24 February 2018
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Health & wellbeing

- Posted by - (6) Comment

Love and suicide in Lithuania



Photo: Vladimiras Ivanovas

By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas

A young Lithuanian policeman is found slumped in the seat of his car shot dead, his weapon clutched in one hand – in his other hand his mobile phone containing a text message he had received:  “I love another” (report by psychologist Andrius Kaluginas).

According to the World Health Organization, Lithuania now has the highest suicide rate in the world.  Psychiatrists, sociologists, and journalists often link Lithuania’s skyrocketing suicide rate to social instability, poverty, high unemployment, and alcoholism.

What has gone largely unnoticed is that one of the leading causes of suicide among people under the age of thirty is unrequited love. Read more…

Category : Health & wellbeing

- Posted by - (5) Comment

Healing the heart and
soul of Lithuania

By Ida Hardy, Texas, USA

Lithuania is my mother’s country. She escaped with her mother and sisters as a young child and at one point in her life she wanted to return. It seemed to me that she heard the whispers from the wind in the forests and they were calling her home. My mother taught us a little about the folk tales and the music. She taught us to meditate and a little bit about yoga and I wanted to learn more about her childhood home. But the Soviets were still reigning and it was impossible for us to go. Later, as we cried on the phone on that day in 1991 I asked her if she would like to return and she said, “You can never go back. Things are changed so much.”

Her message was about more than the structure of her home and the murder of her father. She was really talking about the broken spirits of all the people who were victims, those who were aggressors, and those who were both. There is no going back. No one can undo the evil that has taken place anywhere on the planet throughout time.

I’m a yoga teacher and natural health practitioner. I learned much of what I know from my mother, and everything else I learned at University. University may have offered more details but I think it all simply confirmed everything she taught about keeping the body healthy. Probably what every mother teaches.

We must heal from hurts of the past. In order to experience a truly satisfying fullness in all areas of life, to fully actualize, a person must have a sense of security and a sense of belonging. A connection to the tribe or community and a sense of your individual power can elevate your ability to be really happy. When you have this feeling of connection to your true Self and to others, you can generate compassion and even love and appreciation toward people around you and draw people to you.  If you become stuck in the first step and have not established security or taken care of your own basic needs and feel that there are not enough resources or that your own pain or greatness has not been acknowledged you become a little angry and no one is attracted to that.

Countries are the same way and, in the collective sense, Lithuania has a real opportunity to heal. From what I can see and feel from way over here, Lithuania is on the brink of something really great. I can feel in a very palpable way a sort of bubbling, an effervescing of energy and drive.

So, as this energy becomes stronger and propels the leaders of the country forward both politically and in business, I would ask everyone to take a really close look at the impact the early days has had on the consciousness of current residents. In my quest for information regarding my mother’s family and her life in Lithuania I have read websites and stories from people who have overcome trauma and gone on to experience love and forgiveness and ultimately – happiness. But not everyone is able to overcome so readily.

Children who experience early trauma are known to experience difficulty in life. It is an accepted fact and many studies have been conducted to try and understand this.  Stanford University recently conducted a study that looked directly at the physiological changes in the brain of children who experienced had experienced trauma. MRI scans showed the hippocampus of these children was altered compared to children not exposed. So, we know that all of our brains and our psychology is different due to the trauma.

How do we heal from the trauma? First, acknowledge that it happened. Acknowledge your own or your family’s part in it. Without making a judgment about the character of any person involved, become aware of and acknowledge, at least in your own mind, that everyone suffered during those days and that not enough was done by anyone in order to stop it. This acknowledgment is easier said than done.  We must acknowledge the capacity that each person has inside to do either evil or good.  It’s by this acknowledgment that we can forgive the past and guard against the future.

We can feel anger about the events of the past, and known perpetrators should be held accountable from the legal standpoint, but sometimes, we know, things are not made ‘right’ through legal means. My mother will never have her family farm and of course no government has the means to pay reparations to each individual and their family forever. So, let the anger subside and accept that very bad things happened and they hurt you personally. But also acknowledge that it is not happening to you right now.

For a child who has experienced trauma you would make sure to provide them with a safe place where all their physiological needs are met: food, shelter, security.  Once these are established you can begin to create a place for them to be included in the community. It seems like Lithuania is already there – has a place in the community. But it also seems that, by what I’ve read on some of the not so pleasant comments on FB and websites talking about LT history, there are many people who are still stuck in that first or second step. They don’t feel secure.
Insecure people are dangerous because they lash out at others and blame other people for their own circumstances. In yoga we might say that they have a block in their energy channels and can’t get past that first or second chakra. Mazlow would say they’re stuck and unable to develop through the hierarchy of needs.

Everyone wants to be happy. Healing a country takes time and patience. But healing also takes a thorough commitment and perseverance. We must understand that everyone needs to be able to connect to the community in a meaningful way and symbols and language of blaming and a tendency toward promoting a certain ethnic superiority only stunts the ability to establish a firm foundation of peaceful and easeful living. These too, are indicators of a certain level of insecurity.

We can fall into bad habits of thinking patterns which prevent us from moving forward. I urge you to examine your own thoughts and change them.  Notice when you’re having a negative thought and change it. Work toward changing attitudes of others by examining your own attitude.

From the words of my teacher:

“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing?”
- Sri Swami Satchidananda
Category : Health & wellbeing

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Guardian Angels
– do they exist?

