. That city was once the center of Christian civilization and culture. Constantinople and Asia minor produced the Holy Church Fathers and the Seven Ecumenical Councils through which the holy spirit guided the formation of Orthodox doctrine and worship.
Over the last four years, the Patriarchate has been bombed four times. His Holiness Bartholomew, has been targeted by Islamic extremists for his defiance in the face of persecution.
It appears that in due time, the Patriarchate will become extinct, as most of Christianity did in those ancient lands. Most of this happened in a NATO country which is one of the top three recipients of American aid. American allies like Turkey, in exchange for their strategic value, are given the right to engage in "ethnic cleansing" with out any serious reprisals from the West. The same thing is happening in Egypt, and was allowed to happen in Croatia (and Bosnia), a few years back.
------------------A special report from Russia's Far East: A Humanitarian Disaster in the Making?
RUSSIA:KAMCHATKA FREEZES WHILE MOSCOW FIDDLES
PHOENIX - We received the following report from Alexander and Tanya Samoiloff, TiM readers from Khabarovsk, in Russia's Far East (Khabarovsk is just north of Manchuria, China).
RUSSIA - This week, Khabarovsk local TV broadcast reports about a disastrous situation in the Kamchatka peninsula. The cities and towns of that Northern Far Eastern territory have no fuel, heat and electricity. At an outside average temperature of -20C (below zero Fahrenheit) they are getting frozen. People are cooking food on bonfires in the streets.
TV shows children wrapped into warm clothes and blankets in frozen homes. Their mothers say that they are not sure if they can survive until Christmas. People can not leave Kamchatka because they have no money.
Elderly people, who don't receive their pensions and can not buy wood to heat their apartments talk about Moscow's genocide. "They want to kill us and save money for their budget - said an old starving looking woman - but why do they want to kill our children? "
Frustrated Governor of Kamchtaskaya Oblast reports that every day for few months he appeals for an emergency help to Moscow and receives only promises. Local government has no funds to buy fuel or evacuate people to the Mainland.
Now the Governor appeals to the world community for an emergency help to save lives of more that 660 thousand of Kamchatka's residents, as they can not get over for long. Promised by Moscow a shipment of small amount of fuel oil will not save the situation.
Most of the Russians cities have a central electric power and heating system. It means that all residential and other facilities are heated with hot water running through pipes from one or two big heating plants. So, a low temperature damage of the pipes means death to the whole system.
At the same time Russian Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov reports that the government has no funds to help Kamchatka.
Are we at the verge of a "Boston Tea Party" at the Moscow's Far Eastern colonies?
Chukotka reports that their fuel stocks will expire during the next two weeks. President of the Republic Saha (Yakutia) has ordered this week to evacuate people from the up northern remote areas to Yakutsk.
Governor of Prymorsky Krai Evgeny Nazdratenko reported on TV that they may have electricity and heat shortage only in some small towns and there's no reason for Vladivostok residents to panic. At the same time Moscow reports about disastrous situation in Prymorsky Krai.
During last month, I've heard from many people, including local government officers, domestic and foreign businessmen, an opinion that Moscow already has rejected the Far Eastern territories, and now only wants to take as much as possible from them until they stay with Russia.
"We think that Russia de-facto already has lost the Far East,"a high-ranking Japanese businessman told me, who visited Khabarovsk during the last week, offering the local government a US$40 million long term loan. In this case, I trust his opinion, because before offering the loan, the Japanese have done a careful investigation.
If somebody has any ideas or practically help the people of Kamchatka please contact me. I shall bring your proposals the Association "Far East - Zabaikalye," and contact the Kamchatka Governor.
Alexander and Tanya Samoiloff
Russia, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, check out other TiM READERS' FORUMS... April 1998, May 1998, Part I, May 1998, Part II, June 1998, July 1998, August 1998, September 1998, October 1998, November 1998, December 1998, Part I, December 1998, Part II