Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Betty MacDonald and many new projects and stories
Betty MacDonald in the living room at Vashon on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

Betty MacDonald fan club research team is working on a new Betty MacDonald exhibit.

If you are interested in joining this Betty MacDonald fan club project you are welcome.
Several Betty MacDonald fan club fans shared very interesting details and info regarding Betty MacDonald's fascinating experiences in Hollywood.

Thanks a million!

We are going to publish some new Betty MacDonald fan club interviews  by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel who is working on an updated Betty MacDonald biography.

Good luck dear Wolfgang Hampel!

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is a great guy even if he is a bit strange.
My British friends would say he's a bit eccentric but that's like Onions in the Stew, don't you think.

Do I agree with Betty MacDonald's description of women and men? Oh yes I do!
Betty MacDonald was such a very intelligent lady and she knew very well what she was writing about.

If we believe that Mr. Tigerli acts a bit strange what can we say of the behaviour of some men?

Betty wrote the truth! By the way I don't hate men! I love them - some of them - especially mine!

My family and friends adore Traci Tyne Hilton's books very much.

We are very happy that she is our new Betty MacDonald fan club honor member.

Betty MacDonald fan club fans from all over the world like Linde Lund's interview with Traci Tyne Hilton very much. 

Have a great Wednesday,


Vita Magica

Betty MacDonald fan club

Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund 

Betty MacDonald fan  club interview with author Traci Tyne Hilton

Copyright 2014/2016 by Traci Tyne Hilton & Linde Lund

                                              All rights reserved

I can find several interviews with you. Which two ones do you prefer?

Here are two recent interviews. The second one is a "character interview" with the characters from my newest book, which is kind of fun.


This is a picture of me on my tenth wedding anniversary at The Betty MacDonald Farm on Vashon. My sweet husband planned our weekend away, but didn't realize that I actually wanted to STAY at the farm! But he did drive me there to see it before we went home, though. I'm pretty little in the picture, but if you look closely, you can see me by the door to the barn.

Which book by Betty MacDonald did you read first?

My mom gave me her copy of The Egg and I when I was about 11. It was my first taste of Betty Macdonald, but I was definitely hooked! I read it at least once a year until I was in my twenties and finally got around to finding the rest of her work at my library...and then collecting reprints.

What do you like most in Betty MacDonald's books?

I love her over the top humor paired with her brutally honest representation of life. 

Is there anything you dislike in Betty MacDonald's books?

One could call her portrayal of the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest in the Egg and I racist, but she was a woman of her time, and the things she writes about, such as alcoholism, are not untrue. They are just reported with that brutal honesty that she also uses for her white neighbors--no one is safe from her sharp pen. So, it makes me a little uncomfortable to read, but at the same time, I think it is real (from her perspective at least, and her perspective is valid,) and I don't dislike it, if that makes sense.

Did you ever read Betty MacDonald's books for children for example The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series and  Nancy and Plum?

Oh yes! I wish I had had them as kids, but I have been reading them to my kids which is even better! My sister in law bought me Nancy and Plum several years back, and I love it. I don't know why it's not a classic on par with the Secret Garden or the Little Princess! But...even better than Nancy and Plum are the Piggle-Wiggle books. They crack my kids up, and were the first chapter books that my girls really devoured. They crack me up, too!

What is your favourite book by Betty MacDonald?

It is still The Egg and I. It's a book that formed so much of my opinion on fiction and held such an important part of my growing up--I don't think anything could beat it. My husband and I call snobby activities "The Theatah and the Dahnce" and I've been known to say "I itch, so I scratch, so what?" 

Did Betty MacDonald influence you as author?

Absolutely. Though I write mysteries I want them to be funny, and I hold Betty MacDonald's work up as a standard for humor.

What do you think is the reason Betty MacDonald is beloved all over the world?

Betty's work gives us a glimpse into a world that we would have never known without her. Both life in the Olympic Mountains and on Vashon are so different from regular town and city life. I think readers love to escape, and the more remote the location, the more different the people we get to meet, the more we love the work! Betty's books help us all escape to a time that is getting farther and farther away, and a place that doesn't even exist anymore, but even when it did, it was unexpected, hilarious, and stunningly beautiful.

Dearest Traci I hope I don't bore with so many questions.

I wasn't a bit bored! Betty MacDonald is definitely my favorite author and I loved having a chance to talk about her work and why I love it so much!

