Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Remains Make For Best Newspaper Story Today

This makes for a great read.


I like to hear and see people play the work of Sergei Rachmaninoff.  When the Madison Symphony Orchestra includes one of his works I know there is sure to be yet another reason to listen closely.

Now comes a story of Russia wanting his remains back to plant in their soil.  It seems most unseemly to not allow him to rest in the place he now resides.

It was quiet beneath the mountain laurel shrubs shielding the grave of the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff from the late-summer sun. The furor is 4,500 miles away, in Russia, its indelible voice in every melodic line he wrote — a different Russia, a different sensibility, a different life, different time.

Resolutely nationalistic Russians want his body back. His great-great-granddaughter, Susan Sophia Rachmaninoff Volkonskaya Wanamaker, says “nyet.” Or she might, if she spoke Russian, but probably not. In a conversation about where his remains belong, she repeatedly used words like “dignity” and “respect.”

Rachmaninoff was buried here, in a town with a distinctly Wagnerian name, about 25 miles outside New York City, after his death 72 years ago. The plot is on a hillside in a cemetery with other notable graves, including those of the peerless Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, the actress Anne Bancroft, the bandleader Tommy Dorsey and the author Ayn Rand. A A three-bar Russian Orthodox cross stands behind Rachmaninoff’s tomb.

To dig up and move his body would be an immense violation of the privacy he so prized,” Ms. Wanamaker said. “After fleeing from one country to the next in life, as he did, is it too much to ask that he be allowed to rest in peace with his family? I don’t think so.”

The dispute over his burial place started last month, when Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, said that Rachmaninoff’s remains should be exhumed and sent to Russia. “The composer dreamed of being buried in Russia, that’s why returning his remains to his motherland would be a great deed,” he said, according to a report on the ministry’s website.

Ms. Wanamaker said Rachmaninoff had no such dream. She also took issue with biographical sketches that said he had wanted his final resting place to be outside his villa in Switzerland, but that he was buried in Kensico Cemetery here because his body could not be delivered to Switzerland during World War II.

The villa was called Senar. Its name was a combination of the first two letters of his first name; the first two letters of his wife’s first name, Natalie; and a final R, for Rachmaninoff.

“He held Senar in very high regard, but he never wished to be buried there,” she said.And while he died in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 28, 1943, “the family’s roots in New York were deeper than their roots in Beverly Hills,” Ms. Wanamaker said. Rachmaninoff, who left his homeland to escape the Russian Revolution in 1917, had rented a house on Riverside Drive when he arrived in Manhattan in the 1920s. He became an American citizen eight weeks before he died.

START Treaty Has Needed Votes For Senate Passage

Great news.  Test vote is slated for Monday.

Supporters of a US-Russia nuclear arms treaty negotiated by President Obama said they have the 67 votes needed for Senate ratification, as two more Republicans announced their backing.

A spokesman for Indiana’s Dick Lugar, the leading Republican supporter of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, said yesterday that enough senators are prepared to vote for the pact’s ratification. The treaty needs two-thirds support in the Senate to be approved.

“We’ve got enough Republican support to pass the treaty,’’ said Mark Helmke, Lugar’s spokesman. “We are hopeful that [majority leader Harry Reid] sets the schedule as soon as possible.’’

START Treaty Being Held Hostage By Republican Politics

The bickering by Republicans over the START treaty is ridiculous.

Russia is a major player on a wide range of issues where we need to have their support. To think that passing START is only about this treaty is wrong. While the treaty, in and of itself is very important, there are also a lot of other issues that need to be considered when considering START.

From Iran, North Korea, even to computer hacking it is obvious why we need to have better relations with Russia. We need them for votes in the United Nations, and support for policy options.  It is common sense to know why we need better relations with Russia.

START itself is needed in that it builds on the past treaty by providing a 30% reduction in each country’s arsenal. The new limit is a maximum of 1,550 warheads. New inspection modifications are also made that provide accountability. That even the top U.S. military brass has stated there is nothing of substance to the GOP snorting on this treaty makes it clear the problem with some Republicans is they want to bang the President some more.

That is not good for our political system. It is not good for the world.  All sides should agree that a weakened president does no one any good.

Foreign press at times, over a number of years,  have wondered what is wrong in this country. The large problems are not addressed due to gridlock in Washington.  Lots of shouting and stating positions, but there seems to be a growing inability to get the needed work completed by government. 

 Now a truly reasonable treaty is being held hostage for political purposes.  Folks around the globe are noticing.

It is important to let the world know we can still play on the big stage with others, and make compromises.  It is vital that the world see we can work to settle affairs and not only ruffle them. That this treaty is smart, good for all concerned, and still not able to get votes from enough Republicans speaks to the concerns that too many are having about America slipping downwards.

There are many times that voters around America say that Washington is broke as it can not fix the budget woes, or pass meaningful reforms on this or that issue. That same sentiment is also stated around the world when they see antics like the ones being played out over START.

I want this treaty passed for the merits it contains within its pages. I also want it passed for the larger message it sends.

Some of my readers might recall that the senate passed the original START treaty 93-6.

Ah….the good ole days.

Russia Is A ‘Mafia State’

WikiLeaks continued…..

Not entirely new information…..but still an interesting read.

Among the most striking allegations contained in the cables, which were leaked to the whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks, are:

Russian spies use senior mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations such as arms trafficking.

• Law enforcement agencies such as the police, spy agencies and the prosecutor’s office operate a de facto protection racket for criminal networks.

