Sunday, 31 July 2016

Russophobia and the Olympics

Politics and the Olympics should not mix!


Political cartoons by Aleksei Talimonov.

'The Greeks saw the ... event as an occasion to halt wars and come together in peace.' (USA Today, 4 Aug 2016)

The International Olympic Committee ‘was founded in 1894 on the belief that sport can contribute to peace and to the harmonious development of humankind.’ (Peace Through Sport)

The 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism states:
Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
In recent years, however, Western negative bias has raised its ugly head, called Russophobia, and it seems to be obstructing the Olympic Movement.
Today, we see a dangerous return to this policy of letting politics interfere with sport. … to form a negative image of countries and peoples. The Olympic movement, which is a tremendous force for uniting humanity, ... without waiting for the official publication of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s commission, have hastened to demand that the entire Russian team be banned from taking part in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. What is behind this haste? (Putin, V. ‘Statement in response to the report by the World Anti-Doping Agency’, Kremlin.ru, July 18, 2016)

Rio 2016 reminds me of Russophobia in 1980

In 1980 as a photojournalist, I attended the Summer Olympics in Moscow boycotted by 65 countries because of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. I mourned that thousands of very disappointed athletes were prevented from participating.

In the 1970s, the USA was Russophobic and secretly working against the Soviet Union by funding Muslim warriors and al-Qaeda to block expansion of communism into Arab states. This funding created ISIL — Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — ironically now the major enemy of the USA since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The USA was not banned for meddling in the 1980 Olympics, nor was it banned for illegally invading Afghanistan in 2001 under the NATO banner. The USA banned itself, leading 64 other countries, to not participate in our traditional peaceful friendship meeting of people from around the world.

Today Western countries are again active in propagandizing against Russia in any and every way including anti-Russia news releases, cartoons, economic blockades (sanctions), and public policies. This is Russophobia in action.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), headquarters in Montreal, Canada, wanted all Russian athletes banned from Rio 2016; but it was overruled by the International Olympic Committee which decided:
… according to the rules of … justice … to which every human being is entitled... each … athlete must be given the opportunity to … (prove) … his or her individual case.
Despite the strict ruling, 271 (70%) of 389 Russian athletes have been cleared by the IOC and declared 'the cleanest team'.

But these strict rules for Russians don't apply to others just as guilty — Russia misses out while former drug cheats take their place in Rio, RT Novosti, 30 Jul, 2016.

My point is that the USA press propaganda spins this story of injustice (1) negative, while the Russians try to spin it (2) positive.
  1. More Than 110 Russian Athletes Barred From Rio (based on unsubstantiated claims and Cold War rhetoric)
  2. Russia says 272 athletes approved for Rio Olympics
Though Russophobia still exists, I am glad that justice prevailed, and Russia is welcomed to Rio 2016.


Testing

A fool-proof testing plan is in place for the Russian athletes, which some argue is still not fair because (a) any athlete with a previous doping record is banned even if they are now tested ‘clean’; and (b) on the average, the rate of Russian doping is 19th (see table* below left) compared to all countries.

The data shows that 18 countries score a higher rate of violations, with no extra testing required. That is a double standard. The most egregious is Iran, with an average score of 9.5% compared to Russia at less than 1% (0.91%), a little worse than Canada (0.77%) and the USA (0.71%).
* Table source is cited as on the WADA website, without dates. So far we have found the data.

The table (above right) in a report covering 44 years of doping (1968-2012) shows Russia/ USSR were assessed 10 times for doping, compared to 8 for USA and 1 for Canada. Why aren't Austria and Greece in the news? The tables and sources are in: Doping Cases at the Olympics, 1968-2012, ProCon.org, 21 Sept 2011.


More

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Markin’s New CD About Doukhobors

12 original new folk songs dedicated to the Doukhobors are composed, played and sung by Dr. Allan Markin of Penticton, British Columbia.


Places: Songs of Toil and Peaceful Life is his new album with themes about arms burning, sailing to Canada, women pulling plows, building communal villages, zealotry in the Kootenays, and constructing the Brilliant Suspension Bridge.

Dr. Markin reports the 46-minute album took 18 months to write, and describes the music genre as:
... folk-roots, more specifically original Doukhobor folk music in English. I aimed for a traditional Russian feel (in various degrees) throughout the whole album. Deda’s Song in particular uses the accordion, balalaika, and spoons to capture the sound.
Regarding the historic accuracy of the album (lyrics, photos), he responds: 'I used some poetic license.'

