Reliving the good old days in eastern Ukraine – UPDATED: or not?

One of Russia’s propaganda moves has been to label the pro-democracy forces in Ukraine as “fascist.”

Anti-fascism: ur doin it wrong.

Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to “register” with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website.

Donetsk is the site of an “anti-terrorist” operation by the Ukraine government, which has moved military columns into the region to force out militants who are demanding a referendum be held on joining Russia.

Here’s a little Donetsk history:

In 1939, the Jews numbered 24,991 (total population 466,268). At the beginning of the German-Soviet war thousands of Jews were evacuated by their factories, such as about 1,500 Jews employed at the Stalino Works who left with their families for the Urals. On October 20, 1941, the town was occupied by the Germans, who held it until September 8, 1943. A large ghetto was set up and its inhabitants were kept without food or medical aid, with hundreds dying every day. In December 1941, Einzatzcommando-6 murdered several hundred Jews.

In April 1942, the liquidation of the Donetsk ghetto commenced. The Germans took the Jews to the abandoned Maria mine and threw most of them down the shafts alive. They also used gas vans, throwing the bodies into the mine. Some 15,000 Jews were murdered.

… Julia Ioffe, not exactly a Putin fan, says not so fast:

The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as “a provocation,” which it clearly is. “It’s an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,” says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. “I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.” * * *

On the other hand, says Vladimir Fedorin, an independent Russian journalist working in Ukraine, we shouldn’t totally dismiss these fliers. “I think the fliers are fake, but the anti-Maidan crowd is a collection of the hardcore ‘alternative’ variety and criminals, so it’s possible some of them are capable of this.” To wit, there were also reports of teenagers distributing these fliers.

So, in conclusion: the Jews of Donetsk and eastern Ukraine may have been asked by a leaflet to register, but it has not been enforced nor are any Ukrainian Jews registering themselves. If that changes, I’ll be all over it, but so far, you can breathe easy. No Holocaust 2.0 just yet.

Buffalo Trace 90 proof

Jackson peeps (wrote “perps,” well it’s Jackson!): Buffalo Trace $19.99 @ Vino, the Whole Foods package store. I’d never had any; smoothest bourbon I can recall outside Van Winkle.

(The bottles were allegedly bottled for this store, & are displayed by their barrel, if that grooves u.)

Hobby Lobby prez moonlights at Bible Lobby

Kids in Oklahoma just aren’t being taught the Bible in home or at church, apparently. But a “noted educational theorist” is coming to the rescue of these heathenish children!

According to the Religious News Service, the “Museum of the Bible Curriculum” created by Hobby Lobby’s President Steve Green (pictured above) will be beta-tested in Oklahoma’s Mustang Public School district beginning in the Fall of 2014.

Green hopes the program — which will be overseen by Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative — will be placed in “hundreds” of high schools by 2016, and “thousands” by 2017. It is a four-year elective course in which students will study the narrative, history, and impact of the Bible on Western Civilization. Because the book is being taught within an academic purview, it does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Abington School District v. Schempp.

Color me confident that the actual teaching will come nowhere near the domain protected by Schempp …. I also liked this:

“Some day,” [the asshole] said, teaching the Bible in high school “should be mandated. Here’s a book that’s impacted our world unlike any other and you’re not going to teach it?”

If that gets the Bible 4 years of mandated elective, the Qur’an has to be required for at least one year, I would think. But then, we would have to see a Green-designed curriculum on the Qur’an, which would probably get every Hobby Lobby store blown up.

… Some great comments at the LGM thread, including Helmut Monotreme’s:

This will work exactly like its strongest backers hope. After all, look how nearly ubiquitous exposure to Shakespeare in high school lit classes means that the easiest way to make a fortune in the US is to start a Shakespeare festival. It’s like printing money.

Eric Posner on the GM scandal

As will surprise absolutely no one, Posner ran a little CBA on GM’s choice not to replace its potentially defective switches:

Here are some back-of-the-envelope calculations, based on (still murky) details from a House report and newspaper stories.

Let’s suppose that back in 2005, which was the model year for the first car with the ignition switch problem, GM knew that it would install that switch in 2.6 million cars (the eventual number that would be recalled). Those cars were sold over the next 9 years. If we assume a constant number of cars sold per year, we get 290,000 cars sold per year. A little additional math shows that this amounts to 13,050,000 car-years, by which I mean the number of years in which a car with the ignition switch was owned and driven by someone.

During this period, the switch problem caused accidents that caused 13 deaths, or 0.000001 death per car-year. It is worth noting parenthetically that the probability of an average person in an average car being killed in any year is 0.0000556. So the effect of buying a GM car with an ignition switch problem increased the risk from 0.0000556 to 0.0000566.

Still, no one wants to take an unnecessary risk of death, however small. But how much would you be willing to pay to reduce the risk of dying from a car accident by 0.000001 in one year?

($45, he figures, as a typical figure.) From a business perspective, of course, GM needs to figure in “massive tort suit and scandal.”

Pulitzer announcement: Donna Tartt wins for Fiction

Fiction: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown), a beautifully written coming-of-age novel with exquisitely drawn characters that follows a grieving boy’s entanglement with a small famous painting that has eluded destruction, a book that stimulates the mind and touches the heart.

Congrats to the lady from Grenada! Tho after three coming-of-age novels, I hope she’ll turn her attention to us older folks sometime.

… And don’t miss the Donna Tartt Shrine.

… Thought about buying the book, but although published in Oct. 2013, the paperback isn’t due out this coming October (roughly the norm), but January 2015. I guess that is what public libraries are for. Or I could recharge my 1st-generation Nook … I do have my 73-cent e-book credit burning a hole in my virtual pocket … but I just don’t like reading e-books very much.

… Posted before the Pulitzer, this unfavorable Goodreads review nonetheless has the ring of plausibility.

Three quarters done. Bottom line: Theo has become a very unlikeable guy. The pages and pages of minutia detail — often building intrigue and suspense — are pointless and often left unresolved. Reading this book reminds me of watching the tv show Lost. You think “MAN. I wonder how they are going to explain that polar bear!” Only to wait four more years and find out that they never do. 

Anybody out there read The Goldfinch and care to share?