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Archive for October, 2011

2) Baltic States growing quickest in the EU

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In its recent Eurozone forecast produced in cooperation with Oxford Economics, Ernst & Young says that in the second quarter (Q2) of 2011 three Baltic economies grew most in the EU: Lithuanian gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.3 percent, Estonia posted growth of 8.4 percent, and Latvia's economic output increased by 5.7 percent.

Lithuania's Q2 GDP growth only proved the trends of recovery in country’s manufacturing industry, Ernst & Young says. In June, new industrial orders went up by as much as 5.6 percent, which raised the annual growth rate to 28.4 percent, the biggest growth in the EU.
Ernst & Young predicts that Lithuanian GDP will grow up to 5.5 percent this year, and will continue increasing at a stable pace up to 4.2 percent in 2012 and by 6.2 percent in 2013.

Estonia’s GDP is expected to grow by 7.2 percent in 2011 and to slow down to 3.8 percent in 2012. Latvia's economy is expected to grow by 4 percent this year, 3.5 percent in 2012 and 5.8 percent in 2013.

Category : News

3) IMF calls Lithuania a “model of successful adjustment”

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James Morsink, head of IMF monitoring mission.

We can see a great recovery in Lithuania‘s economy, determined highly not only by global financial environment, but by active actions of the government as well. The recovery of economy reflected both global upturn and strong political actions, including quite large fiscal consolidation, preservation of trust in bank systems, also significant adjustment in wages which brought a higher competitive ability,” James Morsink, head of an IMF monitoring mission to Lithuania, said after the meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. He called Lithuania a "model of successful adjustment" in the face of the global economic crisis.

According to Morsink, the actions mentioned above helped Lithuania’s economy to grow by 6.25 percent of GDP in the first half of 2011.

“However, the slowdown in Euro zone will not bypass Lithuania as well. It’s export, which is named as the major engine in economic increase of late years, will slowdown, so we forecast that next year the growth will reach 3.5 percent”, – the representative of IMF claimed.
"It's very important to take further measures that will preserve macroeconomic stability," Morsink said after meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister.

Category : News

Europe will split into North (neuro) and South (seuro) monetary zones

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Val Samonis.

There never seems to be any serious attempt at reform in the EU; just plans to talk about later plans, und so weiter und so weiter!

The end result?

Europe will split into North (neuro) and South (seuro) monetary zones and their satellite economies. Further disintegration and conflict within and between those two zones will deepen as Europe reverts to its old notorious historical habits; coupled with the spreading Middle East War, all bets are off: riots, ethnic & religious strife, energy and food prices skyrocketing, to name a few. European demography and therefore economy is getting catastrophic (dependency ratios increasing rapidly) as young people are already abandoning Europe (like a Titanic), esp. Greece, Poland, etc, heading for the New World (esp. Canada, US, Brazil, Australia).

Greetings from Toronto,

Val Samonis, PhD, CPC
The Web Professor of Global Management(SM)

Category : Opinions

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“A Greek, a Portuguese and an Irishmen go into a bar.” The Portuguese asks: Who is paying for this? The Greek and the Irishman look at him in amazement, answering: “It’s the German who pays, of course! Who else?”
Category : Opinions

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Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė at the European Council meeting this weekend:
Stabilization of the EU economy will be possible only if financial populism is refused


French-Lithuanian happiness in Brussels this weekend. Dalia Grybauskaitė and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sunday, October 23, Brussels - The heads of state or government of the European Union countries, gathered in the capital of Belgium, discussed the EU economy revival and finance stabilization measures and debated how to solve the issues relevant for the euro zone.

According to the President, the European Union has all the necessary measures to cope with the existing economic hardships - the member states should only find the political will to implement such measures.

"Only responsible financial policy and compliance with strict fiscal discipline as well as promotion of mutual economic cooperation will enable the European Union to ensure a sustainable economic growth and avoid financial populism," Dalia Grybauskaitė said at the European Council meeting.

Read more:
www.president.lt

Category : News

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Nicolas Sarkozy to David Cameron in Brussels this weekend:

"We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings."

