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Archive for March, 2011

It isn’t quite the Cold War. But the U.S. and Russia are at odds again

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Selected reports from the press in central Europe

WARSAW
Gazeta Wyborcza:

Poland-Lithuania relations reach new low
Relations between EU members Poland and Lithuania have been soured by legislation in Lithuania that, according to Poland, will worsen public education opportunities for the Polish ethnic minority there.

Rzeczpospolita:
World Jewish Congress calls for Poland boycott

Until Poland adopts property restitution laws allowing its former Jewish citizens to regain their real estate lost during and after World War II, the Jewish community should stop buying Polish products or visiting the country as tourists, said Menachem Rosensaft, chief lawyer of the World Jewish Congress. The Polish government said the country’s former citizens can use existing legal possibilities, petitioning courts and the public administration to regain any property they lost.

Read more at:
http://blogs.wsj.com/new-europe/2011/03/31/from-the-headlines-march-31-2011/

Category : News

How did you get over there, to Lithuania?

- Posted by - (1) Comment

by KR Slade

Village Chief’s house 

{Responding to two (2) E-mails, received on the same day of spring 2006.  One from a former classmate from my university graduate-school (Boston, Massachusetts), whom I’ve not seen in 35 years . . .  who probably has no idea where is or what is Lithuania . . .  The second from an old political protégé (Ottawa, Canada), from my days working with Canada’s Official Languages groups, whom I’ve not seen in 6 years . . . who probably has no idea where is or what is Lithuania . . . }

………………………………………………………….…………………………

Subject:  How did you get over there?

I joined our Alumni network and pulled up a list of graduates from the 70’s years.  Boy, was I surprised to see your email address and even more surprised to see your location.  What are you doing in Lithuania, there?

. . .

Take care.  It is good to know what Alumni are up-to these days !!

How did you get to way over there to Lithuania ??

Dianne

Rhode Island (USA)

……………………………………………………………………………………

Subject:  How did you make your journey to Lithuania?

Dear Ken,

It has been a very long time since we have communicated !  I found your coordinates on a Canadian government website.

Here in Canada, we . . .

I thought of you the other day.  I read that Lithuania has become a member of the European Union.  But I thought that European Union was for only countries in Europe.

. . .

So please tell me about your trip to Lithuania.

Yours truly,

John

Ontario (Canada)

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Dear Dianne and John,

I write to both of you because I received your e-mails on the same day . . . although you do not know each other, I think that you are both asking me the same question:  about ‘where is Lithuania’, and ‘how did I get here’.

John — what a nice surprise to hear form you !  I think that it must be some half-dozen years since we have last met, with our work for the government of Canada, in Ottawa, when we both preferred the French restaurants in Hull; eh?

Dianne — what a nice surprise to hear from you !  And after all these years — more than 35 !!!  Your town, there, in RI . . .  is 4-miles-south from where I was born and grew up; and 20-miles-north of where I lived and practiced law for 15 years, before I moved to Québec City, Canada.  Two-and-a-half years ago I came to Lithuania.  I be writer [J)], and I ‘re-teach’ English-language to some people who think that they can speak/write/teach English . . .

You both ask:   “how did I get all the way over to LT ?”  Well, I remember my trip, as if it were yesterday; it was quite the voyage . . .

There was the 11-hour plane ride, to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  But once on this ‘new’ side, because LT is so far from any ‘other place’ (there are still no direct flights to here, from anywhere !) — it took at least another 11 days (I stopped counting then), going to smaller and smaller cities . . .  then towns . . .   then villages.  But, of course, some of these smaller landing strips, in farmer’s fields, do not have daily, or even ‘regular’, airplane service; so, we had to wait a day-or-two between stopovers, to try to convince some small-plane pilot to fly in this direction.

Unfortunately, the stress of travel and deprivations caused some family problems.  The wife and kid had been constantly complaining for more than a week.  Nag, nag, nag; and cry, cry, cry.  Finally, I could not stand it any longer.  I went to the local market place to find some peace and alcohol.  There I met a very friendly and accommodating chap, who was knowledgeable in all kinds of affairs. 

A friendly local

I told him about my problem and he promised a quick and mutually profitable resolution.  A few days later when I woke up in his cousin’s marketplace vegetable wagon, my new friend told me that he had solved the problem.  We went to his other cousin’s barn.  I do admit that I was somewhat surprised at first.  The wife and kid had been bronzed.  At least this solution was more civilized than having to sell them to the headhunters.  It was such a good job technically, since they seem so life-like, that we were able to sell the statue-set to a distant tourist resort, at a tidy profit.  Apparently, this is common in these parts, where history precedes the Bronze Age.

