Saturday, August 9, 2014

Real Maidan Returns!

Real Maidan Returns!

Real Maidan Returns!

Posted: 09 Aug 2014 06:28 AM PDT

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…

In the end of February the protests in Kyiv ended as ex-president Yanukovich ran away to Russia and Ukrainians had a chance to hold early presidential elections. A lot of men who during the months of protests stood on Maidan (Independence Square) volunteered into the Army and went to the East of Ukraine to protect our country from Russian invasion. Most people returned to their lives, their work. We need to be all contributing with as much passion and commitment to strengthening our country robbed by corruption of previous government and weakened by ongoing war with Russia.

As 99% of participants of Maidan left, some stayed and possibly some new ones came in their place claiming that they had been there from the beginning. Over these months a handful of people continued to occupy Independence Square, refusing to remove their tents and not allowing to clear unneeded barricades.

Kyiv citizens who during the protests were on Maidan and also very supportive of protesters who came from other regions, now were growing increasingly frustrated with this illegal occupation of the downtown of Kyiv. Most of us went out of our way to get around that part of city so that we wouldn't see what is happening there. It was offensive to the memory of important events that took place on Maidan in the winter and especially to the memory of the people who laid their lives fighting for freedom.

What made it even worse was increasingly frequent occasions of people from Maidan raiding businesses in the downtown. This tent camp on Independence Square was now hosting very different kind of people compared to the winter.

The city officials have tried number of times to negotiate the removal of the tent camp, but what they heard was that Maidan as it was would continue staying there to "control the new government". It was not clear to most people in Kyiv why the control had to be executed by camping out in the downtown doing nothing but drinking and raiding local businesses.

Yesterday city government called Kyiv citizens to come to Independence Square to help clean it. Today REAL Maidan returned! People who cared for their city and for their country, people of different ages, some dressed for dirty cleaning work and some dressed like they were coming to a celebration all joining efforts and working with great enthusiasm to remove barricades, tents and trash from Independence Square. It felt like we were reclaiming our city from being held hostage for months!

The work was frequently interrupted by verbal fights with the inhabitants of tents refusing to move out, and some bigger provocations like setting on fire piles of tires or occasionally throwing fire bombs (cocktail Molotoff).

But people kept on cleaning with the same determination I saw in Dec-Feb when they were building those barricades for protection. We hope that today we will free Maidan completely and it will become a place where we remember the heroes and celebrate freedom.

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Tropical storm Iselle before and after photos

Posted: 09 Aug 2014 06:03 AM PDT

A collection of before and after photos that document the affect of tropical storm Iselle on Hawaii. These photos were captured around Hilo Bay.

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Welcome Home - Part I

Posted: 09 Aug 2014 01:48 AM PDT

I live on Kibbutz Nirim, less than a mile from the border with the Gaza Strip. Four hundred people usually live here.  The children of this community were moved to more secure places on July 9th, when the frequency of Hamas and Jihad rockets and mortars began falling at a rate that was just too dangerous to allow children to play outside safely. Indeed, it became dangerous for any of us to carry on with our normal life routines.

After 30 days of self-imposed exile, the stage was set last night  - Friday evening - to welcome everyone home. A pool party was planned. Most of the time, the pool had been closed since swimming was an activity far too risky due to our mere10 second warning to take cover in case of rocketfire.Shirts were designed proudly stating "We won't give up on Nirim!", everyone pitched in to prepare food and plan the party.

Then, the 72 hour ceasefire expired. And the Hamas resumed shooting.A pool party would be far too dangerous and exposed, so we changed our venue to a safer place, below our dining room, not completely safe, but at least less vulnerable.

With the renewed firing, some of the families who had planned on returning, sadly changed their minds. It was simply not yet safe enough, in their minds, to return with their children. Everyone respected their decision, but other families chose to return. And despite the fact that there was a Code Red incoming missile alert, a mere 20 minutes before the festivities were set to begin, we came out in droves. The shirts will be distributed when the hostilities are truly behind us, but we went ahead with our collective Friday evening meal - happy to see neighbors whom we hadn't seen in weeks.

Note: If you look carefully at the first photo, we are almost (but not quite) back to normal. There ARE children playing on the swings again, but in the foreground of the picture, one of our residents is being interviewed by the online newspaper, Ynet. Not completely  back to normal, YET.

To be continued…..

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Demonstration on the war in Gaza in Iceland

Posted: 08 Aug 2014 12:36 AM PDT

In the tiny village Ísafjörður in Iceland a few women who were fed up and horrified by the news of bloodshed and killings in Gaza, Palestine, got together and held a very symbolic demonstration in the plaza of their home town. They gave a little speach and read some poetry to a relatively big crowd that had gathered to take part. Clothes lines had been strung around the plaza and they hung children's clothes on the lines and encouraged other participants to do the same. In the end the demonstrators had hung up about 400 pieces of clothes – one for each child killed in the Israeli bombings on Gaza in July-August 2014. „That's more children than attend the children's school in our village" one of the women said. „Hanging clothes on a line is an act of caring, something a parent does for the family and performing this common, everyday act in this horrible context was really moving. We feel for the children and families in Gaza and we wanted to express these feelings."

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Hurricane Iselle

Posted: 08 Aug 2014 12:10 AM PDT

Walmart boarded up

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Hurricane Iselle from downtown Hilo

Posted: 07 Aug 2014 11:54 PM PDT

Sent home from work by the Mayor, this is a quick snap of the Bay Front approx. 12:15 pm HST.

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