Update: No, somebody really proposed this. Check the comments below for a link to the quick rejection of the idea by the ministry where the fellow is employed (and to which he was proposed by SPS). For more on the fascinating biography of Željko Vasilević, have a look at today's Danas.
And the Serbian ambassador in the Netherlands says that the Serbian government will assist in the legal defence of Radovan Karadžić -- presumably the principle here is that the state will assist not only its citizens, but also noncitizens that it promoted, financed, armed and hid.
- There is not a pattern of "illegal immigration," most of the people are nationals of the UK. Among those who are migrants, they are more likely to have come for study or economic reasons than for political reasons or as refugees.
- To the degree that they are religious, they are relatively new to religion and not well versed in it.
- They are no more likely than than any other part of the population to suffer from psychological disorders.
- They are not unified by any particular national or ethnic origin.
- While most are under the age of 30, this cannot be said to be typical of the group.
- Among those over 30, they are more likely than not to have families.
- No general claims can be made about whether they are likely to have completed formal education or not.
Is there anything that can be said the people in the group studied? Perhaps a few things:
- It is not sufficient to be exposed to extreme ideas or to be persuaded by them. People are recruited into groups and remain in them by means of personal contact.
- People who have experienced marginalisation or racism or who have only held low-level jobs may be more receptive to recruitment than others.
- The tolerance of terrorists for people with criminal records (here they refer to ordinary rather than "political" crime) may mean that people who are not accepted elsewhere in society may be accepted by terrorist groups.
- The people recruiting members into terrorist networks are less likely to be the famous "radical clerics" as they are to be peers from the communities in which the recruits live.
- The strongest force maintaining members in the group is a sense of belonging.
- Perceptions of racism, anti-Muslim sterotypes in media, and other information that promotes a sense of victimhood strengthen recruitment.
There is of course another distinction to be made: between having extreme ideas and using violence to realise these ideas. Here (this is not a quotation from the report, which I have not seen, but from a summary of it by Alan Travis in the Guardian):
"The MI5 authors stress that the most pressing current threat is from Islamist extremist groups who justify the use of violence "in defence of Islam", but that there are also violent extremists involved in non-Islamist movements.If this is the way that thinking is developing among people in law enforcement about terrorism, it is a good sign. Concentrating attention on where the trouble might be rather than on where it is could have the effect of producing more terrorists.
They say that they are concerned with those who use violence or actively support the use of violence and not those who simply hold politically extreme views."
Update: That last point is made more colourfully at SpyBlog (which also discusses the possible provenance of the document) -- "One Obvious Question not mentioned in the "Key Points" or in The Guardian's articles, is to what extent "radicalisation" is influenced by the cockups and mistakes whereby heavy handed or inept Police and Security Agency actions, which sweep up innocent or neutral or marginal terrorism supporters, and who refuse to promptly admit, publicly apologise and make generous financial compensation for their mistakes, contributes to the conversion of these people and their relatives, into more extreme supporters or into actual terrorists, exactly as used to happen in Northern Ireland."
There was more good news for Belgrade today, which will please local lovers of the game Monopoly. The new international version of the game has come out, and it features Belgrade among the fancy dark green properties, right between Cape Town and Parigi. Now anyone who puts a hotel there, if it is a decent one, ought to do just fine.
Meanwhile a person was convicted and labelled as the UK's "youngest terrorist" because when he was sixteen he was found to possess, erm, some pamphlets. And computer files. Expect the "youngest terrorist" to figure among the youngest people to complete a sentence as well.
Update: It looks like the "young terrorist" got twelve years for possessing reading material. Imagine the sentences that will be given to people who have actually done things.
Update2: My mistake (I blame BBC!), it was the person who actually recruited the group who got twelve years. Pamphlet boy will be sentenced in September. The charge on which he was convicted was one count of "making a record likely to be useful."
The "president of South Ossetia" has a special message of brotherhood for Serbia in Glas gadosti. Highlights of his historical-anthropological disquisition:
"In the past there existed good relations between the Alana-Ossetians and the Georgians. The attack of the Mongol-Tatar hordes changed the situation."One very tiny group of Serbs wants to return the compliment. The ten or so people who are still protesting the arrest of Radovan Karadžić paid a visit to the Russian embassy to congratulate them on their military success, equipped with a banner reading "Ne dam Osetiju!" It is nice to know that there is always some little crowd of marginal people who can never get enough of murderous little territorial disputes.
