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Gill Pratt

Gill Pratt

2 years ago

War's Human Cost

War's Human Cost
I didn't start crying until I was outside a McDonald's in an Olempin, Poland rest area on highway S17.


Children pick toys at a refugee center, Olempin, Poland, March 4, 2022.

Refugee children, mostly alone with their mothers, but occasionally with a gray-haired grandfather or non-Ukrainian father, were coaxed into picking a toy from boxes provided by a kind-hearted company and volunteers.
I went to Warsaw to continue my research on my family's history during the Holocaust. In light of the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, I asked former colleagues in the US Department of Defense and Intelligence Community if it was safe to travel there. They said yes, as Poland was a NATO member.
I stayed in a hotel in the Warsaw Ghetto, where 90% of my mother's family was murdered in the Holocaust. Across the street was the first Warsaw Judenrat. It was two blocks away from the apartment building my mother's family had owned and lived in, now dilapidated and empty.


Building of my great-grandfather, December 2021.

A mass grave of thousands of rocks for those killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, I didn't cry when I touched its cold walls.


Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, 200,000–300,000 graves.


Mass grave, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.

My mother's family had two homes, one in Warszawa and the rural one was a forest and sawmill complex in Western Ukraine. For the past half-year, a local Ukrainian historian had been helping me discover faint traces of her family’s life there — in fact, he had found some people still alive who remembered the sawmill and that it belonged to my mother’s grandfather. The historian was good at his job, and we had become close.


My historian friend, December 2021, talking to a Ukrainian.

With war raging, my second trip to Warsaw took on a different mission. To see his daughter and one-year-old grandson, I drove east instead of to Ukraine. They had crossed the border shortly after the war began, leaving men behind, and were now staying with a friend on Poland's eastern border.
I entered after walking up to the house and settling with the dog. The grandson greeted me with a huge smile and the Ukrainian word for “daddy,” “Tato!” But it was clear he was awaiting his real father's arrival, and any man he met would be so tentatively named.
After a few moments, the boy realized I was only a stranger. He had musical talent, like his mother and grandfather, both piano teachers, as he danced to YouTube videos of American children's songs dubbed in Ukrainian, picking the ones he liked and crying when he didn't.


Songs chosen by my historian friend's grandson, March 4, 2022

He had enough music and began crying regardless of the song. His mother picked him up and started nursing him, saying she was worried about him. She had no idea where she would live or how she would survive outside Ukraine. She showed me her father's family history of losses in the Holocaust, which matched my own research.
After an hour of drinking tea and trying to speak of hope, I left for the 3.5-hour drive west to Warsaw.
It was unlike my drive east. It was reminiscent of the household goods-filled carts pulled by horses and people fleeing war 80 years ago.


Jewish refugees relocating, USHMM Holocaust Encyclopaedia, 1939.

The carefully chosen trinkets by children to distract them from awareness of what is really happening and the anxiety of what lies ahead, made me cry despite all my research on the Holocaust. There is no way for them to communicate with their mothers, who are worried, absent, and without their fathers.
It's easy to see war as a contest of nations' armies, weapons, and land. The most costly aspect of war is its psychological toll. My father screamed in his sleep from nightmares of his own adolescent trauma in Warsaw 80 years ago.


Survivor father studying engineering, 1961.

In the airport, I waited to return home while Ukrainian public address systems announced refugee assistance. Like at McDonald's, many mothers were alone with their children, waiting for a flight to distant relatives.
That's when I had my worst trip experience.
A woman near me, clearly a refugee, answered her phone, cried out, and began wailing.
The human cost of war descended like a hammer, and I realized that while I was going home, she never would

Full article

More on Current Events

Steve QJ

Steve QJ

2 years ago

Putin's War On Reality

The dictator's playbook.

Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, delivered a speech titled "On The Cult Of Personality And Its Consequences" in 1956, three years after Stalin’s death.

