Never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 this year…. Those who conceived this war want only one thing — to remain in power forever, to live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.

Russia’s ex-representative to the UN in Geneva writes a Dear Vlad letter.

“Judge Jackson, can you define…

.. first black woman on the United States Supreme Court?”


UD’s old friend Tanja…

… a typically gallant Ukrainian, gives an interview (it’s in German). Ukraine, she points out, is a democratic shield. If that shield breaks, global democracy is under grave threat.

She lives and teaches in Germany; she and Mr UD for a number of years co-directed, in Ukraine, the European Summer Institute of Civic Studies.

Tax season, Ukraine

Have you captured a Russian tank or armoured personnel carrier and are worried about how to declare it? Keep calm and continue to defend the motherland!” Ukraine’s National Agency for the Protection against Corruption (NAPC) said, according to the Ukraine arm of the Interfax news service.

The agency went on to explain there was “no need to declare the captured Russian tanks and other equipment, because the cost of this … does not exceed 100 living wages (UAH248,100) ($8,298).”

A just-born lemur in the Kiev zoo has been named…


United Nations Performs Lavrectomy

In stark contrast to the response Zelensky received from EU lawmakers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was met with a cold shoulder at the United Nations.

Scores of diplomats walked out of two meetings at the UN in Geneva in which Lavrov was beamed in for a video statement.

Lavrov spoke by video to the Conference on Disarmament and the Human Rights Council, which he had planned to attend before the closure of airspace to Russian planes by several European countries prevented his travel to the Swiss city.

Strong, clear, brave words from within the criminal state.

Prominent Russian theater directors have also left their posts in light of the war, including Yelena Kowalskaja, the long-standing director of Moscow’s Meyerhold Center: “The Meyerhold Center is a state theater and I will not work for the criminal Putin state,” she wrote in a statement.

This is an email Mr UD just got, from a Ukrainian professor.

‘Dear Karol:

Many thanks for your care.

I am in central Ukraine at the moment. Getting here was very hard but it is not so bad compared to the situation in Kharkiv, where my mom is staying still.

I try to coordinate humanitarian aid supplies from Poltava to Kharkiv, where people are close to getting starved. Despite air strike alarms here I also try to provide the Western media with comments as well as instruct foreign people how they can escape. Also we try to provide assistance for those who drive from the East to the West.

If Kharkiv is occupied, I will go to Europe and will seek political asylum. At the moment I am here in my country and do my best to help people. Civilians and army are all together; every Ukrainian is my hero at the moment.

You can’t even imagine how strong civil society is.

Glory to Ukraine’

Support Ukraine
Support Ukraine.

Know Hope.

Russians around the country, at huge risk to themselves, are in the streets protesting the war. Many are being dragged off in police vans.

Donate to Come Back Alive.

My old friend Tanja Hoggan-Kloubert recommends it. A Ukrainian who teaches at a German university, and the initiator of the very successful Ukraine-based Institute of Civic Studies, Tanja is currently fielding interview requests from German radio programs, organizing protests in the center of Augsburg, and serving cups of coffee to distraught friends.


Tanja is interviewed here.

Glamour Shot, Azores, J. Soltan…

… for whom 74 is the new 44.

Sometimes I ask myself why a particular high-profile piece of journalism was published.

And in the case of Roger Cohen’s anemic New York Times profile of Anne Hidalgo, I have to conclude it’s sheer snobbery. Plus bait and switch.

Hidalgo represents the currently pathetic to the point of invisibility French Socialist party. Their candidate eked out six percent in the last presidential election, and, even so, Cohen wants us to entertain the possibility that Hidalgo – a possible candidate only – will do far, far, …. far……………. ffffaarrrrr better.

Yet why, since Hidalgo’s chances hover at around … six percent, should we entertain that possibility? Because, like your Visa card, she’s everything that you – New York Times reader – want her to be. You want the first woman president of France to exist, and “HERE COMES ANNE HIDALGO,” announces Cohen’s headline. Subhead: She’s “CHARISMATIC.”