"The nation of South Ossetia, an ancient nation with an old Orthodox tradition, is filled with extraordinarily warm feelings toward the brotherly Serbian nation. Our common roots date from the Scythnian-Sarmatian-Slavic times, and even earlier. In addition, our position is ordered not only by historical and religious-cultural closeness. Our opponents call us separatists and so we see that people in Serbia are surprised by our support. But as I have already said, South Ossetians are not separatists, we were always against the dissolution of our state, the USSR."
"We follow the events in Serbia with great attention. We would like very much for the Serbian nation to be consolidated and we are deeply affected by the division in Serbian society. In contrast to the Serbs, among us there is complete unity."
If you think that the other folks are doing any better, look over at Georgia, where president Mikheil Saakashvili is attempting to draw on his contacts with the American far right (for example Randy Scheunemann, John McCain's top foreign policy advisor, who was a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government) to try to encourage a revival of the hostile footing between the US and Russia.
For an interesting perspective, look at the assessment of events by Soli Ozel. In the world where humans actually live, ill-intentioned national romanticism will not achieve any more than it already has, and neither will dreams of bringing back another Cold War that will never end.
Thanks to AR for a bunch of the links and to the Mongol-Tatar hordes for keeping the world interesting.
The second one: Russia is determined to show how powerful it is again in a way that other countries will recognise. It would be good to find ways to let this expression be made that do not involve endangering or killing people.
The third one: The choice of means offers a pretty good sign of who is in power in Russia. This will not make anything easier, and a strategy of confrontation will only confirm their power.
The fourth one: The Georgian government calculated badly in tying its foreign policy position to the United States. As convenient as the US may have found it to have a client in the region, it is not going to challenge a regional hegemon or take any other risks for its client's sake.
The fifth one: A lot of people in the US and Europe will find it hard to resist the tasty new Cold War bait that is being offered. This would make a few arms manufacturers happier and wealthier but would not help anyone else. If nothing else has become clear over the past seven years, it is that a failure of diplomacy cannot be covered over by an excess of belligerency.
On that last point: let's accept for a moment the null hypothesis that the military is not actively protecting Ratko Mladić on some of the real estate it owns. Is it still impossible to trace the pension payments he receives?
Do they feel entitled? See what their lawyer says.
And all those people who are not criminals, and who have not bribed a consul? They wait to receive a passport, and wait to be able to travel with it.
Lesson from the arrests of war criminals: the whole country is better off when people's lives do not depend on the moods of people who live off influence they would never have in a legal state.
The US State Department denies that there was an agreement, as does Richard Holbrooke. But of course denials do not tell us anything about factual states, merely what somebody would prefer for us to believe. All the same, there is as yet no convincing evidence (say, a copy of the signed agreement) that would definitively tell us there was an agreement. What we have to do is the same thing we do with the Karađorđevo agreement -- some people claim that Milošević and Tuđman agreed in advance on the territorial division of Bosnia-Hercegovina, nobody has produced the smoking cocktail napkin or whatever it is that thugs in power write their mash notes on, so what is left to make inferences from the facts that are available.
Here is what we know: 1) The US long regarded the Tribunal as an obstacle to its efforts to negotiate with the criminals who would be charged, and refused to assist in the arrest of suspects or provide Tribunal researchers with evidence from sources such as satellite intercepts which the US intelligence agencies collected. 2) There was a longish period during which it was possible to arrest Karadžić and other indictees but this was not done. 3) After 2000, when a new president was appointed by the Supreme Court, US foreign policy became increasingly hostile to international legal institutions, international agreements and international organisations in general.
At the same time, here are some more things that we know: 1) Richard Holbrooke never had the authority to create obligations for the US by means of a personal initiative. 2) If he did ever have it, he did not have the means to enforce it, particularly after the administration he served left office, 3) An obligation undertaken by the US State Department would not create obligations for UN institutions or any other countries.
So my conclusion is that maybe Richard Holbrooke did make some promises to Radovan Karadžić. If he did, it was a mildly clever way of influencing a gullible megalomaniac. It never could have any legal force, neither in preventing Serbia from arresting Karadžić nor in preventing the UN from trying him.
Radovan Karadžić makes his first court appearance. He is expected to confirm his identity, hear the charges against him, state that he intends to represent himself, and request to use his right to wait thirty days before entering a plea.