Background vocals are by Maureen Haworth and Naida Cochran, both in Grand Forks. Dave Favell, Kelowna, plays acoustic guitars. Other orchestration is composed and performed by Ron Mahonin, Grand Forks, who also recorded and produced the CD.

Dr. Eclectic’ (Markin’s stage name) is an avid guitar player, singer, entertainer, storyteller and part-time songwriter. Selections were first performed on July 2016 at the Whatshan Jam 2016 Family and Friends Festival.

His website — AllanMarkin.com — has lyrics for all 12 songs, and a list of 5 songs with summaries and audio samples.

In Comments, Jim Popoff, Grand Forks, wrote:
… the CD... gave me a strange feeling of sadness and wistfulness about the moving panorama of our people's existence over the past 120 years or so, which you've covered well in your lyrics... and at the same time a kind of pride that a PhD academic could return to his roots in this touching way, with more than a modicum of musical talent, and come out so strongly in artistic manifestation of his heritage. A commendable endeavour by all concerned!
To produce the album, in October 2014 he tried to raise $7,500 on gofundme.com, but only collected $395 from 6 people, not Doukhobors, in 21 months (accessed 7/26/2016). The album is self-financed.

Price: $20 (Canadian), from: Allan Markin, 112 - 170 Stocks Crescent, Penticton, British Columbia V2A 9C6. Phone: 250-493-6150. And, 4 places in Grand Forks and Castlegar, including the USCC office and Doukhobor Discovery Centre.
In November 2011, Markin submitted a letter to the Boundary Sentinel newspaper protesting an editorial that referred to Doukhobors as undesirable ‘borscht’, 13 times.
A different Doukhobor, Allan P. Markin, Calgary, was chairman of Canadian Natural (oil, gas) and co-owner of the Calgary Flames ice hockey team. These two Allan Markins are not related.


Album Review

My wife Kristina Kristova and I enjoyed the album very much. The selections are fresh, the lyrics are written in a way that praise the Russian / Canadian pioneers for their commitment to peace, honest labour and adaptability, and the accompaniment music is colourfully unique. Great rhythm!

Here are some phrases that easily roll of the tongue and create images of a proud people striving to survive in a strange land and build a world without wars:
  • #4 : Baba’s Waltz — ‘I can hear your voice so crystal clear... Do you think of coming to Canada, To a land you’d never seen ….’
  • #6 : The Bridge —‘The Brilliant bridge that Doukhobors built ... was built to last.’ Doukhobors built for the future.
  • #7 : Grave Digging Man — ‘Big John was a grave digging man. ... We were his crew. ... He said to do it right.’ Perfection was the way.
  • #9 : The Five-String Guitar — ‘Deda said “Guitars are not the Doukhobor way. ... a sin”. But the new generation was open and adopted to new ways.
  • #10 : Doukhobor Assimilation Blues — While children moved to the cities ‘in search of high degrees’, others remained home with toil and peaceful life stemming from the God of Love Within.
  • #11 : The Wish — ‘Unlock the secrets of your heart, and bless a bright day.’ The heritage calls to make a better world.
  • # 12 : Burning of the Guns — ‘War no more. Nor more fighting. No more. No more.’ This is a classic Doukhobor call for a nonkilling philosophy in a troubled world. Bravo to our brave pioneers for their eternal wisdom!
‘Places: Songs of Toil and Peaceful Life’ is probably the only original CD in the English language that is authored by one composer and one theme (the life and times of the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors). It is an example of adaptation and creativity in our times. But, I have 2 complaints:
  1. The background music is at times too loud for me, especially #2 ‘Deda’s Song’, making it difficult to hear the words.
  2. #5 ‘Wagon Train to Verigin’ is historically unclear. The photo (lower right) on the disc below shows Yorkton, Saskatchewan (not Verigin). From Yorkton, the wagon train traveled ~100 km (~60 miles) south, ending at Broadview, where the community Doukhobors boarded trains to British Columbia.

Though he dropped out of high school, Markin persevered to earn a PhD in 19th Century English Literature from the University of Calgary in 1981 (thesis: "George Eliot and Education"), and won a Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship to conduct research in the rare-books libraries at Yale University and the British Museum. In 1988 he became a 'Doukhobor professor' (his words) then administrator in 1988, and retired in 2003 as Dean of OUC’s Okanagan/ Similkameen Region in British Columbia. He learned to play the guitar in his youth, and did not play for 35 years until after he retired. Bravo for contributing new folk songs about his Doukhobor roots.