David Cameron of Britain and Nicolas Sarkozy of France have had a furious bust-up in EU-27 summit, with the French president expressing rage at the constant criticism and lectures from UK ministers, reported “The Guardian”.
Sarkozy bluntly told Cameron: "You have lost a good opportunity to shut up." He added: "We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings."

Category : News

Suspected Real IRA member jailed for 12 years in Lithuania

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Michael Campbell was secretly recorded trying to buy weapons for a terror group and arrested in sting operation.

MI5 shows Michael Campbell inspecting weapons and negotiating a deal with a police agent posing as an international arms dealer. Link to this video

A suspected member of the Real IRA who was arrested in an elaborate MI5 sting operation has been found guilty of attempting to buy a cache of arms and explosives designed to equip the dissident terror group for a bombing campaign.

Michael Campbell was jailed for 12 years by a judge in Lithuania who had seen secretly-recorded videos of the 39-year-old negotiating to buy weapons unaware that he had been set up by the UK intelligence agency, working alongside Lithuanian authorities.

The court was told Campbell paid up to €10,000 (£8,700) for the cache, which included rocket-propelled grenades, detonators, a high-powered sniper rifle and 12kg of Russian-made explosives.

Read more:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/21/real-ira-jail-lithuania-sting?newsfeed=true

Category : News

How human psychology drives the economy

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A Review of: George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. xiv+230 pages.

By Val Samonis

In over 30 years of my research, advising, and teaching globally, I have read and reviewed many very interesting and paradigm-changing books in economics and management. However, this book is one of a kind!  

Read more...

Category : Front page

How human psychology drives the economy

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A Review of: George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. xiv+230 pages.

By Val Samonis

In over 30 years of my research, advising, and teaching globally, I have read and reviewed many very interesting and paradigm-changing books in economics and management. However, this book is one of a kind!

The book is nothing short of a revolution in how we think about economics and the real (global) economy in general. While the standard economic theory, rooted in the Adam Smith classical work, sprung up mainly from two abstract, simplified, and rather static ideas of Rational Expectations (RE) and Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), the powerful source of the Akerlof & Shiller story is the living and changing organism of the increasingly global economy; the Authors concentrate on the macroeconomic aspects, especially as they apply to the Great Recession started in 2008.

Critical to the analysis is the observation that RE and EMH approaches utterly fail to explain the great majority of the economic phenomena, incl. the current Great Recession in the US and globally; this sweeping assertion is not even controversial in early 2011. The reason it is so is that these standard economic theory approaches completely fail to account for the operation of “animal spirits”, a term dating back to John M. Keynes. Animal spirits are our interpretations of economics and the economy, our mental/psychological forces and constructs, spiritus animalis from the original Latin. They include: (non)confidence (with its Keynesian style multipliers), the issue of fairness in wage determination and other areas, corruption and bad faith phenomena in the society, money illusion that people usually operate under, and stories that are our practical and simplified ways of thinking about the economy and economics.

The answers to the eight basic questions in economics crucially depend on the animal spirits: Why do depressions occur? Why do central banks have real powers? Why do we have involuntary unemployment? Why is there a long-run tradeoff between inflation and unemployment? Why is saving so variable? Why do stock markets fluctuate so wildly? Why are the cycles in the housing market so large? And why is there continued minority poverty?

Very importantly, the book highlights frames of modern government roles in strategic management of the animal spirits for the benefit of our knowledge and our economy.

Even if (as some would claim) animal spirits cannot be modeled yet to produce empirically relevant outcomes (qualitative, quantitative, combined, etc) on the individual level or the aggregate level, it is probably only a question of a relatively short time before we can do so using new frontier research like neuronomics, business ethics, knowledge management, etc, to extend our knowledge.

The book is a great and compelling proposal for a new economic thinking, and a very practical one at that. Two years ago I adopted Akerlof & Shiller as the textbook for my MBA and Executive MBA teachings, incl. online teachings. My students (mostly adult professionals) provided lots of un-trivial opinions on how I was able to enthusiastically teach this new economic thinking and practically frame the animal spirits analysis for actionable understanding of the 21st century global economy.

The Akerlof & Shiller book is best used as the text for economic principles and/or related graduate level courses. I look forward to the second edition of this book; and an online teaching companion would be very useful for students and teachers alike.

Very powerful story, one of a kind indeed!

