News July 14/15th: a heart made of granite and more fucking war.
Due to my obsessive football reportage of the recent FIFA world cup I missed a whole month of finger on the pulse world news. The last few days, since the finals finished, I have been playing catch-up. Before I even begin to outline any of the major issues currently weighing heavy on the global soul, I must somehow bring to life, in words, the sheer horror of intensive news reading. A daily dose of carnage and doom is hard enough to stomach. Condensing the grotesque events of a week into one hour of reading is enough to send any creature, in possession of a fully functioning mind and heart, into a kind of funk that only seriously disturbed heathens could enjoy. So it is with some depression and anger that I find myself preparing this long overdue return to the Carlos Valdez Newsroom…
Steven Green, the rapist and killer. (previously of the American Army)
Though I have lost the will to retrace my tear drenched steps to the exact report which disenchanted me with the news that a gang of Yankee soldiers were in the dock for the rape and murder of a Iraqi family, the shameful nature of the incident sticks so firmly like hot shit in my memory banks that I must try something, anything, to cool it down or get it out. The story surrounding these soldiers went something like this:>
There had been fighting in the area between American soldiers and insurgents, with both sides suffering casualties. Five of the Yankee soldiers, who has been stationed on a road block just outside a small Iraqi town, decided to pay a little visit to the first house they could find which homed worthy applicants for rape and/or execution. These soldiers were fully armed and in full army attire, i.e.dressed for war. They found a house, in which a family of five-mother, father, three sisters, were cowering with justified fear. One of the daughters, of around 14 years of age, was taken into a separate room where she was raped by a soldier, before getting a bullet in the head. The rest of her family had been transferred into another room, lined up, then cruelly executed. Now the most important point to accept here, before reacting fully and allowing your perspective to form, is that these Iraqis were 100% innocent of any wrongdoing, they were neither suspects of any crime or threatening towards the American soldiers who barged in and mercilessly culled them. That story is not an isolated incident. Abuse of prisoners and civilians by American soldiers has been bitterly publicized by all but the most Pro-Bush media institutions. Abu Gharib????Guantanamo Bay???Illegal rendition/torture CIA programs?????
A typical scene from modern-day
Iraq is a bloodbath. The invariably fatal violence between Sunnis and Shias continues to worsen. Last weekend a Shia death squad, who many say are directly connected to official Iraqi army figureheads, swept through a
Bagdad suburb, slaughtering 40 Sunnis. Witnesses reported masked gunmen setting up roadblocks on the outskirts of the mainly Sunni area of Jihad(town, not the holy war). Every vehicle they stopped to check ID papers and all Sunnis were massacred. There were also some reports of these same gunmen entering houses to drag out Sunnis and then shoot them in the street for all to bear witness. To add some balance here…while these masked murderers wreaked havoc in Jihad, Sunni militia members forced a minivan off the road, in the outskirts of
Baghdad. The minivan contained a coffin, and 10 accompanying Shia mourners; the group was en-route to the holy city of
Najaf for the funeral. Every passenger was ruthlessly erased from existence.
The morgue of Baghdad acts as a grim barometer of the volume of blood spilled:In April, over 1000 killed, May 1375 killed, June 1595 killed.
And what is even more startling than the mere thought of living in a city in which 50 people are slain every day- fuck, that is more than two per hour- is that those stats come from just ONE MORGUE. Of course not every Iraqi mortuary would give such sickening figures, but I am confident to assume that the obvious increase in ‘total killed’ would be mirrored nationwide. The South is mainly Shia dominated, while the West is more Sunni. There is a mass exodus underway out of the metropolitan areas, such as Baghdad, and into the areas which home a more ‘decisive majority’ of each respective religious allegiances. The Sunnis are heading to the West, The Shias to the South. It makes perfect sense to go where your people are, in fact it can surely be the main if not only chance of survival for any man, woman or child, who is anywhere near the Police or traditional enemies. This mass-movement of people can only lead to a 2-state solution or relentless civil war.
As for the corresponding cull-rate for coallition forces:April- 82, May -79, June-63, July-11(so far)207 of the coallition forces killed in that period were Americans.
It is fair to conclude that Iraq is currently one of the most volatile regions of the planet and possibly the worst case of inter-species genocide in our solar system as a whole.
