Monday, April 20, 2015

Lucia Russian expansion is not cool

A truly bizarre tweet to me that tries to get me along to BloggingCon by telling me Russian expansion is "cool". I mean, seriously?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lucia Air strikes against Russian backed separatists fighting in Ukraine now being contemplated

Basically the feeling is that the Ukraine military, even if they were armed by the West, are not competent enough to successfully drive back the Russian forces in their country, therefore the "Kosovo Solution", ie air strikes on Russian forces, are being talked about by Germany, Britain and the US.

To those that don't believe there are Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, read this: Diplomatic obfuscation aside, 10 reasons why the ceasefire in Ukraine is a myth

Also, Putin has now admitted that he sought to have Crimea returned right after the previous Ukrainian President fled: Putin Says He Decided To Take Crimea Just Hours After Yanukovych's Ouster

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fletch No Heather - That Isn't 'Romance'

We were treated in the news recently to the tale of a female backpacker who, while lazing on the beach in Picton, was tickled when a male jogger who she considered a bit of alright ran past her and smiled. That was enough to get her to design a poster and begin a campaign (subsequently picked up by the media both here and abroad) to try and find him.

She eventually found out who the guy was (he worked at a local burger bar) and, by all accounts, they spent one night together and that was it. Hardly the stuff of romance - unless you happen to be One News reporter Heather du Plessis-Allan. Here's what she had to say about the matter during a One News fluff piece report.
The reason that we like it, is that it's wholesome isn't it. It's not like these two have met each other in a bar somewhere and kinda like taken each other home with two hours notice. This woman has seen him, she's thought about it, she's missed her chance, she wants a second chance - it's a romantic setting of a beach, you know, one of the greatest love cities in the world - Picton. And he's a man of mystery with tattoos on his body, I mean, it just cites all the things in a classic love story. I mean - look, it worked. The sleepover was the sign that it worked. It's lovely. 

I'm not sure if she was taking the p*ss or not. I hope so, because this isn't romance, or in the least bit "wholesome" and it isn't "lovely".  At least if they had met at a bar and had a long conversation and got to know each other and thought there was something there and then later she tried to find him and they began some sort of a relationship - that would have been a little romantic. But watching somebody run by without knowing the slightest thing about him and forming some sort of fantasy idea about him in your mind leading to trying to find him - that is a bit creepy.

As I said, I hope Heather was taking the proverbial, unless tracking someone down for a one-night shag is now considered romance.

I doubt it was worth the effort.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lucia Classic Russian Propaganda on RT

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lucia New Stalin statue erected by Russians in Crimea

New statue of Stalin, with Churchill and Roosevelt at Yalta

From The Interpreter, Three Disturbing Developments in Russia:

[T]he whitewashing of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and of his GULAG prison camp system continued and expanded. Last week, Russian officials put up the first Stalin statue in more than 60 years, and to add insult to injury, they did so alongside statues of Churchill and Roosevelt showing the Western leaders deferring to him and in recently occupied Crimea.

The Russian media justified this by saying that this trinity created the post-war world that Vladimir Putin would like to go back to, but as one more thoughtful Moscow commentator put it, “erecting a statue to Stalin in Crimea is like putting one of Hitler up in Israel.”

And related to this was the celebration rather than lamentation of the 75th anniversary of a GULAG camp, one in which millions of Russians and other Soviet citizens were incarcerated and died between the 1920s and the 1950s. Praising prison camps goes well beyond approving Stalin’s role as a wartime leader.

I don't know what to say. Over the past few months I have been debating on and off (on KiwiBlog) with people who believe that Russia is not being aggressive and is not fighting a war against the Ukrainians, that they really want peace (yeah, bet they are annoyed the Ukrainians are fighting back!) and that the US is behind all the war in Ukraine. I've gotten to the point where I've had to stop, because it's like debating with the insane. Insane people and their thought processes are not normal. You have to be careful talking to them because they can suck you into their world where if you challenge obvious logical flaws, they go more "mental" and/or revert into endless loops. Things that cannot be true they can believe with certainty, despite any evidence offered.