Val Samonis
Institute for New Economic Thinking, New York City
and SEMI Online, Toronto

Category : Business, economy, investments

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“I’d like 6 kilograms of
innovation, please”

Ojasaar Yrjö, representative of Solon partners Ltd., Estonia,
at this year’s Baltic Dynamics Conference.


Ojasaar Yrjö

Text: Evelina Kutkaitytė

Last month the annual Baltic Dynamics conference invited innovation supporters from around the Baltic Sea to Tallinn, Estonia.

Estonia’s president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, opened the conference emphasising the importance of Baltic cooperation. “The Baltic States make huge impact to EU economy as well as help withstanding the business competition with the bigs like China”, said the Estonian president, who also is the initiator of EU’s Baltic Sea strategy.

According to the president, the findings of Baltic Dynamics conference should be presented to the Baltic governments. The bureaucracy level in Estonia makes it almost 3 years to get business support from the state thus the companies prefer working on their own. Similar conditions are observed in Latvia and Lithuania.

Despite all independent efforts to survive in the market, today‘s businesses show lack of knowledge and creativity. Why Apple was so successful? Because it combined technology and design.

Read more...

Category : Front page

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“I’d like 6 kilograms of
innovation, please”

Ojasaar Yrjö, representative of Solon partners Ltd., Estonia,
at this year’s Baltic Dynamics Conference.


Ojasaar Yrjö

Text: Evelina Kutkaitytė

Last month the annual Baltic Dynamics conference invited innovation supporters from around the Baltic Sea to Tallinn, Estonia.

Estonia’s president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, opened the conference emphasising the importance of Baltic cooperation. “The Baltic States make huge impact to EU economy as well as help withstanding the business competition with the bigs like China”, said the Estonian president, who also is the initiator of EU’s Baltic Sea strategy.

According to the president, the findings of Baltic Dynamics conference should be presented to the Baltic governments. The bureaucracy level in Estonia makes it almost 3 years to get business support from the state thus the companies prefer working on their own. Similar conditions are observed in Latvia and Lithuania.

Despite all independent efforts to survive in the market, today‘s businesses show lack of knowledge and creativity. Why Apple was so successful? Because it combined technology and design. In our universities technology, design and arts are still taught separately. If we observe and compare people involved in innovation support and creative industries, we will notice their language and understanding of environment are quite different. The first ones talk about clusters and valleys, and the others – about garages and camps.

At the conference, six creative Baltic incubators were presented.
Tallinn creative incubator is one of three incubators of in Estonia, with 47% of the country’s creative enterprises as participants. Standing out for its orientation to business rather than to traditional industries, the Tallinn creative incubator was awarded as the second best creative incubator in the world last year.

Riga creative industry incubator is the only creative incubator in Latvia, established in 2010. The aim of the incubator is to be a one-stop-shop providing all creative services in one place. Riga creative industry incubator is responsible for distributing 2 million Euros for start-up companies and providing business support for at least 100 companies in 5 years.

The role of creative business incubators in the regeneration of city regions was presented with a quote of the famous sculptor Constantin Brancusi – “to see far is one thing, to go there – another”.

Liverpool stopped being sorry for itself
Basecap3TM is an award-winning business community in Liverpool (UK) supporting creative industries. It provides a modern environment where new start-ups and early stage development companies can access quality business support, engage with likeminded entrepreneurs and improve their chances of starting and maintaining a business. “The incubator made the city alive and Liverpool stopped being sorry for itself” claimed the presenter Roy Jones. “Creative industries are full of SMEs which are the key of all economies” – added R. Jones reasoning why helping creative SMEs is necessary for the economy.

2800% growth
Arabus business incubator at Aalto start-up centre (Finland) aims at promoting entrepreneurship in the field of creative sector and industries. Their success stories include companies demonstrating growth of 2800% like Footbalance and Futurice as well as Microsoft award winners GWEB and Sopima.

In the USA an average 11% of industries grow on venture capital, 25% of GDP and 80% of jobs are created by companies with venture capital investments. When Angry Birds, a video game developed by a Finish company, got so successful, many more investors came to Finland to check whether there was something more happening.

