Russia and the Baltic: The Modern Version of No Permanent Alliances Only Permanent Interests : The Baltic Must Move Forward, Not Backward

Via CaryGEE, thank you.
In the New York Times
Adam B. Ellick has an interesting November 11, 2007 piece
on Russia and the Baltic States
aptly titled As It Rises, Russia Stirs Baltic Fears.

To pick a paragraph from Ellick:

“In the Baltics, history is a ghost that still walks the streets in a very active way,” said Daina Eglitis of George Washington University. “It’s not just past, it’s present. But people have different readings on it.”

Of interest beyond the Baltic is that the relation of the Baltic nations to Russia is a pretty good barometer of Russian relations to the Western world generally.

We ourselves are political pragmatists and are seldom surprised by political developments in this region. We are reminded of the phrase that there are no permanent alliances, only permanent interests, and these are traceable back in human history over millennia. Brendan Miniter writes in the online Wall Street Journal at The Cows Come Home:

In his 1796 Farewell Address, George Washington noted that there are no permanent alliances, only permanent interests. The speech has often been used to justify an isolationist foreign policy. But in fact, Washington advised the nation to get involved in foreign affairs only when it is in this nation’s interests to do so, while expecting the same from other nations. The original George W. didn’t have a U.N. to proclaim irrelevant, so he simply said, “The period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance . . . when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.”” [emphasis added by LawPundit]

In his Farewell Address, Washington wrote further:

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectably defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all Nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest. But even our Commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and deversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give to trade a stable course, to define the rights of our Merchants, and to enable the Government to support them; conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that ’tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. ‘Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard. [emphasis added by LawPundit]

In offering to you, my Countrymen these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression, I could wish; that they will controul the usual current of the passions, or prevent our Nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the Destiny of Nations: But if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign Intriegue, to guard against the Impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompence for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.


The Founders’ Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 18, Document 29
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch18s29.html
The University of Chicago Press

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. Edited by John C. Fitzpatrick. 39 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1931–44.

Russia follows what it regards to be its permanent interests, the Baltic States follow what they regard to be their permanent interests.

In the case of Russia and the Baltic, these diverse and often conflicting permanent interests have survived all of the wars fought in this region and the alliances formed to fight them. Many have died – and achieved nothing. A modern Realpolitik (pragmatic politics) in this region, in our opinion, therefore would be better advised to apply the lessons of history rather than to continue to repeat repetitively occurring tragedies, leading nowhere.

Our own ancestors stem from the Baltic, but we are in a minority in our political views on that region since we find it pointless to continously drudge around in the past. We would counsel modern Balts to stop complaining about undeniable historical injustices, for which the Balts are themselves in part to blame through their historically recalcitrant and antiquated politics. He who constantly focuses on past losses appears to the world as a “loser”. Spending all of one’s time lamenting past history brings nothing. Rather, one should start to don the garbs (Latvian gerbes = clothes) of winners – which means to look forward to the future with a realistic assessment of the position of the Baltic countries within the larger European and Eurasian pantheon and to act accordingly. Cooperation and not confrontation will lead to better results in the modern international world.

“Clothes” make the man. Dress your spirit like a winner. Act like a winner. Be a winner. Forget the past, no one can change it. Look to tomorrow and do it better than the generations that preceded you.

Let’s take a look at one example.

In terms of Baltic development, the Baltic states are – and always have been – a buffer zone between Eastern and Western Europe. It was thus both the German and Russian aristocracy who built their opulent vacation homes at – and spent their glorious summers at Jurmala (pronounced Your-ma-la). Jurmala Beach Resort and the surrounding villages with their over 30 kilometers of beautiful white sandy beaches form the Gulf of Riga‘s Baltic Riviera, a part of which was a candidate as a World Heritage Site. (See the graphic at the beginning of this post, linked from the official Jurmala city site).

Why not emphasize such through-and-through positive aspects of history and capitalize upon them? Countries with much smaller and far less inviting beach areas have learned to make a fortune from them and to boost their regional economies immensely.

But look for example at the presentation of the Baltic Riviera on the Internet in general. One has to look very hard to find anything which makes this vacation area internationally desirable for potential visitors, who have increased by only a mere 10% in 2007 – and yet, there are millions of tourists who would potentially come to Jurmala (including of course the many scenic villages there) and help bring wealth to Latvia, if the people in Latvia were to turn more to such projects and to turn away from the endless jabber about past eras and past wrongs.

Instead of complaining about Russian money coming into the Baltic, welcome it. Better to see that money invested in banks in Riga than elsewhere. There is nothing like capital to get capitalism going. Money drives the world, that’s just the way it is.