Guardian angel, by Pietro da Cortona, 1656

Some weekend thoughts
by Irene Simanavicius, Toronto

“Guardian Angels.....ethereal beings who we feel and sometimes see....who snatch us from the brink of disaster and give us subtle advice.....who watch over us while we go about our mundane activities......what a wonderful concept!  The concept has been in the supernatural spectrum since ancient times.  However, today Angels are inherently a highly religious phenomenon, and the implied concept of Angels is indirect communication with God himself.” 

The concept of Guardian Angels has likely been around since the dawn of mankind.  It is a concept that has been embraced in some form by virtually every religion since the beginning of religion itself.  The modern day depictions of winged beings sitting on clouds and playing harps comes to mind in pretty much all of us when we think of our Guardian Angel, or of Angels in general.  In the mainstream psyche, we generally equate Guardian Angels as a spiritual being with our best interests at heart whose purpose is to serve us without interfering with our free will.  The modern marketplace solidifies this with angel statuettes, jewelry, wall hangings, plaques and every kind of Angel paraphernalia imaginable at every turn.  Classic movies involve Angel themes, most notably in "A Wonderful Life" where an Angel gently shows a mortal man the positive impact he has had on the lives of others, thus turning his own life around.

So what are Guardian Angels?  Are they real?  Are they figments of our collective imaginations?  Are they something in the realm of paranormal like ghosts?  Is there any proof that they exist? Are they agents of God?  Can we see them?  What do they look like?  Can we talk to them? 

WHAT ARE GUARDIAN ANGELS?( taken from Time magazine)

There are several different trains of thought on this matter so here goes...                   

Guardian Angels are Sent by God to Guide and Protect:  This is by far the most prevalent theory today, and no proof is needed by those who embrace this concept.  It's simply a matter of faith.  The Bible actually says very little specifically about Guardian Angels, other than little kids may be more attuned than we are....
Matthew 18:10 states, "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."” 

Indeed, little kids in their innocence probably provide more anecdotal evidence of Angels or Guardian Angels than all adults combined.  This is significant religious-wise and spiritual-wise.  Once we get older, it seems we are no longer open to or aware of the possibility of a Guardian Angel, and in and of itself this is testament for how hardened and jaded we become spiritually as we age.  But is the Bible really referring to little kids?  It could be we are all little kids in God's view - otherwise no adult would ever experience the sensation of seeing their guardian Angel.   In many religions, Guardian Angels are not directly related to us, but rather are entities that have never lived human life.  They are wise, pure, compassionate, and non-judgmental.  They can guide, but cannot interfere with our free will.  Often, they are portrayed as lower-echelon beings in the heavenly hierarchy, as opposed to more powerful Angels such as the Archangels.  As such they are intermediaries or messengers between us and our Creator.  They inhabit a higher plane of existence than we do, and have abilities to morph into many forms, including the human form when necessary.  Each Angel is assigned to one of us at birth to guard us and look out for our best interests, regardless of how we conduct our lives.  They see the good in us whether or not we believe in them or live pure lives, and they accompany us to our heavenly destination after death.  Encountering one's Guardian Angel is a life-changing experience, and for those who have, their existence is a matter of pure faith with no other proof needed.  Those who truly believe claim that they can simply call on their Guardian Angel and a response will come if they watch for it, such as finding an open book with a passage that relates to the problem.    

Guardian Angels are Deceased Relatives Who Watch Over Us:  Many people who have had encounters with Guardian Angels report the distinct feeling that the Angel was not a stranger at all and that it was a recognizable deceased relative.  This is a comforting theory on several levels, as it implies life after death and a continued relationship with our loved ones even after they are gone.  Various polls actually seem to indicate that slightly more people perceive their Guardian Angels as being close family members than unidentified heavenly beings.  Who better to watch out for our best interests than someone who knows us well, like a parent or grandparent? There are many stories of people perceiving a close family member shielding them in a car crash or warning them of impending danger. One thing is crystal clear -  we all form strong bonds in this life that likely do transcend the bounds of this earthly existence, and whether or not we become Angels for those who remain after we die, those bonds are tangible and everlasting. It is therefore definitely a possibility that the Creator would give chosen relatives the power to intervene in our lives in some circumstances. 

Guardian Angels are a Projection of Our Higher Selves:  We all think we know ourselves, but our actual selves are much more complex than we think.  This is the concept of the soul and of spirituality.  We all sometimes feel and think things that are outside the bounds of what we have experienced in our existence on this plane, suggesting that there is more to us than there appears on the surface.  As you exist now, you are but a small part of a much larger and more complex being.  You have higher selves and lower selves, all existing within the same soul.  Some refer to it as being "multidimensional" or as existing on "different vibration planes."   As it pertains to Guardian Angels, in this scenario, you would be your own Guardian Angel, with all the resources necessary.  The help and knowledge that your Angel extends to you would actually come from within your own vast inner knowledge and wisdom that lies untapped in your daily life.  Your higher self is attuned to your situation and knows what is best for you. This is the essence of a very complex concept that is discussed in more detail on other areas of this site and won't be repeated here.

Guardian Angels are in the Here and Now - They are People Who Come and Go  Throughout Our Lives:  We've all experienced it - we are in a mess and can't find a way out when someone comes into our lives and provides the solution.  Sometimes they stay and sometimes they don't, but they etch a place in our memories and are never forgotten.  We have to move away momentarily from the purely religious implications of Guardian Angels to process this concept, and there are other sources with intriguing ideas on the subject. 