A few months back, in one of my previous news reports, I mentioned the rape trial of South African deputy president, Jacob Zuma. He had raped the daughter of a family friend, then justified his actions as ‘cultural obligations’; the fact that the poor girl was wearing a skirt, and showing a glimpse of her bare legs, obligated Zuma to take her, by force if necessary, in keeping with his cultural customs. I recall, with inner grief, the scene I saw outside the courthouse, in the coverage of the trial on SBS world news. The streets were crammed full of primitive savages screaming for the limbs of this lady who had dared bring the charge(s) against their beloved Zuma. Understandably, the victim was escorted from the courthouse, after hearing the judges disgusting verdict (of not guilty), by an extremely well armed and ready to kill, police force. If they hadn’t of been there to protect her, without doubt she would have been literally ripped to pieces by the baying mob of Zuma fans. Perhaps the worst part of the whole lame attempt at imitating justice, was Zuma’s reply to the questioning as to why the deputy president of the country with one of the worst rates of HIV infection, had unprotected sex. The response, which gives an bleach clean indication of South African problems, was;“I took a shower after the sex-act”.The reason I have pulled that human-python’s aggravating name and story from the past is because the ‘not guilty’ mr Zuma, who continued in his role as deputy president after the trial, has decided to sue ‘many leading newspapers and radio stations for nearly $9m, claiming their coverage of his recent rape trial, was defamatory and biased’(The Guardian).
So this tribal troll rapes a woman because she is wearing a skirt, gets of scot-free when the rape charges are serious enough to be heard in the highest south African court of law, keeps his job as deputy leader of the country but with renewed support from the ignorant masses which may well be enough to propel him to the obviously much sought after Presidential position, then has the gaul to sue the media for nine million dollars……Any culture or tribal system which condones brutal rape should be scrapped. Any system which allows the liberty of an individual to be manipulated by another is patently wrong and evil… I strongly urge any women who visit South Africa to wear trousers for the duration of their stay. And to carry a hunting knife.
Jintao the Merciless.(Chinese President)
After hearing a respected- for reasons of the mind- work colleague express his feeling that in the future
China will ‘do the Right thing’, I am compelled to bring to light my own view of the Asian powerhouse and also the reasons which form the base of my perspective (which is almost the opposite of ‘do the Right thing’). Obviously if I were to outline all of these reasons in one sitting this report would become more of a ‘why I am scared of
China’ essay than the desired global overview, so I will stick to weekly snapshots…Chen Guangcheng, 34, is a Chinese activist who came to my attention around the start of 2006 when I read the story if his ‘house arrest’ at the hands of local authorities in the rural area of Linyi. Chen was detained due to his partly successful efforts to expose ‘excesses by the authorities in enforcing the one-child policy in eastern China, where local officials were accused by residents of forcing thousands of people to undergo sterilisation or abort pregnancies” (the guardian). Despite pressure on the Chinese government from the UN population fund and senior US officials, the blind-man has remained under guard at his home. And now a date has been set for his trial, of next week, and the charges have been announced: ‘destroying property’ and ‘assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic’. Many of Chen’s supporters and acquaintances, including his attorney, have been beaten by guards when trying to visit the imprisoned activist. Speaking, by telephone, from the government controlled Chen family farm, his wife, Yuan Weijing said “There isn’t much hope. Everything that has happened runs counter to Hu Jintao’s talk of democracy and governing by law. We live in a nation without law, without morality”.Hu Jintao is the Chinese President who ascended to power in 2003. Since his arrival, there has been a resurgence in the influence of hard liners in office. By hard- liners I mean officials who see population as a set of numbers, not as a collection of human creatures…
Unless evidence is uncovered which shows that Chen, after a heavy dope-smoking session with Chairman Mao, intentionally assumed control of a tank, then proceeded to mix blindness, explosive shells and drug stupour, will the ‘destroying property’ charge stick. As for the ‘assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic’ citation I would hope that Chen’s attorney will have the competence to prove to the jury that a blind man can not be held responsible for poor directions given to him by the sighted. How was he to know he was in the middle of a main road? And in that case, how would he have known he was in that tank???? So, after some inspector Clueso type deductive analysis, I can only assume that the case of the cold-blooded prosecution rests firmly and exclusively on the ludicrous suggestion that Chen’s eyes work fine. The Chinese government is made up of mechanical, ethic-less businessmen and robotic, anaemic people-controllers. In some ways, I see China as an open prison. All dissent is crushed and punished by the cruel, efficient Propaganda department of the government. The continual whipping of individualism and wannabe revolutionaries is an attempt to subordinate Chinas masses into poorly paid slave-labour. There is an obvious communist slant to Jintao’s organisation but there is also a blatant despotic element which is more horrific and powerful than any semblance of attempts to implement any of Karl Marx’s positive hopes for Communism.
