Forecast: Cold, drizzle, light posting

Greetings from my wife's computer! My computer has to be sent off to Apple for a repair, which will have us sharing a device for a few days. Pametniji popušta, so I expect that until my machine comes back the blog will not be updated too often. But do come by, enjoy what is already here. My previous experience tells me that Apple is generally pretty fast about fixing stuff and getting it back.

There is ardor among thieves

This breaks my heart. A serial robber in Zagreb was caught after 26 robberies because police were able to identify him by his very cordial language. According to the Associated Press:

The 25-year-old man called the people in the stores ``honey'' or ``kitten,'' and told them: ``You are very dear,'' ``This is a tiny little robbery'' and ``Take some of the money yourself, babe.''

Turns out the fellow wasn't even armed. The whole "civility in public discourse" business must be nothing but lip service.


My dahija, he wrote me a letter

B92 is reporting that a letter was received, sent as a fax from an unlisted Belgrade telephone, to Alternativna televizija Banja Luka, purportedly from the fugitive Radovan Karadžić. There is no confirmation of authenticity, and it may well not be authentic. There is also no sign of it on ATV's web site, at least not yet.

The content of the letter seems to be largely a complaint about OHR's measures in Republika Srpska, and a criticism of SDS for not responding decisively enough.

"Now it is to be or not to be," the letter tells citizens. I'll take "not to be" for 200.

Dalmatia on the Danube

Maybe with global warming it will be! But geographic purity does not matter much compared to the service offered by the Blue Danube Wine Company, which distributes wines from Croatia, Hungary and Austria. Ljudi, they have Mátyás Szöke's cabernet for $10.95 USD a bottle!


Chocolate, garlic and fish

I haven't offered a culinary post for a while. But now I am inspired by this article by Cristiana Pulcinelli in l'Unità, "Cioccolata, aglio e pesce per vivere sei anni in più." She reports on a variety of nutritional studies showing that life expectancy can be increased by eating the three above-named fine things.

Now, I am wondering whether anybody has a recipe for monkfish in molé. That ought to take care of it.

Outward Christian soldiers

The always very interesting Digby gets us up to speed on a project to move right-wing theocrats who call themselves Christian to the state of South Carolina with an eye to taking it over. They declare:

"ChristianExodus.org is coordinating the move of thousands of Christians to South Carolina for the express purpose of re-establishing Godly, constitutional government. It is evident that the U.S. Constitution has been abandoned under our current federal system, and the efforts of Christian activism to restore our Godly republic have proven futile over the past three decades. The time has come for Christians to withdraw our consent from the current federal government and re-introduce the Christian principles once so predominant in America to a sovereign State like South Carolina."

If they are unable to accomplish their goals legally, they add, they are ready to leave the United States:

"ChristianExodus.org is orchestrating the move of thousands of Christians to reacquire our Constitutional rights and, if necessary to attain these rights, dissolve our State's bond with the union."

The problem, of course, is that there are already people living in South Carolina. Maybe they could find a place much, much farther away? No, farther than that. Farther still.

Religion news from all over

In case you were curious about sin. This from Associated Press.

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Cigarette packs in Thailand may soon carry more than the usual health warnings, with an edict admonishing the public not to give Buddhist monks a smoke.

The new label, proposed by the head of Thailand's National Buddhism Office, will read: "Donating cigarettes to monks is a sin."

Carry on.

It's official! Collaborators = antifascists

Right, so the Serbian parliament has passed a law declaring the World War II-era Četniks and partisans to have been, retrospectively, on the same side. Coming from the United States, it may be that I am no position to be self-righteous about the idiocy that is in power in other countries. But I have to wonder, now that they have got through voting (176-24) on the legal falsification of the past, what plans do they have for falsifying the present?


OHR 1, RS 0, everyone else ... 0

Widely expressed concerns about a deep crisis on the way in the Republika Srpska (RS) entity of Bosnia-Hercegovina are a tempest in a džezva. A lot of the reactions I have seen portray high representative Paddy Ashdown’s decision to suspend the autonomous police of RS as some kind of unjustifiable and dictatorial power grab. It wasn't, but at the same time, the action highlights some of the problems with his job.

First to the reasons why the action is not an unjustifiable power grab:

1. Why grab what you already have: Paddy Ashdown is the UN High Representative for Bosnia-Hercegovina, an office created by the Dayton Peace Agreement to oversee the federal government and the governments of the two entities. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) has extensive powers, including the ability to veto legislation and to remove public officials for violations of the Dayton Agreement. This has been controversial in the country, and Mr Ashdown has fueled the controversy further by using OHR’s powers more extensively than his predecessors. Nobody doubts that he has the power, if there is any debate it is over how politic it is to use it.

2. The entities and subentities create crises that need to be addressed: In theory, OHR should cease to exist once Bosnia-Hercegovina becomes functional as a state. But not all political actors in the country want it to become a functional state. From the beginning, authorities in RS have sought to weaken the authority of the federal government and behave as though their entity were a state. The other entity, the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina (FBiH), is periodically weakened by the efforts of political forces among Hercegovinian Croats to act as though federal and Federation control did not exist. The dominant political parties among both Serbs and Croats do not disguise the fact that they would rather be part of a different state.

3. The RS authorities invited a response: One of the requirements of Dayton is that authorities cooperate with ICTY. This is also a requirement if Bosnia-Hercegovina is going to be included in European regional arrangements, which offer the only opportunity for political or economic progress. How many suspects have been arrested and extradited by RS since RS began to exist (in a legal form) in 1995? I didn’t hear you. How many? That’s right, ZERO. It is a violation of Dayton and an obstacle to the progress of the country. Which is what the far right parties in power in BH want, and there is no reason to allow them to get it.

As to the threats of crisis: RS premier Dragan Mikerević resigned, as did federal foreign minister Mladen Ivanić. Mr Ashdown put it well in an interview with BBC: “If somebody wants to resign because they have to cooperate with the Hague, that is their problem.” RS president Dragan Čavić is threatening protest measures and a referendum in which ”RS would choose its own way.” Considering what happened last time his party tried to create an independent state by fiat, the threat is as empty as it is irresponsible.

The bottom line: Mr Ashdown acted within his legal powers. It is true that he made the ultraright Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) angry, but the price of keeping SDS pacified is far higher than any conceivable corresponding benefit.

Now to the down side. What this whole tempest shows is the underlying weakness of OHR as an institution: OHR will never run out of reasons to justify its continuing overlordship, and as long as it does the electorate in the entities will never stop providing reasons. People will continue to vote for extreme right parties to show their frustration with OHR, and then their elected officials will behave irresponsibly. OHR will use this irresponsibility to expand its own power to undo the work of elected officials. The reason is simple. One way to assure that politicians will behave irresponsibly is to create a system in which they carry no real responsibility. Dayton created a vicious circle in which the extreme right and the international administrators depend on one another. If there is a way out of this vicious circle, nobody has put on a light to show it yet.


Vic dana iz Danasa

From Monday's Danas, for a feature on jokes involving this character, take a peek also at Carniola.

Došao Mujo na granicu. Pita carinik:
‘Alkohol?’ ‘Ne!’
‘Cigarete?’ ‘Nee!’
‘Kava?’ ‘E, može jedna mala’.

Prilog čitaoca S. M. iz Sjenice