In the Jane Roberts/Seth material, Seth states "The teachers within your system are those in their last reincarnation, and other personalities who have left the system but have been assigned to help those still within it.  The system also includes some fragment personalities that are entering for the first time, as well as those in later reincarnations."  This is a far-reaching statement that tends to ring true.  We all know people who are spiritually or intellectually superior to us, and we all know people who are spiritually or intellectually inferior to us.  The most memorable people in our lives beyond our own families are usually those on the extreme ends of this spectrum, either good or bad.  Essentially, all the people in our lives are in our lives for a reason, and the ones who change us and help us grow are the ones who knowingly or unknowingly act as our Guardian Angels.  They are Angels in human form, and even if one thinks of Angels as purely ethereal heavenly beings or as deceased relatives looking after us, there's still room for the possibility that the phenomenon could manifest in the here and now and in the people we encounter in our day-to-day life. In fact, the Bible refers to this very thing with regard to our Angels:  "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."


The Bible doesn't really say all that much about what Angels look like, but most often portrays them as taking on a human form (mostly men), sometimes indistinguishable from other humans.  Sometimes they have wings and sometimes not, and sometimes their appearance is so shockingly bright that they frighten those who see them. Other forms are mentioned too, such Angels appearing in a burning bush or in a tower of clouds or fire.  From all the Bible accounts, the inference is that Angels can take on whatever form that suits their purposes.  In practical life, most of us will never see our Angel materialize, nor will we hear our Angel speak.  Our proof will be in the omens and signs we see after asking for help in a pure and unselfish way. CAN WE TALK TO OUR GUARDIAN ANGELS? 

By all accounts, yes, regardless of which theory above you happen to subscribe to.  There are literally millions of accounts of people talking to their Guardian Angels, many even by name.  Obviously, if someone you know is knowingly or unknowingly acting as your Angel, you are already talking to them without even realizing it.  But for the vast majority who subscribe to the spiritual, nature of Angels from heaven, there is a lot of advice out there about how to contact them and ask for help. 

A loved one is dying.  The sick room is full of machinery droning on endlessly with a kind of white noise.  The attendant has dozed off, but suddenly awakens, and in the dim morning light notices a figure standing near the dying person.  Startled and frightened, the attendant is frozen in awe.  The figure is wearing a long, dark, flowing robe, much like the robes worn by ancient monks, but no face or extremities can be seen.  It seems to be in a meditation-type state.  The dying person takes a few labored breaths, and finally exhales for the last time.  At that moment, the figure is gone....

Unfortunately, Angels do not make themselves known to everyone, nor do they always reveal themselves when specifically called.  The proof of their existence is therefore a very personal thing that is closely intertwined with the fundamental religious beliefs of each individual.  The conviction that Angels exist appears to happen little by little - in dreams, in the wonderment of nature, in sudden realizations and déjà vu, in intuitions, and even as happenstance coincidences. 

So basically, no, there is no concrete proof that Angels do exist, though millions have experienced this phenomenon and have unshakable belief.  For those with no God and no spiritual beliefs, trying to convince them of the existence of Angels is not possible.  For the rest of us, all we need to do is open up spiritually and the answer will very likely come to us at an unexpected moment, maybe even in a dream.

Many people feel that those lucky coincidences we all experience in life are the results of little nudges from our Angel.  For instance, deciding to stop at a store you don't usually go into and finding a 20 dollar bill in the parking lot.  The consensus seems to be that Angels can give us hints and omens, but will stop short of interfering with free will.  Even if you have never asked for help specifically, you may get it anyway through sudden insights or coincidences.  However, if you do consciously ask for help, you should make yourself open to the answers, which may come in a variety of ways.  You might see something in print, such as in a book or newspaper or even on a truck or bus or billboard.  Someone might offhandedly say something that gives you the answer or you might see on TV or hear it on the radio.  Generally, find a quiet place and ask, and then watch for signs.  The word "Angel" literally means "Messenger."  Pay attention to your own messages - it's just that simple.

Next time you are walking or driving and you hear your name being called out, pat heed. Once you realize there isn’t anyone there, you are just being called by your angel.
One last note…let’s not forget the most universally recognized ghost or spirit entity of all time, the Grim Reaper - the Angel of Death - a frequent apparition experienced by virtually every culture and religion since Biblical times. 

But that is a whole other story.

As a last word, your Angel probably won't help you pick winning lottery numbers or get revenge on someone who has wronged you, because those are selfish pursuits.  But for those who wish to enrich their lives, or who are depressed or hopeless, or have a big problem with no obvious way out, a little talk with your Guardian Angel might just give you the tools to live a richer, happier life!

***Please note, these are not my beliefs, just open observations. In my life this has been a wonderful topic to approach others on their thoughts and their opinions. Especially interesting, because Angels are revered all over the world and with different stories within each culture.****

Category : Health & wellbeing

The totalitarian mindset

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By:  Dr. Boris Bakunas, M.A., M.Ed, Ph.D.

Fact:  In a 2008 poll conducted by Rossiya State television that drew more than 50 million votes, Josef Stalin was chosen as the third most popular figure in Russian history.

Fact:  In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik massacred 69 adolescents at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya Island, Norway shortly after bombing government buildings in Oslo where eight people were killed.  Breivik claimed that he was acting in self-defense to protect Norway from an Islamic terrorist takeover.

Fact:  Under the shield of the internet, thousands of ultra-nationalists and religious extremists openly espouse mass murder, e.g., “Go into the streets and murder those Russians and Poles, (TheKingdomofGames, 2012), “HOW ABOUT WE KILL MUSLIMS,” (666MikeRochip, 2012), and “Its time to destroy America and capitalism…Soviet union live forever in our hearts!” (KenseiTakesi, 2012).