Okay, so I’m on board for this! I, UD, will settle in and read this entire article because I am a snob (I love to speak French!), and like many snobs have a strong interest in many things French. So let’s go!

I was easy to bait, wasn’t I? I mean, given its nullity, its total lack of reason to exist, it occurs to me as I read that the Cohen piece has rather the same status as a lushly illustrated essay in the Sunday NYT Magazine about how to make onion soup. Yet I keep reading.

And as I read, Cohen’s bait – charismatic! maybe she can do it! – gradually shifts to switch. ‘The once-proud “gauche” is in tatters.’ Oh.


But wait!

Ms. Hidalgo has clout and international recognition. Michael Bloomberg is a friend.

Oh, okay, I’m back up on the horse! And what a spectacular electability advisor Bloomberg would be.

‘[A]s Philippe Labro, an author and political observer, remarked, “France today is squarely on the right.” Terrorism, insecurity, fear and perceptions of unrestrained immigration pushed the country there. The left has had no clear answer, not Ms. Hidalgo, not anyone.’

Cohen’s list is curious, suggesting as it does that things like, I don’t know… how to run the economy have nothing to do with the right’s current strength. No, it’s all reactionary stuff: insecurity, fear.


Is it a story worthy of the New York Times that a relatively obscure woman, with zero chance of making it into the second round of an election she might not even enter, recently enjoyed an enthusiastic reception at a gathering of French socialists?

Nope. But it’s a story worthy of UD, New York Times reader. Bait; switch; pander.

Thanksgiving: Malva: Last Name Unknown.

Malva works at the pharmacy at the Harris Teeter in North Bethesda, Maryland. A couple of days ago an older man walked unsteadily into the store, blood streaming from his forehead, hands cut and dirty from cushioning a fall. “Could you direct me to the men’s room?” he asked her. “I need to clean up.”

Malva took one look, got a chair, sat the man on it, and said, “I’m calling an ambulance.” She made the call, then left for a moment to gather material to start cleaning his wound.

Other employees approached, asking the man questions designed to disclose whether he’d suffered brain damage. “They asked me what year it is,” he told UD later, “and I totally aced it.” (This was an odd moment because, imagining herself asked the same question, UD suddenly realized that she might have said 2021. A measure of her eagerness to see the back of a certain president.)

Malva asked the man for the phone number of a relative. She made the call, but this particular relative was recharging her phone in their bedroom while sitting in front of their house reveling in the remarkably strong sunlight in late afternoon in November in Garrett Park. With her dog quietly sitting next to her, her daughter working remotely in the house (visiting for the holiday), and her husband talking a walk, she breathed deeply, felt the sun on her face, and thanked whatever gods there be for a good life.

But now her daughter appeared next to her in the front garden, scowling into her phone. “Is he okay? What happened?” Malva told her her father had had a bad fall near the store, and that an ambulance had just arrived to take him to Suburban Hospital. She stayed on the phone as long as it took to calm UD‘s daughter down and give her complete information about Mr UD‘s condition, and as La Kid and UD prepared an overnight bag for him (two volumes on Kant from A History of Philosophy, pajamas, cookies), she called again to make sure the two of them were okay. She took a picture of Mr UD‘s wound and sent it to UD‘s daughter, so they could see exactly what they were dealing with.

The next morning, Mr UD in his bed recovering (the scan revealed a brain robustly able to assimilate Frederick Charles Copleston CBE SJ on Immanuel Kant), and UD preparing a special breakfast for him, Malva again called La Kid, wanting to know how Mr UD was doing. La Kid told her about his twenty stitches, and about how despite the nasty laceration he was able to keep his record intact: In seventy years of life, he has never spent a night in a hospital. (“The only possible exception,” Mr UD once said, “was my birth. I don’t know whether my mother stayed in the hospital overnight.”)

So today Mr UD, with his big white head bandage, looks like a mashup of Marat and Apollinaire. He feels fine.

And today – Thanksgiving – UD thanks Malva, who took one look at a hurting human being and was instantly in it for the long haul.

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