In the meantime there is some chance that the charges against him may be revised -- in some ways to account for evidence which was not available when the first charges were made, and in some cases it may be shortened because some facts (for example, related to the siege of Sarajevo) have already been established in other cases. Here a delicate balance has to be struck: important crimes should not be left out, but one reason for the endless Milošević trial was probably that prosecutors overcharged.
Photo courtesy of B92. There is another photo about of the accused looking a bit more Hollywoodish, but it is not legal to take photos of prisoners in custody, and I ain't going down that road.
- On the one hand, there may as well not have been an appeal since it would have been rejected as a matter of course.
- On the other hand, these lawyers might think about defending their client instead of whatever it is they are doing.
Postscript: Here is the link. And the remark about Mr Petronijević is not because of this case or any of the other celebrated cases in which he has defended figures from the organised crime world, but because of his famous decision when he was a judge in the Djakovica terrorism case in May 2000, when he declared "There might have been shortcomings in the test, but the results must be accepted as valid because they were conducted in wartime conditions. It is impossible to determine your individual guilt, but that is not necessary." ICTY rejected him as a lawyer for Veselin Šljivančanin back in the day.
Meanwhile the only element of the meeting that made news was the violent confrontation between skinheads and police, who this time around did not have orders to let the hooligans destroy anything they wanted. A suggestion to the winsome lads of 1389, Obraz and other groups allied with SRS: when your friends are not in power, it is a bad idea to attack the police, because there are more of them than there are of you, and they are better armed and better trained.
Today Tomislav Nikolić of SRS came out with an unintentionally revealing statement. He claims that president Boris Tadić was commanding the police and attempting to create disorder, and tried to dissociate his party from the thugs who turned out for the meeting, claiming that they were on the payroll of the police.
Let's leave the contradictions in Nikolić's statement alone -- they are obvious enough that they do not need to be pointed out. What the failure of last night's meeting shows is that without support from the regime in power SRS is simply another extremist party with severely limited support and little capacity to organise anything. They could build a small base of support when they had the ability to hand out commercial real estate on the Zemunski kej. And they could assure the validity of their licence to intimidate people when everyone was sure that the police and security services were standing behind them.
Goodbye, SRS. People are no longer afraid of you, and they no longer take you seriously.
Update: Rich Byrne on the failed meeting as "a total triumph for the new government."
Update2: Similar thoughts from Vladimir Vuletić, Zoran Stojiljković and (if you can believe it) Slobodan Antonić.
Any truth to the rumours that Karadžić is already on his way to the Hague? I have not found any confirmation yet, but it will be my pleasure to let you know.
Update: Ah, timing! The title of the story has already changed -- to "Miting završen, nema šetnje." Apparently the police and the right wing thugs need some space to be alone with one another.
Update2: No trip to the Hague tonight, the rumour was untrue.
Update3: But if I had waited a couple hours longer ....
In any case, there is not so much that is new to report. Karadžić may or may not have acquired a Croatian passport in the name of his witch-doctor colleague Petar Glumac. Glumac thinks so and so apparently do Serbian authorities, but police in Austria seem not so certain. It seems fairly clear that Karadžić vacationed in Croatia using this document, which would suggest that the folks in Serbia are closer to the truth here. Somebody -- either the real Glumac or Karadžić -- was apparently also practicing "medicine" in Italy.
Karadžić's lawyer Svetozar Vujačić seems to have adopted the only strategy available to delay the extradition of his client to the ICTY. He sent an appeal by the slowest postal means he could find. This is not going to mean much, except that the indictee may travel a couple of days later.
Meanwhile Karadžić's nephew Dragan Karadžić has come out with a declaration that he (and only he) assisted the fugitive in evading the law. This is probably an attempt to shield the people who participated in harbouring Karadžić and are still harbouring Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. There is no reason to expect much to come of this one way or the other. Dragan Karadžić might or might not get a short prison term, police are not likely to prefer his public statements to the results of their investigation, and public opinion will be balanced between the people who are relieved that the criminal has been arrested and people who will understand a little illegal expression of filial piety, however misguided. Luka Karadžić should get a little bit of blame for exposing his son to danger, but in his family life as in his driving habits he has never shown any sign of concern for people less powerful and well connected than himself.
Tonight the right wing parties are organising a protest against the arrest. This is a bit of a last ditch for them: they lost both the elections and the extended horse-trading session that followed, and now want to try their hand at a little bit of street populism. Expect them to attract a small number of people who will engage in a bit of violence.