When I landed at the final outpost of civilization, I needed to rest for a few days . . .  because of the changes in altitude, food, and water, and my total travel-fatigue.  The second night, in my room — in what they called ‘a hotel’, I could not read the very foreign-language sign on the window; so I opened it for the night, not knowing that this was a very dangerous thing to do.

The next morning I was very sick.  A doctor came, after a few days, and he said that I may have suffered an historical ‘ethnic-déjà-vu’ attack:  by a Livonian, or Prussios, or  Svedas, or  Rus invasion.   He did not know precisely which illness, so he gave me the Native’s Samagonas medicine for all-four afflictions.  I had a delirious ‘fever’ for many days (I never did learn actually how long), but then one day I woke up and I was completely well.  So, I continued my journey towards Lithuania. 

In the village, I managed to find a man from the perceived-extinct Curonian tribe, who could guide me across the Juozapines Mountains, through the Paksas Pass – which is especially difficult at that particular time of year.  The local Natives had said that he had reliably done this transit many times, and that he had two good, but rather old, elephants to make the journey.  I had never actually seen a real elephant before, and sitting up there on top was rather disturbing; but he knew that it would be a problem for me.  When I complained about the height of sitting up there so high, he laughed !  He told me that this was the SMALL elephant !  (It was a female.) 

While I was perched, there in the carriage-basket seat, becoming to my new situation, he brought the other elephant:  the male.  It was very scary:  sitting on top of an elephant, and then looking UP, at another elephant !  My guide loaded all of my baggage and equipment onto the male elephant.  We began what was to be our 18-hour journey over the mountains.  What was very providential was the fact that since this time of year was the elephant-mating season, it was appropriate to have the female go first, and not necessary to tie a cord to the other/trailing elephant . . .  and our pace was quick.

In the early morning hours, as we were descending the mountain into the Zauskaus Plateau below, there was a terrible accident.  Our (smaller) elephant had no problem negotiating a sharp turn on a particularly steep mountain slope.  But, the larger male, somewhat more blinded perhaps in his old age, slipped.  It was a horrible sight.  Worse for us, was the female thereupon galloping down the mountain … to find . . . and to be with . . .  her long-time mate . . .

I learned why, when riding an elephant in the mountains, that passengers are tied to the carriage (riding basket, called ‘a coalition’). . .  An excited elephant . . . is going to do . . . what an excited elephant wants to do . . .

Once at the bottom of the mountains, at the poor now-dead beast, we finally were able to manage to dismount.  It was good to be once-again on firm ground.  We unloaded our baggage from the dead male.  Although I could not understand the ancient language of my guide, it was obvious that the female was going to remain with her mate;  and therefore, it was evident that we were stranded.

The next day, a gypsy caravan passed by, and they accepted us, and all of my baggage, to travel across the Neringa Desert, towards Lithuania.  It was a very long, but more exceedingly calm journey.  They were nice people, but now I know why it is better to travel by elephant, rather than by camel.  Although the perceived interminably long journey through the desert, and then following the long River Will-Not, was uneventful, I came to the politically incorrect opinion that camels are disgusting.

Finally, we came to The Great River Ignominious.  There, I was able to obtain the services of a river guide who would take my baggage and me down the river to Lithuania.  It was a slow, but very peaceful and lovely trip.  The crocodiles were not really a problem, because they are actually very shy – if they are slapped with an oar, they will swim away.  But, on the second day, there was the terrible incident of our somewhat-careless raft-helper who fell into the waters.  Even before we could throw a rope to him, he was eaten by the swarms of little fishes that devour any living being that enters their watery world.  Perhaps you have heard something of this; yes, it is all true; even the movies cannot reflect a real representation of this horrendous event . . .

I finally arrived in the land of Lithuania, then made my way onward, first to Cowness Village, and then further to the capital-village, called Will-Not.  I soon settled into a somewhat normal life, relatively speaking.  I decided not to live in the capital-village mud-hut houses that surround the Parliament (preposterously called ‘The Same-Us’).  I soon found quite suitable lodging in a relatively more-improved dwelling in a mountainside, called Antakalnis, an ancient cave-carved habitat area that was formerly occupied by other writers.  From here, I have a very nice view of the tranquil capital-village below, and the presumed-tranquil Ignalina Volcano in the distant beyond.

