Tuesday 23 August 2022

black ribbon day (10.081)

Officially the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and broadly for all who suffered under authoritarian regimes, this day was chosen for its observance as the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, a treaty of non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which contained a secret protocol that partitioned Europe into spheres of influence. To counter historic revisionism and Russia’s categorical denial of the deal which held until 1941 as well as grave crimes, twenty one Western cities, organised chiefly by Central and Eastern European refugees living in Canada, staged the first memorial in 1986, spreading to the Baltics three years later with the Cold War-era protests eventually leading to revolution. In 2019, the European Parliament adopted the resolution to enshrine (reaffirming the formal designation of 2008) the annual observance to broadly condemn the propaganda and disinformation that would deny or glorify totalitarianism and undermines liberal democracies.

Saturday 30 April 2022

illuminated manuscripts

We quite enjoyed reflecting on this survey of the allure of modern medievalism for commercial clients and image-makers through the lens of the portfolio of commissions of Riga-based graphic designer Robert Rurans, who in turn takes his inspiration from source materials like fourteenth century catechisms, almanacs, herbals and alchemical guides. Clientele include fashion house Hermรฉs, Coca-Cola and numerous jobs for the New York Times, who’ve twice nominated Rurans for illustrator of the year. Much more at It’s Nice That at the link up top.

Sunday 24 April 2022


Founded and headquartered in the The Hague in 1991, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation was constituted to champion the marginalised with membership made of indigenous peoples, minorities and unrecognised or otherwise occupied territories with an aim of achieving political autonomy and self-determination with the rejection of violence and terrorism as tools of policy. Current localities and groups on its rolls (not without controversy and in-group dispute) are Abkhazia, Bretagne, Catalonia, the District of Colombia, Guam, the Hmong, Savoy, Sindhudesh and Tibet. Former members Palau, East Timor, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and Armenia have attained full statehood and independence.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

vilnius group

Constituted in May 2000, member countries Slovenia, Slovakia (having already undergone its Velvet Divorce in 1993, the date falls on the anniversary of the 1990 compromise that ended the so called Hyphen War, Pomlฤkovรก vojna, started in 1989 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union on what to call themselves and how to share a territory with two identities) Romania, North Macedonia, Lithuania (its capital the namesake), Latvia, Estonia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Albania to lobby as a group for NATO inclusion, all aspirants acceded to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on this day in 2004 with the exception of Albania, Croatia and North Macedonia (under the Adriatic Charter) joining in 2009 and 2020. The former association closely maps with the composition of the Visegrรกd Group, another former pooled campaign for European Union membership and presently a regional economic cooperative.

Saturday 21 August 2021

dziesmotฤ revolลซcija

Beginning in 1987 after the introduction of the policies of glasnost and perestroika that rolled back certain limitations on political expression heretofore imposed on Soviet constituent member states outside of the core of Russia, the Baltic satellites staged a peaceful Singing Revolution that culminated for Latvia on this day in 1991 declaring its independence in the midst of an attempted coup to unseat Mikhail Gorbachev from his leadership position. One of the more popular songs of the freedom movement was the trilingual (also with verses in Estonian and Lithuanian) The Baltics are Waking Up!, composed by Boriss Rezniks for a protest two years prior commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, which defined German and Soviet spheres of influence in the region, with defiant ralliers’ joining hands and forming a human chain stretching across the three countries.

Friday 27 July 2018

biลกu ลกลซnas

Reflecting on Albert Einstein’s dire and prescient warning about how if we eradicated the bees, we’d be soon to follow, Latvian designer Arthur Analts carried the competition to create a unique and collectable 5 € coin for the ecologically conscious country in the form of a honeycomb, whose shape also references the geography of the nation and the Gulf of Riga. The euro replaced the lats and santฤซmi in 2014 when the country became one nineteen member states to use the domination. Among those Analts beat out were the entrants from the British design agency who cleverly ran a counter-commemorative currency campaign to what the Royal Mint thought symbolised the UK. Be sure to visit the link up top to learn more.

