Recent European Birthdays

Almaty, the former capital and still a major city of Kazakhstan. Birthplace of the apple, and turned 1,000 years old recently. Coming in at a not even close second is KLM airlines, the Royal Dutch Airline at 97 years old!.

One of the most beautiful Kazakh landmarks is the Ascension Russian Orthodox Cathedral, sometimes called the Zenkov Cathedral after the esteemed architect who designed it, was completed in 1907. The Soviets turned the building into a museum and the regions radio station transmitters were housed in the bell towers.


Although it is the second tallest wooden Cathedral in the world, not a single nail was used in the construction. Today, many experts believe that the technique of interlocking joints, instead of nails, made it possible for the Cathedral to withstand the great Central Asian earthquake of 1911.


KLM is one of our favourite airlines. Why? Certainly not because they wimp out by taking the first 3 rows of coach, place a “not available” sign in the middle seat, and declare the section to be first class. No, it is because they are Dutch, and “if it isn’t Dutch–it isn’t much!”

Who remembers their daughter airline, ALM, that for years served the Antilles and the Caribbean?

New Duma Open for Business

Less than 16 hours ago President Vladimir Putin opened the seventh convocation of the State Duma (parliament). During his address he welcomed the newly elected Members of Parliament from Russia’s 85 regions, including those from the annexed regions comprising Crimea and Sevastopol.


Mr. Putin stressed the need to curb corruption as an impediment to development of private business interests and he called on the country to continue development of Russia’s Far East regions.

As for key initiatives, he singled out a key issue for Parliament to address: What is this issue? Of course, special attention should be paid to reaching objectives in education, healthcare, housing policy and the environment. That is, in areas that directly influence people’s well-being and social and demographic development.

Putin named Vyacheslav Volodin, formerly the Kremlin’s deputy chief of staff to the position of State Duma Speaker. Putin thanked former speaker Sergei Naryshkin who has been appointed as the new chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service.

Few opposition candidates were allowed to run in the recent elections and so this is expected by many to be a “rubber stamp” body for the Kremlin.