Not that the leadership of Russia is insane - far from it. They are just acting as if they are. It's quite a feat to act as if insane and demand that everyone buy into your reality. And rather than acting decisively, various Western leaders either play along or dither about what to do (see from several days ago: Western Nations Split on Arming Kiev Forces). It's madness, really.

Lucia Traditional vs Reform Mathematics in NZ and the US

The Promised Part II on the Failure of Mathematics Teaching in New Zealand...

I really, really like mathematics. I understood it easily at school, came first in my entire 6th form year in Maths, Physics and Chemistry in the mid-80's, and enjoyed teaching it to my boys when we were homeschooling. I grew up to be a computer programmer (and software developer and more). In other words, I moved into a STEM field with ease.

Strangely enough, I have discovered that people's eyes glaze over when you talk too much maths. Even just a little bit can be too much. For instance, no one has commented on my previous post: Mathematics in NZ at NCEA Level in a dismal state.  Ok, there were a couple of comments on Facebook, but one of those comments was about the picture I accidentally chose for the post.  Also, I've gone and on about these same issues and more to my husband, and after listening politely, he is unable to comment much and changes the subject.

Hopefully this will be an easier post to read and understand now that I've got the previous one out of my system, so to anyone whose eyes haven't glazed over, I'll just remind you that of the philosophical way that mathematics is supposedly taught in New Zealand before I launch into my comparisons of the two styles. Here is a quote by  Derek Holton, from the Forward of the 2009 Findings of the NZ Numeracy Projects:

An emphasis on letting students explore and absorb number sense, rather than teaching them learned algorithms without any understanding, seems to be the right way ahead for students to gain an understanding of number and, possibly more importantly, of liking and feeling comfortable with mathematics itself.  At all costs, we should ensure that we never return to the hundreds of algorithms that have made mathematics a wasteland full of rote learning of incomprehensible rules.
This style of mathematics is called "Reform Math" or "New Math".  It has some laudable aims, as can be inferred from the quote I've given above.  In the post from the other day where I linked to Nigel Latta's television programme on education of school children in New Zealand, you get the idea that because it's not like it was when most of us were at school, very few of us understand it, and have trouble knowing whether or not it's better or worse.

I think it's worse, much worse than what was being taught back in my day (I did 6th form maths in the mid-80's), but unfortunately I have very little memory of exactly what I was taught.  I haven't been able to find any maths text books from that era, so if anyone can help me with that, I would be very appreciative.

However, I have found a very interesting report (Mathematics Educators: Shaping the Curriculum?, that goes into a bit of the change that occurred in NZ maths, first in the 1960's, lead by university mathematicians, and then in the 1990's lead by maths educators*.  It's the result of what occurred in the 90's that I'm taking serious issue with. Thankfully I was taught in the 1960's style:

It is useful in a comparison of influences in the two periods to have some understanding of the nature of the curricula and how they are different. The 'New Maths' of the 1960s had its origins in the structure of mathematics itself and was concerned with children learning the laws of mathematics from its axiomatic base. Content was organised around algebraic structure and there was little concern for pedagogical matters (Neyland, 1991). Emphasis was placed on rules and the one way of solving a mathematical problem.
The curricula which came out of this were 'teacher proof and textbook driven (Apple, 1992a).

In contrast to this, changes in mathematics curricula in the 1990s focus on the teaching and learning of mathematics with an emphasis on problem solving and multiple ways of 'doing mathematics'. The curriculum aims to "help students to develop a variety of approaches to solving problems involving mathematics, and to develop the ability to think and reason logically" (Ministry of Education, 1992, p8). It is stated that
"mathematics is best taught by helping students to solve problems drawn from their own experience ... real-life problems are not always closed, nor do they necessarily have only one solution" (Ministry of Education, 1992, pl1). Students construct new knowledge and refine their existing knowledge and ideas (Ministry of Education, 1992). The use of technology is encouraged as a tool for learning. Mathematics is perceived as a human activity, culturally produced and socially constructed (Walshaw, 1994).