Take the example of Vancouver, today ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and one of the most desirable to live in. A mere 10 years ago there was talk in Canada about a dreaded “Hongcouver”, a Chinese Vancouver, because of “the Hong Kong Chinese, who sought out Vancouver as a safe haven after the British colony returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.” Today, 10 years later, Vancouver is the “Switzerland of the Pacific“.

MOVE FORWARD – otherwise, the past will overtake you, and you will be back where you were – in that unwanted past.

66 Science Blogs : The Largest Online Science Blogging Community : Seed Media Group : plus Larry Lessig and UGC and J.K. Rowling and Originalism

Updated November 12, 2007

Science Blogs is the largest online blogging community dedicated to science. It was created as an experiment in science communication by the Seed Media Group, an emerging science media and communications company, who write:

We have selected our 60+ bloggers based on their originality, insight, talent, and dedication and how we think they would contribute to the discussion at ScienceBlogs. Our role, as we see it, is to create and continue to improve this forum for discussion, and to ensure that the rich dialogue that takes place at ScienceBlogs resonates outside the blogosphere.

One blog – The Scientifc Indian – even links to a simply fantastic Larry Lessig video presentation on user-generated content (UGC)… a confluence of science and law. Even if you read no further, make sure you see that video in entirety to fully understand modern “digital culture” and the major issues facing intellectual property law today.

See also particularly the Evolution Blog about evolution and creation, and examine particularly What the Dumbledore Flap Teaches Us About the Constitution citing to Harry Potter and the Framer’s Intent, a scathing demolition by Michael C. Dorf – via J.K. Rowling and fictional intent – of Constitutional originalism. Dorf writes:

Speaking at Carnegie Hall last week, J.K. Rowling, author of the phenomenally popular Harry Potter series, revealed that Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is gay. Rowling explained that she was prompted to out the fictional Dumbledore when she noticed a reference to a female romantic interest of his in a draft of the screenplay for the planned sixth Potter film.

If the film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince makes Dumbledore’s sexual orientation explicit, then that will settle the matter, at least so far as the fictional cinematic version of Dumbledore is concerned. But given that the Potter books, now complete, make no mention of Dumbledore’s sexuality, Rowling would not appear to have any authority to declare the print version of Dumbledore gay, straight or bi. Her views on such matters are naturally of interest to fans of her books, but the work must stand on its own.

These principles may seem obvious enough when considering the relation of a fiction writer’s intentions to her text, but they are highly contentious when it comes to legal documents. In the balance of this column, I will explain why James Madison is no more of an authority on the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, than J.K. Rowling is on Dumbledore’s sexual orientation.

Read the rest here.

Below is the list of the current 66 Science Blogs together with our comments – or not – about them, and/or including a link to a sample posting we have selected.

Sacred Earth : A Photographic Tour of the Sacred Sites of our Planet by Martin Gray

In our opinion, Martin Gray, some of whose photographs have been published by National Geographic, is one of the outstanding photographers of our age. He specializes in photographing our planet’s “Sacred Sites”. His recent “Places of Peace and Power : Sacred Sites Newsletter” (newsletters@sacredsites.com) indicates that he has finally completed his photographic book:
Sacred Earth

You can at the moment even get an autographed version.

As written in the foreword by Graham Hancock:

Acclaimed photographer and anthropologist Martin Gray has spent the last twenty years on a pilgrimage photographing and exploring more than a thousand sacred sites in eighty countries. Now, this stunning beautiful and deeply rewarding book conveys the essence of this remarkable journey to locations and sites imbued with the power to awaken feelings of transcendence, awe, and peace….

Accompanying each photograph is an insightful commentary that takes us deep into the history, mythology, and spiritual magnetism of the particular place. We come to realize that these stone rings, pyramids, shrines, and temples are often situated in locations that were discovered to possess special powers and energies by pre-industrial peoples who recognized the earth as a living and sacred being worthy of deep respect.

Please note that this blog posting is not a paid advertisement but our own honest opinion.

America the Beautiful? Not at Wal-Mart : Tyrannical Retailer Attacks Lawfirm Associate Payhikes in a New Mockery of Democracy and Freedom

Legal Week reports today, November 8, 2007 in Wal-Mart memo slams associate pay-hikes, an article by Michelle Madsen that:

Wal-Mart has demanded a freeze on across-the-board rate-increases from its US outside counsel, claiming that associate salary-hikes have had an unacceptable impact on law firm billing rates.