‘…merely to affirm sincerely for the first time in my life, my belief in man as an individual and independent entity. Certainly not independence in the everyday sense of the word, but pertaining to a freedom of thought that few people are able- or even have the courage to achieve’ – Hunter S Thompson aged 20, 1968. If your reaction to Hunter’s wicked words of wisdom is at all positive in nature, you should consider yourself an enemy of the Chinese government.
(I am only now, 17 years after the event, beginning to understand what happened in Tiananmen Square. In June of ‘89 there was a revolt against the Chinese government; the show of defiance and unrest was quelled by the massacre of 2000-3000 of the dissidents by the army/police.)
Next week I hope to elaborate on the ‘mechanical, ethic-less businessmen’ slur!
Well, I can’t put of the necessary hardship of tackling the Middle East problems, any longer, so here goes…
On Friday evening, Hezbollah, the Lebanese political and military group, threatened “open war” as the Israeli aerial bombardment of Beirut intensified. Since the bombing began on Wednesday, Israeli politicians and security officials have stated clearly that they intend to ‘fight until the last militant group is destroyed’. The Israeli fighter-jet missions into Lebanese air-space have so far killed 73 people (on the ground), the majority of which have been civilians. In response, Hizbollah forces have launched up to/maybe more than a hundred missiles towards Israeli towns; lying not far from the border. However in stark contrast to the 73 Palestinians slaughtered, the numerous rocket attacks have resulted in thankfully only a handful of Israeli deaths; 12 at least. To comprehend this escalating conflict we need to jump back a few weeks……..Two weeks ago, a Palestinian militant group kidnapped an Israeli soldier during a sortie into enemy territory. They, the militants, demanded the release of female and adolescent (physically, not mentally) Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, in exchange for the safe return of the captured soldier. However, the Israelis, despite past prisoner for prisoner agreements, refused to even enter into dialogue with the ‘terrorists’, instead choosing to send f-15 fighter-jets laden with bombs into Gaza to try pound the perceived enemy into submission. Quite how that tactic was supposed to encourage the safe return of the captured Israeli soldier is beyond my powers of suggestion. Regardless of reason, the Israeli forces have subsequently destroyed water supplies, power plants, bridges, railways and more than sixty Palestinians lives (the majority were civilians). The most callous of precision bombings appears to have been the combustive eradication of a family of nine, who happened to be living near a wanted Hamas official. It was a 500lb bomb which incinerated those Palestinians, and though the target, the Hamas member, was injured, it was innocent civilians who bore the brunt of Israeli aggression. 50%, maybe more, of the Hamas government officials have been kidnapped by Israeli forces, many have been killed.Now before proceed further into the NOW, I need to provide some facts about Hizbollah:>
Hizbollah, which translates in Arabic to Party of God, were formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion/occupation of Lebanon. 2000 Iranian Imperial Guards were sent to Beirut, and with the help of Iranian financial backing, they were able to draw support from fellow Shia muslims, and amalgamate numerous resistance groups into the political and military group now known as Hizbollah. Their aim was to drive the Israelis out of
Lebanon, an aim they achieved in 2000. Wikipedia tells us that the civilian wing of Hizbollah “runs hospitals, news services, and educational facilities and participates in the Lebanese Parliament. Its Reconstruction Campaign (Jihad al-Bina) is responsible for numerous economic and infrastructural development projects in Shia-populated areas of
Lebanon.”. There are Hizbollah members amongst the Lebanese government, but the government and Hizbollah are decidedly different groups. Neither acts under the control of the other. Almost half the Lebanese population are Shia but even the non-Shias are somewhat indebted to Hizbollah for their part in expelling the Israeli forces from south Lebanon in 2000. Yes, there were other groups attempting that exact task, but none were anywhere near as powerful as Hizbollah. The group have been accused of numerous acts of terrorism against Israeli and Western targets, though most of these accusations have been fiercely disputed. As recently as 2000 there are examples of the group taking Israeli hostages and then releasing them in exchange for the liberation of Arab prisoners. Despite the Israeli withdrawal (of early 2000) Hizbollah have asserted that because Israel still occupy the Golam heights, their fight must continue. The Golam heights are actually part of Syrian land. Syria and
Iran both support Hizbollah.