It was Stalin's grave abuse of power that caused untold harm to our party.
Stalin acted not by persuasion, explanation, or patient cooperation, but by imposing his ideas and demanding absolute obedience. […]
See where Stalin's mania for greatness led? He had lost all sense of reality.

The speech, which was never made public, shook the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc. After Stalin's "cult of personality" was exposed as a lie, only reality remained.

As I've watched the nightmare unfold in Ukraine, I'm reminded of that question. Primarily by Putin's repeated denials.

His odd claim that Ukraine is run by drug addicts and Nazis (especially strange given that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, is Jewish). Others attempt to portray Russia as liberators rather than occupiers. For example, he portrays Luhansk and Donetsk as plucky, newly independent states when they have been totalitarian statelets for 8 years.

Putin seemed to have lost all sense of reality.

Maybe that's why his remarks to an oligarchs' gathering stood out:

Everything is a desperate measure. They gave us no choice. We couldn't do anything about their security risks. […] They could have put the country in jeopardy.

This is almost certainly true from Putin's perspective. Even for Putin, a military invasion seems unlikely. So, what exactly is putting Russia's security in jeopardy? How could Ukraine's independence endanger Russia's existence?

The truth is the only thing that truly terrifies leaders like these.

Trump, the president of “alternative facts,” "and “fake news” praised Putin's fabricated justifications for the Ukraine invasion. Russia tightened news censorship as news of their losses came in. It's no accident that modern dictatorships like Russia (and China and North Korea) restrict citizens' access to information.

Controlling what people see, hear, and think is the simplest method. And Ukraine's recent efforts to join the European Union showed a country whose thoughts Putin couldn't control. With the Russian and Ukrainian peoples so close, he could not control their reality.
He appears to think this is a threat worth fighting NATO over.

It's easy to disown history's great dictators. By the magnitude of their harm. But the strategy they used is still in use today, albeit not to the same devastating effect.

The Kim dynasty in North Korea has ruled for 74 years, Putin has ruled Russia for 19 years (using loopholes and even rewriting the constitution).

“Politicians and diapers must be changed frequently,” said Mark Twain. "And for the same reason.”

When their egos are threatened, they sabre-rattle, as in Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump's famous spat about the size of their...ahem, “nuclear buttons”." Or Putin's threats of mutual destruction this weekend.

Most importantly, they have cult-like control over their followers.

When a leader whose power is built on lies feels he is losing control of the narrative, things like Trump's Jan. 6 meltdown and Putin's current actions in Ukraine are unavoidable.

Leaders who try to control their people's reality will have to die to keep the illusion alive.

Long version of this post available here

MartinEdic

MartinEdic

1 year ago

Russia Through the Windows: It's Very Bad

And why we must keep arming Ukraine

Photo by Alexander Smagin on Unsplash

Russian expatriates write about horrific news from home.

Read this from Nadin Brzezinski. She's not a native English speaker, so there are grammar errors, but her tale smells true.

Terrible truth.

There's much more that reveals Russia's grim reality.

Non-leadership. Millions of missing supplies are presumably sold for profit, leaving untrained troops without food or gear. Missile attacks pause because they run out. Fake schemes to hold talks as a way of stalling while they scramble for solutions.

Street men were mobilized. Millions will be ground up to please a crazed despot. Fear, wrath, and hunger pull apart civilization.

It's the most dystopian story, but Ukraine is worse. Destruction of a society, country, and civilization. Only the invaders' corruption and incompetence save the Ukrainians.

Rochester, NY. My suburb had many Soviet-era Ukrainian refugees. Their kids were my classmates. Fifty years later, many are still my friends. I loved their food and culture. My town has 20,000 Ukrainians.

Grieving but determined. They don't quit. They won't quit. Russians are eternal enemies.

It's the Russian people's willingness to tolerate corruption, abuse, and stupidity by their leaders. They are paying. 65000 dead. Ruined economy. No freedom to speak. Americans do not appreciate that freedom as we should.

It lets me write/publish.