Markin has already contributed to the forthcoming eBook that I am producing (Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers and Friends) which is scheduled to be published later this year.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Independent Doukhobor Project on Radio

The ‘Doukhobor Prayer Service Preservation Project’ was promoted by Ryan Androsoff on Ottawa radio, Tuesday July 19th, 2016, for 87 minutes, and Koozma Tarasoff joined by telephone for 8:37 minutes.

Androsoff works in Ottawa with the federal government and comes from a Doukhobor family in Saskatchewan. Tarasoff is a well published Doukhobor historian.


Androsoff was interviewed on the radio show ‘Tuesday Special Blend, With Mike Powell and Adam Coombs’, CKCU (93.1 FM) Campus radio, Carleton University, Ottawa. On 1 August 2016, Androsoff posted a shortened version (1 hour) of the radio show which he edited, minus interruptions, on Soundcloud.com, with better sound quality.

He got the special air time by donating to ‘listener supported’ public radio during a fund drive in October 2015, when he was working in Paris, France.

The goal of the Preservation Project is to ‘... document and explore the traditional Doukhobor 'Molenya' ... as practiced by the Saskatchewan Doukhobors.’

Androsoff is now conducting a crowd-fundraising campaign online for $15,000, to produce
  1. a documentary video about the Saskatchewan services, and
  2. a portable exhibit of the service in surround sound.
In his proposal, Androsoff explained his motivation and urgency:
While there have been a number of documentaries that have captured Doukhobor history and culture, there has been little focus in these works on the spiritual rituals of the Doukhobors in detail. The actual mechanics of a Saskatchewan Doukhobor prayer service have not been well documented … With the rapidly declining membership of Doukhobor societies in Saskatchewan and the aging of those who are left, there is a limited window left to capture and preserve the experience of a Doukhobor prayer service for future generations.
The project is endorsed by the Doukhobor Cultural Society of Saskatchewan (DCSS) with particular involvement from the Doukhobor Societies of Saskatoon and Blaine Lake.

The funds, when collected, will hire a video company (Bamboo Shoots), audio-engineer Ross Nykiforuk. Everyone else is a volunteer.

Two professors at the University of Saskatchewan — Dr. Ashleigh Androsoff and Dr. Veronika Makarova — are helping with some of the research for the script and interviews. Ashleigh and Ryan are 3rd cousins, with roots in Blaine Lake. She grew up in B.C.

Recording is scheduled for October 22, 2016, and a premiere of the video and exhibit in Fall 2017.

Androsoff explained the project will be funded and executed in 3 Phases.
  • Phase 1: Development and Production, January - October 2016
  • Phase 2: Post-Production, November 2016 - Spring 2017
  • Phase 3: Release and Distribution, Summer/Fall 2017

Androsoff chose to raise funds with Indiegogo.com, a large mature company that does not charge fees for non-profit projects. All money donated goes to the project.

Updates and news about the project will be posted by Ryan Androsoff at

After the broadcast Androsoff went to Saskatoon. He met with the audio and video crews, attended a choir practice for the recording session in October, and updated the Doukhobor society.

On August 1, 2006, Androsoff posted an update on his blog, including a short video of choir practice in Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Doukhobor Prayer Service Preservation Project.

In August 2016, Iskra, issue 2105, page 2, Androsoff wrote a guest editorial about his project.


On August 14, 2016, Androsoff broadcast this message by email:

'Friends — as you may know, these last few months I've been putting an increasing amount of my time and energy into a project to preserve some of the traditions of my Doukhobor ancestors in documentary film and multimedia formats. This is a project of personal passion and one that has a real time pressure behind it. The Doukhobor community in Saskatchewan has been declining in recent years and of those who are left, it is a rapidly aging population among whom we have lost many members in recent years. Put simply, this project won't be possible to do in a few years.

'But this type of work doesn't happen for free — and giving it the professional treatment that it deserves doesn't come cheap — and that's why we've started a crowdfunding campaign this summer to help get us along the path to the $15,000 we need to raise. Summer is always a tough time to raise money while people are busy enjoying vacation season, but we've had to start our efforts to be able to get the pieces in place we need for our recording session planned for October. While we've started getting some donations coming in, we are still far from where we need to be.

'There is just over a week left in this first phase of fundraising and while we may not be able to raise the full $15,000 in this first attempt, I am hoping it will get us a significant way towards the goal and help us be able to leverage other funding opportunities (e.g. many grant opportunities require matching funds).