As I already mentioned there are several Betty MacDonald fan club fans who enjoy your books very much.

That people who love Betty MacDonald also like my books is almost unbelievable to me, and really is a dream come true, as an author. When I was a young girl, curled up with her work, escaping to that remote egg farm, I never dreamed that someday people who loved her, would also enjoy what I had to say.

Dearest Traci thanks a million for this wonderful interview.
Lots of love to you and your family.

Lots of love to you, as well! Thank you.



Putin’s winning in Syria – but making a powerful new enemy

This time he’s taking on Turkey’s President Erdogan, a ruler as ruthless as he is

Russia’s bombing of the city of Aleppo this week sent a clear message: Vladimir Putin is now in charge of the endgame in Syria. Moscow’s plan — essentially, to restore its ally Bashar al-Assad to power — is quickly becoming a reality that the rest of the world will have to accept. America, Britain and the rest may not be comfortable with Putin’s ambitions in the Middle East, or his methods of achieving them. But the idea of backing a ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria has been proved a fantasy that leaves the field to Putin and Assad.
The Syrian partial ceasefire, brokered in Munich last week by America’s John Kerry, only served to reinforce this sense of Putin’s power. Under the terms of the deal, all combatants were to cease hostilities while humanitarian aid was delivered to rebel enclaves besieged by government troops. Except Russia, whose planes have continued bombing ‘terrorist targets’ — and since Assad insists that all his enemies are ‘terrorists’, the Munich ceasefire effectively means business as usual for Russian and Syrian warplanes. In recent days, they have bombed Médecins Sans Frontières hospitals in rebel-held Idlib and Azaz, and Free Syrian Army positions in the northern suburbs of Aleppo. In response to international condemnation, the Russian foreign ministry has declared that it ‘has still not received convincing evidence of civilian deaths as a result of Russian air strikes’.
Presidents Putin and Obama have both sought to intervene in the conflict militarily, but all the successes have been Russia’s. Between August 2014 and December last year, the US Air Force made 4,669 air strikes to aid Syria’s elusive ‘moderate opposition’ and degrade Isis. But while this made little impact strategically, Russian air power has proved decisive. Since last September, a single squadron of Russian bombers flying some 510 sorties a week has turned the balance of the war in Assad’s favour. Russian armour and tanks have reinvigorated the Syrian army’s battered forces. Ostensibly flown in to protect the Khmeimim airbase, Russian T-90 tanks have since been reported in the vanguard of Syrian army assaults on rebel strongholds south of Aleppo.
Putin is also seeking to reconcile Syria’s warring factions. While the Pentagon spent billions trying to train an army of democracy–friendly moderates which turned out not to exist, Russian military intelligence has been working with its Syrian counterparts to identify rebel groups who would be willing to cut a deal with Assad. The senior Syrian officer corps was largely trained in Moscow during the Cold War. According to one well-placed Russian diplomat, the Kremlin has drawn up a list of 38 potential opposition allies and has been actively wooing them since last October. The list is said to include the Syrian National Council’s current president, Khaled al-Khoja, together with three of his predecessors — Ahmad Jarba, Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib and Hadi al-Bahra.
Throughout the winter, a number of rebel leaders have gone to Moscow to discuss terms — with mixed success. Late last month, a Russian attempt to bring several Syrian opposition parties together in Moscow collapsed. Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, a close Assad ally who defected from the Syrian Republican Guard in 2012, has drawn up an 11-point ‘national project’ which envisions a general ceasefire, followed by a joint regime-rebel assault on Isis. It is a proposal backed by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and part of a wider strategy that Russia pursued successfully in Chechnya in the early 2000s: reward rebels who are willing to change sides with a place at the winners’ table, while mercilessly bombing those who resist.