Speaking of marginal parties of the far right, it looks like Koštunica dr Vojislav has broken his silence. Lucky us.
Apologies for the lack of links in the above post. I just wanted to catch up a bit. The people who have been following the news will already have read the original articles, and for the rest a search engine ought to do the trick.
Update: Just a note on the lawyer Vujačić's slow mail trick. If the appeal does not arrive, the court is not obligated to wait for it indefinitely. The judges could make a finding that there is no appeal.
I am just posting stuff I read. I am not making it up. What makes you think I could make this up?
Update: Oops, sorry, gender confusion. Apparently Mina Minić is a dude. And here is (perhaps) a photo.
Which belongs not to him, but to this person:
Or that is at least one of the versions. In another version he assumed the identity of a much younger person who was killed during the siege of Sarajevo.
What is fairly certain is that he did not get the false identity on his own. The answer to the question of how he got it probably depends on when he got it. If it was early on, it could have been as early as 1993 when the younger Dragan Dabić was killed. Then chances are that the documents were provided by Karadžić's fellow criminals in Bosnia. If it was later, and the most frequent guess now seems to be that was in Belgrade from 2005 onward, it would have to have been done by criminals in Serbia. What kind of criminals in Serbia? Follow the paper trail: who issues the documents?
Also, in the trivia department -- Radovan's gentlewoman friend's identity is revealed.
Pavlović je za B92 rekao da je razgovarao s Karadžićem i o svom obilasku Sheveningena. "Onda sam mu rekao: ‘Davide, Sheveningen je jedno super mesto, koje morate obavezno da posetite. On je pun hotela, plaža, stvarno jedno predivno mesto na Zemlji.’ On je samo slegnuo ramenima i rekao: ‘Pa, da, OK, važi’", priča Pavlović.He didn't mention the jazz festival.
The way the story goes, Mladić is negotiating the terms of his own surrender, wants to avoid being tried, and passed on what he knew about his former co-conspirator to soemone, possibly the German intelligence agency BND.
It's all very interesting, though the article is short on detail and a bit rambling. According to my sources, Mladić is living under an assumed identity and working as an alternative pedicurist in Kuršumlija.
On the other hand, the more I look at the article, the more it looks like it was planted there, and not by a person skilled in feng shui.
Photo: Luka Karadžić arrives with his tailor and cosmetician to visit his brother.
People with whom he came into contact in the "medical" world also did not suspect anything, except that the editor of Zdrav život never did believe he had a medical degree or profession (but nevertheless appreciated Karadžić's articles on meditation and the like, which do seem to have attracted a readership). A couple of people used his healing services, which seemed to involve waving his hands around people's bodies, which would appear to constitute "classical bioenergy," and the purchase of pendants. Oh, and he seems to have been inseparable from someone called Mila.
There were only a few signs of his old political affiliations and of the ideas that led him a few years earlier to become a perpetrator of genocide. Apparently he frequented a bar where traditional gusle music was played, and liked to listen, sometimes played and sang songs about himself facing a picture of himself with a larger hairdo, and praised his fellow traditional music enthusiasts for preserving folk customs. This is hardly determinative of anything, though -- the overwhelming majority of people who appreciate traditional culture are not criminals at all.
A couple mild indications can also be found in the articles on meditation he wrote for Zdrav život. Again, it is not much: in reflecting on meditation he falls into a digression on the authenticity of cultures and whether they "have not been destroyed or blocked in development." But again, there are many more essentialists out there than there are extremists. Even offering up silly ideas, he gave nobody any reason to suspect who he was.
All in all it sounds as though he succeeded in living the life of a peaceful fellow who did not stand out much in a crowd. Very likely he would have been able to continue doing that if he did not begin to seek publicity for his "treatments." Psychologist Leposava Kron explains this behaviour, which seems to have led to his capture, as representing a need for attention which was unchanged from his previous life.
No text to link to, but I just heard an interview on the radio, Tatomir Toroman interviewed the editor of Zdrav život magazine, who published a series of articles on meditation by Dragan (sometimes David) Dabić, and who says that his lectures on meditation were outstanding. The editor had no clue who was hiding behind the assumed name.
Here's a tad more: from Stultitia, scenes from a Dabićin' lecture and the menu for a lovely vegetarian repast.
"Dragan Babic [sic], and Srecko Dogandzic's office, I saw aThe testimony took place in June 2005. We still do not know when Karadžić began using the pseudonym.