When the Soviet Union collapsed, a totalitarian regime had crumbled, but the Totalitarian Mindset -- which demands absolute conformity in thought, word, and deed – survived, and in many quarters, continues to thrive. 

How do we explain this spike in political and religious intolerance, hate-speech, and violence?  Why does the Totalitarian Mindset exist even after a century in which mass murderers like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong turned much of the globe into a mass grave?   

Inside the Totalitarian Mind

According to world-renowned psychotherapists Dr. Albert Ellis (1986) and Dr. Aaron T. Beck (1999), the primary (although not the sole) cause of war, terrorism, and hatred resides in the irrational belief-systems and primitive information-processing systems that underlie destructive emotions of anger, hostility, and rage. 

Dr. Ellis has identified several of the irrational beliefs, often implicitly held just below the surface of consciousness, that fuel religious and political fanaticism.  Here are just two:

1. “Our views of people and the universe are Absolutely and Everlasting True, and nobody deserves to live who opposes these supreme views”
2.  “Our political or religious cause is the only worthy one that should exist.  We alone can save humanity and prevent evil.  We must do anything – yes, anything – to make sure that we extirpate everyone who prevents our noble cause from prevailing!”

When provoked by failure to conform to their rigid, dogmatic beliefs, totalitarians revel in anger, vulgar vilification, threats, and brutal aggression.  Why?

First, totalitarians confuse their belief-system as well as the symbols that represent their beliefs with their identities.  They interpret any challenge to a cherished opinion or symbol as an existential threat, and react instantaneously as if they were physically attacked.   When an inflammatory video insulting the prophet Mohamed recently appeared on the internet, violent Anti-American demonstrations rocked the Islamic world.  Islamic extremists attacked the American embassy in Libya and killed four Americans, including the American ambassador. When a photograph of a Muslim accidentally setting himself ablaze as he burned an American flag was published, many Americans expressed delight.

Contrast this attitude to one Zen Buddhists display towards objects of religious worship.  Tan Hia (Tan-ka), a noted Chinese Zen master, did not hesitate to warm himself on a cold morning by the fire made of a wooden statue of Buddha – a story that is repeated in Buddhist literature to emphasize that relics and representations have no inherent sanctity or worth. 

Second, totalitarians escalate their preferences into absolute demands.  Instead of rationally telling themselves they would strongly prefer that other people see the error of their ways and changed their minds, totalitarians irrationally conclude, “Because I want others to agree with me, they absolutely must give up their foolish notions and behavior – and if they don’t, it’s (a) terrible, (b) I can’t stand it, and (c) they must be severely punished, even tortured or killed for refusing to act as I insist.    

Is it rational to insist that all people must share identical opinions?  If other people absolutely had to agree with our views, then they would.  The very fact that a diversity of opinion exists proves that no law of the universe requires other people to be any different than the way they are.  To insist that they must is to fly in the face of reality.  Rationally, we can strongly prefer that people change, but to insist that they absolutely have is to assume that our wishes are their commands. Indeed, what a dull world this would be if everybody thought the same, looked the same, and behaved exactly the same?  Yet this is precisely the kind of society that totalitarians endeavor to create. 

Third, totalitarians revel in demonizing entire groups of people. Hitler slaughtered Jews, gypsies, Jehovah’s witnesses, communists, socialists and any other group he saw as standing in his psychopathic ambition to conquer the world.  Stalin ordered the murder of all he deemed politically unreliable, including millions of peasants (kulaks) in the Ukraine and Central Asia (Conquest, 1986). Today, there are Americans and Europeans who demonize all Muslims;  Muslims who demonize all Americans, Europeans, and Israelis; and Eastern Europeans who demonize all Russians. The cycle of blame, bigotry, and butchery spirals; and the march of human misery persists.

Can Totalitarian Thinking Be Eliminated?

Both Ellis and Beck express guarded optimism that the majority of non-psychotic totalitarians can be helped to abandon their irrational beliefs through psychological counseling and education, though neither claims that the task will be easy. 

I remain skeptical that this will occur in our lifetimes. Neither the resources to train nor the logistics required to deliver psychological counseling to millions seem feasible.  Furthermore, human beings have been and remain highly fallible – and gullible – creatures.  The technology of propaganda has mushroomed as televisions and computers proliferate throughout the world.  Finally, governmental institutions and educational systems are notoriously slow to change. 

However, I do believe in the power of individual beings to exert a tremendous change in the attitudes that shape our societies and cultures.  The very instruments used to spread hate can be turned against the totalitarians to spread tolerance and respect.  Also, let us never estimate the difference that a single courageous person can make. 

In the summer of 1940, Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Kaunas, Lithuania saw the danger that Polish and Lithuanian Jews faced under the Nazi occupation.  Three times he dutifully asked his government to amend its stringent visa requirements in order to allow Jews to acquire exit visas and escape.  Three times, his government flatly refused. 

Finally, Chiune Sugihara decided to act.  Between 18 July and 28 August of 1940, Chiune Sugihara and his wife, Yukiko, in an extraordinary act of disobedience, began issuing transit visas on their own.  Working day and night, and often writing by hand, Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara issued 3,400 transit visas, making it possible for 6,000 Jews to escape. 

Eyewitnesses report that he continued to write visas even after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, flinging them out the window to frightened refugees as the train began to move. So desperate was he that he wrote his last visas on blank sheets of paper containing only his signature and the consulate seal. The Jewish refugees could fill them in later.  His last words as he left were:  “Please forgive me.  I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best.” 