The pit of fire….
my problem, main difficulty-the most sensitive and important part of any writing about this situation, must come from establishing precisely what the Israelis refuse to address i.e. hizbollah is an individual group, operating from within Lebanese borders, and certainly not representative in doctrine or action, of all the Lebanese people.
My small amount of research has led me to believe that it was Hizbollah’s military wing which was directly/the most responsible for ousting Israelis from Lebanon in 2000. If that is so, then I can fully understand why any Lebanese folk who opposed Israeli occupation, wouldn’t care too much for Hizbollah’s refusal to disarm when told to recently by the UN. The fact that the Rest of the World ignored the unwanted and unlawful Zionist presence in Lebanon between 1982 and 2000 implies that without Hizbollah,
Beirut would, today, still be under Israeli command.
Let’s jump back to the story of this last week….
More carnage for the Lebanese as the bombs rain down from Israeli dominated skies…
On Wednesday, a hizbollah incursion into Israel killed several Israeli soldiers and captured two. Immediately the group retreated into Lebanon then explained their demands. They wanted the release of many Arabs from Israeli jails, for which they would exchange the two Israeli hostages. However, the Israeli government and army have no desire to enter into dialogue with people they consider ‘terrorists’, so instead of negotiating the release of the hostages, they have chosen to use the situation as an excuse to rain hellfire and death onto the people of Lebanon. From the sea battleships have been pounding the coast, from the air, fighter planes have been busy destroying 150 separate targets, and from the border, the tanks have been shelling whatever they could hit. When Israel talk about ‘targets’ they mean petrol stations, bridges, water supplies, roads, power-plants, airports and civilians. Oh, I should mention that out of the 100 lebanese dead already (yes I started the top of this section yesterday, and 25 more people have been killed since then) less than 10 are considered to have been in any way affiliated with Hizbollah. The bridges that were destroyed had been expensively constructed over recent years, as is the case with every part of their infrastructure, which they have slowly been recovering/re-energizing since the Israeli invaders left their land in 2000. Israel recently told Lebanon that they intend to ‘put them back 20 years’. And that is precisely what they have been doing.
Excuse the repetition, but I am forsaking compelling/engaging use of language in the hope that I can focus all my literary skills on bringing the main crux of this turmoil, to light…
Israel are savaging Lebanon. They are killing hundreds of innocent people. Their targets are not solely Hizbollah, and their reaction to the kidnapping of the two soldiers has been nothing short of disgraceful . And to my eyes, the Israeli government and army are terrorists who should be brought to justice. Only the truly ignorant can look at the region and say that ‘
Israel have a right to slaughter innocent people’….
Israel arrest Palestinian and hizbollah soldiers whenever the opportunities arise, and each time they do I don’t see any western leaders publicly supporting Hizbollah’s right to kill innocent civilians. However, not five minutes ago, I saw some video footage of President Bush. He was talking about the conflict…“the reason the Lebanese are suffering is because of Hizbollah, the Israelis have a right to attack because hizbollah took two of their soldiers. They have a right to protect their people. All of this is because of Hizbollah” Bush should be bull-whipped into a coma, at once. He can do nothing but bring more destruction and evil to the fore while he continues in his position as Chief bible bashing ignorant hick pig-fucker.
I must stop here before I become blinkered with spiteful, but sincerely valid, defamation of the western leaders…suffice to say, the manner in which Tony Blair(leader of my country) has ignored the continually worsening oppression of Palestinians, and now the Lebanese, is an indication as to the modern values of successful politicians. Bush and Blair have a cash machine where the heart used to be in the old style human beings that were prevalent before the industrial revolution. Do any of you seriously think that President Bush even knows as much- about the problems- as can hopefully be gleamed from this confused burst of middle eastern analysis? I, for one, feel…, yes, confident, that Bush may know the names of the countries involved, but not much more than that.
As Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy , wrote in last week’s Haaaretz ( Tel- Aviv daily broadsheet),“It is not legitimate to cut off 750000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament. A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization”…..He was referring to his own government’s illegitimacy.
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert. Sharon was evil but capable of the odd concession, this guy, the new boss, already seems worse; more cruel, less reasonable and ultra-impulsive.
The leaders of Israel are using the recent hostage taking efforts of their enemies as a pretext for destroying not only the lives of many innocent people, but also the infrastructure and general capacity to function as a society, of the countries which home these enemies. At last check of the bcc news service, I was treated to a two minute clip explaining that Israeli jets had begun bombing targets along the Syrian border…
(a couple of extra points…Hamas, the ruling Palestinian party, did recently manage to maintain a cease-fire for over a year, but despite this, the Israelis refused to enter into dialogue. This was because of the part of the Hamas charter which calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. However, if Hamas followed those words to the letter then they simply wouldn’t have entered into such a long cease-fire. Israel have repeatedly given the impression that they don’t want to negotiate. Mossadd is the prominent power of the Israeli secret service. They are renowned for kidnappings and assassinations; essentially a state sponsored paramilitary group. )
“Mind your own business and back the fuck off” justifiably squealed North Korean overlord, Kim Jong-il, at the early hour of 3am last Tuesday..
While our hearts are full of woe and despair we may as well take a fast, oblique glance-for fear of been spotted- at North Korea… who are becoming a little bit annoyed with the US, Japan and China brandishing remarks about ‘the despotic cold war state’, ‘the mad king with his finger on the button’, and worst of all ‘those mad nips with nukes’….The last comment is especially rich coming from the Japanese and Chinese. Anyway racial tainting aside, the situation is grim. I have no problem with the North Koreans testing their missiles in un-humanized zones…well I do on a’ bombs are bad for the planet’ principle..but what I mean is that England, Yankees and the Israelites (to the public’s knowledge) also regularly test their weapons in uninhabited zones such as the Mojave desert or the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. I watched a recent BBC report which focused on what life was really like, behind the iron walls of the n. Korean border. Two phrases stuck in my mind;
- “if we are provoked, we will annihilate our enemies in a worse way than they could ever have imagined possible. We will annihilate them”
South Korea, lining the North Korean border, lies 1000000 soldiers…the famous million-man army”
They have a vast repertoire of nuclear munitions and also huge underground caverns, well-equipped and primed for a hasty mass movement of people from above to below a radioactive surface. Those lucky enough to sustain an existence in the cities practice this scenario once a week. They are more than ready for a nuclear battle to the death, in fact, I would say that they expect it to happen sometime soon. The way I see it is that while North Korea aren’t threatening anybody, why should they be targeted by the western and other Asian powers? They have made it painfully clear that they have no intentions to start a war unless they are provoked. In that case, I mean with any form of provocation they are fully prepared, even itching, to pull the trigger, to press that button. I feel sorry for the swathes of destitute north Koreans, without doubt their lives are nothing more than a constant struggle for survival, but these same people can’t be helped by provoking a scrap with the north Korean government and King. Their supreme – reportedly divine- ruler is descended directly from a royal dynasty, a lineage of autocratic, inbred, Kunts.
For a nice bohemian contrast………India also has been experimenting with new missiles, with their recent test-launch of the Agni III, which has an inter-continental range of 3500km.
India have an unchecked weapons programme, and several nuclear facilities which are not subject to UN nuclear watch-dog inspections.
After many years of research, two french geologists have concluded that rocks ‘have some kind of a vital activity though a very slow one.’. Arnold Rheshar and Pierre Escollet are damn sure that rocks can breathe, albeit through an extremely slow respiration process. Each ‘breath’ apparently can take anywhere between three days and two weeks, and a ‘heartbeat’ will last for up to three days. Fellow scientists such as Marianna Anisosyan, a therapist and expert in biological energy, have added credence to the suggestion that rocks indeed are alive.“We can assume that any object in our world is alive. Any event is driven by energy, which stones undoubtedly possess too. Every stone carries a certain amount of life in it,” said Ms Anisosyan.
Australian foreign minister, Alex Downer: A degenerate fool, an imbecile, a dunce, a perfect geek, a chump, a dullard.
Comedian of the week must go to Australian foreign minister Alex Downer for this nugget of gold…“there has never been any reason to suspect that the
Guantanamo detainees have been treated in any way other than humanely”….