25 civilian male Albanian, aged about 20, lying on the blue carpeted floor
Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
1 without his shoes on. Dragan Babic [sic] was sitting on his legs and
2 remained there when I walked in. Srecko Dogandzic had a baton in his hand
3 and he froze when he saw me, he was standing behind Dragan Babic and it
4 was obvious that he had been beating the young man's bare feet. Dragan
5 Jasovic was in a crouched position at the guy's head with his hands either
6 side of the young man's head, it was if he had let the guy's head go when
7 I entered the room. Radomir Mitic was standing by the desk and he froze
8 when I entered the room.
9 "Jasovic stood up --" Sorry. "Dragan Babic [sic] and Dragan
10 Jasovic stood up. As Babic got up --" Dabic, I beg your pardon. I'm
11 misreading it. "As Dabic got up, he practically stood on the young man's
12 genitals and went over and stood by the wall. Dragan Jasovic was wearing
13 a button down cardigan-type sweater which was open, and as he stood up, he
14 stood on the right-hand side of his sweater, which caused him to slightly
15 lose balance."
16 Now, do you remember an incident with Dragan Dabic, Srecko
17 Dogandzic, and a young man who was being beaten?
18 A. Dragan Dabic and Srecko Dogandzic worked with grand larcenies and
19 theft. That was their area of work.
20 I'm not aware of this case at all. And I never wore a pullover.
21 I always wore a jacket. I am not aware of this case at all. I wore polo
22 shirts or T-shirts in summertime.
Says Rasim Ljajić at his press conference, Karadžić was living in Belgrade and dressing like the jazz-folk legend Louis, and practicing "alternative medicine" at a private clinic under the assumed name Dragan Dabić. And Ljajić directly answered the folks looking for hidden meaning (I guess I am one of them) behind the timing of the arrest: "This shows that we do not choose the place or time for the arrest of suspects. There was international pressure to arrest Mladić, hardly anyone expected the arrest of Karadžić, but our operative findings led to the location and arrest of Karadžić." So there you have it.
- It was announced that he was arrested, but not where. This matters in the sense that a lot of people have claimed for a long time either that they know where he is or that someone else does. The BBC report sazs that he was arrested "by Serbian security officers," which would suggest that it happened in Serbia.
- On the same say that Karadžić was arrested, Dinko Šakić died. Pravo stiže svakom govnu.
- The Tribunal had better not mess this one up because there are not many chances left.
A couple more details, from B92: it happened in Serbia, and the Interior ministry had no part in it.
So it seems that somebody has caught up with 86-year old Peter Egner, resident of a retirement home in lovely Bellevue, Washington. According to the charges, Mr Egner, who came to the United States in 1960 and received citizenship in 1966, was a member of the Nazi security police in Belgrade between 1941 and 1943 where he acted as an interpreter during interrogations of prisoners and guarded transports of prisoners (at least) between two prison camps in the city. During the first nine months of the occupation, it is charged, he was a member of a unit that killed thousands of civilians, mostly by asphyxiation.
The suspect is not commenting and his lawyer says that the charges are vague.
A little bit more: the government has filed a case to revoke the old murderer's citizenship (here is the full text). Some guy says that he is a gentleman. While his neighbours seem to think that being a Nazi has something to do with privacy.
There is at least one set of rumours out there suggesting that they need not have bothered. According to this version of the near future, SPS will be out of all coalitions and LDP will be in. Or else -- get this! -- new elections, which DSS and SRS are hankering to lose while SPS is still uncertain whether it wants to lose now or later.
It may seem that I spend a lot of time complaining here about agencies and companies that bother me (the Home Office, Defra, my local council, BT ....). This could lead to the impression that I am a grouchy old fellow, an impression that people who know me would certainly confirm.
All the same, in the interest of balance, a few of the providers of goods and services in the United Magical Kingdom who have pleased me:
- John Lewis: They deliver when they say they will, and do not charge extra for it. And when I got a defective product from them, they were there the next day to take it away and bring a new one.
- Riverford Organic: Say goodbye to depressing supermarket vegetables, order a nice box of veg from these folk instead. They come by once a week to bring it to you, and take back the box from last week to use again. The price is a little higher, but the quality is much better. And you don't have to carry anything.
