It doesn’t pay to have a voice in Baku. I learnt on Twitter that an Azerbaijani blogger was arrested today. I found that 50 had been arrested but later released. This article from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty says that the youth were protesting against the annual Flower Festival, saying that it was inappropriate given the death of 13 students at the Oil Academy. The page has a video showing youth activists being arrested amidst police sirens and a growing police presence.
It will be interesting to see whether this gets mentioned in local news reporting.
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“You must draw a white-hot iron over this Georgian land!…You will have to break the wings of this Georgia! Let the blood of the petit bourgeois flow until they give up all their resistance! Impale them! Tear them apart!” – Vladimir Lenin
So commences an article from freelance journalist Michael J. Totten who is in Georgia reporting on the conflict. This long article is worth reading. It gives the sense of actually being there, of travelling to Tbilisi from Baku and then finding your way to Russian occupied Georgia and dealing with angry Soviet Russian troops. He reports on stories of how Russian troops are lowly paid, how some are reported to be found begging on the streets, and of the soldier who lost parts of his body to gangrene after ritualized abuse by the comrades in his unit.
Empty highway on the road to Gori, Central Georgia (from the article). Shortly after this photo it gets very scarey.
This is part travelogue, part war-diary, which I found engaging as it’s telling a story that I’m not reading anywhere else. It’s the first time I’ve actually donated money to a freelance journalist.
And for your edification here is an analysis (a link in the comments after the above article) of the battle. From the responses it’s not the definitive version of truth, but it’s written by someone with good knowledge.
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Tags: Georgia russia tbilisi
SOS Georgia is a site that tells the Georgian story in the conflict with Russia. You have to wonder what Russia has in mind.
This is an interactive map of the conflict and here are some images they’ve put together.
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The M2 students went on a trip to Gobustan in the last week of school. The reasons for going are to see some petroglyphs (this is just one of many) (check out Flickr)
some graffiti engraved by a Roman soldier (Azerbaijan was the outer reaches of the Roman Empire) and the mud volcanoes. The mud volcanoes quietly burp cold mud and methane. Over the generations they have thrown up thousands of tons of mud but each opening is from a few cms to a metre wide. The larger openings are atop 2 or 3 metre mounds. One story is that many years ago the mud volcano did explode killing a shepherd.
Self-restraint is not a strong trait of 13/14y.o. boys as two of them decided to jump into a mud volcano with one of the school’s GPS hand-held devices. They were up to their shoulders in mud, the GPS was lost but thankfully, they were able to get out. Needless to say the staff were beside themselves with disbelief, frustration and anger. The boys apparently had no sense of how dangerous their action was, and probably figured that if they were suspended their school year would simply end earlier. On returning to school the boys and girls went in separate buses with those in question down to their jocks. It remains to be seen what action will be taken.
In addition two girls lost another GPS but wouldn’t own up to it. It seems like the whole year will bear the cost.
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Last night Chee Wan (early childhood teacher), Gillian (MYP co-ordinator) and I had tea at the Lebanese Restaurant, Beirut. It had great ambience, friendly waiters with good English and a large TV screen showing Arab pop videos that were modelled on western videos. e.g. woman singing song, showing her anger at a male who is found dating someone else. She then proceeds to belly-dance with her group of female friends in front of him and his date wearing a big smile, finally ending by the whole group and his date hitting him with their handbags.
We each ordered two small dishes which we shared. There were dishes of eggplants, dried tomatoes, pine-nuts and lots more wonderful things. One of them in English was clumsily translated “Lamb Balls”. They turned out to be some sort of cross between mushrooms and chicken. Some time during the night we asked each other what we were eating, figuring that these were the Lamb Balls, so Chee Wan asked a waiter. He politely told us that they were lambs’ genitals, as no doubt you’ve already guessed. Strangely, when we were finished eating there were a few Lamb’s Balls left on the plates, even though we both agreed they were very good.
I count six days of classes to go. Ah the break will be good.
I walked to school again this morning on a new route after studying Google Earth. I didn’t quite make it however as I accepted a lift from Michael and Jim’s taxi again. I wasn’t expecting them on that new route. I therefore still have not walked the quick route that I gather requires quite some distance walking along the edge of a rubbish tip. The rubbish gets offloaded on the edge of the valley next to school and every now and again is ignited, filling the valley with the smell of burning plastic.
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