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The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met on November 17, 2009 with Congressmen Dennis Kucinich (R-Ohio) and Thomas Price (D-GA), co-chairs of the newly formed House Russia Caucus, to discuss the goals and mission of the Russia Caucus, and to provide suggestions for a possible agenda.  While caucuses on many of the Central and East European countries already exist, this is the first caucus with a focus solely on Russia.
The body is meant to improve communication between Congress and Russia's lower house of parliament. 

FM Review - In the early morning hours of 1 December 1924, a couple of hundred armed Communist conspirators attempted a coup d’etat in Tallinn. The conspirators killed approximately 20 people including the Estonian Minister of Transport Karl Kark. The Estonian people reacted quickly and crushed the attempted coup.
1923 and 1924 were economically very difficult years for Estonia. Overestimating the unrest of the Estonian people, the Communist leadership in Moscow decided the time was right for a Communist coup d’etat in their neighbouring country. This decision was not based exclusively on economic factors -- a coup would have been attempted in any case. In November 1924, 149 people in Estonia were convicted of hostile activities against the state. At the same time, staged demonstrations against Estonia were organised in the Soviet Union.

2009, after two trips from Melbourne, Australia to Europe and back has firmly convinced me that I am no longer the lively gazelle with unlimited energy to scamper up Geislingen’s hillsides. Nevertheless I relished the opportunity to disprove my fantasy.
In September I was privileged to participate in the International conference about Children as the Invisible Victims of War. I had always believed that the journey through a war zone looked different through the eyes of a child compared with what the adult saw. My time at that conference validated that notion for me.

"Issi, sülle!" In a word: "Daddy, pick me up!" "Carry me!" "I want to sit in your lap!" I heard that a lot this morning, when the kids at my daughter's day care and kindergarten were overjoyed at having their daddies over for breakfast. Not just any breakfast, but a pudrupidu (porridge party). The previous day had been Father's Day in these parts, unlike the 52 countries including the U.S., who celebrate dads and grandpas on the second Sunday in June. However Estonia adopted the custom from our neighbouring Finns, who along with other Nordic countries celebrate fathers in the fall. Eesti isad abroad thereby have two days a year to celebrate their revered status.

FM Review - A new serial of Estonian Television (ETV), The Class: Life After, won the main prize in the television serials programme at the 15th international festival Cinema Tous Ecrans on November 5.
The Estonian broadcasting company, ERR, told BNS that the producer of the serial, Gerda Kordemets, would receive the Reflet d'Or for the best series and the accompanying prize money of 5 000 francs Saturday in Geneva.
Kordemets's joy about the main prize was great. "It is actually an exceptionally great achievement that a TV serial producer in Estonia was chosen as a competition entry of an international festival for the first time," she said, adding that bearing in mind the very high-level competitors, she hadn't hoped for any prize at all.

6 November - This week the Estonian Cinemabus and Puppet Film Studio were at the Kids Euro Festival in Washington teaching American kids and teachers about filmmaking. Their stay was organised by the Estonian Embassy in Washington.
Estonia was represented in the main programme (for ages 6-12 years) of the biggest kids’ festival ever to be held in Washington by the Puppet Film Studio. In the workshops that took place in schools in Washington and the surrounding area, clips from puppet films were shown and the kids were guided through the making of a puppet film. “The theme for all our workshops was the sea and the customs associated with it. We were pleasantly surprised by how interested and enthusiastic the children were,” said Mait Laas, the director of Estonian Puppet Film.

Estonians abroad may think that the recent local/municipal elections in Estonia have only minor ramifications on power politics in the country. After all, it is not as if the mayors of Toronto or Halifax have real clout when it comes to federal politics. Toronto Mayor Miller’s foreign policy views or visits abroad have little effect on Ottawa’s actions, and Miller’s traditional electoral base is hardly a homogenous unit. However, Tallinn’s mayor and Centre party head Edgar Savisaar, who runs a Tammany Hall from his city hall power base, wields a disconcertingly heavy hammer. Although his opponents in the local elections focussed on the corruption rife in Tallinn and the Centre party it was for naught. Tallinn’s city government has an annual budget of around 7 billion crowns, which is only 10% of the national total, but in reality Savisaar borrows, and in fact much, much more money passes through commerce.
The following is a compilation of thoughts from Estonians living in Eesti answering questions from abroad, gathered from a lengthy email stream.

3 November (BNS) - Latest data show that the population size of some wild animal species living in Estonian forests has risen more over the past decade than ever before during the time for which records exist, Eesti Päevaleht said.
Peep Mannil, head of the game census department at the Centre for Forest Protection and Silviculture of the Estonian Ministry of Environment, said that if the previous decade generally was characterised by a reduction in the numbers of hunting game then in the present decade a big rise has taken place.

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