The Week: 24th – 30th April

Gorgeous Friday afternoon in Canberra.

Autumn colours this week.

Autumn Flowers Garden Canberra Australia After the Rain Sonya Heaney 26th April 2017 Nature

After the rain. Wednesday afternoon. We have autumn flowers everywhere all of a sudden.

Autumn FINALLY hit us this week. So annoying that Tuesday – Anzac Day – was not a nice day, when we’d been having summer weather until now. We apparently had 38 000 people at the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, thousands more than other cities with populations six or more times ours. Not a bad effort!

Christopher Heaney Australian Army Vietnam War 1968 1969 IMG_0078My father in Nui Dat (Vietnam) in the 1960s.

We went to lunch with my war veteran father, who’d been planning to march this year (he never does), but then changed his mind. The place we chose was almost completely booked out for a reunion of military intelligence people – so many men and women with their medals! My father impressed them, however. One actually commented he was a “real” veteran because of all the combat he’d seen.

On Saturday evening I went to buy some wine – and got asked for ID again (or “carded”, as I believe Americans say). Now, I’m closer to forty than thirty, and the legal drinking age here is eighteen. I first worked in a bar in the year 2000. Exactly what point in time are people going to stop asking me if I’m older than schoolchildren?! People keep saying: take it as a compliment. But… Especially when it’s a teenager at the cash register! I think: I am literally old enough to be your mother!

The bombed car on the back of a truck after the attack.

This week an American citizen was killed in a Russian car bomb in Ukraine. (RT News – the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda channel – was on the scene within three minutes of the bombing, because that’s NOT suspicious in any way!!). Whereas Donald Trump was all over Twitter about the American killed in the Westminster terror attack, calling him a hero and all of that, there was deafening silence from the US government over what was essentially a political assassination in Ukraine.

I guess the president only values some Americans…

My review of Blindsided (Men of Steele #3) by Gwen Hernandez

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Lisa Kleypas Interview

Vintage War Romance

Free read over at Harlequin

The Handmaid’s Tale Premieres

A note on something that happened last week.

A note on something that happened last week.

How (Not To) Cover Lies

I was going to post a long explanation of why I was horrified by an author’s Facebook rave about a movie last week, and said something I probably shouldn’t have, but instead I’ll make it short(ish):

#1 Hollywood director Oliver Stone is one of the most prominent Western propagandists for Russia.

#2 He considers Vladimir Putin a friend (in fact his next movie is a propaganda piece praising Putin; he interviewed him personally for it). If people liked and believed his Edward Snowden “biopic”, what’s to say they won’t like and believe the Putin one, too?

#3 He talks to right-wing English-language tabloids, spreading blatant Kremlin-approved lies about things like the war in Ukraine.

Oliver Stone Interviews Yanukovych

^^^^

Oliver Stone interviews the deposed pro-Russian president of Ukraine for a propaganda piece about the revolution that resulted in Putin’s invasion. Viktor Yanukovych is wanted worldwide for crimes such as killing his own people in 2014. He is now in hiding in Russia, but Putin gave Stone access to him.

#4 Which means paying to support, and watching, enjoying, and then recommending his films to thousands of your readers is more dangerous than you might realise.

#5 After 2016, when English-language, Kremlin-generated propaganda achieved appalling, damaging things, like delivering Trump to power, this is not a time for being ignorant.

#6 Which is why I became very angry with a very popular romance author on Friday night after seeing her singing the praises of an Oliver Stone film, made to put subtle and not-so subtle ideas in Westerners’ heads about Edward Snowden, the United States, and Russia. I totally lost it when she concluded Snowden was a hero of our time – exactly what the Russians want you to think.

This is not an era where anyone can afford to take “documentaries” or “biopics” at face value (e.g. the day after Ukraine’s new president was elected, a Kremlin-produced “documentary” was released, calling him a Nazi). The past four years have been dangerous enough and thousands of people have already died because of it – they might not be American, and so they rarely make the news, but their lives aren’t worth less. Authors with a massive fanbase and a great deal of influence have a responsibility to be smarter that that.

The Week: 20th – 26th March

Canberra’s sky this week.

We started the week so well! Temperatures in the 30s, sunny days. And then the rain hit. It’s so odd to have rain in Canberra at all, let alone a number of days in a row.

Friday evening.

The first Formula One race of the year is on in Melbourne this weekend, and it is the first time in about a decade I haven’t gone. We gave up our (crazy-expensive) premium seats after the race last year. The corruption in the sport was a real turn-off. Little did anyone know that new managers would sweep in and fire sleazy, misogynistic, Putin-loving boss Bernie Ecclestone soon afterwards!

However, all those thousands once spent on the F1 can now go to more trips to Europe!

There is something stirring in Belarus. If there’s one country in Europe people care even less about than Ukraine, it’s their neighbour. On Saturday there were protests; there’ve been mass arrests in Minsk – demonstrators and journalists alike (it is estimated about one thousand people were arrested); the riot police were out in force. The country’s opposition leader was arrested shortly before the protests began, and one woman was even put in a mental hospital for daring to protest.

This is Soviet-level stuff.

It looks like the stirrings of the 2013-14 revolution in Ukraine. Frightening, but important.

in other news, this story (below) yesterday was… even after reading it, I still don’t understand:

Naked demonstrators kill sheep under Auschwitz gates

Estonian children in a forced settlement in Siberia in 1952.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the beginning of the Kremlin’s mass deportation of 90 000 Baltic people (mostly women and children). They were sent to forced settlements in inhospitable parts of Russia, and most were never able to return.

I was on Westminster Bridge only three or so weeks ago (the photo above is from this month). The terror attack this week was… not unexpected. Sadly, I’m surprised it has been so long since something like this happened in London.