The problem is you cannot order innovation and success in advance
“I’d like 6 kilograms of innovation, please” – laughs Ojasaar Yrjö, representative of Solon partners Ltd. In Estonia. On the way to innovations there is always a valley of death – a period of time when companies and business starters need support and few are interested in investing. In many countries state comes to help at this stage of business development. Springboard in Finland offers 9 thousand Euros per investor you succeed to attract with your idea. Estonian development fund runs a virtual incubator Seedbooster, and Baltic Innovation Agency offers trainings to entrepreneurs on how to present your idea to a potential investor.

A venture garage
Aalto University (Finland) is running the Aalto Centre for Entrepreneurship WITH the aim of “creating engines” for new and existing companies. Collaborating with Stanford University (USA) and other partners they recently opened a Venture Garage – a co-working space for Baltic and Nordic entrepreneurs. With annual budget of 400 million Euros Aalto University employs 15 people to work with young entrepreneurs, 9 of which are exclusively involved in technology transfer. In 2010/11 there were fifteen companies established on the basis of Aalto originating ideas. Aalto University believes that entrepreneurs should be seen as heroes thus awareness building is one of the main tasks within entrepreneurship programs.

Business leading innovations are never concrete in the beginning. The good news is that there are milestones indicating if it’s worth investing more. Technology transfer process in Aalto University involves evaluation of ideas looking for anything “sunny” that might work rather than anything “cloudy” proving the idea will fail. The bright sides of ideas are sought either in business potential, feasibility to manufacture or intellectual property rights.

University roles
Professor Pasi Malinen (Finland) demonstrated his models for developing 3rd generation universities. He, like most of the speakers, marked the need of change in management and communication. “Nowadays universities try to become more innovative by creating special departments, leaving everybody else to do their old, regular work. But everyone should be involved,” said the professor.

The urge for collaboration was also expressed among Swedish start-ups. In one case, a student’s initiative resulted in the establishing of a business incubator which later evolved into a local science park:

“Young entrepreneurs at that time didn’t ask for an incubator – they simply wanted an environment for collaboration, and today Jönköping Science Park (Sweden) is offering a unique meeting place for entrepreneurs. The physical environment has no walls. Combining ideas is what makes them happen”, said managing director Therese Sjölundh. Differently from other similar institutions Jönköping Science Park has both pre-incubation and post-incubation programmes. Also, this science park focuses on business excellence rather than technology excellence. 14 employees are working mainly as business developers, evaluating about 300 business ideas per year, helping 100 of them to start, and hosting 15 companies in business incubator. Sjölundh noted that no linear development will ever lead companies to success. Thus the aim of business incubators and science parks is to help companies finding their own business model for growth.

Lithuania is losing to Estonia
According to the competitiveness index, Lithuania is in the middle of the three Baltic States, losing its former leading position to Estonia. KTU Regional Science Park (Lithuania) shared statistics proving financial benefits of innovation and business support for the State. In Lithuania there were nearly 60 Million EUR invested into infrastructure of incubators and science parks so far meanwhile companies that grow with their help pay over 6 Million EUR taxes each year.

The next Baltic Dynamics conference will take place in Lithuania, 13 – 15 of September, 2012. We kindly invite to you to join the next event of sharing ideas and best practices on business support in the Baltic’s.

Category : Education research & development

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Lithuania and the Holocaust, a comment to the Didier Bertin article:

Lithuania cannot appease
both world Jewry and
far-right extremists


Olga Zabludoff

By: Olga Zabludoff
Washington, DC, USA

I commend Didier Bertin's knowledgeable and sensitive observations in his article "Lithuania and the Memory of the Holocaust." My comments here are more in the form of a PS to Mr. Bertin's words. My take-off point is his reference to the term “Double Genocide,” a government-endorsed concept that has been bandied about in Lithuanian political circles in recent times. But more about this later. Mr. Bertin borrows the term for application in a different dual context: the original genocide of the Jewish people and the current movement on the part of the Lithuanian government to neutralize if not to obliterate the remembrance of the Holocaust. 

Last week I visited a photographic exhibition at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the Embassy of Lithuania, the exhibit was titled "The First Lithuanians in Texas." The introduction to the exhibit explained that because the first Lithuanian immigrants to the United States had quickly assimilated into the mainly German community in which they had settled, their contributions to the economic and cultural development of Texas have never been recognized or commemorated. These first Lithuanian immigrants to the US constituted a small group of Evangelical Lutherans from Lithuania Minor who arrived in Yorktown, De Witt County, in South Texas in 1852.