In the United States, most probably because of their much larger population which doesn't let the government get it's own way, there have been and continue to be major math battles over the curriculum.  Many parents and maths teachers don't like the new or reformed math, and will go to war with the teaching authorities to get the Reform Math turfed out.

From the New York Times : The Faulty Logic of the ‘Math Wars’

At stake in the math wars is the value of a “reform” strategy for teaching math that, over the past 25 years, has taken American schools by storm. Today the emphasis of most math instruction is on — to use the new lingo — numerical reasoning. This is in contrast with a more traditional focus on understanding and mastery of the most efficient mathematical algorithms.

A mathematical algorithm is a procedure for performing a computation. At the heart of the discipline of mathematics is a set of the most efficient — and most elegant and powerful — algorithms for specific operations. The most efficient algorithm for addition, for instance, involves stacking numbers to be added with their place values aligned, successively adding single digits beginning with the ones place column, and “carrying” any extra place values leftward.

What is striking about reform math is that the standard algorithms are either de-emphasized to students or withheld from them entirely. In one widely used and very representative math program — TERC Investigations — second grade students are repeatedly given specific addition problems and asked to explore a variety of procedures for arriving at a solution. The standard algorithm is absent from the procedures they are offered. Students in this program don’t encounter the standard algorithm until fourth grade, and even then they are not asked to regard it as a privileged method.
Reform math has some serious detractors. It comes under fierce attack from college teachers of mathematics, for instance, who argue that it fails to prepare students for studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. These professors maintain that college-level work requires ready and effortless competence with the standard algorithms and that the student who needs to ponder fractions — or is dependent on a calculator — is simply not prepared for college math. They express outrage and bafflement that so much American math education policy is set by people with no special knowledge of the discipline.
From the American Thinker: Reform Math Must Be Destroyed Root and Branch:
The common denominator of all these inferior programs is an artificial complexity, and an emphasis on learning concepts and “meaning” without actually being able to do problems.  These programs teach algorithms that parents don't know.  A tremendous separation is created between the generations.  Parents are rendered irrelevant.  The children are frustrated to tears.  In a few years, in all of these Reform curricula, the kids end up dependent on calculators.

I think a little of these maths wars must have erupted in NZ to a certain extent, otherwise why would there be so much support for the NZ Government implementing National Standards for primary and intermediate school children?  Unfortunately the Standards are themselves contaminated by Reform Mathematics, as well, as I noticed when I first looked into them, so National Standards can do very little to raise maths standards.

To be continued ...

* Updated 5:16pm - had the two groups mixed up.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lucia NATO finally stepping up to counter Russian aggression

Finally! It took them long enough to decide to do this.

Nato will establish rapid reaction force to counter perceived threat of Russian aggression
Nato declared on Thursday it will set up six new command posts on its eastern borders and create a 5,000-strong rapid reaction force in an effort to show resolve and solidarity in the face of what the alliance brands Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Announcing the new force in Brussels on Thursday, the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said it was “the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the cold war.”

Some elements of the new force will be able to deploy to a flash point with 48-hours notice, Stoltenberg said, with the rest being able to move in a week, much faster than current Nato response times. It will be supported by air and sea forces as well as special operations units, and two more land brigades on standby in the event of a major crisis. Altogether, 30,000 Nato troops will be assigned to bolster the alliance’s eastern defences.

New Nato command posts will immediately be set up in six eastern members states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria – who have been clamouring for a permanent alliance presence on their soil since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine. They will house about 40 to 60 officers as serve as command and control units, which would help coordinate any deployment of the spearhead force, as well as training.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lucia New Zealand Day Tomorrow

I heard on the radio today that many years ago Robert Muldoon was responsible for New Zealand Day being renamed Waitangi Day. I'm probably one of the few people that actually celebrate the day, but not for what it supposedly stands for country wide, but for the fact that my oldest son was born on that day eighteen years ago after two days of labour. It was a momentous event for me, and for my son, well, it's his birthday.