Finally I can stop this torture and hand the wordsmith duties over to three wise men I consider to have been in possession of pure genius….
Writer of the week is shared between Hunter S Thompson, for The Proud Highway, Henry Miller for Nexus and last but in no ways least, Dostoyevsky for The Idiot…
A True King of Men, Hunter ST.
Extracts from The Proud Highway:(hunter s Thompson)
“I am surrounded by lunatics here, people screeching every time I pull a trigger, so many creditors that I’ve lost count, a huge Doberman on the bed, a pistol by the desk, time passing, getting balder, no money, a great thirst for all the world’s whiskey, my clothes rotting in the fog, a motorcycle with no light, a landlady who’s writing a novel on butcher paper, wild boar in the hills and queers on the roads, vats of homemade beer in the closet, the jabbering of Buddhists in the tree, whores in the canyons, Christ only knows if I can last it out” “there is plenty of money in the world but there are damn few jobs an intelligent man can do without compromising himself intolerably.” “most people’s lives are virtual monuments to cowardly indecision. Ah, that we lack the courage of our romantic convictions; and thereby miss the wine of life, forgoing the very thing that makes living worthwhile” Extracts from Nexus (henry miller):
Miller, Henry. He has already taught me much about myself which perhaps I would never have been able to put into words, and thus fully understand, had I not discovered his talents.
“The sole meaning, purpose, intention, and secret of Christ, my dears, is not to understand Life, or mold it, or change it, or even to love it, but to drink of it’s undying essence”
Literature is the sensuous art of causing exquisite impressions by means of words
“It’s never going to be smooth sailing for you. If it isn’t me who makes you miserable it will be someone else. You look for trouble. Now don’t be offended. Maybe you need to suffer. Suffering will never kill you, that I can tell you. No matter what happens you’ll come through, always. You’re like a cork. Push you to the bottom and you rise again. Sometimes it frightens me, the depths to which you can sink. I’m not that way. My buoyancy is physical, yours is…I was going to say spiritual, but that isn’t quite it. Its animalistic. You do have a strong spiritual make-up, but there’s also more of the animal in you than in most men. You want to live…live at any cost…whether as a man, a beast, an insect, or a germ…”
The above paragraph sent shivers down my spine, because if any of my girlfriends, past or present, could eloquently and accurately describe my most natural state, then that collection of words would be spot-on. Much of Miller’s Nexus was extremely invigorating.
“In pure love (which no doubt does not exist at all except in our imagination),” says one I love, “ the giver is not aware that he gives nor of what he gives, nor to whom he gives, still less of whether it is appreciated by the recipient or not”.
Extracts from The Idiot (Dostoyevsky)
A Mean looking beast, but also a supremely gifted writer; Dostoyevsky.
In such cases she usually stopped talking and merely stared at her brother mockingly and in silence, fixing her eyes on him. This manoeuvre, as she well knew, was capable of driving him beyond his limit. This tricky and bothersome ‘incident’ (as Totsky himself expressed it) had begun a very long time ago, some eighteen years earlier. Adjoining one of the Afanasy Ivanovich’s wealthiest estates, in one of the
central provinces, a certain small and utterly destitute landowner lived a life of poverty. This was a man remarkable for his constant and ‘anecdotal’ failures – a retired officer, from a good family of gentlefolk, even superior to Totsky in this respect, a certain Fillip Alexandrovich Barashkov. Entirely submerged in debt and mortgages, he finally managed, after back-breaking, almost muzhik-like labours, in more or less putting his small farm in satisfactory order. The slightest success cheered him inordinately. Cheered, and glowing with hope, he absented himself for a few days on a visit to the chief of his district in order to meet and,. If possible, come to a final agreement with one of his principle creditors. On the third day of his visit to the town the elder of the village came to see him, on horseback, his cheek and beard scorched, and announced to him that his ‘patrimony’ had ‘burned to nought’, the previous day, at the stroke of noon, in addition to which ‘herself, your wife’ had been burned to death, though ‘the little ones’ were safe. Not even Barashkov, schooled to the ‘blows of fortune’ as he was, was able to withstand this; he went mad and within a month died of fever. I leave you with a series of photos that show glimpses of the magnificence of Nature…Beauty and Power…