Sunday 21 December 2014

2014: dรฉjร  vu, jamais vu

Another year has passed and PfRC is taking a look back at some of the events, big and small, that can be filed under 2014.  What a banner one it was, marked in equal parts of remembrance and foreshadowing.  It was a year of reflection and despite what some pundits say as we are very much at risk in repeating ourselves, I think there was also quite a lot of soul-searching.  Let’s see what 2015 has in store for us.

January: Latvia joins the European Union. The Syrian civil war crosses into Lebanon, threatening to engulf the whole region. Pot shops open their doors to recreational smokers in Colorado and big business quickly descends to turn a profit. A tragic sinking occurs in the waters off Lampedusa with many migrants fleeing violence in northern Africa drowning. A Chinese rover on the Moon, dependent on solar power, survived another two-week long lunar night to explore some more. We sadly had to say good-bye to singer and freedom-fighter Pete Seeger.
February: The Olympic Winter Games are held in Sochi. Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych is deposed and in the aftermath of the Maidan Protests, civil unrest explodes. We had to bid adieu to actors Maximilian Schell, Shirley Temple, Sid Caesar and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

March: Russia annexes the Crimea at the urging of pro-Russian separatists. Sanctions against Russian interests ensue. The Chinese year of the Wood Horse begins. Researches discover the largest virus known in a sample of tundra ice. Territorial tensions mount in the Pacific, prompting America to focus its attention of Japan and China. A Malaysian airliner veers off course and disappears.

April: Former popes John Paul II and John XXIII are canonised. America throws its diminishing weight around in the international banking sector. Systemic discipline problems surface in the elite US Secret Service. Mickey Rooney, Bob Hoskins and writer Gabriel Garcia Mรกrquez sadly departed.
May: The world at-large begins to recognise the severity of the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Poet Maya Angelou left us. Europe begins to solemnly commemorate the centennial of the start of the Great War. Former Soviet satellite states feel increasingly vulnerable as the situation in Ukraine deteriorates as Cold War tensions seem set to return. There is a military coup in Thailand.

June: A group of militants styled the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant aim to create a caliphate and begin attracting confederates from the West. A controversial and covert swap transpires between Guantanamo detainees in exchange for the release of an American prisoner-of-war. Germany wins the World Cup in football, and throws a minor hissy-fit over the National Security Agency’s spying practises when it is revealed that the chancellor’s phone was also tapped.

July: In response to kidnappings and killings, Israel launches a major offensive against the Gaza Strip, prompting the United Nations and others to condemn the reaction and declare solidarity with the Palestinians. The Drug-War in Mexico intensifies.  The former French president is taken into custody over corruption charges.
August: The US and cadets return to Iraq and Afghanistan, realising sadly that withdrawal was not only premature but that the whole venture misguided. Comedian Robin Williams exited along with Richard Attenborough and fellow-legend Bill Cosby was accused multiple times of rape, constituting one of the saddest episodes for fandom in recent times. Children from Central and South AmErica cross the deserts of Mexico to cross the border into the United States.

September: America embarks on a campaign against Islamist militants in Syria but every overture, violent or peaceful, are in the main ineffective. Personality—if ever one deserved to wear that mantel, Joan Rivers left us.

October: India and Pakistan exchange fire over Kashmir. Protests break out in Hong Kong over reforms that would remove some of the special treatment afforded the autonomous administrative district, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Tianmen Square massacre. Germany observes the twenty-fifth anniversary also of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  

November: The successor to the Kyoto Protocols forecast dire and irreversible changes at human hands to the environment. The European Space Agency successfully piggy-backs on a comet. China surpasses the US as the world’s biggest economy ahead of schedule. The Duchess of Alba and author PD James also left before their time.

December: Massive protests erupt in several urban-centres in the United States over the slaying deaths of unarmed African American males at the hands of white officers while keeping to their beats of broken-window policing.
Inhuman terrorist act occur in Sydney, Yemen and Pakistan.  The Central Intelligence Agency hinted at some of its suspected depravity by releasing a fraction of the files that documented the agency’s efforts to keep us all safe in a post 9/11 world.
Summed up in a rhetorical parallel: did the US condone and carry out torture, yes—and whether or not it could be justified in the minds of these perverse and duplicitous individuals, did it produce any actionable intelligence, no.  The US moves to normalising relations with Cuba.