Which leads me to the idea that a day can be anything we want it to be. I've been hearing a lot over the years about New Zealand needing a special New Zealand Day and how Waitangi Day is not really a cause for celebration because of the debacles at Waitangi, year after year. Well, why not ignore all that and do what the Aotearoa New Zealand people are trying by sheer repetition, hoping the name will stick, why not call tomorrow New Zealand Day? Why not treat it like New Zealand Day? Why not?

For me, Feb 6. is always going to be my oldest son's birthday, but I can add other meanings to it.

New Zealand Day - lets do it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lucia Mathematics in NZ at NCEA Level in a dismal state

Hello readers of NZ Conservative!  Yet again, it has been a long time between posts.

It's funny, I think blogging only works if you are angry about something.  Otherwise it's just not worth the effort.  That certainly explains sites like WhaleOil and The Standard, but not KiwiBlog.  I don't know what David Farrar is angry enough about to keep him blogging for so long, but that's a mystery for another day..

Right now, besides Russia invading Ukraine and lying about it, I've found something else to be angry about.  Maths.  Specifically NCEA Maths.  Boy am I pissed.

When I was home-schooling, January was the month when I'd plan for the year.  After a number of years of hiatus, since both my boys have entered the state schooling system, I have again reverted back to typical January planning.  Because I have to.

Since mid-last year, I have been studying mathematics in an attempt to help my mathematically able but struggling in the last couple of years son in his maths for NCEA level 2 and now NCEA Level 3 for this year so he can go to university and get a degree in Computer Science.   He needs 16 credits of NCEA Level 3 credits, plus passing in NCEA Level 3 to do this.

Gone are the days where you could just rely on the schooling system to teach you everything you needed to know.   In order to pass now, kids have to call on a wide variety of sources, especially in Mathematics, otherwise they are stuffed, seriously stuffed at the higher levels.

My experience with this absolute train-wreck of a schooling system is seeing my mathematically gifted and well-trained son go from breezing through at Year 9 after homeschooling, to struggling at Year 12.  If that has happened to him, how many children have had their mathematical ability completely stuffed up from the beginning, where no one is aware they had any ability at all because of the way mathematics is taught in New Zealand today?

Quite by accident, I found an article from just over a year ago that I hadn't been aware of that had been published in the NZ Listener about tertiary educational facilities being very concerned about the mathematical and science ability of New Zealand teenagers who gain NCEA but are seriously lacking in mathematical and scientific skills necessary to do well in courses in university that rely on those skills. From NCEA Slammed):
A confidential Tertiary Education Commission report reveals profound and widespread concerns about the way NCEA prepares students for further study. It paints a picture of substandard mathematics and science education, NCEA students coming unstuck in their first year at university and tertiary providers scrambling to come up with their own diagnostic tests and remedial courses.

The document is a summary of formal reports from 15 tertiary institutions – universities and polytechnics – that offer engineering courses. The institutions are not named. One told the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC): “An extremely significant concern is the poor preparation of the bulk of our student cohort following NCEA study.”

The report, drawn up as part of the Government’s plan to boost the numbers of engineering graduates, was presented at a high-level TEC meeting on September 2. The Listener was leaked a key page and obtained the full document under the Official Information Act.

The problems the report flags with NCEA fall into three main categories:
• students getting confused or being given poor advice on subject choice;
those who do the right subjects still being unprepared for tertiary level study; and
• the system not creating a good work ethic.

So, with all that in mind, have a look at a Nigel Latta TV show screened last August, where by Nigel goes back to school to see if there is a crisis. Note that this report and the dire results coming out of maths and science as noticed by tertiary institutions is not mentioned.  Only the Melbourne based academic John Hattie fronts up to deny there is any problem.