Russian friends are shocked. Many are here because their parents escaped Russian anti-semitism and authoritarian oppression. A Russian cultural legacy says a strongman's methods are admirable.

A legacy of a slavery history disguised as serfdom. Peasants and Princes.

Read Tolstoy. Then Anna Karenina. The main characters are princes and counts, whose leaders are incompetent idiots with wealth and power.

Peasants who die in their wars due to incompetence are nameless ciphers.

Sound familiar?

Jared A. Brock

Jared A. Brock

2 years ago

Here is the actual reason why Russia invaded Ukraine

Democracy's demise

Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters are being attacked by a far superior force.
It's the biggest invasion since WWII.

43.3 million peaceful Ukrainians awoke this morning to tanks, mortars, and missiles. Russia is already 15 miles away.

America and the West will not deploy troops.
They're sanctioning. Except railways. And luxuries. And energy. Diamonds. Their dependence on Russian energy exports means they won't even cut Russia off from SWIFT.

Ukraine is desperate enough to hand out guns on the street.

France, Austria, Turkey, and the EU are considering military aid, but Ukraine will fall without America or NATO.

The Russian goal is likely to encircle Kyiv and topple Zelenskyy's government. A proxy power will be reinstated once Russia has total control.

“Western security services believe Putin intends to overthrow the government and install a puppet regime,” says Financial Times foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman. This “decapitation” strategy includes municipalities. Ukrainian officials are being targeted for arrest or death.”

Also, Putin has never lost a war.

Why is Russia attacking Ukraine?

Putin, like a snowflake college student, “feels unsafe.”
Why?

Because Ukraine is full of “Nazi ideas.”

Putin claims he has felt threatened by Ukraine since the country's pro-Putin leader was ousted and replaced by a popular Jewish comedian.

Hee hee

He fears a full-scale enemy on his doorstep if Ukraine joins NATO. But he refuses to see it both ways. NATO has never invaded Russia, but Russia has always stolen land from its neighbors. Can you blame them for joining a mutual defense alliance when a real threat exists?
Nations that feel threatened can join NATO. That doesn't justify an attack by Russia. It allows them to defend themselves. But NATO isn't attacking Moscow. They aren't.
Russian President Putin's "special operation" aims to de-Nazify the Jewish-led nation.
To keep Crimea and the other two regions he has already stolen, he wants Ukraine undefended by NATO.

(Warlords have fought for control of the strategically important Crimea for over 2,000 years.)
Putin wants to own all of Ukraine.

Why?

The Black Sea is his goal.

Ports bring money and power, and Ukraine pipelines transport Russian energy products.
Putin wants their wheat, too — with 70% crop coverage, Ukraine would be their southern breadbasket, and Russia has no qualms about starving millions of Ukrainians to death to feed its people.

In the end, it's all about greed and power.
Putin wants to own everything Russia has ever owned. This year he turns 70, and he wants to be remembered like his hero Peter the Great.
In order to get it, he's willing to kill thousands of Ukrainians

Art imitates life

This story began when a Jewish TV comedian portrayed a teacher elected President after ranting about corruption.
Servant of the People, the hit sitcom, is now the leading centrist political party.
Right, President Zelenskyy won the hearts and minds of Ukrainians by imagining a fairer world.
A fair fight is something dictators, corporatists, monopolists, and warlords despise.
Now Zelenskyy and his people will die, allowing one of history's most corrupt leaders to amass even more power.

The poor always lose

Meanwhile, the West will impose economic sanctions on Russia.

China is likely to step in to help Russia — or at least the wealthy.

The poor and working class in Russia will suffer greatly if there is a hard crash or long-term depression.
Putin's friends will continue to drink champagne and eat caviar.

Russia cutting off oil, gas, and fertilizer could cause more inflation and possibly a recession if it cuts off supplies to the West. This causes more suffering and hardship for the Western poor and working class.

Why? a billionaire sociopath gets his dirt.

