Monday, April 26, 2010

Remembering the Chernobyl Disaster

On this day, the 26th of April, 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident happened in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The amount of radiation released on that day was 100 times more than that of the atomic bombs dropped over Japan in 1945.

I was reminded of the Chernobyl disaster in recent weeks when traveling by train from Warsaw, Poland through northwest Ukraine to Kiev. I asked a fellow traveler about the cooling towers below and we got to talking about the disaster. He said that we were, in fact, traveling through the Chernobyl District en route to the capital.

From a distance looking north, I wondered what on earth that was.

A closer look. Later, I asked Michael Sadler, PhD, physics whiz supreme, what these were. He said that they're cooling towers at an electrical power plant and that from what's visible in the photos, they don't appear to be nuclear power plants. But you already knew all that, right?

Here's the link for the video above, Extreme Tourism at Chernobyl Ghost-Town, produced by Russia Today and Chernobyl Uncensored: A Documentary includes chilling details.

How about you, dear blog reader. Were you affected by the disaster? Do you know anyone who was?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

As Warsaw Weeps. . .

The scene near the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, last Sunday evening, 11th April, where the body of the president was lying in state. Everybody was heading toward the palace, thousands of Polish folk were there to pay their respects. Let me tell you right here, that the best two photos are at the very end of this post, about 3 kilometers south of here, both snatched from friend Nicole's Facebook page. More about that later. . .

Near the Presidential Palace. This close was close enough for me, toward the north end of New World Street. (Click photos to enlarge.)

But let's rewind a bit. Here we are on the south end of New World Street, near the statue of Copernicus. Folks above are heading home.

Hundreds of thousands of people were there Saturday evening, someone said. I'd say Sunday afternoon, mega thousands were there as the president's body was returned from Russia and brought to the palace. Toward evening, crowds were thinning out and families were there with children.

A group of Catholic nuns leaving a church of New World Street.

Even dogs wanted to be there.

Candles for sale. Thousands of candles.

Tulips for sale, two zloties each. With 3 zloties - or s0- to the dollar, that would be close to 60 cents each, likely per stem.

A Catholic church, heading toward the Presidential Palace. In this church is the heart of the great Polish composer, Chopin. That was his wish.

Correspondents were everywhere. News crews were busy getting their stories. The interview above went on at length. . .

A street lamp made a handy ladder for this photographer, shooting toward the palace.

This little girl was on a good perch, her daddy's shoulders. Is she shooting in our direction?

Another news crew, interviewing somebody on the street.

This photographer, child and mother interested me. The man was taking time to get the flag, the boy and all just right. Eventually realized that they were family.

Toward the palace, the photographer on the crane, upper left, was clever. What do you think, do the media networks have advance plans for getting the best shots of group events such as this? So maybe they already know where to rent cranes and such. Would you happen to know?

A sea of candles and flowers.

Scouts were enforcing the barriers between the crowds and tributes. This scout noticed that I had stepped over the line. Soon he came and requested that I move back. Got our exchange on this video.

Thanks to dear Nicole Linebaugh Kondracki who showed what she's made of: Nicole and husband Lucas captured those photos before dawn Monday morning. They're hauntingly beautiful ~ the photos, that is.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw.

Here's the Presidential Palace Monday morning, no lines and no waiting. Fabulous shots Nicole. I'm in awe.

Monday, April 12, 2010

As Poland Grieves

Dear Friends, Greetings from Warsaw. A quick blog post to share with you sights and sounds on the streets here as Poland weeps. These photos were taken Sunday evening. I have lots more! This is for starters. More later. . .

Flags everywhere. The Polish flag is so simple - red and white - now with black ribbon added.

On New World Street, pockets of interviews.

Photographer found a unique perch - shooting from a portable toilet.

Now that's clever - not much can beat the view from a crane.

Near the Presidential Palace where the president's body is lying in state.

Photographer daddy capturing important day in little boy's life.

Polish flags for sale. I barely resisted buying. . .

From Copernicus and me, a solemn hello from Warsaw.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Rosenbergs: A Granddaughter's Perspective

On this day in 1951, Americans Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death for acts of espionage for the Soviet Union. They were accused of passing information about the atomic bomb from a source in Los Alamos -- namely, Mrs. Rosenberg's brother who was employed there -- to the Russian vice consul in New York. The Rosenbergs maintained their innocence until their executions in June, 1953. Their deaths left two young boys, Robert and Michael.

This video was produced by the Rosenbergs' granddaughter, Ivy Meeropol. As she notes, her quest was not that of determining guilt or innocence but that of shedding light on what drove her grandparents and who they were as people. This is a gripping story of Cold War drama and to this day, unanswered questions remain.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Christians and Piercing

Tattoos and piercing is now approved for Christians and divinely sanctioned, or so says one Warsaw business owner.

Do you have a tattoo? Got piercings? By whose hand were these done? Maybe I should consider making an appointment for a permanent souvenir of Poland. . . ;)