This is the blurb for the show:
Nigel Latta takes himself back to school to have a look into NCEA and our education system. Spending time at both primary and high schools, he discovers learning is not what it used to be.

Here is the link to view the episode at TVNZ Nigel Latta: School Report - What's Going On

Here is a bit of what I wrote down while watching the maths portion of the show of Nigel Latta's show, including quotes and my impressions:

Nigel: Now, one of the things that worries me and a lot of other parents is that maybe our kids aren’t being taught Maths properly.
He talks to kids about what they’ve been taught through school – no long division by hand, it’s just strategies. Just talked to my 17yo, and at his school at Year 9, no one except for him could do long division (out of approx 200 Year 9 kids in a decile 8 school) and only a few could do short division.

Maths Teacher: In the good old days you were just taught, follow this process and you’ll get the right answer. But not so many people experienced mathematical thinking [question mark in voice] and that’s why people hated [another question mark] maths. It’s likened to learning musical theory without every playing the instrument. So what we’ve tried to do with this generation and it’s a global movement is trying to get students actually playing with maths. They’re solving big problems and thinking mathematically rather than a very small piece of maths that’s just sort of following procedures without much understanding.

The whole class is about trying to get the answer to 3 to the power of 6.

Nigel ruminates about how the kids aren’t locked into a rote formula, like he was taught.

Teacher gives them a clue :
What if I told you 250 * 3 is easier for me?
That’s to a group of boys just standing around who have just worked out the answer (729).

You know at this point, I hadn't realised the boys had figured the answer out because of the clue the teacher gave them, but no, she doesn't seem to be too impressed by them finding the answer, she's more impressed by the effect of her clue when of one of the kids works out that you multiply 250 by 3 and minus 7 three times to get the same answer. Every one claps.

This is a light bulb moment for Nigel who thinks that kids now are learning a deeper understanding of numbers, way more than he ever did when he was at school. No kidding.

Here is Nigel Latta talking to Leighton Smith about his show the next day.

What I found ironic about the Nigel Latta show on education and even the interview the next day is that here we have Nigel Latta pronouncing that everything's fine in maths, yet he admits he hated maths at school and wasn't any good at it. He also didn't talk to any of the older classes, where things are not fine. He thinks this new method makes more kids enjoy maths, but at the older age groups they seem to hate it more, and at my son's school, perfectly capable kids are opting into the easier stats stream rather the calculus stream because they've had it with the way harder mathematics is taught. The tertiary education providers are also finding that many of the students have inadequate mathematical knowledge, even if they've passed NCEA Level 3 Calculus.

There is definitely a problem and it's a problem of philosophy. From the Forward of the 2009 Findings of the NZ Numeracy Projects, Derek Holton says:

An emphasis on letting students explore and absorb number sense, rather than teaching them learned algorithms without any understanding, seems to be the right way ahead for students to gain an understanding of number and, possibly more importantly, of liking and feeling comfortable with mathematics itself.  At all costs, we should ensure that we never return to the hundreds of algorithms that have made mathematics a wasteland full of rote learning of incomprehensible rules.

If any one were in any doubt of the type of mathematics that is being taught in NZ schools, that one paragraph explains how we are using a Reform or New style of maths, not a traditional style.

We are also not the only country where there are serious controversies about Reform Mathematics.

End of Part One, to be continued ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lucia Merry Christmas

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone, and remember why we celebrate this great Christian feast - it's because God came to earth, really and truly.

