On 31st August, 1980, the Polish communist government gave in to the demands of the striking workers at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk. The workers were now free to organize and bargain freely.
There is no doubt that Reagan, Gorbachev and Thatcher played major roles in ending that vicious and dangerous period of history known as the Cold War. But we must never forget the vital role played by the epic struggles of Lech Welesa and his fellow workers in Gdansk.
It is a shame their extraordinary bravery was followed by rampant Reaganite globalization fueled by speculative consumer-capitalism, and leaves us today with a hard-hearted corporate-driven pre-emptive American hegemony, but still the original bravery deserves remembrance.
The American Way ...
Just Where I Happen To Want To Be Right Now
The beach at Nakusp
Cause and Effect?
The following is part of the front page of the Los Angeles Times Online this morning.
Nothing clever to say here; I was just struck by the positioning.
About 18 months ago, my wife and I accidentally came across Episode 2 of "Rome" on TV. We were immediately hooked, and sat transfixed each week until Series 1 ended after 12 episodes. We knew that a second season had been made, but it never seemed to appear on any station available in Canada. Most frustrating. Then I happened to notice that Amazon was selling boxed sets of the entire 2-series show, a total of 22 long episodes. Over last weekend and each evening this week, we watched the whole thing from beginning to end.
This is truly great television, epic in scale, consistently of the highest quality in production values, writing and acting. Even more, the political background is remarkably accurate. The series covers the period from Julius Ceasar's decision to bring his armies back from Gaul to Rome, through the Civil war against Pompey, his dictatorship and assassination, and includes Octavian and Marc Anthony's campaigns against Cassius and Brutus. The series concludes with the deaths of Anthony and Cleopatra before the power of Octavian, about to become the first true Emperor of Rome as Ceasar Augustus.
We follow this history through various tracks: In one part of the foreground are two men, soldiers in Ceasar's legions: Lucius Verenus, and Titus Pullo, who represent the plebs, the lower orders; in another part of the foreground are the senior politicians and soldiers: Julius Ceasar, Marc Anthony, Cato, Brutus, Cicero, Pompey, Cleaopatra, Octavian, whose bloody rivalries drive the narrative and time lines; and the aristocratic women represented most clearly by Servilia of the Junii, Atia of the Julii, and Attia's daughter Octavia, who allow us to learn about the style and culture of the time, and whose vicious feuds make modern soap operas look like nursery rhymes. All of the major characters are examined in depth, as are a dozen or more lesser figures.
The series cost a fortune to make -- no wonder they quit after 22 episodes. And all the dollars are on the screen in sets, costumes, props, extras. The acting is very fine throughout. There is a great deal of sex and at least as much gore. This is not for the faint of heart or the conservative Reader's Digest viewer. The episodes were written by a number of separate authors. But their consistency in quality and pace shows the strong guiding hand of, I suppose, Bruno Heller.This is marvelous stuff and if you haven't seen it, I urge you get hold of the DVDs and enjoy it.
This is the 80th anniversary of the murder by the State of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
Lest we forget.
The State of US Medical Care -- Again
Majahual: Hurricane Update
Further to my post below, it was confirmed that Hurricane Dean did in fact smash directly into the little village of Majahual. It has been difficult following the specifics, as most media have reported from Chetumal, the State capital about 40 miles south. However, I have found some small snippets.
The eye of the hurricane made landfall around 4:30 a.m. near the tourist resort of Majahual, about 40 miles northeast of the regional capital Chetumal, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
-- NY Times
“It wasn’t minutes of terror. It was hours,” said Catharine Morales, 30, a native of Montreal, who has lived in Majahual for a year. “The walls felt like they were going to explode.” Morales weathered the storm in her new brick-walled house with her husband and 7-month-old daughter, Luna. Dean blew out the windows and pulled pieces from their roof. But they fared better than most: Hundreds of homes in the Caribbean town of Majahual collapsed as Dean crumpled steel girders, splintered wooden structures and washed away about half of the immense concrete dock that transformed the sleepy fishing village into Mexico’s second-busiest cruise ship destination. The storm surge covered almost the entire town in waist-deep sea water, said fishermen Jorge Gonzalez, 29. He found refuge in the back room of a beachfront store whose steel security curtains were blown out, and had to help his dog Camilo keep his head above the rising tide. "There came a moment when I thought this was the end,” Gonzalez said.
-- AP report
Nature's Bowl Games -- hurricanes, major floods, earthquakes, tsunami -- fascinate us. Every news station covers them almost endlessly because our eyeballs seem stuck on images of disaster and devastation. I am no different, with hurricanes in particular. I love the patterns their tracks draw across the oceans, and the satellite images of swirling winds digitally coloured for our delight.
I have been through two hurricanes -- one in Jamaica and another in Miami; and even for me, safe and warm and dry in protected accommodation, the affair was little short of terrifying.
Hurricane Dean has made itself of particular interest to me because of the path it is taking. Some years ago, I spent months working near Montego Bay in Jamaica, and it was troubling to see the damage caused there by just the leading and trailing edges of Dean. The hurricane then moved west, its long powerful arms battering the Cayman Islands, where we have visited twice and thoroughly enjoyed in the last couple of years.
Continuing west, the hurricane has made landfall on the Yucatan. And from the maps available from NOAA and news media, it seems that landfall was made almost directly at Majahual, the tiny village where cruise ships dock for the Costa Maya. We have been there twice, it becoming one of our favourite places. This image was taken on one of these trips:
I fear this tiny place will be horribly damaged. Of more concern are the small farming villages inland, again directly in the path of Hurricane Dean. A couple of years ago, we took a 90-minute bus trip from Majahual to the ruins at Chacchoben.
I am sure the stones of the old Maya will survive well enough. I am less sanguine about the small farming villages we passed through on our way to and from the coast. Most of these places are made up of small shacks without much in the way of foundation beyond a concrete slab. I sure hope the people will be OK.