Some people have been saying: ‘Why should we care so much about London? How about (insert world conflict here)?’

Um… as if anybody cares about Yemen etc. any other day of the week! I wish they did!

People are allowed to care about London AND other things!

However, while everyone was distracted by London, Russia did some absolutely awful things in Ukraine this week. They assassinated a Russian Putin critic in the middle of Kyiv in broad daylight. They blew up the Ukrainian army’s biggest and most important munitions factory (the image above), heavily hampering their ability to fight the invasion. They killed more people in their war.

^^^^

This is an amazing – and funny – account mocking Putin, and if you have Twitter, you should follow it. Last year, the Kremlin actually bribed Twitter to ban it for a while – so much for freedom of speech! So they deserve support.

It seems bizarre that this week the US and the UK decided to put bans on electronics on aeroplanes, citing the need to stop terror attacks. The following day, a home-grown terrorist committed the London attack – without a Kindle, a laptop, a camera, OR a plane. Me not being able to take my Kindle when I fly through the Middle East twice more this year sure didn’t stop what happened in Westminster.

Travel is becoming exhausting. The ridiculous liquids ban on international flights was meant to have been lifted years ago. Instead, here we all are, still carrying lip gloss in little ziplock bags for no particular reason, and now we can’t even read a book during our flight!

I had to go through airport security FIVE times just to get home a few weeks ago. I wish there was a way I could do aeroplane-free travel, but it’s a bit of a problem, living on an island!

O-kay… I think the ranting is done for the moment.

Jugiong Writers’ Festival last weekend.

My review of The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

RITA Nominees Announced

A Visit to Charles Dickens’ House

Romance without feminism is no longer an option.

Monday Randomness

The Week: 6th – 12th March

Bright Blue Sky Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Autumn 6th March 2017

First day back home. Blue sky, sunshine, summer temperatures – and half a new deck!

We went to Canberra’s Enlighten festival last night. The national buildings (National Library – above, National Science and Technology Centre, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House etc.) are lit up. There are also bars and food stalls and opera performances and a whole lot of things.

I will find some better pictures tomorrow.

This possum has moved in (not our first one, but the smallest so far), right outside my bedroom window. The night-time fights with other animals kept me awake all night a few nights ago!

It has been absolutely gorgeous in Canberra this week. Temperatures up around thirty degrees, bright blue skies, sunshine. It feels more like summer than autumn most of the time.

Chris Miller 11th March 2017 Russia invaded Ukraine

A timely reminder from a very respected journalist in Europe.

A Ukrainian woman is behind bars in the United Arab Emirates at the moment because doctors found out she is pregnant to her fiancé. They are “testing” her to find out how long she has been sexually active, which sounds like an appalling abuse of a woman’s basic rights.

You’re not allowed to have premarital sex in the UAE, and women are imprisoned for reporting rapes. Please be aware that just because Dubai and Abu Dhabi look shiny and tourists love them doesn’t mean it isn’t an Islamic country with some terribly restrictive laws – especially for women.

I have to travel through there are few more times this year, and I really wish I wasn’t. Qantas sends their flights through there a lot now, and codeshares with Emirates, which is one of the worst airlines I have ever experienced.

Also on my list of “things that annoyed me this week”, this article:

Pope may allow married Catholic men as priests

The reason it annoys me? Ukrainian Catholic men – married, soon to be married, planning to be married – have ALWAYS been able to become priests. For centuries. Most of the priests I’ve ever known have been married – with children.

This is allegedly such a groundbreaking idea, but once again people totally ignore the fact this is already, and always has been, a thing.

Nobody knows anything about Ukraine, but you’d think a journalist or two might mention this extremely relevant fact!

And then there’s:

Muhammad Ali’s son detained at US airport for second time

He’s a flipping US citizen! What is wrong with Trump’s version of America??!

My review of Outback Cowboy (Hot Aussie Heroes Book 1) by Margareta Osborn

My review of Devil in Spring (Ravenels #3) by Lisa Kleypas

My review of A Temporary Family by Sherri Shackelford

Patricia Briggs’ New Book

Excuse me, cover designers…

Ukraine offers free metro rides for poetry buffs

Taras Shevchenko (centre) died in St Petersburg in 1861, after a long period of exile imposed by the Russian authorities

The metro in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, is offering free rides to people who can recite a poem by Taras Shevchenko.

Shevchenko died in exile in Russia after being convicted of using the Ukrainian language in his work (the Imperial Russians seriously disliked people using their native languages).

Ukraine has a massive literary heritage – some of “Russia’s” most famous literary figures are actually Ukrainian.

I cannot imagine this poetry-for-free-trains idea working in most countries! One article about it is here:

Free metro rides for Kiev poetry buffs

(One day – probably in about 1600 years – the Western media will catch up with post-Soviet Eastern Europe and start calling Ukraine’s capital city KYIV instead of “Kiev”!)

Bitter Harvest

bitter-harvest-poster-2bitter-harvest-is-an-upcoming-2017-romantic-drama-film-set-in-soviet-ukraine-in-the-early-1930s-holodomor-genocide

While everybody knows about the Holocaust, there was another major genocide in Europe in the 20th century that is almost unknown.

the-holodomor-stalins-genocide-in-ukraine-1932-33

The Holodomor, Stalin’s manufactured famine/genocide, is believed to have killed up to ten million people in Ukraine in the 1930s. Still denied by Moscow, this genocide has received little to no attention from the West, and none whatsoever from Hollywood.

A new film is due out now which tackles this topic, focusing on a Ukrainian Cossack couple. Keep an eye out for Bitter Harvest this month.