I haven't been posting much for a while, but I have been Tweeting. I've added my Twitter feed to the top right of this blog, so you can keep track of me from here, or just by following me on Twitter itself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fletch Spiked Author: Yes Abortion Kills A Baby But Is Trumped By A Woman's Choice

I am more-often-than-not in agreement with what SP!KED author Brendan O'Neill writes, especially in regard to free speech and gay marriage. I am afraid I have to disagree with his column this week (based on a debate that eventually never happened), in which he says he agrees with the fact that abortion destroys an unborn life, or potential life, but that a woman's freedom of choice trumps that. He writes -

Some pro-life campaigners say, `Ah, but this "act of autonomy" is different to all others because it harms and ultimately destroys another human life - that of the fetus'. I don't deny this. I do think there are massive questions to be asked regarding when a fetus becomes fully human, but I don't deny that a fetus is at least a potential human life and that abortion ends that potential human life. But I have made a moral judgement, and I've decided that it is worse - infinitely worse - to force a living, breathing, autonomous individual to do something against her will than it is to terminate an as-yet unformed, potential human life. That is the bottom line for me: the freedom and autonomy of a woman are more important than the continued existence of a fetus.

I am comfortable with making this judgement call. Now, are you comfortable with the moral judgement you have made? Which is that it is acceptable in certain circumstances to deprive individuals of the right to act in accordance with their consciences. That it is okay to hamper to the point of destroying a woman's moral autonomy during the nine months that she is pregnant. That a woman loses many of her fundamental freedoms when she becomes pregnant. That it is acceptable for society to force women to do something against their will, with all the terrifying illiberal and anti-social consequences such a tyrannical course of action is likely to have. That women should become, in essence, slaves to circumstance rather than shapers of their circumstances. I'm happy with my moral judgement that it is acceptable to terminate a potential human life in the name of preserving the moral autonomy of an already existing human life [...]
My response in a comment -

I have to say, we all know where babies come from, so a woman having sex - performing the action that creates a baby - and then complaining because she has lost her autonomy seems a specious argument, like jumping in the water and complaining about getting wet. Getting pregnant is what a woman's body is supposed to do and is a result of having sex (of course, not all of the time). It is not something that is involuntarily forced on a woman (discounting rape) but something she chooses to do. This is where the woman makes her choice. It is entirely her decision: she has the choice to say yes or no to having sex. Ultimately the baby is a direct result of that choice, even though she may not want a baby. She can refrain from the actions that naturally lead to it. After that, it is too late. You make it sound like it isn't fair to her that she got pregnant, and is something other than the direct result of her actions.

I have the choice to drive very fast in my car or not. I may find the speed pleasurable, and getting a ticket is obviously not the outcome I want. If I speed (my own choice) and then get a speeding ticket (something that may not happen every time I speed, but depends on the chance of a police officer spotting me) do I then have a right to complain and to ask the officer to tear up the ticket because it isn't the outcome I wanted? I exercised my choice, decided to drive at the speed I wanted, and must live with the consequences of the result that naturally flowed from that.

You may contend that having sex is not the same as breaking the law, but (if you're a Christian) you believe that sex out of wedlock is against the moral law. It used to be called 'fornication'.

This is why, historically, sex had been confined to marriage. It is the safest place to have sex: in a committed relationship where the woman has the definite support of her partner. Getting pregnant actually used to be something wanted. It was often seen as a curse if a woman could not conceive.

Abortion these days is used as a contraceptive and is largely the fault of a liberal society. The pleasure of having sex has been separated from one of the main reasons for it: procreation. Having sex is now one of those Friday night pleasures, like having a beer, or a smoke, and it doesn't seem to matter with whom you do it, as long as both parties are agreeable.

I actually see the term 'abortion' as a bit of a misnomer. A rocket launch can be aborted during the countdown, but once there is ignition and the engines have fired, the rocket has been launched and the only way to now stop it is to hit the self-destruct button or to shoot it down. So it is with sex. It is a woman's choice to abort (not to have sex at all), but once the egg and sperm join, procreation is under way, and the only way to stop it is to destroy the baby.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fletch The 'Female Priest' Who Isn't

I've just been reading an article on the website of The Guardian about an ex-nun, who says she is both a female Catholic priest and a Bishop and wears a Bishop's ring. She was 'ordained' by a renegade Catholic Bishop and, along with six other women, has been excommunicated by Rome. She hasn't let that stop her, however, from performing baptisms, funerals, and marriages. The article also mentions her doing a funeral Mass.