After the war, Chiune Sugihara was dismissed from his diplomatic post for his disobedience.  Today, about 40,000 descendents of the Jewish refugees are alive (“Chiune Sugihara,” Wikipedia).

While it is highly unlikely we will find ourselves in a position to save as many lives as Chiune Sugihara did, let us never underestimate the lasting effects even one kind word or deed can have.

One day a teacher noticed that a teen-aged girl in his class never raised her hand to answer a question.  After speaking to her, he learned that she was terrified of making a mistake in front of her peers. He made a deal with her.  “I will give you the answer to a question I will ask tomorrow. All I want you to do is to raise your hand and answer it.”  She did as he asked.  Three weeks later, her mother called him to thank him, saying that her daughter, who had failed to participate in class since the third grade, was now eagerly answering questions in all her courses. Fifteen years later, the teacher happened to see his former student at the university where he subsequently taught.  She told him that because of his encouragement, she had excelled academically and was now a school psychologist with a Master’s degree and an administrative certificate.  As Mother Theresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” 

So what can we do to stem the tide of hatred and violence in the world today? How can we make our corner of the world a better place? Here are just a few suggestions.  I leave it to you to suggest others. 

1.  We can recognize that we ourselves are the primary instigators of our anger and rage.  As the stoic philosopher Epictetus observed nearly two thousand years ago, “It is not he who give abuse that affronts, but the view that we take of it as insulting.”  Eleanor Roosevelt expressed this same insight when she wrote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  However, it is important to avoid falling into the trap of perfectionism.  All humans lose their tempers and behave poorly from time to time.  Even Epictetus admitted that after years of practice, he still occasionally fell prey to anger. 

2.  We can try to follow the Buddhist principle of right speech. Right speech means avoiding lies, deceit, slander, and malicious words.  Positively phrased, it means to tell the truth and to speak and write in a helpful way.  Anyone who makes a conscious effort to try this just for one week will notice a significant improvement in relationships with others and in one’s own mood. 
3. We can try to refrain from responding aggressively to the abusive language others fling our way.  When we anger ourselves over what others say, aren’t we bowing to the authority of those who vilify and condemn us?  Aren’t we taking their angry words much more seriously than they merit?

Does this mean that we should passively acquiesce and remain silent when verbally abused?  I do not believe that it does.  If people call you a “fucking idiot,” simply inform them that you will end the conversation if they continue to support their views with insults instead of facts.  Then give them a choice:  “Do you want to end the conversation now, or do you choose to discuss our differences in a civil manner?”  Should they choose to continue their harangue, walk away.  By ending the conversation, you will demonstrate that you are in charge.

4.  We can educate ourselves about the principles and practice of Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Beck’s Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Hundreds of empirical studies have shown their effectiveness in helping people overcome a host of emotional disturbances, including anger, anxiety, depression, jealousy, and guilt ((Lyons & Woods, 1991).  These therapeutic interventions have also been shown to be effective in reducing violence and aggression in schools (Wilde, 2002).  Books and articles about REBT and CBT are readily available online.  Out of a list of 1,000 self-help books, Dr. David D. Burns’ Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy was selected as the best self-help book ever written in a survey of mental health professionals (Burns, 1999).  Research conducted at the University of Alabama has shown that simply reading Dr. Burn’s book can be effective as undergoing a full course of psychotherapy (Burns, 2006).  

5. We can stop condemning our fellow human beings in toto.  While we can rate actions, we cannot assign global ratings to the personhoods of our fellow human beings or ourselves for several reasons.  First, to accurately judge another person in entirety, we would have to know every deed that person had done throughout his or her entire life.  How is that possible?  Second, we would have to be mind-readers who could see directly into a person’s motives.  As Buddha, Socrates, Jesus, Spinoza, and many other great thinkers have argued, evil deeds are done out of ignorance.  Third, even if someone repeatedly commits evil acts, so long as he lives, there is still time for repentance. Before composing the famous hymn “Amazing Grace”, John Newton earned his living as the captain of a slave ship.  But when he fully understood that his acts were wicked, he resigned, became a clergyman, and later wrote Thoughts upon the Slave Trade, which he sent to every member of the British Parliament.  He allied himself to William Wilberforce and helped abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

6. We can help set an example of tolerance for others to follow.  Children learn tolerance, empathy, and kindness just like they learn to hate -- by observing the behavior of important adults in their lives.  When we show respect for diversity of opinion, reject stereotypical biases, refrain from globally rating other people for their bad behavior, appreciate cultural differences, and take an active interest in learning about the diversity of humankind, we help the younger generation understand that the world is enriched by a multiplicity of peoples just like a garden is enriched by a variety of flowers.

Will following these suggestions end the hatred and violence that pervades so many parts of the world?  Most likely, they will not.  But let us remember the old proverbs that say, “The perfect is the enemy of the good” and “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.  Like Voltaire’s Candide, let us cultivate our own gardens.  In this way, each one of us can make our small plot on this earth a better and happier place. 


Beck, A. T. (1976).  Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders.  New York: New American Library. 

Beck, A.T. (1999). Prisoners of hate. (1999). New York:  Harper Collins.

Burns, D. (1999).  Feeling good: The new mood therapy.  New York:  Harper Collins.

Burns, D. (2006).  When panic attacks:  The new-drug free anxiety therapy that can change your life.  New York:  Morgan Road Books. 

