Friday, July 20, 2007

It's a Small, Small World (musings on the poisoning of a Russian spy)

Yes, it's a small world... And I'm not thinking about the cute boat ride at Disney World...
It amazes me how how stories that make international headlines (or international policies) have direct impact on our little lives.
  • Two days ago I was worried about our friends in the Ukraine after a train wreck produced a toxic cloud near their village (I spoke with them and they're doing fine--then again, they don't think that the radiation from Chernobyl has really been a problem).

  • My maid-of-honor was at the blast at Grand Central on Monday; memories of September 11 made it a terrifying experience. Luckily it wasn't terrorism and most people were ok.

  • China's preparations for the Olympics--and the PR about how well the country is doing--have lead to significantly fewer children being offered for international adoption. For our friends here, the wait to get their daughter is agonizing!

  • Last year the US Congress--without any forewarning--reworked how Americans living overseas are taxed. The changes took place retroactively (it was midyear), were a complete surprise, and hurt.

  • Gas prices have risen during the conflict with Iraq... As a result, two years ago US airlines reduced the baggage allowance of 140 lbs /2 suitcases per passenger by 40 lbs (You can now bring two 50 lb suitcases). Since we're a family of four making two trips to the US per year, that's 320 lbs (6 + suitcases) we can't bring back to Moscow. Think of all the things expats stock up on: baking supplies; medicines; Ziploc bags; books... We still bring those things back, but now you have to pay the excess baggage fees (And 320 lbs in excess baggage costs $625).

  • International policies have a daily impact on my husband's work-- I obviously can't write about that here, though.
So... this brings me back to the fodder for today's post... That whole "small world" thing...

Remember back in November when former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, a fierce Kremlin critic, was murdered in London by polonium 210? Britain wants to charge Andrei Lugovoi (also formerly with the KGB), but Russia refuses to comply with the extradition. This is the stuff of the greatest of spy novels... Well, the U.K. has retaliated by expelling five Russian diplomats from England. And now Russia has done the same, sending four embassy officials packing.

And what does this mean to us? Perhaps no more speech therapy for Natalia.

We FINALLY located a native-speaker speech pathologist, through the British embassy, to help her and the improvement in Natalia's speech has been tremendous. Her family could be among those being sent back to Britain, though. Probably not, but the initial news reports haven't said how high the rankings are of those being expelled.

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