Ms Mayr-Lumetzberger, it seems, chooses to ignore her excommunication because she doesn't agree with it.
Excommunication, though, is surely a heavy price to pay. “It doesn’t touch me,” she says serenely. “The canon [church] law used against me was an unjust law made by celibate men who rule over people whose lives they do not really know, and who give no explanation as to why these negative laws should be followed. Except fear.”
With all due respect, you can't be something if you do not have the authority from the governing body of the organisation you claim to be part of. I could claim to be a police officer, or maybe a judge, but without recognition from the relevant authorities, that does not make it so, even if I put on a police uniform and drive a police car. All the wishing and goodwill in the world does not make it so. If I were to arrest someone, or perform any other type of law enforcement - even if i stopped a crime - those actions of mine would have no authority behind them and would not stand up in a court of law.

So it is with Ms Mayr-Lumetzberger and others like her, who carry out the work of a priest without the authority of the Church. Particularly worrying is her saying of a Mass when she has not been given the authority of the Church to do so; or to marry a couple. These actions, I fear, are lacking in the blessing of God and cannot be seen as Sacramental.

One wonders why she chooses to stay in the Catholic Church. It seems she hopes to change it by just going ahead and pretending she is something that she is not.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lucia Putin wanted Poland to help him dismember Ukraine in 2008 [UPDATE!]

Back as far as 2008, Putin suggested to Poland’s prime minister on his first visit to Moscow that Russia and Poland divide Ukraine between them: Putin offered to divide Ukraine with Poland: Polish ex-minister
He wanted us to become participants in this partition of Ukraine … This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, when he visited Moscow.”

“He (Putin) went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lwow is a Polish city and why don’t we just sort it out together,” Sikorski was quoted as saying in the interview dated Oct. 19.

Before World War Two, Poland’s territory included parts of today’s western Ukraine, including some major cities such as Lwow, known as Lviv in Ukraine.
According to Sikorski, who accompanied Tusk on his trip to Moscow, Tusk did not reply to Putin’s suggestion, because he knew he was being recorded, but Poland never expressed any interest in joining the Russian operation.

“We made it very, very clear to them – we wanted nothing to do with this,” Sikorski said.

This is important, as it shows that the justification that Russia has used to first annex Crimea, and then invade the east of Ukraine in order to set up Novorossiya was something that Putin has been planning for a long time rather than just a response to the Euro-Maidan protests.

It would have been incredibly dangerous for Poland to show the slightest bit of interest in this plan back in 2008, their words would have been used against them in justification for what Russia is doing now.

I think Poland is very happy with the current borders, no matter what the historical legitimacy to the lands to the east are, as those borders guarantee stability. Once Europe starts changing borders for whatever reason, the floodgates of war could be released. As a country that has experienced war on a devastating scale, there is no way Poland would want that.

As an aside, this weekend there is a Polish festival on Queens Wharf in Wellington, run by the Polish Association that was originally set up by NZ's first refugees, the Polish children that were granted temporary and then a permanent home here. Those children were most likely from the areas of Ukraine that Putin was suggesting that Poland take back1.

UPDATE 22 October:

From Polish Radio:

“My memory failed me. After checking, there was no bi-lateral meeting between Prime Minister Tusk and President Putin,” Radoslaw Sikorski said, Tuesday evening, adding that he was actually referring to comments Putin made at a NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, and not in Moscow in February of that year, as he had originally told the American magazine.

Sikorski also appeared to back away from the claim that Putin offered parts of Ukraine to Poland on a plate, saying it could have been a sick joke but one that became more sinister as events have unfolded.

Sikorski has come under fire for not releasing such explosive information before and Poland's largest opposition party has called for his resignation as speaker of parliament.

The interview with Politico will probably be raised at a meeting of Poland's National Security Council on Wednesday, presidential spokeswoman Joanna Trzaska-Wieczorek has said.