A memo sent out last week by the retail giant to the relationship partners at its network of outside counsel said that while the salaries firms chose to pay junior associates were “none of its concern”, the company was worried by the impact pay-rises were having on charge-out rates.”

It remains a mystery to this observer that what must be clueless Americans and customers in other nations continue to buy any wares at all from this terribly tyrannical company, the world’s largest retailer, for whom democracy, freedom and human rights are mere shadows, as one can read later in this posting.

As reported by Deutsche Welle in World’s Biggest Retailer Wal-Mart Closes Up Shop in Germany, an article by Louisa Schaefer, Wal-Mart tried to crack the retail market in Germany starting in 1997/1998, but had to throw in the towel in 2006 after losing about $1 billion in that ca. 10-year period. It was a sum which we could have saved that company easily, if they had just asked for our opinion early enough. We walked into a Wal-Mart store here in Germany at the beginning of their initial retail campaign and it was instantly clear to us that such a crass low-class cheap-quality and tyrannical outfit had zero chance of success in quality-conscious and – because of WWII – human-rights-savvy Germany.

As Louisa Schaefer writes:

Andreas Knorr and Andreas Arndt of the University of Bremen didn’t mince words in their study calledWhy did Wal-Mart Fail in Germany?[link added by LawPundit]

The authors wrote: “Wal-Mart’s attempt to apply the company’s proven US success formula in an unmodified manner to the German market turned out to be nothing short of a fiasco.”

One example of that might be that Wal-Mart’s American managers pressured German executives to enforce American-style management practices in the workplace. Employees were forbidden, for instance, from dating colleagues in positions of influence. Workers were also told not to flirt with one another.

A German court ruled last year against the company’s attempt to introduce a telephone hotline for employees to inform on their colleagues.

High labor costs may have been a big hurdle for Wal-Mart Germany, as well as workers who tried to resist management’s demands which they felt were unjust.

One Wal-Mart employee told the newsmagazine Der Spiegel that management had threatened to close certain stores if staff did not agree to work to working longer hours than their contracts foresaw and did not permit video surveillance of their work. “

As Knorr and Arndt write, in addition to the United States:

Wal-Mart is serving Argentina, Canada, Germany [no longer], South Korea, Puerto Rico and the UK through wholly-owned and Brazil and Mexico through majority-owned subsidiaries.

It has preferred, however, to forge joint ventures to enter the Chinese market, and a small minority shareholding in an established local retailer in Japan.“

To the citizens of all of these countries, we have the following message. Tyranny does not take over the lives of citizens suddenly, but is rather a slow process of theft. Your freedoms are not taken all at once by the political body that governs your state, but are eroded little by little through the undemocratic processes that you tolerate daily in your lives as imposed upon you by institutions and companies such as Wal-Mart. Once you are used to your rights being taken away, it is no problem for political bodies to put you into chains.

Under the cover of doing a “good deal” for you, cheaper wares are being offered to you at YOUR cost, not at the cost of the people who own Wal-Mart, who are profiting handsomely by your ignorance. Those cheaper prices are obtained by curtailing YOUR freedoms, whether in the person of Wal-Mart workers, or now, in the case of law firms serving this company. In order for Wal-Mart to make an even greater profit than ever before, your rights are being curtailed, more and more.

Indeed, the Wal-Mart failure in Germany led to a documentary cinema film to be made about this human rights fiasco entitled Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. As written by Deutsche Welle in Wal-Mart Slammed at Berlinale:

The documentary, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” is a foray into the shocking reality of cost-cutting retail management, into a world where employee rights play second fiddle to just about everything, particularly the deadly serious issue of making money….

One of Greenwald’s protagonists, a young single mother of two, says that when she first started her six-year stint at Wal-Mart, she really believed in the company. But that belief turned to disbelief when she discovered that male workers with less experience were being paid more than her. And that was not all. She was forced to perform dangerous work when seven months pregnant, and hassled by management for taking leave of absence to nurse her dying parents….

Another former employee who features in the film tells of the unscrupulous code of conduct he was expected to comply with during his time as a Wal-Mart manager. From shaving hours off employee’s time cards to paying off town councils which planned to block plans for new stores, Weldon Nicholson tells Greenwald “there’s so much wrong with this company, I wouldn’t even know where to begin….”

Although the film director managed to assemble a diverse cast of people who have endured the worst of the supermarket giant, the hunt for characters was not without its difficulties. “We found heartbreaking stories from people who worked at Wal-Mart, but many of them were just too frightened to appear on camera,” he said in a written introduction to the film. “We found businesses run out of the country, with CEOs who were terrified of talking with us on or off camera because of retaliation by Wal- Mart.“

Many people in America wonder that many Americans prefer to live abroad. Perhaps it is time for Americans to take a closer look at the good old USA they call home. Where is the freedom and democracy that the founding fathers hoped to establish in America? Gone with the wind?