Chiune Sugihara (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from

Conquest, R. (1986).  Harvest of sorrow. New York:  Oxford University Press.
Ellis, A. (1986).  Fanaticism that may lead to a nuclear holocaust:  The Contributiions of scientific counseling and psychotherapy.  Journal of Counseling and Development. Volume 65, 146-150.

Hauck, P. (1991).  Hold your head up high. London:  Sheldon Press.

KenseiTakesi (comment, 2012). Hymn of the Soviet Anthem. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from

TheKingdomofGames. (comment, 2012). Diktatura – ejo kariai.  Retrieved September 29, 2012, from

Lyons, L. C., & Woods, P. J. (1991). The efficacy of rational-emotive therapy:  A quantitative review of outcome research.  Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 357-369.
Wilde, J. (2002). Anger management in schools:  Alternatives to student violence. Lanham, Maryland:  Scarecrow Education.

666MikeRochip. (comment, 2012). PA mufti:  Muslims will kill jews in the name of islam.  Retrieved September 29, 21012, from

Category : Health & wellbeing

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Overconsumption of alcohol destroys the lives of more and more young people in Europe

British teenage girls are starting to drink alcohol at the average age of 13,
a new study shows according to The Telegraph.
Photo: Christopher Pledger

According to The Telegraph, British researchers have found that today's teenagers start drinking an average of two years younger than women who are now in their mid-twenties did, with most admitting that they had drunk alcohol by the age of 13 or 14.

It is to assume that similar figures apply to many other countries in Europe.

Drinking from a younger age leads teenagers to go on to consume alcohol more heavily, the study also found.

Doctors warn that changes in drinking habits are leading to a rapid rise in the number of young individuals with liver problems.

They say that they are seeing increasing numbers of women in their 20s and 30s with cirrhosis of the liver, a disease virtually unheard of in that age group a decade ago.

A report by a Government watchdog warns that 10 million people in Britain are now drinking at "hazardous" levels.

Girls of today are 'stressed, drunk and discriminated against', report finds 

Doctors have warned that more people die from alcohol than breast cancer, cervical cancer and MRSA, the hospital superbug, combined.

The study, of 208 women ranging in age from 16 to 24, found that as well as starting to drink at an earlier age, today's teenagers also tended to drink more on typical nights out than women in their twenties.
Overall, three quarters of those asked admitted that they drank more than five units each time they went out, significantly more than the two to three units that women are advised is their daily recommended limit.

In total, six per cent of the women surveyed admitted that they had drunk their entire week's recommended intake in just one night, while one said that she drank 49 units, the equivalent of eight bottles of wine.

The study, carried out by nurses at a sexual health clinic in southern England, also found that the women were more likely to take unnecessary risks after they had been drinking.
One said that she would rather spend her last £5 to buy a kebab and walk home alone, than pay for a taxi.

Others said they had unprotected sex, got into cars with strange men, and even seen their friends fall asleep on roundabouts, after a night spent drinking, the study, carried out by researchers at the University of Manchester and highlighted by Nursing Standard magazine shows.

"Women are commencing drinking at an earlier age and are experiencing the negative consequences of alcohol but show no activity to curb this activity," concluded Valerie McMunn, who carried out the study.
"The negative aspects of their behaviour puts their sexual, physical and psychological health at risk," she added.

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "This confirms the worrying trend that young girls in the UK are fast catching up with boys in their drinking patterns. We already know that the younger people are when they start drinking, the more likely they are to have problems with alcohol later in life. UK teens drink more than most of their European peers and the growth in consumption is not showing any sign of slowing down. There is a fast growing drinking culture among young people, and girls find themselves under a lot of pressure to emulate a popular image, which includes being drunk or drinking often. Falling prices of alcohol mean that with typical weekly pocket money teenagers can now buy large amounts of alcohol, and many can still get it with ease from supermarkets and off-licenses."

Category : Health & wellbeing

Preventing suicide

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An article by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
The mission of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is to provide hope, help, and support to improve the lives of people living with mood disorders. DBSA pursues and accomplishes this mission through peer-based, recovery-oriented, empowering services and resources when people want them, where they want them, and how they want to receive them.

If you or someone you know is living with depression or bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), you understand all too well that the symptoms may include feelings of sadness and hopelessness. These feelings can also include thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Whether we have suicidal thoughts ourselves, or know a severely depressed person who does, there are ways that we can respond with strength and courage.

Understanding Suicidal Thinking

The most important thing to remember about suicidal thoughts is that they are symptoms of a treatable illness associated with fluctuations in the body’s and brain’s chemistry. They are not character flaws or signs of personal weakness, nor are they conditions that will just "go away" on their own. Depression and the depressive phase of bipolar disorder may cause symptoms such as the following: 

  • intense sadness
  • hopelessness
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • disruption of sleep
  • decreased ability to perform usual tasks
  • loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities

Taken together, these symptoms may lead someone to consider suicide. However, with proper treatment the majority of people do feel better and regain hope. Recovery is possible.

During severe depression, the systems that regulate emotion become disturbed. People in the middle of a severe depression often think only of things that are dark and sad. Physicians refer to this as “selective memory”—only remembering the "bad times" or the disappointments in life. This type of thinking is a symptom of the illness; it does not define who the person is. And with proper treatment, the individual will start to remember the good times and develop a more positive outlook. (top)

If You Are Feeling Suicidal

If you have begun to think of suicide, it’s important to recognize these thoughts for what they are: expressions of a treatable, medical illness. Don't let embarrassment stand in the way of vital communication with your physician, family or friends. Take immediate action and talk to somebody today. Remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a problem that is temporary.

