KYIV, DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine -- Sitting up straight in a freshly pressed white shirt, Pavlo Rozhko beams with delight as he sings a Ukrainian folk song to the accompaniment of a traditional stringed instrument known as a bandura.
Rozhko, who at 91 still participates in a choir, says he has loved singing ever since his childhood on a bustling family farm in the village of Piski in southeastern Ukraine.
"My father and mother were cheerful people," he says. "They were sewing, spinning. We had our own sheep and lambs. We kept the lambs inside the house. There were a lot of us. We were dancing, singing, shouting. Nobody yelled at us about anything. Everyone was growing up healthy and happy, until the collectivization."
Rozhko was 11 when a massive famine hit Soviet Ukraine, as Josef Stalin pushed forward with radical agricultural reforms that stripped millions of peasant families of their land and crops.
By the time the 1932-33 famine ended, at least 3 million and as many as 10 million Ukrainians and Cossacks had died, and the Soviet Union's most fertile land had been overtaken by massive, Kremlin-run collective farms.
The Holodomor, as the famine is now known, was never officially acknowledged by Soviet authorities, who said crop failure was to blame for any random accounts of starvation.
But as Ukraine has been preparing to mark the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor on November 23, the few remaining survivors remember the famine as deliberate, sweeping, and filled with terror.
Food Left To Rot
Maria Simak grew up in Spaske, a prosperous Cossack farming village where nearly all the villagers owned land and a team of horses. But in 1932, Soviet officials entered the town, seizing livestock, vegetables, and grains that they went on to sell for profit abroad, or left to rot in silos.
Simak credits her mother, a talented dressmaker, with keeping her and her brother alive by taking in orders from the local Communist Party elite. But even so, the family was forced to scavenge for edible plants in order to keep from starving.
"I know that we would eat weeds and crushed straw," she says. "We would boil it and our mother would form them into patties that we called 'matorzhenyki.' There was no flour. We dried herbs and plants and pounded them in a mortar, and then Mama would make these matorzhenyki."
People foraged in creek beds for mussels, boiled bark stripped from trees, and hunted snakes and ground squirrels. Mykola Mykolaenko, a 93-year-old Dnipropetrovsk poet and playwright who has written extensively about the Holodomor, said he would furtively collect discarded fish heads from a cafeteria for factory managers and smuggle them home to his mother to boil into a weak soup.
Such nighttime outings terrified his mother as rumors of cannibalism spread. Mykolaenko, who grew up in the village of Maryanivka, never saw actual evidence of people killing each other for food. But his mother warned him of the danger every time he went out, and he said paranoia in the starving village was rampant.
"It began even before 1933," he said. "One day, someone would go to a neighbor to ask for salt...and the next day they'd already be saying that someone in that family ate somebody else, that they killed a younger child in order to feed the older ones."
Reported as some apocalyptic event, this is how industries shake out the weak and improve the bottom line for the survivors. Found via Free Republic and Zero Hedge.
[EnergyIntel] The US E&P sector could be on the cusp of massive defaults and bankruptcies so staggering they pose a serious threat to the US economy. Without higher oil and gas prices — which few experts foresee in the near future — an over-leveraged, under-hedged US E&P industry faces a truly grim 2016. How bad could things get and when? It increasingly looks like a number of the weakest companies will run out of financial stamina in the first half of next year, and with every dollar of income going to service debt at many heavily leveraged independents, there are waves of others that also face serious trouble if the lower-for-longer oil price scenario extends further.
"I could see a wave of defaults and bankruptcies on the scale of the telecoms, which triggered the 2001 recession," Timothy Smith, president of consultancy Petro Lucrum, told a Platts energy conference in Houston last week. Much has been made about the resiliency of US oil production in the face of low prices, but the truth is that many producers are maximizing their output — even unprofitable volumes — because they need the cash flow to service their debt (related). "As an industry, we're at the point where every dollar of free cash flow now goes to paying back debt," Angle Capital's Steve Ilkay told the same conference. Ilkay, who advises North American producers on asset management, said during the boom years of 2012-14 about 55% of the sector's free cash flow, which is calculated by subtracting capital expenditures from operating cash flow, was allocated toward debt repayment.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.