Yes, Russia is simply copying America. Some of us think all war is morally wrong, regardless of who does it.

But let's not kid ourselves right now.

The markets rallied after the biggest invasion in Europe since WWII.
Investors hope Ukraine collapses and Russian oil flows.
Unbridled capitalists value lifeless.

What we can do about Ukraine

When the Russian army invaded eastern Finland, my wife's grandmother fled as a child. 80 years later, Russia still has Karelia.
Russia invaded Ukraine today to retake two eastern provinces.
History has taught us nothing.
Past mistakes won't fix the future.

Instead, we should try:

  • Pray and/or meditate on our actions with our families.
  • Stop buying Russian products (vodka, obviously, but also pay more for hydro/solar/geothermal/etc.)
  • Stop wasting money on frivolous items and donate it to Ukrainian charities.

Here are 35+ places to donate.

  • To protest, gather a few friends, contact the media, and shake signs in front of the Russian embassy.
  • Prepare to welcome refugees.

More war won't save the planet or change hearts.

Only love can work.

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Dani Herrera

Dani Herrera

1 year ago

What prevents companies from disclosing salary information?

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

Yes, salary details ought to be mentioned in job postings. Recruiters and candidates both agree, so why doesn't it happen?

The short answer is “Unfortunately, it’s not the Recruiter’s decision”. The longer answer is well… A LOT.

Starting in November 2022, NYC employers must include salary ranges in job postings. It should have started in May, but companies balked.

I'm thrilled about salary transparency. This decision will promote fair, inclusive, and equitable hiring practices, and I'm sure other states will follow suit. Good news!

Candidates, recruiters, and ED&I practitioners have advocated for pay transparency for years. Why the opposition?

Let's quickly review why companies have trouble sharing salary bands.

💰 Pay Parity

Many companies and leaders still oppose pay parity. Yes, even in 2022.

💰 Pay Equity

Many companies believe in pay parity and have reviewed their internal processes and systems to ensure equality.

However, Pay Equity affects who gets roles/promotions/salary raises/bonuses and when. Enter the pay gap!

💰Pay Transparency and its impact on Talent Retention

Sharing salary bands with external candidates (and the world) means current employees will have access to that information, which is one of the main reasons companies don't share salary data.

If a company has Pay Parity and Pay Equity issues, they probably have a Pay Transparency policy as well.

Sharing salary information with external candidates without ensuring current employees understand their own salary bands and how promotions/raises are decided could impact talent retention strategies.

This information should help clarify recent conversations.

Sad NoCoiner

Sad NoCoiner

1 year ago

Two Key Money Principles You Should Understand But Were Never Taught

Prudence is advised. Be debt-free. Be frugal. Spend less.

This advice sounds nice, but it rarely works.

Most people never learn these two money rules. Both approaches will impact how you see personal finance.

It may safeguard you from inflation or the inability to preserve money.

Let’s dive in.

#1: Making long-term debt your ally

High-interest debt hurts consumers. Many credit cards carry 25% yearly interest (or more), so always pay on time. Otherwise, you’re losing money.

Some low-interest debt is good. Especially when buying an appreciating asset with borrowed money.

Inflation helps you.

If you borrow $800,000 at 3% interest and invest it at 7%, you'll make $32,000 (4%).

As money loses value, fixed payments get cheaper. Your assets' value and cash flow rise.

The never-in-debt crowd doesn't know this. They lose money paying off mortgages and low-interest loans early when they could have bought assets instead.

#2: How To Buy Or Build Assets To Make Inflation Irrelevant

Dozens of studies demonstrate actual wage growth is static; $2.50 in 1964 was equivalent to $22.65 now.

These reports never give solutions unless they're selling gold.

But there is one.

Assets beat inflation.

$100 invested into the S&P 500 would have an inflation-adjusted return of 17,739.30%.

Likewise, you can build assets from nothing.  Doing is easy and quick. The returns can boost your income by 10% or more.

