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I first lived in Latvia as a diplomat between 1996 and 1999. A few years after Latvia regained independence from the crumbling Soviet Union. I returned to live in Latvia in 2022. This podcast series is based on my personal observation and experience, together with some history and comparisons with my home country of England, on aspects of life in Latvia and things to see and experience.
 
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show series
 
In this episode, I reflect on what it was like to live and work in Latvia as a diplomat in the 1990s. I look at some of the issues on regaining independence. The changes that were happening in shopping habits, in the restaurant scene, in culture and popular music. In sports, in the economy and in crime. I also share experiences of being a diplomat …
 
Joe takes a look back through the first half of October including significant potholes in the road to a coalition, major changes to Riga's public transit ticketing system, a shortage of antibiotics, ever-increasing energy prices, and more!To donate to the ENGtegration for Ukraine project: https://gogetfunding.com/my-dashboard/Theme song "Mēs esam ā…
 
Otto and Joe are back to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the podcast and to break down the major stories of the last month such as the three-party coalition formation process that seems to be in its final stages, major energy initiatives, average speed cameras, the dismantling of more monuments, HIMARS for Latvia, and more!If you would like to …
 
With the 2022 Saeima (parliament) election finally in the books, Otto and Joe sit down for an extended discussion on the results and the many implications for the election's winners and losers, as well as the first steps towards building a new governing coalition.Opening and closing music: "Epic Cinematic" by Scott Holmes Music is licensed under a …
 
On the eve of the 2022 Saeima election, Joe and Otto take a look back on some of the most important stories of the last few weeks such as a narrowly avoided teachers' strike, new energy saving measures, major decisions adopted by the outgoing parliament on education, a look at the regional security situation, and much more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārze…
 
With just a few days to go before the 2022 Saeima Election, Joe sits down with some of his 12th grade students, many of who are about to vote for the very first time in their lives, to find out what issues are most important to them and how they feel politicians are doing at engaging with people their age.Here is a link to the Election Guide spread…
 
As a teacher's strike seems imminent, Otto and Joe sit down to discuss major new stories such as the potential elimination of "budget seats" at universities, legal independence for Latvia's Orthodox Church, the demise of Rīga's microbusses, new party polling data, and much more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionCl…
 
With Latvia set to vote on a new parliament in less than a month, Otto and Joe sat down for a marathon-length episode to discuss all 19 of the competing parties, as well as a brief introduction to how Saeima (Latvian parliament) works and is elected. If you would like to skip to a specific part of the episode, you can choose a part below:3:24 What …
 
Joe returns back to Latvia to discuss with Otto the literally ground-shaking demise of the controversial Soviet Victory Memorial in Rīga, along with a number of other important stories from the previous few weeks!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionautix audionautix.com​ Creat…
 
With a parliamentary committee labelling Russia as a "terrorist state", visas being denied to almost all Russian citizens, and the seemingly imminent demolition of the country's most controversial landmark, the era of Latvia as a "bridge between east and west" seems to have officially drawn to a close. Otto and Joe discuss the newest low in diploma…
 
Concerns grow in Riga about a potential winter gas shortage for certain sectors, while Gazprom announces that it will no longer supply gas to Latvia. Otto and Joe discuss the implications along with a number of other stories, such as a picket protest by representatives of the medical sector, the long-awaited opening of an embassy in Australia, poor…
 
As energy costs continue to soar throughout the region, Latvia gets serious about conserving fuel and finding alternatives to unreliable Russian natural gas. Otto and Joe discuss the ongoing international energy crisis as it relates to Latvia, along with other important stories such as continued inflation, new measures against speeding, urban bee f…
 
"Pludmale" is the word of the week, with many of Latvia's most popular beaches closed to swimmers due to low water quality amid a series of heatwaves. Otto and Joe discuss this and a number of other stories including high costs for the planned Soviet monument demolition, possible changes to Latvia's parental leave system, the trashiest criminal in …
 
"Iesaukt" (conscript) is the word of the week as Minister for Defense Atis Pabriks announces plans for obligatory military service that could be introduced as soon as next year. Otto and Joe discuss the implications for Latvia's society and security situation along with other major stories from the previous week such as cyberattacks on Latvian infr…
 
As Latvia suffers through a massive heatwave, Otto and Joe discuss some of the biggest stories of the week including a looming teacher's strike, trouble with KNAB for Ainārs Šlesers LPV party, new electric trains (finally!) and much more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionaut…
 
