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On October 2, 2010 10 very special young men and women were confirmed at the Lakewood Pühavaimu Kirik in Lakewood, NJ.

Dean Vaga conducted the ceremony and it was witnessed by a full house.  The service was followed by a party, which was organized by the 10 families, at the Lakewood Eesti Maja.  It was a wonderful celebration.  There was a short, formal “kava” which was led by Allan Laupa, Jr.,  the master of ceremonies.  It began with an introduction of each youth by Allan Laupa and then the confirmants took turns sharing stories of their time together at “leerilaager” and thanking many people who helped at the “leerilaager” and those who were responsible for organizing the confirmation service and celebration. Their godparents took turns speaking about each youth and sharing short stories and insights into their lives.  These speeches were sentimental and sweet and they were sprinkled with laughter and tears.  Afterwards the guests were treated to a traditional “külm laud” which was prepared by Karin Kärner and then they danced the night away with music provided by AJ Laupa.  It was a memorable day for all!

Laine Skonberg

The National D-Day Memorial Foundation has erred again, and badly. Its decision to remove the Stalin bust but to reinstall it in the future is a grave insult to the brave Americans and others who stormed the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944 - no Soviet troops participated in D-Day operations. It is also a serious misreading of the history of World War II, which was launched following the Stalin-Hitler pact of August 1939.  There would have been no need for the D-Day invasion if there had been no cynical "non-aggression" agreement between the Soviet and German dictators.

Even if the Estonian population is used  having banknotes in their pockets, this custom is going to change by January, when the Euro will start filling (also) Estonian pockets with coins.

As published by the Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht, this will also translate into a great loss for Estonian retailers.

Although banks expect that people are going to use more credit cards for payments, retailers are not sure about what is going to be better, and are unsure if they should recommend the payments with credit card or with cash.

In his address to the UN General Assembly in New York, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves emphasised Estonia’s role in rebuilding Afghanistan, Estonia’s unconditional support to the complete independence and territorial integrity of Georgia and called upon the countries of the world to join forces in the fight against cyber terrorism.

According to the President, Estonia sees its direct participation in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, above all, in the contribution to humanitarian operations ranging from Afgha-nistan to Haiti and in counselling emerging economies in the application of information technology solutions increasing the effectiveness of the state.

ERR News - A growing trend of parents giving up their children due to poverty has highlighted serious imbalances in how state aid in Estonia is allocated.

Parents are eligible for just 64 euros in state aid per month for their first child and 51 euros per month for every additional child, while orphanages receive 640 euros per child, 30 to 40 percent of which goes directly to child maintenance, Eesti Päevaleht reported.

Whereas earlier drug use and alcoholism were the main reason parents in Estonia handed their children over to state care, now more parents are doing so out of poverty.

Mare Välja, the director of an orphanage in Narva, said that their latest four arrivals had ended up at the institution simply because their parents couldn't afford to take care of them.

Estonian law does not allow parents to give up their children for economic reasons, however local officials often turn a blind eye to the practice in cases of real need.

The Ministry of Social Affairs said that 34,402 people received income support in the first quarter of the year, over ten thousand of them children.

ERR News - The government has approved the draft 2011 budget which it will send to parliament next week, with a deficit of 1.6% of GDP and with investments at an all-time high as a percentage of the budget.

Expenditure will be just over 6 billion euros - about 250 million euros more than this year - and it will be funded above all by sale of excess pollution allowances and external capital.

Revenue is planned at 5.73 billion euros, which means a deficit of 243 million euros - 1.6 percent of Estonian GDP.

The budget is expected to be in balance by 2013.

On September 11, 2010, Pillerkaar danced at the Salisbury University event sponsored by the Sister Cities Association of Salisbury/Wicomico County and the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council.

His Excellency Väino Reinart, ambassador of Estonia to the United States, delivered a special greeting from Estonia and Salisbury’s sister city of Tartu during the presentation “Singing to My Sister”. Salisbury Mayor James Ireton, SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, and guests from the Maryland Legislature brought local greetings from Salisbury to the residents of Tartu. The event was videotaped and will be offered as a special gift of goodwill from Salisbury to the Embassy of Estonia and the Office of the Mayor in Tartu.

Recent days have brought news articles pertaining to the "post-Soviet" condition that Estonia is said to be in.

An Estonian Public Broadcasting news item in English on August 20 was headed "Estonia Marks 19 Years of Post-Soviet Independence.” National Public Radio in the US followed with "Russian Minority Struggles In Post-Soviet Estonia" on August 23.

As a concept, "post-Soviet" is an evasive rascal. Encyc-lopedia Britannica, in an entry about post-Soviet Russia, notes that the "USSR legally ceased to exist on Dec. 31, 1991," and that Russia, "like most...other former Soviet republics...entered independence in a state of serious disorder and economic chaos."

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