As written by Deutsche Welle in Labor of Love in the German Workplace:

A court in the city of Düsseldorf ruled that the German subsidiary of the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, was acting outside the law in trying to impose restrictions on the nature of relationships allowed between its employees.

The court said that while such regulations might be acceptable and indeed common practice in the US, they are neither compatible with German labor law nor the personal rights of employees.

Wal-Mart introduced a code of ethical conduct earlier in the year. It prohibits company employees from dating or falling in love with a colleague in a position of influence, and from exchanging lustful glances or flirting in any way.

In its 28-page code, the discount chain, requests that its workers report anyone observed to be breaking the rules, via a special telephone hotline. Failure to comply with the rules can lead to the termination of an employment contract.

The Germans know all about that. That is how East Germany and the former Nazi Germany used to work – by denunciation. Perhaps this experience with tyranny is the reason that Wal-Mart had no chance in modern Germany.

But the face of facism is alive and well, in the ownership and management echelons of Wal-Mart.

And now … my dear friends, they and Wal-Mart are after YOU … the lawyers.

It will be interesting to see how – and if at all – the American legal community will react to this new visage of evil. I am betting you will all duck, because the mass of men are sheep and cowards at heart if the visible evil does not affect you DIRECTLY – what do you care?

But I would remind you all …:

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

BEWARE.

Diversity in Major Law Firms : Paul Weiss Heads the Minority Law Journal List 2007

Diversity is a big issue in the United States and also affects law firms and law firm recruitment. We point out here, pursuant to the citations below, that Paul, Weiss et al. in New York City, our former law firm, ranks number one in this regard, for the second year in a row.

Citing the Minority Law Journal 5/1/07, the Northwestern University Law School Center for Career Strategy & Advancement’s Market Trends writes on the topic of diversity at major law firms as follows:

The overall percentage of ethnic minorities of the 255 largest U.S. firms (209 respondents) jumped to 12.4 percent from 11.3 percent in 2006 and 10.4 percent in 2005 according to The Minority Law Journal’s Diversity Scorecard. The percentage of minority partners, however, is only up slightly from 5 percent in 2006 to 5.7 percent in 2007. The individual law firm with the highest percentage of minority attorneys, 25.3 percent, is Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison (New York). Diversity in partnership is increasing, with 11 percent of all new partners being lawyers of color. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has the highest percentage of minority partners, 15.1 percent, and Greenberg Traurig reported the highest total number of minority partners, 58. –The Minority Law Journal, 5/1/07” [emphasis added by LawPundit]

At the main page of the Paul, Weiss website we find the following links:

Asian Legal Business Names Paul, Weiss Best IT/Telecommunications Law Firm for Seventh Year

Paul, Weiss Named One of the Best Law Firms for Women

Paul, Weiss Ranks Sixth in The American Lawyer‘s 2007 “A-List” of U.S. Law Firms

Paul, Weiss Ranked Most Diverse Law Firm in the United States for Second Year in a Row

See our previous postings about Paul, Weiss starting here.

Legal OnRamp : A Collaborative Online Legal Network Community of In-House Legal Staffs and Outside Law Firms

Via The Common Scold and Monica Bay, we read some news about Legal OnRamp, “a community of legal professionals from leading companies, law firms, and law schools” being created by invitation only, although interested organizations, firms and companies should contact them at the email given at that website.

Inside Counsel, “[t]he premier business magazine for general counsel and corporate legal executives“, has an article by Keith Ecker about Legal OnRamp at Counsel Connection., where he wrote in July:

By enabling attorneys to collaborate, the creators of Legal OnRamp hope legal departments can leverage each other’s knowledge to reduce costs. For example, Cisco has already considered the possibility of collaborating with other legal departments to create online training modules at a fraction of the price….

Aside from allowing GCs to collaborate with their peers, Legal OnRamp offers features that will help in-house counsel leverage the services and knowledge of outside law firms.

Terry Carter in New Routes Into the Corporate Door at the ABA Journal wrote in August:

If Cisco Systems general counsel Mark Chandler is right, the information superhighway will be littered with law firms like so much road kill.—

Chandler’s new baby, the LegalOnramp, is one example of those change efforts. It is a members-only online community of corporations’ in-house legal staffs and outside law firms. Everything about LegalOnramp is geared to information sharing, collaboration and (its main reason for being) negotiating honest value for legal work.