• Rampant bribery acts like a parallel tax system for the personal enrichment of police, officials and the KGB’s successor, the federal security service (FSB).

• Investigators looking into Russian mafia links to Spain have compiled a list of Russian prosecutors, military officers and politicians who have dealings with organised crime networks.

Putin is accused of amassing “illicit proceeds” from his time in office, which various sources allege are hidden overseas.

The allegations come hours before Putin was due to address Fifa’s executive committee in Zurich in support of Russia’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Putin last night abruptly cancelled his trip, complaining of a smear campaign to “discredit” Fifa members. In an angry interview with CNN’s Larry King Live, recorded before the latest disclosures, Putin also denounced the cables and warned the US not to stick its nose in Russia’s affairs.

Russia And United States Move Forward On Missile Defense Cooperation

Good news. (WordPress has ‘issues’ so the link that should have been able to be clicked would let you know this came from Bloomberg news.)

Russia agreed to cooperate with NATO on a missile-defense system, expanding cooperation between the former Cold War adversaries as President Barack Obama pushes the U.S. Senate to ratify a nuclear-arms reduction treaty.

“Today we have not only buried ghosts of the past that have haunted us for too long,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen after alliance leaders met today with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the end of a two-day summit in Lisbon. “We have made a fresh start.”

NATO is trying to turn the anti-missile system — initially opposed by the Kremlin — into a fulcrum for cooperation with Russia as part of the U.S.-driven “reset” of East-West relations. Russia and the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization will create a “working group” on missile defense, according to an official Russian fact sheet.

America Supports START Treaty

Last evening on television it was stated by a conservative that the American public was not interested or supportive of the START treaty.  Since there was no mention of this treaty from the Republicans who ran for office this fall I am not sure how anyone can make a statement about the hopes of the public.

There is however  a poll from CNN that shows the public, when asked, is supportive of the START treaty. With the current refusal of the Republicans in the Senate to support the treaty simply because it is an Obama initiative makes this the worst example yet of what lurks in the hearts of the GOP.

What this shows is the Republicans will play politics with anything, including the best interests of the nation. 

It is time to pass the treaty!

Nearly three out of four Americans say lawmakers should ratify a nuclear treaty with Russia that’s stalled in the Senate, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that 73 percent of the public says the U.S. should vote in favor of a recently signed treaty between President Barack Obama and Russia that would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in each country, with 23 percent saying the accord should not be ratified by the Senate.

Republicans Need To Get Serious About Foreign Affairs

This election season should be seen by everyone as one big insult to our collective intelligence.

At a time of great international flux, two wars being waged by the U.S., a determined element bent on terrorist activities, and restless regions around the globe there was hardly any mention of anything other than gross simplification of taxes and repealing the health care bill.

Now the ones who thought it best to win an election without any real mental preparation for the issues that confront the nation and the world have some serious issues to ponder.

One of those issues involves Russia and three treaties that will need U.S. Senate ratification.  They involve an arms control treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals and resume inspections; a civilian nuclear agreement to permit greater cooperation; and a repeal of cold war-era trade restrictions so Russia can join the World Trade Organization.

This morning on the Sunday news shows the issue of these treaties was presented in the form of a question to one of the new thinkers that was elected, Rand Paul of Kentucky.  He stated he was unlikely to be able to support the treaties.  It would appear from his interview this morning he was potty trained at gun point, so he will not be productive on many issues. Being unreasonable seems more his intent than anything else.   But for the sake of international relations and stability there must be a bi-partisan mass of mature and reasoned senators that jells for passage of the treaties. 

This issue is not new, and while it should have had air-time in the recent elections, requires attention now.

The New York Times had a reminder of the significance of the issue in today’s newspaper.

“This is not a traditionally Democratic or Republican issue but rather an issue of American national security,” Mr. Obama said. “And I am hopeful that we can get that done before we leave and send a strong signal to Russia that we are serious about reducing nuclear arsenals, but also sending a signal to the world that we’re serious about nonproliferation.”

If he fails to win approval before the old Senate adjourns, Mr. Obama’s advisers and allies worry that the relationship with Russia will be frozen at a time when they consider it critical to increase Russian cooperation on several fronts, most notably pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program.

“If that goes down, everything else is on ice,” said Samuel Charap, an analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization. Cooperation on Iran, nonproliferation, Afghanistan and terrorism could be affected, he said. “None of that, zero, is going to happen. It really could have a major effect.”

Within the administration, a nightmare scenario envisions even worse consequences. Russian leaders traditionally have looked for weakness in American counterparts, and Mr. Obama’s failure to impose his will on Congress would be seen as a sign of impotence. That could undercut President Dmitri A. Medvedev, who has made the improved relationship between Russia and the United States a centerpiece of his tenure despite Mr. Putin’s doubts. If the reset comes undone, some analysts suggested it would hurt Mr. Medvedev’s chances of persuading Mr. Putin to let him run for a second term in 2012. It could embolden those in the security establishment who want to keep close ties with Iran. By some estimates, Russia’s decision to go along with sanctions on Iran could cost as much as $13 billion in arms sales.

Most important among those abandoned sales was the transfer of a sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft system to Tehran that Mr. Medvedev blocked. If relations with the United States deteriorate and Moscow resumed the sale, security specialists said it could provoke Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program before the S-300 missiles are delivered because, once in place, they would make it far more dangerous for attacking warplanes.