The people who obsess over inflation inadvertently make the problem worse for themselves.  They wait for The Big Crash to buy assets. Or they moan about debt clocks and spending bills instead of seeking a solution.

Conclusion

Being ultra-prudent is like playing golf with a putter to avoid hitting the ball into the water. Sure, you might not slice a drive into the pond. But, you aren’t going to play well either. Or have very much fun.

Money has rules.

Avoiding debt or investment risks will limit your rewards. Long-term, being too cautious hurts your finances.

Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not financial advice, always do your own research.

Hannah Elliott

1 year ago

Pebble Beach Auto Auctions Set $469M Record

The world's most prestigious vintage vehicle show included amazing autos and record-breaking sums.

This 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo earned Best of Show in 2022.

This 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo earned Best of Show in 2022.

David Paul Morris (DPM)/Bloomberg

2022 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance winner was a pre-war roadster.

Lee Anderson's 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo won Best of Show at Pebble Beach Golf Links near Carmel, Calif., on Sunday. First American win since 2013.

Sandra Button, chairperson of the annual concours, said the car, whose chassis and body had been separated for years, "marries American force with European style." "Its resurrection story is passionate."

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Auction

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Auction

Since 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has welcomed the world's most costly collectable vehicles for a week of parties, auctions, rallies, and high-roller meetings. The cold, dreary weather highlighted the automobiles' stunning lines and hues.

DPM/Bloomberg

A visitor photographs a 1948 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta

A visitor photographs a 1948 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta. This is one of 25 Ferraris manufactured in the years after World War II. First shown at the 1948 Turin Salon. Others finished Mille Miglia and Le Mans, which set the tone for Ferrari racing for years.

DPM/Bloomberg

This year's frontrunners were ultra-rare pre-war and post-war automobiles with long and difficult titles, such a 1937 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni & Falaschi Teardrop Coupe and a 1951 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Stabilimenti Farina Cabriolet.

The hefty, enormous coaches inspire visions of golden pasts when mysterious saloons swept over the road with otherworldly style, speed, and grace. Only the richest and most powerful people, like Indian maharaja and Hollywood stars, owned such vehicles.

Antonio Chopitea, a Peruvian sugar tycoon, ordered a new Duesenberg in Paris. Hemmings says the two-tone blue beauty was moved to the US and dismantled in the 1960s. Body and chassis were sold separately and rejoined decades later in a three-year, prize-winning restoration.

The concours is the highlight of Monterey Car Week, a five-day Super Bowl for car enthusiasts. Early events included Porsche and Ferrari displays, antique automobile races, and new-vehicle debuts. Many auto executives call Monterey Car Week the "new auto show."

Many visitors were drawn to the record-breaking auctions.

A 1969 Porsche 908/02 auctioned for $4.185 million.

A 1969 Porsche 908/02 auctioned for $4.185 million. Flat-eight air-cooled engine, 90.6-inch wheelbase, 1,320-pound weight. Vic Elford, Richard Attwood, Rudi Lins, Gérard Larrousse, Kurt Ahrens Jr., Masten Gregory, and Pedro Rodriguez drove it, according to Gooding.

DPM/Bloomberg

The 1931 Bentley Eight Liter Sports Tourer doesn't meet its reserve

The 1931 Bentley Eight Liter Sports Tourer doesn't meet its reserve. Gooding & Co., the official auction house of the concours, made more than $105 million and had an 82% sell-through rate. This powerful open-top tourer is one of W.O. Bentley's 100 automobiles. Only 80 remain.

DPM/Bloomberg

The final auction on Aug. 21 brought in $456.1 million, breaking the previous high of $394.48 million established in 2015 in Monterey. “The week put an exclamation point on what has been an exceptional year for the collector automobile market,” Hagerty analyst John Wiley said.

Many cars that go unsold at public auction are sold privately in the days after. After-sales pushed the week's haul to $469 million on Aug. 22, up 18.9% from 2015's record.

