GEOFF UPDATE,  November '06
Ukraine, Poland

I finally got so sick and tired of  emails from my friend Geoff about exotic places I'll never see that I illustrated one.  With apologies to everyone on the Web from whom I stole photos, here is Geoff's update of Nov06.

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US Embassy, Tel Aviv

Geoff is coming to Washing DC for a couple months between his old posting to Tel Aviv and his anticipated move to Moscow for a few years.  The Moscow Embassy has an, er, interesting place in Cold War Foreign Service history.

Moscow US Embassy Compound

US Embassy Moscow -- this is probably the New  Embassy Complex completed in 1986.  

In 1992, the first Bush administration closed a deal with President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia to resolve the fate of the "New Office Building" part of the American Embassy in Moscow that was never occupied because it was bugged by the Soviets. Work on the embassy (begun 1979) was stopped in 1985, after it was determined that the building was so riddled with listening devices implanted by Soviet workers that the structure was in effect a multistory microphone.  
The "New Office Building" was then rebuilt entirely by American contractors from mostly imported American materials and occupied in Y2K.   I [jin] don't know if it's in the "Complex" above or in a separate part of Moscow.

These campus-like facilities replaced the original US Embassy which was close to other buildings in a typical urban city street setting.  This made it easy to beam microwaves at the Embassy from all sides at intensity levels sufficient to power the listening devices inside, which had no batteries. Despite aluminum awnings installed on all windows, the Embassy continued to cook, and concerns about personnel damage were added to concerns about security.  When Embassy secretaries found out that results showing genetic damage to American personnel had been concealed from employees, they initiated a lawsuit against the government that became infamous in Foreign Service circles.  

The microwave incident has garnered fresh attention because cellphones use similar frequencies today.  Some of that attention is horribly shrill, but here's something from the Web today that pretty well matches what I remember from press coverage at the time:

"In 1962 the US Defense Department learned that since 1953 Soviet authorities were beaming microwaves from across the street directly into the US embassy in Moscow. ...  at a Superpower summit in June 1967, the irradiation of the Moscow embassy was the subject of a confidential exchange between the US president Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Prime Minister Alexi Kosygin. Johnson asked that the Soviet Union stop irradiating its Moscow embassy with microwaves and harming the health of American citizens.21

In 1966 a covert study, called Project Pandora was commenced to study the possible effects on health from the microwave irradiation of the Moscow embassy staff, who were not told the true reason for the investigation.  ...

....An initial study was done on the Moscow personnel in 1967 and examined a group of 43 workers, (37 exposed and 7 not exposed) tested for abnormalities in chromosomes on stimulated division. 20 out of the 37 were above the normal range among the exposed, compared to 2/7 among the non-exposed....

An unpublished 1975 hematologic study on the embassy employees and dependents by J & S Tonascia26 compared blood counts among exposed persons at the embassy to comparable examinations conducted on personnel stationed in Washington DC. In just about every parameter there were highly significant differences in blood counts between the two groups.27 28

The Moscow embassy employees and dependents were studied for possible health effects of microwave irradiation by a team from John Hopkins University under the direction of epidemiologist Professor Abraham Lilienfeld. ... The incidence of multiple-site cancers was far more frequent in the Moscow embassy group than in any other population studied. It was noted that while multiple-site cancers are characteristic of older populations, the Moscow embassy group was relatively young. ....

Prof. Goldsmith concludes about the Moscow study that evidence was suggestive for four health effects, (a) chromosomal changes, (b) hematological changes, (c) reproductive effects, and (d) increased cancer incidence from the microwave irradiation in Moscow.32"


From Moscow Geoff hopes to run programs at and (and visit !) the US's 29 "American Corners" all over Russia.  Most have enough books and magazines, but if you want to perform or speak, get in touch.  
Yekaterinburg American Corner
Yekaterinburg American Corner building; some are historic and beautiful; others, Soviet and drab.

Tel Aviv work has involved boring paperwork and the care and feeding of visitors.

Geoff + Condy


Geoff reports, "During my first year in Tel Aviv, I conducted non-immigrant visa  interviews and was exposed to an incredible cross-section of Israeli  society in the visa window. I had a lot of fun. When I had  applicants who had been born in Casablanca, I encouraged them to see  the movie."  He was also a guest on a live Russian radio show called "Mir Muzhchin" which means "The World of Men," but it's not video so I can't find anything incriminating on You Tube.  