Asked why he and PM Tusk had not made public Putin's imperial ambitions before, Sikorski said that the "surreal" remarks “appeared significant only later, after the NATO summit, after the war in Georgia and the annexation of Crimea".

He added that the detail of the conversation was “open to interpretation”, which takes on meaning “in the light of recent events,” referring to the current crisis in Ukraine.

In the morning, Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted that Politico “over-interpreted” some of his comments, detailing a conversation between Donald Tusk and Vladimir Putin, when the current president of Russia had allegedly offered to carve up Ukraine with Poland's help.

Sikorski - who was moved as head of the foreign ministry after seven years in office in September to take up the role of speaker of parliament – maintains a conversation still took place, though he “was not a witness to it” but declined to say who told him about it.

“Putin told all western leaders in Bucharest in 2008 that Ukraine was a conglomerate of several different nations, including Poland, and threatened its statehood,” Sikorski told journalists, Tuesday evening during his second press conference of the day.

1. Just to explain my connection, my aunt was one of these Polish children. My dad, her brother, was not a refugee child, he came to NZ as an immigrant in 1950 from Britain, to be reunited with his surviving family here. For more of his story, read Experiences of Motherhood and Conservatism.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lucia German Intelligence find that MH17 downing possibly a war crime

From De Spiegel (German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17 ):

After completing a detailed analysis, Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has concluded that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 19 in eastern Ukraine while on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

In an Oct. 8 presentation given to members of the parliamentary control committee, the Bundestag body responsible for monitoring the work of German intelligence, BND President Gerhard Schindler provided ample evidence to back up his case, including satellite images and diverse photo evidence. The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people.

BND's Schindler says his agency has come up with unambiguous findings. One is that Ukrainian photos have been manipulated and that there are details indicating this. He also told the panel that Russian claims the missile had been fired by Ukrainian soldiers and that a Ukrainian fighter jet had been flying close to the passenger jet were false.

"It was pro-Russian separatists," Schindler said of the crash, which involved the deaths of four German citizens. A spokesman for the German Federal Prosecutor's Office told SPIEGEL that an investigation has been opened into unknown perpetrators because of the possibility that the crash had been a war crime.

However, The Interpreter believes that it couldn't have been a stolen Ukrainian BUK that was involved in the shooting down of MH17, for no Ukrainian BUKs are actually operational. In order to get them operational, it would have required highly specialised people to fix them so that they could be fired. The Interpreter thinks that instead it was a Russian BUK that was delivered to the separatists that was involved, with a false story planted by Russia of a stolen Ukranian BUK, so that the culpability could be directed at the Ukranians if necessary. (See German Intelligence Blames Russian-Backed Militants for Downing of MH17 at 13:58 (GMT) in the list of reports on the linked page)

So, if it was a Russian BUK and Russia supplied it to the rebels and if the shooting down is found to be a war crime, then my bet is that despite looking guilty as sin, the Russians will just continue to deny any involvement. You have to be pretty shameless to pull that off.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lucia Russian spies arrested in Poland

From the BBC:

The authorities in Poland have arrested a Polish army officer and a lawyer for espionage, amid reports that they allegedly spied for Russia.

Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet said they had been detained after months of investigation and were suspected of "hurting Poland's interests".

He did not say which foreign state was involved, but a Polish MP and Polish media said it was Russia.

Marek Biernacki, a member of the Polish parliament's intelligence committee, told reporters: "Actions are being taken in respect of two agents of the Russian state."

The two unnamed detainees, he said, had worked for the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency.

The lawyer, who reportedly has joint Polish-Russian citizenship, is understood to have worked in Warsaw, specialising in economic matters, Polish radio said.

This makes me wonder if it is at all connected to the taping of Radosław Sikorski, who used to be Poland's Foreign Minister (and a very active and effective one at that), until the public disclosure of his lack of faith in the alliance with the United States.