In place of surfing from one law-firm Web site to another in search of legal updates, FAQs, forms, templates and the like, LegalOnramp offers all that and more in a single, limited-access site. Added to that mix are:

  • The entire knowledge-management databases of individual member firms.
  • Wiki collaboration on legal knowledge and strategies.
  • A version of the Facebook social-network site for greater community.
  • A developing, “craigslist” way of pitching and getting business that avoids the troublesome features of requests for proposals.

LegalOnramp won’t be formally announced till later this year, if at all, says Paul Lippe, a lawyer with expertise in Web technologies who Chandler tapped to build it. But after 15 corporations came together in its legal services network last March along with about 25 law firms, the program started growing quickly. By early June, the tally was 30 companies and more than 100 law firms.” [links added by Law Pundit]

What is intriguing here is that no one knows where this will end and what consequences it will have on the established legal scene. The intent, of course, is to reduce costs and save money, but experience shows that lawyers are often needed, perhaps moreso than before, to handle new problems which arise from purported solutions to old problems.

Indus Valley Script Is Discovered to be Astronomy and is compared with a Zodiac in Easter Island Rongorongo Script

Daniel Salas has alerted me to his website and his interpretation of Indo-European Sanskrit decipherment of the Indus Valley script as astronomy. He writes there:

I found that the Indus Valley script signs matched the star constellations along the ecliptic.

I am very sympathetic to his approach since it mirrors some of my own views about the common astronomical origin of many symbols in disparate cultures. I do not however agree with many of his individual interpretations, but I think he is definitely on the right track in seeing symbols of the Indus Valley script to be astronomical signs for the Nakshatras (ancient Vedic Sanskrit moon stations of the sky). In other words, he is very right in seeing the astronomical connection. I then saw it as my responsibility, based on my experience with ancient astronomical scripts, to identify those symbols that I can.

Below, I compare one of the seals that Daniel Salas shows on his website with my decipherment 26 years ago of a wooden tablet from Easter Island known as “Honolulu Tablet No. B. 3622”, which I showed to be an ancient zodiac, as published in the year 1981 in An Astrological Zodiac in the Script of Easter Island. That there is a clear connection between that Easter Island script and the Indus Valley seal pictured by Daniel Salas is beyond doubt, and I interpret the Indus Valley seal accordingly below.

At the bottom of the graphic below, to the right (and reproduced backwards next to it left), is the Indus Valley seal pictured by Salas:

To our eye, the second line appears merely to be a variant writing of the same symbols.

In the middle of the page below is found the Easter Island Zodiac deciphered by me in the year 1981:


If we now directly compare the Indus Valley seal with the Easter Island tablet we get the following comparison and identification of astronomical signs:

indus valley easter island zodiac astronomical signs

The second row of symbols on the seal appears to be a variant form of the same group of symbols – or – perhaps this lower group of symbols applies to the southern heavens, which would support the ancient Vedic Sanskrit legends that the ancient seafarers mapped the southern heavens so as to be nearly identical to their northern counterparts. Richard Hinckley Allen in Star Names, Dover Publications, N.Y. 1997, reports of ancient legends that the southern stars were initially created by ancient seafarers to approximate the shape of Northern constellations in similar positions. Allen writes in Star Names (p. 436) as follows:

Before the observations of the navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries the singular belief prevailed that the southern heavens contained a constellation near the pole similar to our Bear or Wain; indeed it is said to have been represented on an early map or globe. Manilus wrote:

The lower Pole resemblance bears
To this Above, and shines with equal stars;
With Bears averse, round which the Draco twines;’

and Al Biruni repeated the Sanskrit legend that at one time in the history of the Creation an attempt was made by Visvamitra to form a southern heavenly home for the body of the dead king, the pious Somadatta; and this work was not abandoned till a southern pole and another Bear had been located in positions corresponding to the northern, this pole passing through the island Lunka, or Vadavamukha (Ceylon). The Anglo-Saxon Manual made distinct mention of this duplicate constellation ‘which we can never see.’…“

Footnote: The name Rongorongo for Easter Island is an unfortunately erroneous rendering by misled scholars and their equally detoured followers. The ancients doubled their symbols and names to form plurals and the term rongo is cognate with Indo-European e.g. Latvian runas “talks, stories” of which runa is the singular. To form the plural, the ancients doubled the rongo “runa” symbol. The Latvian term RUNA “talk” viz. RUNAS “talks” explains why the carved messages found on ancient megaliths are called RUNES in the Scandinavian pantheon.