Both Smajlović and Tijanić have some good things to show for their service. Smajlović engaged the much-admired designer Mirko Ilić to reconceive the look of Politika, and it is now more legible and more stylish than it was, with especially enjoyable graphics on Sundays. Under Tijanić RTS television looks a lot less haphazard and hackneyed, more like a professional TV outlet and less like the way a tech school dropout put onto video the hallucinations of a hatful of people to whom nobody can say "that's a bad idea."
And there are things that they failed to do. Smajlović cut short the path that Politika had begun back to respectable journalism. Times have changed, but you are as likely to find tendentious headlines and selective reporting in that paper as you were in the 1990s. She also handed out patronage in the form of columnist contracts to Koštunica's political supporters. Miroslav Lazanski? There. Slobodan Antonić? Him too. Đorđe Vukadinović? What a surprise. For good measure, the management board was packed with political supporters as well. Emir Kusturica was installed as its chair. Tijanić used RTS as a vehicle for personal promotion and the political promotion of his rotating cast of friends and business associates. So as much as the heads of these institutions polished their surfaces, the stuff underneath looked very much the way it did in the old days.
Now with a new government, new board members are heading to those media outlets. Tijanić and Smajlović are predicting, probably correctly, that they will be removed from their positions. But at the same time they are defending their positions using the rhetoric of "journalistic independence." Now the independence of media is a value that lots of folks for good reason would defend. In this case the rhetoric is in the wrong hands. The people using it did not come to assume their positions as independent journalists or because of their journalistic independence, but for precisely the opposite reason. In the second place, an important point is being missed: no media outlet is independent of its own managing board, which means that the problem is structural. Form the managing body of a media outlet with people appointed by political parties, the result will always be politically controlled media. Allow politicians to name the editors of media institutions, they will be anything but independent.
There might or might not be reason to imagine that the Cvetković-Daček government will appoint a higher class of lapdogs than its predecessors. What would really be interesting would be to see editorial independence practised as a general operating principle.
Mrs Ethnia and the Ethniette arrived Wednesday morning at 5 AM or so, I arrived to the fetching Heathrow airport to meet them, and at that point we were supposed to go to the Animal Reception Centre to pick up our long-suffering dog Lajoš (who appears to have been left without an Ethnian pseudonym; suggestions are welcome), who would be released after they finished doing whatever it is they do to helpless animals in sealed high-security zones.
This was to be the fruit of a long procedure to avoid quarantine in the UK, which is famously hostile to incoming animals. The procedure begins a year before the doggie is to enter the country. He gets certification and boosters for all of the vaccines he has received, and in an indignity meant to emulate the surveillance to which humans are subject at all times, a computer chip is shoved into his body. A blood sample is taken, and must be sent to the only laboratory in the country from which Defra will accept results (in the US, actually, there are two laboratories but the other is apparently only for dogs in active military service). A pile of papers must be gathered and certified by a veterinarian.
And then there is the travel itself. Lajoš must travel in crate that meets precise specifications, can only go on flights from a list provided by Defra, and is to be surrendered to the cargo carrier five hours before the flight. On arrival in London, he is to be taken in his crate directly to the Animal Reception Centre, where, their literature assures us, staff are on duty 24 hours to assure the health, safety and happiness of domestic animals and the people around them.
From Heathrow Terminal 4, which can be reached by tube, one can reach the Animal Reception Centre by car. If, like most people who live in central London, one does not have a car, the procedure is the following: one drags one's luggage past the point at which there are paved walks by the side of the road, and then drags the bags up some stairs to a path that runs through an overgrown meadow and leads to a narrow pavement bestride a six-lane highway. After tooling along that pavement for about 2 km, it is possible to see the building of the Animal Reception Centre, which bears a striking resemblance to the Medical Facility for the Criminally Insane outside the University of Massachusetts hospital in Worcester. On seeing the building, it becomes clear that it is on the other side of the six-lane highway and that there are no crossings. So the only thing to do is wait for a somewhat clear moment, then dash with suitcases and child in the hope of not making an involuntary appearance in tomorrow's Daily Mirror ("Stranded pooch after Ethnia family road rage squish"). Later we discovered that it is possible to take a bus from the terminal; the bus deposits you by a parking lot next to the cargo area about a mile further down the highway, which is also on the opposite side. Here there is a crossing, which leads to an unpaved strip on the other side where pedestrians are invited to slog through the muddy grass beside a shallow primordial pool which is shaped like an imitation of a river.