Russia’s new best friends are Syria’s Kurds. Earlier this month, the ‘Rojava Democratic Self-Rule Administration’ proclaimed itself the new government in Kurdish-held northern Syria and opened its first overseas representative office, in Moscow. Meanwhile, 200 Russian military advisers have been deployed to the Kurdish-controlled town of Qamishli, next to the Turkish border, to secure a military airport for Russian use. That gives Russia a stronghold from which to strike Isis in northeast Syria and protect its new Kurdish friends from attack by Turkey.
A wider Kurdish-Russian pact could be a game-changer for Assad — but it also massively raises the risk of the Syrian conflict spilling over into a wider war. A deal between the Kurdish YPG militia and Damascus would deprive the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces — a coalition that includes Arab and Assyrian groups — of some of their most effective soldiers. It would also further confuse United States policy in Syria, since the Kurds have been Washington’s closest allies in the region for years.
The danger is that Russia’s overtures to the Kurds could put Moscow on a direct collision course with the Turks. Ankara sees the Syrian Kurdish YPG as an offshoot of Turkey’s home-grown Kurdistan Workers’ Party — or PKK — which has been fighting a renewed insurgency against the Turkish state since last summer. Turkey’s tough-talking president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has repeatedly declared that he will not tolerate a de-facto Syrian Kurdish state on his southern border.
Last week, Turkey’s army — the second largest in Nato — backed up Erdoğan’s words by shelling YPG positions from across the frontier, ostensibly in self-defence. Moreover, Erdoğan recently said that a Turkish-US buffer zone mooted for northern Iraq in 2003 would have preserved Iraq from its current problems with Isis. Erdoğan added that he saw no need ‘currently’ for a similar buffer zone in northern Syria — but said that the Turkish military had all the parliamentary authority it needed to create one if the order was given.
More worryingly, Putin and Assad have accused the Turkish army of running weapons to Ankara-backed rebel groups deep inside Syrian territory via the Bab al-Salam border crossing point. The Russians expect Turkey to go further. ‘At a certain point, a full Turkish intervention is inevitable,’ Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, told Bloomberg last week. ‘That would mean a completely different conflict, with a much larger force fighting on the side of the opposition and the risk of a direct Russian-Turkish conflict.’ Nationalist-leaning media on both sides are already fighting a war of words. It’s highly likely that another clash — beginning with, say, a Russian airstrike hitting Turkish troops inside Syria — would escalate quickly. In that case, Turkey could potentially invoke article five of Nato’s founding treaty, which states that an ‘armed attack against one [member] shall be considered an attack against them all’. The terrifying result: war between Nato and Russia.
To further complicate the situation, Saudi Arabia moved fighter jets to Turkey last week to carry out strikes inside Syria — and both Turkish and Saudi foreign ministers agreed that Saudi special forces troops deploying via Turkey might be involved in a future operation to liberate Raqqa from Isis. But Saudi troops on the ground in Syria would be a red rag to Assad’s other key ally, Iran — which already has troops from its revolutionary guards fighting in Syria.
Speaking at a security conference in Munich, US senator John McCain correctly predicted that Russia would not observe the recent ceasefire. ‘Russian presses its advantage militarily, creates new facts on the ground, uses the denial and delivery of humanitarian aid as a bargaining chip, negotiates an agreement to lock in the spoils of war, and then chooses when to resume fighting,’ he said. ‘The only thing that has changed about Mr Putin’s ambitions is that his appetite is growing with the eating.’
Certainly part of Putin’s plan in Syria is to distract international attention from his own unfinished intervention in eastern Ukraine. That conflict has cost Russia dearly: international banking sanctions and falling oil prices have sent inflation soaring and halved the value of the ruble. Putin is also ambitious to restore his country’s status as a world power. And he would like to show potential allies in the Middle East and the wider world that Russia stands by its friends. For the first time since the 1980s, Moscow’s military and diplomatic backing is something truly worth having.
Putin’s intervention in Syria is an act of reckless geopolitical buccaneering — just like his invasion of Georgia in 2008 and his annexation of Crimea in 2014. But it’s worth asking the question: if Assad wins decisively, and peace breaks out, is Putin’s plan so terrible? Washington and Moscow want many of the same things: an end to hostilities on the ground, the destruction of radical Islamist groups such as Isis and the Al-Nusra Front, the establishment of a transitional government and, eventually, free elections. Even the Americans are willing to fudge on a key rebel demand — that Assad, personally, be removed from power. They agree that he could at least stay for a transitional period.
If Putin’s latest gambit does bring peace to Syria, even if it is a peace on Assad’s terms, it may one day be counted as a success, albeit a self-serving one. But it is also Putin’s riskiest move yet, and growing riskier by the second. So far Putin’s opponents have consisted of the disorganised regimes of former Soviet nations. In his Syrian war, he faces a ruler every bit as choleric and ruthless as himself — Erdoğan — and an increasingly belligerent Saudi Arabia. The prospect of peace in Syria is now dependent on the wisdom, restraint and goodwill of Putin and Erdoğan: an unsettling prospect.
Owen Matthews is a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine, based in Istanbul.

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