In today's currencies, 2015's record sales amount to $490 million, Wiley noted. The dollar is degrading faster than old autos.

Still, 113 million-dollar automobiles sold. The average car sale price was $583,211, up from $446,042 last year, while multimillion-dollar hammer prices made up around 75% of total sales.

Industry insiders and market gurus expected that stock market volatility, the crisis in Ukraine, and the dollar-euro exchange rate wouldn't influence the world's biggest spenders.

Classic.com's CEO said there's no hint of a recession in an e-mail. Big sales and crowds.

Ticket-holders wore huge hats, flowery skirts, and other Kentucky Derby-esque attire.

Ticket-holders wore huge hats, flowery skirts, and other Kentucky Derby-esque attire. Coffee, beverages, and food are extra.

DPM/Bloomberg

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, 1955. Mercedes produced the two-seat gullwing coupe from 1954–1957 and the roadster from 1957–1963

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, 1955. Mercedes produced the two-seat gullwing coupe from 1954–1957 and the roadster from 1957–1963. It was once West Germany's fastest and most powerful automobile. You'd be hard-pressed to locate one for less $1 million.

DPM/Bloomberg

1955 Ferrari 410 Sport sold for $22 million at RM Sotheby's. It sold a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Sindelfingen Roadster for $9.9 million and a 1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C Transformable Torpedo for $9.245 million. The family-run mansion sold $221.7 million with a 90% sell-through rate, up from $147 million in 2021. This year, RM Sotheby's cars averaged $1.3 million.

Not everyone saw such great benefits.

Gooding & Co., the official auction house of the concours, made more than $105 million and had an 82% sell-through rate. 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante, 1990 Ferrari F40, and 1994 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport were top sellers.

The 1969 Autobianchi A112 Bertone.

The 1969 Autobianchi A112 Bertone. This idea two-seater became a Hot Wheels toy but was never produced. It has a four-speed manual drive and an inline-four mid-engine arrangement like the Lamborghini Miura.

DPM/Bloomberg

1956 Porsche 356 A Speedster at Gooding & Co. The Porsche 356 is a lightweight,

1956 Porsche 356 A Speedster at Gooding & Co. The Porsche 356 is a lightweight, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicle that lacks driving power but is loved for its rounded, Beetle-like hardtop coupé and open-top versions.

DPM/Bloomberg

Mecum sold $50.8 million with a 64% sell-through rate, down from $53.8 million and 77% in 2021. Its top lot, a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT 'Tour de France' Alloy Coupe, sold for $2.86 million, but its average price was $174,016.

Bonhams had $27.8 million in sales with an 88% sell-through rate. The same sell-through generated $35.9 million in 2021.

Gooding & Co. and RM Sotheby's posted all 10 top sales, leaving Bonhams, Mecum, and Hagerty-owned Broad Arrow fighting for leftovers. Six of the top 10 sellers were Ferraris, which remain the gold standard for collectable automobiles. Their prices have grown over decades.

Classic.com's Calle claimed RM Sotheby's "stole the show," but "BroadArrow will be a force to reckon with."

Although pre-war cars were hot, '80s and '90s cars showed the most appreciation and attention. Generational transition and new buyer profile."

2022 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance judges inspect 1953 Siata 208

2022 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance judges inspect 1953 Siata 208. The rounded coupe was introduced at the 1952 Turin Auto Show in Italy and is one of 18 ever produced. It sports a 120hp Fiat engine, five-speed manual transmission, and alloy drum brakes. Owners liked their style, but not their reliability.

DPM/Bloomberg

The Czinger 21 CV Max at Pebble Beach

The Czinger 21 CV Max at Pebble Beach. Monterey Car Week concentrates on historic and classic automobiles, but modern versions like this Czinger hypercar also showed.

DPM/Bloomberg

The 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo won Best in Show in 2022

The 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo won Best in Show in 2022. Lee and Penny Anderson of Naples, Fla., own the once-separate-chassis-from-body automobile.

DPM/Bloomberg