Pedestrians who arrive at the entrance to the Animal Reception Centre are greeted by a sign telling them that pedestrian access is prohibited. After ignoring the sign they will reach a reasonably pleasant waiting room filled with sofas and piles upon piles of interior decorating magazines. On the walls are signed photos from celebrities whose animals have passed through those doors. Most of them I do not recognise, but there is the unctuous Richard Branson with two doggies and a signed portrait of a squat Elton John. There are also vending machines where one can buy a bag of crisps or a Yorkie bar (“not for girls!”). We are signed in and instructed that Lajoš should be delivered to us within the hour.
But soon an agent appears with a problem: apparently in some obscure part of the guidelines we have been (or somebody has been) told that our Boston veterinarian's signature must be verified by the US Department of Agriculture. Since such a thing would not occur to any reasonable person and is not visible in the instructions, it was not done, and hence the Animal Reception Centre is not able to accept Lajoš's documents. The certificate will have to be issued by one of their vets. It is now 7 AM. Since the Animal Reception Centre works 24 hours a day doing nothing but processing animals, they naturally do not have veterinarians on staff (who are all these people, then?). A veterinarian drops by to visit twice a day, once at noon and once at 7 PM. We are advised to bring our bags home, and that somebody will phone us sometime after noon to tell us that our dog is ready to be picked up. Which we do.
Around 1:00 we receive a call asking us to come back to the Animal Reception Centre with Lajoš's documents. Mrs Ethnia stays at home and the Ethniette and I head off, folder of documents in hand, to make the trek once again to distant Heathrow. It turns out that they needed to resolve some confusion as to whether the computer chip that was unceremoniously placed into Lajoš was placed on the day it was placed or on the day that its number was registered. We are able to resolve the confusion immediately. By this time, however, given the time it has taken for them to call us and the time it has taken to get back to the airport, the noon vet has left. The certificate cannot be issued until the 7 PM vet shows up. They kindly point out that our paid processing fee allows Lajoš to spend 48 hours enjoying their hospitality, and that we are perfectly free to return home and pick him up the following day, or even the day after. We are determined that our dog will not spend the night at their mercies, however tender. We tell them that we will be back at 8 PM.
This leaves us with a good six hours to fill in some way or another. The time could be spent at Heathrow, revelling in the opportunity to pay £10 for beans on toast and to find out what abominations WH Smith has decided are “bestsellers.” We quickly dismiss this idea and instead arrange to meet up with Mrs Ethnia in the nearest proper neighbourhood I can think of. Which is how we came to spend our afternoon in Hounslow.
Now, I have absolutely nothing against Hounslow, and in fact it seems like it is a perfectly fine place. There are many discount clothing and furniture stores, as well as some lovely outlets for electronic goods. There is a shop where everything costs a pound, and if we had been inspired we could have got a very good deal there on those metal balti dishes which are ideal for serving food that has to be hot at the table. There is also a quite good Lebanese restaurant, where the friendly staff served us a delicious dinner at a more than reasonable price. There is a bakery where they fill their cannolis with Nutella, an innovation that pleased the Ethniette a great deal. The only bad thing I can say about Hounslow is that the only two times I have been there in my life it was because of some mishap involving transportation that was expected to happen but did not because of bureaucracy, and that if this sort of mishap does not occur again, as I certainly hope, these will remain the only two times in my life I have been in Hounslow. It is entirely possible that this sentiment is misplaced and that it reflects poorly both on Hounslow and on me.
In any case, our brief and unanticipated sojourn into Hounslow tourism completed, it was time to return to the inviting Heathrow cargo area. At around 9 PM we finally did receive Lajoš, who was happy and seemed no worse for wear despite his long imprisonment. By 10:30 PM he was off the tube and merrily sniffing the ground by the fast food stands where people wait for buses at Finsbury Park station. At 11 PM, a mere 15 hours after landing in a crate in the UK, he was at home enjoying the smells of Muswell Hill.
Englezi: Lajoš has arrived in your country. One day he will rule you all.
A side note to NSPM: your readers, and especially the sovereignists among them, would like you to find a web host that does not bloom with a thousand pop-up adverts.
Meanwhile, my local council in Haringey publishes a monthly magazine called Haringey People. In it one can see photos of the councillors wearing large shiny medals around their necks. The magazine must certainly provide hours of pleasure to that audience -- it must be out there -- that enjoys looking at photos of corpulent middle aged men in garish jewelry. It also appears to exhaust the council's reserves of competence.
The new government is set to have 28 ministries, affirming the place of Serbia near the top of the world demographically in ministers per capita.