The people of Lithuania are nice; well, all of the 3.5 million people – except for the Oligarchs Tribe, which has never been more than 5 percent of the population.  Lithuania is a peaceful country; well, all of Lithuanian – except for the on-going daily riots in ‘The Same-Us’, but that is only some fourteen-score of persons (and a few thousand of their so-well dispersed comrades), whom will perhaps soon be transferred to a more secure facility, close by, where their scandals will no longer have a monopoly on the news.  Crime is low, by north American standards; but, as everywhere, you never know . . . there could be a Mafiosi zany zilch bellicouseness across the street from ‘The Same-Us’, or a related rapacious apprentice/junior-Mafiosi-Wanna-Be on the other side of your wall . . .  But, all-in-all, I love the Lithuanians; although, I know that I am genealogically/ethnically prejudiced !

My only luxury is a satellite Internet antenna dish and an electric generator.  I’m so lucky that they both work; notably after they had fallen off the elephant, and thereafter also had descended into The Great River Ignominious, where with the help of the Natives, all of the equipment was salvaged, and was able to be repaired, after some months of work. 

So, I have e-mail !!!

Please write again soon,

And I hope that you will visit . . .

Bye for now,

K

Dinner at the Village Chief’s house

Category : News

I am saddened to see the public’s perception that rule of law is still not working effectively in Lithuania

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“It seems that some of the country's leaders simply are not ready to or interested in implementing urgently needed reforms. I am saddened to see the public’s perception that rule of law is still not working effectively in Lithuania.”
US-Lithuanian attorney Regina Narusiene in a recent interview with VilNews

To read the interview, go to
Section 11 – LITHUANIA IN THE WORLD

Category : Opinions

President Grybauskaite dismisses two judges as part of her campaign to clean up the Lithuanian judicial system

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
Judge Zenonas Birstonas

The president signed today a decree removing Kaunas District Court Judge Arvydas Stankas and Vilnius District Court Judge Zenonas Birstonas from office. Both were accused of discrediting the legal system - Stankus for falsifying documents and Birstonas after he was arrested for public drunkenness. He later wrote a letter of apology to the press and the public, without impressing the president to make her change her opinion about him.

President Grybauskaite removed four other judges from office last year. According to Lithuanian law, a presidential decree is the only way to remove a judge from office.

Let’s hope rule of law soon will start functioning in Lithuania...
 

Category : News

Definition – rule of law

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 That individuals, persons and government shall submit to, obey and be regulated by law, and not arbitrary action by an individual or a group of individuals.

Category : News

A government of law and not of men

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Distinguished from the 'rule of man' where, for example, in a monarchy, tyrannical or theocratic form of government, governance and rules of conduct is set and altered at the discretion of a single person, or a select group of persons.
In a political system which adheres to the paramountcy of the rule of law, the law is supreme over the acts of the government and the people.

Retired (and now deceased) Justice Tom Bingham wrote, in a 2010 book entitled Rule of Law, this of the rule of law:

"The core of the ... principle is ... that all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefits of laws publicly made ... and publicly administered in the courts."
Category : News

The emotion I felt when I first saw the Lithuanian flag flying over Gedimino Pylis was overwhelming

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Vilnius captured my soul on my first visit in 1998. In an ideal world, I would own an apartment in old town and fly back and forth several times a year.
The emotion I felt when I first saw the Lithuanian flag flying over Gedimino Pylis was overwhelming. Lithuania is free and can grow and develop like never before. Thank you vilNews for keeping us informed and in touch!
Jurate Kutkus Burns, Florida

Category : Opinions

I think you can be really proud of your achievement!

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Photo: www.kastu.lt

Dear Aage, this is just to compliment you with VilNews new style. It's a great pleasure reading this e-magazine every time and I think you can be really proud of your achievement!
Ambassador Joep Wijnands
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Vilnius

Category : Opinions

Lithuania is doing just fine without perfume or a ‘look at me’ attitude

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Lithuania is doing just fine without perfume or a ‘look at me’ attitude. Lithuania is a quiet nation with strong, rich history taken and followed by all Lithuanian descendents in the U.S. I don’t need to be reminded that my country is there. I know it is and I am proud to call it mine.
Patricia Giedraitis, USA

Category : Opinions

What a shame…

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Lithuania's identity presented with "a bottle of perfume"??? What a shame...
Since when has Lithuania anything related to perfumes?.. We are not French....
I am just wondering for what we, the tax payers, are paying to our state companies?.. Another example of the possible money washing....?

Irma Ramaskaite,
Vilnius

Category : Opinions

Please place Johnny Podres in your gallery of great players.