The exhibit is based on more than 30 years of archival research and will travel and has traveled extensively. The research into this ethnic group's migration has triggered the erection of historical markers by historical commissions, numerous articles in the press, archives implanted in the San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures and the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago -- all this to preserve the memory of, to recognize and to honor the contributions of, the first Lithuanian immigrants to the US.

That is actually very worthy and commendable. They are preserving and extolling a true history of a small segment of their ancestry. But what I find ironic is the double standard: the expression of such national pride in their legacy in the US while simultaneously often omitting the memory of a once-thriving Lithuanian-Jewish community (except in events intended as PR for Jewish, American and other Western audiences). The Litvak community existed for centuries throughout Lithuania. Its contributions to the nation's economy and culture were enormous. Yet the living remnants of that community, which include Holocaust survivors who had heroically resisted the Nazis, are currently being harassed and hounded by the Lithuanian government; while 96% of the last of the Litvak population lies mainly in mass grave sites that have melted into the landscape. In many cases the markers to these killing sites, put up thanks to Britain's Lord Janner, were placed to be invisible from the adjacent main roads.   

Having said this, it would not be entirely fair and balanced if I failed to mention the various initiatives of the Lithuanian government in recent times – initiatives focused on repairing the Jewish problems they face both in their country and with world Jewry in general.

The year 2011 has been proclaimed a Holocaust Commemorative Year in Lithuania, but the goodwill inspired was sadly more than counterbalanced by the parliament's proclamation of a second commemorative year, one which in effect honors the killers, the members of the Lithuanian Activist Front and other "national heroes" who began to butcher Jewish neighbors in dozens of towns before the Germans had even arrived. It is morally incongruous to issue simultaneous years of commemoration -- one for the victims, and one for the local participants in the genocide -- and expect to have any good come of it for the country.

In early July memorial ceremonies were held at the mass grave in Ponar (Paneriai), where more than 70,000 Jews from the Vilna (Vilnius) area were murdered in the Holocaust. The following week a commemoration was held at the killing site in Plungyan (Plunge), where 1800 Jews had been murdered. Both events were attended by Lithuanian dignitaries and foreign visitors who were embarrassed and appalled to discover that the memorials at these killing sites had been freshly desecrated. The filthy anti-Semitic graffiti was quickly covered up and cleaned up, but not a single arrest has been made and all mention of the desecration was avoided. These crimes of hatred appear to go uninvestigated in any serious way. And so it is with many of the “goodwill” gestures of the Lithuanian government: what it does with one hand it undoes with the other.

One has to question also the motives of the government in what appears on the surface to be an improved attitude toward their tiny Jewish minority, toward the Holocaust in general and other issues which interest world Jewry. But Lithuania’s new politics of the Holocaust is only one step up from revisionism: They are now marketing a new concept – “Double Genocide” -- that equates the suffering and annihilation of the Jews under the Nazi regime with the pain and oppression of the Lithuanian people under the Soviet regime. In fact, they created a commission within their government to arrive at, and to export, these findings.

Cynical as it seems, I have to conclude that the motives of the government are more self-serving than soul-searching. Lithuania is out to improve its tarnished image in the world, especially as a member of the European Union. Strong nationalistic views dominate the society while their tiny Jewish population doesn’t carry much political weight.

It is a difficult balancing act, one that may not be possible. Until Lithuanian leaders realize that they cannot appease both world Jewry and far-right extremist factions simultaneously with two-track politics, their future will be as scarred as their past. I continue to live in the hope that enlightened Lithuanian people will themselves find the voice and courage to stand up proud and tall against the double-game policies of their government that are doing so much damage, and which could so rapidly be turned into constructive energy for partnership and genuine reconciliation.

Olga Zabludoff is an editor-writer having worked for the Macmillan Company in New York and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters in Washington, DC. She has compiled, edited and written books and articles on the Holocaust. Her parents were Lithuanian Jews. Olga has made three extensive trips to Lithuania. She lives in Washington, DC.

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...
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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...
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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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >



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