When people don't understand the facts about suicide and depressive illnesses, they may respond in ways that can cut off communication and worsen their feelings. That's why it’s important to find someone you trust and can talk with honestly and openly. It's also why your mental health professional is an important resource in helping you—and your family. (top)

What You Can Do to Fight Suicidal Thoughts

  • Keep a journal to write down your thoughts. Each day, write about your hopes for the future and the people you value in your life. Read what you've written when you need to remind yourself why your own life is important.
  • Go out with friends and family. When we are well, we enjoy spending time with friends and family. When we’re depressed, it becomes more difficult, but it is still very important. It may help you feel better to visit, or allow visits from, family and friends who are caring and can understand. 
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Most deaths by suicide result from sudden, uncontrolled impulses. Since drugs and alcohol contribute to such impulses, it’s essential to avoid them. Drugs and alcohol also interfere with the effectiveness of medications prescribed for depression.
  • Learn to recognize your earliest warning signs of a suicidal episode. There are often subtle warning signs your body will give you when an episode is developing. As you learn to manage your illness, you’ll learn how to be sensitive to them. They are signals to treat yourself with the utmost care, instead of becoming ashamed or angry with yourself. (top)

Create a “Plan for Life”

Many depression-related suicides occur during someone’s first three depressive episodes—before he or she learns that an episode of suicidal thinking is temporary. As people learn from experience that any given episode will eventually pass, the likelihood that they’ll actually act on suicidal impulses drops sharply. It’s important to have a course of action ready before thoughts of suicide occur. Some people find it helpful to develop a “Plan for Life.” This plan lists warning signs you should watch for, and actions to take, if you feel that you’re slipping into suicidal thoughts. Your “Plan for Life” may include:

  • Contact information for your doctor, including back-up phone numbers (emergency services, pager and mobile phone).
  • Contact information for friends and family.
  • A description of your medical diagnosis (or diagnoses, if more than one)—not just depression but any medical problems you may have. Also include information about any medications you are taking.
  • Health insurance information.
  • Contact information for a local suicide hotline.
  • Contact information for your local DBSA support group.

Click here to view a sample “Plan for Life.”

Educate those you trust about your condition before it becomes a crisis, so that they can be prepared if they’re called on to help. Provide key support people with your “Plan for Life” so they can act quickly, if needed. Carry a copy of your Plan for Life with you at all times so you can refer to it or pass it along to someone else who might be helping you in a time of crisis. With all your important phone numbers in one place, it will be easier for someone to help. (top)

How DBSA Support Groups Can Help

With a grassroots network of more than 1,000 support groups across the country, no one with depression has to feel alone. While DBSA groups do not provide suicide crisis programs, they do provide a caring environment for people to come together and discuss the challenges and successes of living with depression. They don’t offer group therapy, though many groups have a professional advisor (for example, a therapist, a psychiatrist or a psychologist) and all groups have appointed peer facilitators.
DBSA groups provide a forum for mutual understanding and self-discovery, help people stick with their treatment plans and gain support from others who have ”been there.” For information on DBSA support groups in your area, contact us at            (800) 826-3632       or see our support group locator.

Facts About Treatment

There are many different medications and therapies available for the successful treatment of depression. Not all medications work the same for all people, so it may take some time for you and your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. Stick with it, and recognize that your doctor is your partner in this search. (top)

Recognizing Warning Signs in Others

Sometimes, even health care professionals have difficulty determining how close a person may be to attempting suicide. As a friend or family member, you can't know for certain either. If you sense there is a problem, ask your friend or loved one direct questions and point out behavior patterns that concern you. Remind them that you care about them and are concerned. Talking about suicide with someone will not plant the idea in his or her head. If necessary, suggest that they make appointment to see their doctor and offer to go with them if you sense they would have difficulty doing it on their own. If you believe that immediate self-harm is possible, take them to a doctor or hospital emergency room immediately.
Warning signs may include the following:

  • Feelings of despair and hopelessness
    Often times, individuals with depression talk with those closest to them about extreme feelings of hopelessness, despair and self-doubt. The more extreme these feelings become, and the more often they’re described as "unbearable," the more likely it is that the idea of suicide may enter the person's mind.
  • Taking care of personal affairs
    When a person is "winding up his or her affairs" and making preparations for the family's welfare after he or she is gone, there is a good chance the individual is considering self-harm or suicide.
  • Rehearsing suicide
    Rehearsing suicide, or seriously discussing specific suicide methods, are also indications of a commitment to follow through. Even if the person's suicidal intention seems to come and go, such preparation makes it that much easier for the individual to give way to a momentary impulse.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
    Someone with worsening depression may abuse drugs or alcohol. These substances can worsen symptoms of depression or mania, decrease the effectiveness of medication, enhance impulsive behavior and severely cloud judgment.
  • Beginning to feel better
    It might sound strange, but someone dealing with depression may be most likely to attempt suicide just when he or she seems to have passed an episode's low point and be on the way to recovery.

