Diplomatic passports

Police are not saying how many blank diplomatic passports were stolen by thieves who raided a warehouse belonging to the Serbia-Montenegro ministry of foreign affairs, reports Danas.

One for all you vertebrate biology types

Every once in a while one runs across a news item like this one about an apartment building in Šabac where the residents were left without telephones, electricity and heat because rats ate through the cables. A little gross, yes, and I know there is nothing special about Šabac here because rats are at home pretty much anywhere (but most of all, I think, in the NYC subways). But my question is: electrical cables? They will really eat metal? Wouldn't they be shocked? Your animalistic analyses, please.

Update: Andras found this answer from a "nuisance wildlife control company" in Orlando, Florida. It's illustrated, high "blecchhhh" factor.


A bit more about "Captain Dragan"

Mildly interesting: an Australian court has refused to grant bail for Dragan Vasiljković, and it looks fairly likely that he will be extradited to Croatia. More interesting: a short biography, describing the meteoric rise and soufflesque fall of Mr Vasiljković, with a dose of reserve about the charges against him, by Miloš Vasić in Vreme.


Prosecution abandons charges against Orhan Pamuk

The justice ministry refused to support (but also declined to oppose) the move to charge the celebrated writer Orhan Pamuk with a violation of Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, according to which it is illegal to insult the republic, parliament or any organs of state, or something called "Turkishness." The justice ministry's decision relieves the country of a source of embarassment, but also removes the most prominent object of prosecution from public attention, making it easier to continue to proceed against less well-known people charged with the same offence. Ironically, the prosecution was meant to punish Mr Pamuk for telling a Swiss magazine last year, "One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares talk about it." Among other effects of the publicity surrounding the harassment of a major literary figure, more people than him are talking about it.

Coming: Extradition request for "Captain Dragan"

In an interview with Biljana Bašić for the daily Vjesnik, Croatian justice minister Vesna Škare-Ozbolt predicted that a request for the extradition of Dragan Vasiljković would be sent to Australia by Friday, which would be well within the 45-day period within which Australian law requires such requests to be made. The request will have to be accompanied by evidence that there is reason to make charges against Mr Vasiljković, as well as by assurances that he would not face a death penalty in the country to which extradition is requested. The charges against him so far are based on events in June and July 1991, and February 1993, for destruction of civilian objects, theft, and forced expulsion of civilians in Glina and in Gornji and Donji Viduševac, and for abuse of prisoners in Knin and Bruška. These are the charges developed by local prosecutors in Šibenik, but Ms Škare-Ozbolt leaves open in the interview the possibility that an eventual prosecution may move to another jurisdiction.

Update, 25 January: The Australian reports that Dragan Vasiljković's lawyer, George Draca (who is representing him together with Richard Thomas and Bradley Slowgrove), has announced a plan to challenge the arrest as "arbitrary detention" and demand his release. No details on what Mr Draca plans to argue is arbitrary about the detention.