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Keeping the conversation going about famous Lithuanian American sports giants: Johnny Podres, born in Upstate New York, helped the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles Dodgers) win their first series championship in 1955 against the formidable New Yankees. The links have invaluable information about Podres who as pitcher won 2 games (4-2 and 2-0) in October, 1955. Please place him in your gallery of great players.
http://www.usbaltic.org/celebrities/johny_podres.php

Aciu ir linkeimais,
Tony Mazeika,
Mission Viejo, California, USA


P.S. You have put together an outstanding interactive website. Congratulations.
TM

Category : Opinions / Sport & leisure sidebar

Lithuania gets trapped in new nuclear game

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says that Lithuania is considering asking the European Union to impose restrictions on electricity trading by third parties that generate electric power without complying with nuclear safety requirements. Kubilius directly referenced Russia’s constructing a nuclear power plant in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad as well as a planned Russian-Belarusian project to construct a plant in Belarus. Lithuania has vociferously spoken out against the latter project since a deal was signed March 16 between Russia and Belarus — a deal that would allow Moscow to provide roughly $9 billion in financing to construct the nuclear plant.

Read more at:
http://blogs.forbes.com/energysource/2011/03/24/lithuania-agitates-against-russian-nuclear-projects/

Category : News

4 Responses to “Legendary Litvak heroes of Africa”

- Posted by - (1) Comment

Eugene Rangayah
March 2, 2011

I am not sure about the source of the information entitled Jews in South Africa. Especially with regards to point 3, which clearly, in my opinion, is aimed at marginalising the involvement of Muslims in the anti-apartheid struggle. The comparison made is with regards to the Muslim population in the Cape region. One would have to understand which race group makes up that population in order to understand their perspective. That region’s Muslim population is made up of the “Coloured/Mixed Race” or “Cape Malay” race group. This race group has had an association with the Afrikaaners, which goes back centuries! In point of fact, most of the Coloured people who I have encountered, often associate themselves with their Afrikaaner heritage(from a race perspective) rather than their African heritage. At times referring to themselves as Akrikaaners, based on Afrikaans being the first language.
In order for one to gain a full perspective on the Muslim involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle you would need to consider other race groups as well. In the Indian community in South Africa, over 80% of the anti-apartheid activists were Muslims. Look up the following people: Ismail Kathrada, Ismail Meer, Fathima Meer, Ahmed Kathrada, Yusuf Dadoo, Yusuf Cachalia, I could go on listing names.
At the end of the day, what is more important, is that people regardless of religion or race, took the initiative to join the struggle to oppose Apartheid.

Eugene Rangayah
March 2, 2011

Further to my comment above, one also has to acknowledge that Jews were regarded as White in Apartheid South Africa and enjoyed the benefits afforded to them as White South Africans. Some chose to oppose it, who have been duly honoured, and some chose to ride the wave of these benefits.

Grant
March 3, 2011

Correct – Jews were regarded as white in South Africa and did enjoy all the privileges. What made their sacrifices even more remarkable was that they put themselves at risk and all the privileges at risk to fight a fight where they were not victims themselves.
The “Coloreds” and Indians were a disadvantaged community, so they were fighting for themselves with self interest at stake.
What made Jewish sacrifice so remarkable was that they had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, and still they participated at 25 times their proportion to the white community. Remarkable! If they had fought at a rate of twice their proportion to the population, that would have been remarkable by itself, but 25 times. Wow!

Eugene Rangayah
March 8, 2011

I appreciate that White South Africans, who chose to join the struggle had everything to lose. That is not what I dispute about the article. The article, in my opinion, does a direct comparison between Muslim and Jewish participation in the anti-apartheid movement, resulting in the Muslim involvement being marginalised. Why does it not measure Hindu, Buddhist or Christian involvement? I do not think that this forum, should be used as an instrument to spruce up anyone’s involvement in the anti-apartheid movement at the expense of others. If the intention was to highlight the contribution of the Jewish community, then that’s fine, as it is the Litvak forum, but definitely not at the expense of the Muslims or any other religious sect.

Category : Blog archive

OPINIONS

Have your say. Send to:
editor@VilNews.com


By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

Read more...
* * *


Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

Read more...
* * *

* * *
VilNews
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius


* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
future
By Leonidas Donskis
Kaunas
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political
commentator

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

Read more...
* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!


* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

Read more...
* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

Read more...
* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

Read more...
* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.
MADE IN WALES -
ENGLISH VERSION OF THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS.

Read more...
* * *
IS IT POSSIBLE TO
COMMENT ON OUR
ARTICLES? :-)
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
www.anatanassileika.com

http://www.vdu.lt/lt/rasytojas-antanas-sileika-pristatys-savo-kuryba/
https://leu.lt/lt/lf/lf_naujienos/kvieciame-i-rasytojo-59hc.html
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
HERE.
* * *
EU-Russia:
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

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The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

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Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

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Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

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It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,
PhD, CPC

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

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Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

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