    Experts believe there’s an association between early recovery and increased likelihood of suicide. As depression begins to lift, a person's energy and planning capabilities may return before the suicidal thoughts disappear, increasing the chances of an attempt. Studies show that the period six to 12 months after hospitalization is when patients are most likely to consider, or reconsider, suicide. (top)

Responding to an Emergency Situation

If someone is threatening to commit suicide, if someone has let you know they are close to acting on a suicidal impulse or if you strongly believe someone is close to a suicidal act, these steps can help you manage the crisis:

  • Take the person seriously. Stay calm, but don't underact.
  • Involve other people. Don't try to handle the crisis alone or jeopardize your own health or safety. Call 911 if necessary. Contact the individual's doctor, the police, a crisis intervention team or others who are trained to help.
  • Express concern. Give concrete examples of what leads you to believe the person is close to suicide.
  • Listen attentively. Maintain eye contact. Use body language such as moving close to the person or holding his or her hand, if appropriate.
  • Ask direct questions. Find out if the person has a specific plan for suicide. Determine, if you can, what method of suicide he or she is considering.
  • Acknowledge the person's feelings. Be understanding — not judgmental or argumentative. Do not relieve the person of responsibility for his or her actions.
  • Offer reassurance. Stress that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Remind the person that there is help and things will get better.
  • Don't promise confidentiality. You may need to speak to the person's doctor in order to protect the person from himself or herself.
  • Make sure guns, old medications and other potentially harmful items are not available.
  • If possible, don't leave the person alone until you're sure he or she is in the hands of competent professionals. If you have to leave, make sure another friend or family member can stay with the person until professional help is available.

What You Can Do to Help Someone

Among the many things you can do to help someone who is depressed and may be considering suicide, simply talking and listening are the most important. Do not take on the role of therapist. Often, people just need someone to listen. Although this might be difficult, the following are some approaches that have worked for others:

  • Express empathy and concern.
    Severe depression is usually accompanied by a self-absorbed, uncommunicative, withdrawn state of mind. When you try to help, you may be met by your loved one’s reluctance to discuss what he or she is feeling. At such times, it’s important to acknowledge the reality of the pain and hopelessness he or she is experiencing. Resist the urge to function as a therapist. This can ultimately create more feelings of rejection for the person, who doesn't want to be "told what to do." Remain a supportive friend and encourage continued treatment.
  • Talk about suicide. 
    Talking about suicide does not plant the idea in someone’s head. Your ability to explore the feelings, thoughts and reactions associated with depression can provide valuable perspective and reassurance to your friend or loved one who may be depressed. Not everyone who thinks of suicide attempts it. For many, it's a passing thought that lessens over time. For a significant number of people, however, the hopelessness and exaggerated anxiety brought on by untreated or under-treated depression may create suicidal thoughts that they can’t easily manage on their own. For this reason, take any mention of suicide seriously.

    If someone you know is very close to suicide, direct questions about how, when and where he or she intends to commit suicide can provide valuable information that might help prevent the attempt. Don’t promise confidentiality in these circumstances. It’s important for you to share this information with the individual’s doctor.
  • Describe specific behaviors and events that trouble you.
    If you can explain to your loved one the particular ways his or her behavior has changed, this might help to get communication started. Compounding the lack of interest in communication may be guilt or shame for having suicidal thoughts. Try to help him or her overcome feelings of guilt. If there has already been a suicide attempt, guilt over both the attempt and its failure can make the problem worse. It’s important to reassure the individual that there’s nothing shameful about what they are thinking and feeling. Keep stressing that thoughts of hopelessness, guilt and even suicide are all symptoms of a treatable, medical condition. Reinforce the good work they’ve done in keeping with their treatment plan.
  • Work with professionals.
    Never promise confidentiality if you believe someone is very close to suicide. Keep the person’s doctor or therapist informed of any thoughts of suicide. If possible,  encourage them to discuss it with their doctor(s) themselves, but be ready to confirm that those discussions have taken place. This may involve making an appointment to visit the doctor together or calling the doctor on your own. Be aware that a doctor will not be able to discuss the person’s condition with you. You should only call to inform the doctor of your concern.

    Whenever possible, you should get permission from your loved one to call his or her doctor if you feel there’s a problem. Otherwise, it could be seen as "butting in" and may worsen the symptoms or cause added stress. Of course, if you believe there is a serious risk of immediate self-harm, call his or her doctor. You can work out any feelings of anger the person has towards you later.
  • Stress that the person's life is important to you and to others.
    Many people find it awkward to put into words how another person's life is important for their own well-being. Emphasize in specific terms to your friend or loved one how his or her suicide would devastate you and others. Share personal stories or pictures to help remind your loved one of the important events in life you’ve shared together.
  • Be prepared for anger.
    The individual may express anger and feel betrayed by your attempt to prevent their suicide or help them get treatment. Be strong. Realize that these reactions are caused by the illness and should pass once the person receives proper treatment.
  • Always be supportive.
    People who have thought about, or attempted, suicide will most likely have feelings of guilt and shame. Be supportive and assure them that their actions were caused by an illness that can be treated. Offer your continued support to help them recover.
  • Take care of yourself.
    It’s not uncommon for friends and family members to experience stress or symptoms of depression when trying to help someone who is suicidal. You can only help by encouraging and supporting people through their own treatment. You cannot get better for them. Don’t focus all of your energy on the one person. Ask friends and family to join you in providing support and keep to your normal routine as much as possible. Pay attention to your own feelings and seek help if you need it.
Category : Health & wellbeing


Have your say. Send to:

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?

* * *

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.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

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

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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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
* * *

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
* * *
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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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

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.

* * *

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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مبلمان اداری صندلی مدیریتی صندلی اداری میز اداری وبلاگدهی فروشگاه اینترنتی گن لاغری شکم بند لاغری تبلیغات کلیکی آموزش زبان انگلیسی پاراگلایدر ساخت وبلاگ بوی دهان بوی بد دهان