'This is where your support can really make a difference right now. As we come to the end of this first fundraising effort, if you are willing to contribute financially now is the time to take a moment and push that "donate" button! Click here to donate. While there are perks in place for larger donations (at the $25, $50, $100, and $500 levels), any amount helps as momentum matters.

'We are encouraging people to donate through the online crowdfunding page, however if for whatever reason you are more comfortable donating by cheque or cash I can accept those as well. Cheques can be made out to "Spirit Wrestler Productions" (which is the non-profit company that has been set-up to manage this project).

'Finally if you are looking for more information about the project, you can check out some of the media coverage we have received:
'If you have any questions about the project don't hesitate to ask me. Whatever support you can give, in whatever amount, is sincerely appreciated from the bottom of my heart.

'Thank you!'


More Online
  1. Read the project fundraising site: Doukhobor Prayer Service Preservation Project, and donate.
  2. Listen to Tuesday Special Blend, a 2-hour show.
    1. Androsoff begins at minute 5:00 for 87 minutes, ending at minute 92:10, interrupted with news, weather and commercials.
    2. Tarasoff begins at minute 66:45 for 8:37 minutes, to 75:22.
  3. Tarasoff’s radio notes: Insights on the Doukhobors Since the 1950s, with Comments and Corrections of mistakes spoken on the radio.
  4. Ashleigh Androsoff does PhD thesis on Doukhobors, 27 August 2007
  5. New Doukhobor Course at the University of Saskatchewan, by professor Dr. Veronika A. Makarova, 10 September 2013

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Appeal: No to War. No to NATO

At the brink of a NATO summit in Europe (8–9 July 2016, Warsaw, Poland) there is an urgent Appeal to the international peace movement to oppose this meeting and its sable-rattling rhetoric. Following US President Barack Obama's visit to Canada on June 29th, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caved in to Obama's plea to go to the Warsaw meeting in Europe and lead a combat mission in Latvia on Russia's border. That action is threatening world peace and making us become accomplices to the terrorism of war.


Shame on Prime Minister Trudeau for abandoning his election promises to work for a peaceful world.

The Appeal is one that Canadian peace groups could readily support. We have to act quickly. Contact your Member of Parliament and support the views of sanity for a new world order that is safe for our children and our grandchildren. Stop supporting criminal corporate-neocon-fascists who have a big appetite to make blood money from war.

William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defence in the Clinton administration, says that the danger of some sort of nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.'

The detonation of even a single nuclear bomb today could destroy our way of life.



Appeal to the International Peace Movement

In the interest of peace — participate in the protests of the international network “No to War — No to NATO” against NATO’s summit taking place from July 8th until July 10th, 2016, in Warsaw.

We protest for
  • the end of confrontation with Russia! No troops and maneuvers at Russia’s Western border;
  • no further armament in the NATO member states! It can only be financed by sharply reducing spending on education, health care and social security systems;
  • no new nuclear weapons (and no modernization of existing arsenals) in Europe and worldwide;
  • no missile defense system in Eastern Europe because this system only furthers the dynamic of armament and confrontation;
  • no NATO operations against refugees.
In the last couple of years we have never been as close to belligerent confrontation in Europe as today. Leading politicians, military officials and scientists of different NATO member states therefore warn about the politics of aggression pursued by NATO.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists doomsday clock is at three minutes to midnight. It is time to stand up, it is time to protest: the next major war in Europe will be the last one. Therefore, we call on all of you: come to Warsaw and join the anti-NATO-protests at No-to-NATO.org.

It is time to say NO to war and confrontation and YES to peace, to life, to disarmament, to cooperative security in Europe.
For the international network “No to War — No to NATO
Kristine Karch, Lucas Wirl (Co-Chairs)


More

NATO: War Games  on Russia's Border Endanger Humanity. Sputnik News, July 2, 2016.

Mason, Jeffrey W. July: This Month in Nuclear Threat History. Published in Nuclear Age Foundation, July 1, 2016.

Perry, William J. A Stark Nuclear Warning. Originally published in The New York Review of Books, republished in Russia Insider, July 1, 2016.

Belous, Ilia. 'The Forgotten Truth About Lenin'. Fort Russ, July 1, 2016.

Oberg, Jan. 'Why is NATO so irrational today?' Global Research, June 30, 2016.

Canada expected to send troops to Latvia to deter RussiaThe Globe and Mail, 30 June 2016.

Dobbin, Murray. 'As NATO war-mongering against Russia intensifies, Canada faces a difficult choice'. rabble.ca, June 24, 2016.

Behrens, Matthew. 'Saying no to Canada's death game'. rabble.ca, June 22, 2016.