Now that Otto and Joe are back from a number of "komandējumi" (business trips) and the busy school year is over, they sit down and take a look back through some of the biggest stories of the past few weeks!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionautix audionautix.com​ Creative Com…
 
"Skriet" (to run) is the word of the weeb in honor of Otto's and Olevs's participation in Riga Marathon events. Before running to go run his distance, Otto joins Joe via audio call to run through the biggest stories of the week including planned demolition of Riga's major Soviet war memorial, political fallout from events on the 9th and 10th of May…
 
"Atjaunot" is the word of the week as Latvia celebrates 32 years since the restoration of independence. Otto and Joe discuss the meaning of the 4th of May in Latvia along with other major stories such as alternative heating and electricity to Russian gas, the dismantling of more Soviet monuments, donated bussed to Kyiv, and much more!Theme song "Mē…
 
As the typical smell of grass fires fills the spring air despite the unusually cold weather, Otto and Joe discuss some of the biggest stories of the week such as new cycling routes, the establishment of natural gas reserves, war supporters potentially being stripped of citizenship, possible dismantling of "victory" monuments in Ogre, and much more!…
 
"Nojaukt" is the word of the week as the governing coalition begins seriously discussing proposals to take down the controversial Soviet war memorial in Rīga which has been temporarily blocked off for "safety concerns". Otto and Joe discuss this issue along with new party ratings, liquid natural gas plans, bridge closure headaches for rīdzinieki, a…
 
"Piegāde" (delivery) is the word of the week as the Baltic states lead the way in ending natural gas imports from Russia. Otto and Joe break down this major action as well as amendments banning "Z" and "V" symbols, the end (for now) to most COVID restrictions, speed cameras checking for expired technical certificates, the closure of Russian consula…
 
For the show’s 200th total episode, Joe sits down with none other than Mike Collier, editor of the English language version of Latvian Public Media (eng.LSM.lv) to discuss a range of topics including the role of humor in the news, comment section soap operas, the hierarchy of mushroom pickers, countryside living, killer beavers, and his experience …
 
"Vējš" is the word of the week as wind causes trouble all throughout Latvia, including for the crew of a ferry blown into Ventspils port's promenade. Otto and Joe discuss this along with potential plans for an LNG terminal in Latvia, signs from the national government that large 9th of May gatherings could be banned, pre-election political intrigue…
 
"Uzvarēt" (to win) is the word of the week, as the controversial 9th of May "Victory Day" celebration of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany has come into question after statements from the newly politically independent Mayor of Rīga Martiņš Staķis as well as State Police Chief Armands Ruks. Otto joins Joe back in person to discuss the possible implic…
 
Joe sits down with fellow English language Latvia-based podcaster Fabrizio Marciante to discuss the challenges of interviewing, national identity in an increasingly global world, and life in Lativa. You can find the Kūla podcast here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR85s1UcKcGFginjLz_-v5wOpening and closing music: courtesy of Ausma Apsīte…
 
"Uzņēmt" is the word of the week as Latvia takes in thousands of refugees fleeing the horrors of war in Ukraine. Otto calls into Joe from Vilnius to discuss the process of providing refugees with shelter, measures to ensure safety in the Baltics, the continuing fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by …
 
Sveicam Svētā Patrika dienā! For this year's special St. Patrick's Day episode, Joe sits down with Ms Eimear Friel, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ireland to Latvia, to discuss the meaning of St. Patrick's Day, how people can celebrate it across the world, some interesting connections between Latvia and Ireland, and much more!Openi…
 
"Saistības" is the Latvian word of the week as NATO allies reaffirm their commitments to collective security as well as their commitment to providing supplies to the Ukrainian army. Otto and Joe discuss the flurry of diplomatic visits in Latvia as well as the continuing fallout from Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as well as a few other lo…
 
"The Eastern Border" podcast host Kristaps Andrejsons once again is back on the show, this time calling in from the border of Ukraine and Poland where he has been spending the last few days reporting on the situation for Latvian media and working together with Latvian relief workers providing aid for the countless refugees seeking safety. Kristaps …
 
As the shocking invasion of Ukraine by Russia continues, Otto and Joe break down Latvia's support measures for Ukraine, reactions against supporters of the Russian regime, and measures to defend the Baltic states from further aggression.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionauti…
 
Otto and Joe discuss the shocking actions taken by Russia in launching a seemingly full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the response by Latvia and the rest of the western world. They also call expat lawyer Rick Jacobus to discuss ways that Ukrainian refugees can seek safe haven in Latvia before discussing a few other important stories from the last w…
 