The good news about the government is that neither Vojislav Koštunica nor Velimir Ilić will be part of it. The bad news is that SPS will be, and once again a party with minor support will excercise inordinate power. What is uncertain is whether SPS will use the opportunity to demonstrate that it has the capacity the become a political party, and also whether DS will use the opportunity to demonstrate that it has the capacity the become a political party.
PS: Backstory? -- Here are journalists speculating in Politika that Tadić was compelled to choose Cvetković by party leaders and that his preference would have been .... Vuk Jeremić????? But how little does one have to respect (even) Tadić to imagine anyone, even him, seeing Vuk Jeremić in any position where something might depend on him?
The plaintiffs are suing the Dutch state for the failure of its military forces, which were present in the area as members of UNPROFOR, to protect their relatives during the Srebrenica genocide in 1995. Rizo Mustafić, Ibro Nuhanović, Nasiha Nuhanović and Muhamed Nuhanović sought protection at the UN military base in Potočari, but were soon afterward delivered to the Bosnian Serb forces by the members of the Dutch military who were bound to protect them. The lawsuit seeks to establish that the military forces are guilty of gross negligence of their duty to protect civilians, and that this was a result of state policy which placed emphasis on the safety of soldiers at the expense of the obligation to protect civilians.
If you care for 198 pages of pleading, you can dowload the writ of summons (translated into English) at the plaintiff's firm's web site. It is a PDF, and since they are lawyers they have a little shrinkwrap agreement for you to click before you can get to it. Or you can listen to an interview with the lead lawyer by CBC, followed by Ramush Thakur's comments on the responsibility to protect.
Paul Vallely sets out several of the issues in the case for The Independent. Plaintiff Nuhanović and his lawyer set out their case to Reuters in an interview. Attorney Liesbeth Zegveld (bio) gives the theory of the case with admirable succinctness to the BBC. Some unexpected uncertainty came about just as hearings were about to begin when the judge who had been overseeing the case since 2005 was removed from the case without explanation.
A decision is expected in September.
Errata: See the comments for an important correction.
With one great person having left Niš, a more dubious one says he has forgiven the people he robbed, is an intellectual looking forward, and is ready to return. But we are not aware that anybody wants him back.
They are apparently leaving top secret folders on the seats of trains. While this is being done by daffy senior officials, the government is desperately trying to give itself the authority to hold people for 42 days until they can figure out whether they have done anything illegal or not. You feel ever so safe, don't you?
Link: This recent album review by Erika Borsos captures his quality nicely. And Toma Todorović has a fine remembrance in Politika.
- A top graffito of the trip: The long-closed store by where the Cinema Odeon used to be, which for years has had the sign "Objekat u renoviranju" in the window. This time passing by, I noticed that somebody had crossed out "renoviranju" and written "raspadanju."
- Most tempting graffito: Somebody must have been well paid to paint "Sloboda za Caneta" on many prominent walls, because really, who cares? It took a tiny bit of effort and a good deal of laziness not to add "i Antona."
- A question for my culinarily savvy Belgrade friends: Is the restaurant in the Ruski dom any good? Will they serve me the stuff my grandmother used to make?
- Still the best thing about Belgrade (and every other city in the Balkans): Sitting in the outdoor cafes, which are everywhere.
- Smallest surprise: JAT (now called "Jat airways" or if you prefer "ejrvejz")? Still atrocious.
- Blogocentric moment: A fine evening spent drinking beer with Viktor (Belgrade 2.0) and Dejan (Anegdote), followed by pljeskavice in a wind tunnel.
- Most zaslužan građanin: Radovanović, the person behind the wines. Also, whoever is behind Greenet. Sidney Greenstreet, one supposes.
- Person and party inspiring the best and stupidest jokes: Krkobabić and PUPS.
- Biggest disappointment: Leaving at such a moment that it required missing the concert by Nick Cave.
- Greatest discovery: You'll hear about it. We have to get some grant applications together.
- Imperial moment: Across from where we live there used to be a perfectly okay bakery and a samoposluga about which the most you could say was that it was conveniently located. First the bakery was taken over by a fancy (and not at all bad) pizzeria called "Piazza Artigiani del gusto." Now they have taken over the samoposluga too. Is the name meant to imply that they will expand all the way to the pijaca?
- Nicest surprise: Seeing my high school friend, in town with her husband to do research.
- Greatest reassurance: Bukovače (always excellent) at kafana Proleće.