The most annoying part of this newsletter are the trips to the Ukraine last spring (south Ukraine with his Dad) and again in summer.  OK, so half my family comes from Odessa, but what does it look like?  No clue.  And no photos from Geoff, so time to search the Web for images.  Then on to the other town.  

(Sobornaya square and Passage)     Odessa docks
Sobornaya Passage, Odessa                                         Odessa docks

Pushkinskaya Street
Pushkinskaya St., Odessa


The town was founded in 1789 by the Governor General of Novorossiya Knyaz Potemkin initially as a shipyard called simply a New Shipyard on the Ingul river.  The history of the city has  Nikolaev
The town was founded in 1789 by the Governor General of Novorossiya Knyaz Potemkin initially as a shipyard called simply a New Shipyard on the Ingul river.  The history of the city has always been closely connected to the ship building.

http://ww Uman

Another place visited in Spring was Krive Ozero in Ukrainian, Crooked Lake in English. Geoff's paternal grandparents come from Krivozer, but it's too small for any Web photos I can find.

visit to the grave of Rabbi Nachman, the founder of  the Breslov Chasidic sect
Uman- Rabbi Nachman gravesite seems to be just plain concrete in the ground.

Geoff reports, "At the synagogue near Rav Nachman's grave,  there is a plaque written in Russian, Hebrew, English, and Yiddish,  with a 200 year old promise from Nachman. It states that Nachman will  help any man who says the "Tikkun Haklali" prayer and gives charity at  the grave site, even if he has not lead a virtuous life, by reaching  down from the heavens and pulling him up by his earlocks.   There were several Ukrainian women clustered near the grave hawking  souvenirs, and to my amazement, they had somehow managed to teach  themselves broken Hebrew to improve their pitches to Israeli tourists."

The summertime return to the Ukraine came in July on the occasion of his friends' wedding in Krakow, Poland.   "The wedding took place in St. Mary's  Basilica, the huge and beautiful Gothic church that graces Krakow's  main square. Every hour, a trumpet blares from the church's tallest  tower, commemorating a famous 13th century trumpeter who was shot in  the throat while sounding the alarm before a Mongol invasion. "  

 We miss the wedding, but surely can dig up some photos of the place.  

St. Mary's, Krakow.
Krakow's St. Mary's Church.  The trumpet tower is on the left.


Looking up at nave, inside Krakow's St. Mary's Church.

The party that followed the wedding "was an amazing cross cultural encounter with  endless Polish food, Polish singing, and of course (my favorite), polka dancing. "
Krakow dance show
Formacja Taneczna AKTT „encek” -- Krakow Dance Show

Bumming through the Ukraine came before the wedding, starting in Kiev.   Geoff  spent a  week taking trains, buses, and long distance taxis to more cities I mostly never heard of, like

Uzhgorod     Uhzgorod - river outside of town  
Uzhgorod is famous for its wines; right, bridge over the river Uhz in the center of town.  


Mukachevo castle on Lamkova hill            Mukachevo synagogue

Mukachevo is located in the valley of the Latorica river in western Ukraine, where ownership has passed between Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Russia.  Left: Mukachevo has a castle constructed between 800 and 1500s on top of the Lamkova hill.   Synagogue on right.


Chernivtsy. Settled since Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.   Will show you university & other fine bldgs next time!

Lviv opera house
The Lviv Opera House is patterned after the Vienna Opera, as is the opera house of
Frankfurt, Germany, now restored from a bombed out shell  to look eerily like this bldg so far away.

Getting himself to the church on time, Geoff's  trip ended with Pshemesh, and finally Krakow.

Ever the linguist, Our Man on the Bus reports, "The  language dynamic in Uzhgorod and Mukachevo was fascinating, with most  of the ethnically Ruthenian locals speaking Ukrainian, spiced with  Hungarian and Russian. "

"On the social front in Tel Aviv, I have been making a lot of new  friends. I am studying Hebrew by listening to Israeli pop music hits  on my iPod, and sometimes sing along. I also spend a lot of time  hanging out with my (Persian) cat."

 Ayatollah-new Persian cat, May06

"Be well and keep in touch!"  And, to get contact information and the real newsletter for 24Nov06,
write to  geoffreyallonewordanisman at gmail dot com

This is his couch potato friend,
Jerry Nelson

Rev 28Nov06
home for Jerry's stuff