While the world holds its breath as the situation in Ukraine unfolds, Otto and Joe discuss the latest developments as well as other important stories closer to Latvia such as more school closures, a new Eurovision challenger, relaxation of COVID restrictions, and much more! Joe then calls into expat lawyer Rick Jacobus to discuss red flags to look …
 
Despite record case numbers, the Latvian government seems to be signalling that most COVID-19 restrictions could be lifted in the next few months. Otto and Joe discuss the implications of this potential decision as well as the other most important stories of the week.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme…
 
"Pārstrādāt" is the word of the week in honor of Latvia finally kicking off its long-discussed container deposit system. Otto and Joe discuss this along with other stories such as a draft civil union law, a step forward towards an acoustic concert hall, a potential loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, and much more before calling into expat lawyer R…
 
As Latvia implements major changes to its making requirements, Joe and Otto call expat lawyer Rick Jacobus to clarify what people can and cannot wear. They also discuss major stories such as sky high energy costs, the situation in Ukraine, and much more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think T…
 
After an extended holiday break, Otto and Joe are back to break down the government's new COVID mitigation strategy as well as other stories such as goodwill compensation for Holocaust victims, potential new emissions regulations in Riga, support for a ban on fur farming, a bananas cocaine bust, and much more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aar…
 
Otto and Joe sit down for the 150th time to discuss the latest news of the week and to look forward to the upcoming holidays here in Latvia.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionautix audionautix.com​ Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0 Free Download / Stream…
 
"Pilnība" is the word of the week, with 75% of Latvia's adult population fully vaccinated just as child vaccination starts throughout the country. Otto and Joe break down the current situation along with other stories such as proposed solutions to the energy crisis, legal troubles for two parliamentarians, an international war memorial controversy,…
 
As Latvia lays blanketed in snow, Otto and Joe discuss the latest stories of the week including the wintry cold, major updates to corruption cases, Omicron variant in Latvia, and much more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionautix audionautix.com​ Creative Commons — Attributio…
 
"Pieņemt" is the word of the week after Saeima accepts the 2022 state budget following a relatively quiet debate. Otto and Joe discuss the major takeaways as well as the latest from the Belarussian border and updates to the COVID-19 situation in Latvia.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Ta…
 
With Latvia's lockdown lifter and things returning to the way they were before the strict three-week measures, Otto joins Joe back in person in the studio to discuss the deepening crisis at the Belarusian border, the banning of St. George's ribbon at public events, a new potential future for Congress Hall, and much more!Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemni…
 
Joe sits down with Anete Germane from the Irregular Latvian YouTube channel to discuss the origin of her videos, life as an Latvian in France, intercultural customer service, and much more!You can check out her YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/GermaneAneteOpening and closing music: courtesy of Ausma Apsīte…
 
Otto calls into Joe from an overnight train in Finland to discuss the latest major stories of the week, including more layoffs at Latvian Railways, Aivars Lembergs' first place poll finish, the latest COVID updates in Latvia, and much more!With the situation in the health care sector reaching a new critical point, Health Minister has called for the…
 
With the situation in the health care sector reaching a new critical point, Health Minister has called for the emergency mobilization of health workers. Union leaders have responded by calling for his resignation. Otto and Joe break down this situation and other major news stories including a law to streamline border construction, populist leaders …
 
As Latvia implements its strictest COVID-19 measures yet, Otto and Joe remember the life of statesman Ojārs Kalniņš after his sudden passing last week and discuss other important stories that have happened here in Latvia.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionautix audionautix.co…
 
Otto and Joe break down the newly declared state of emergency and COVID-19 related restrictions along with a few other important stories from the week here in Latvia.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionautix audionautix.com​ Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY …
 
Joe discusses the newest COVID-19 safety measures and restrictions along with a controversy involving the president's influence, a legal challenge to a mural, increases to energy costs, and a number of other stories from the last week and a half.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by A…
 
While President Egils Levits visits the US and the UN General Assembly, Ainars Šlesers continues his comeback to Latvian national politics with a number of controversial actions. Otto and Joe discuss these stories and more, such as Minister of Health Daniels Pavļuts surviving a vote of no confidence, the merger of universities, potential new COVID …
 
As yet another strange school year begins amid the ongoing pandemic, Joe breaks down the biggest stories of the past week and a half.Theme song "Mēs esam ārzemnieki" by Aarzemnieki, used with permissionClosing theme song: Think Tank by Audionautix audionautix.com​ Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0 Free Download / Stream: bit.l…
 
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