Listen to my latest podcasts

There are two sites that feature my podcasts. People who support them on the Web - find my palavering real fun. I jibe at politicians and others - whenever they deserve it. The podcasts here are separated into those in Macedonian and the few in English. There is "About me" page too and some family pics. I plan to run conversational Macedonian chats, but need experience. This is on an OSX platform produced on a GarageBand and featured by iMac on iWeb. This is yet another, my all-Macedonian language podcasting facility put together and maintained by my friend George Zafirovski, an interface Merlin who builds (quickly) his reputation in London, UK. He is quite professional. So

Saturday, January 27, 2007

How d-r Devica Smilevska-Kapetanovic Became a Specialist General Practitioner with the AMC Amsterdam

Do not ask me why, but doctors, especially shrinks, wizards and witches, fortune tellers, healers, vets et all , well, they are nicely listed in the ghost-busters' chapter of my simple book of professional classification. That is not derogative. The financial wizards of the Financial Times and political analysts of the Economist are irrevocably tucked in the voodoo section, right at the end. I have a feeling that this is not the right opening for this post, but this came spontaneously, just as was my first reaction (admiration) to the news that my beloved friend Devica (means "Virgin" in Macedonian, though she is the physical of two grown up charming kids and a long-time spouse of a notorious womanizer Bruno Kapetanovic presently from Heemstede, otherwise an international entrepreneur of semi-Montenegrin roots from Skopje, Macedonia.

We met the other day, I think I did mention that here already, at Sasa and Valentina Vlaski's reception on occasion of Sveti Jovan or St. John's day. There she told me, not right away, but as a reply to a question (how's medicine?) and she was besides herself out of joy, and then, slowly, my reaction gave her wings, she, always so very calm and so very shy, gave in, spilled it ll and showed it. I mean she allowed herself to express, in her own very subtle, very modest, very noble way, the quiet joy of her success.

Ever since she and Bruno came here, some 17 years ago, she toiled, she learned Dutch and Latin, passed one after another exam, rose a beautiful daughter (now their Bruna is 16, a real young woman already) gave birth to a son (Danilo, 9, baptized after her father-in-law)and went through thin and thick with her man and still conquered everything and became yet another Macedonian specialist medical doctor highly esteemed with the Academish Medisch Centrum of Amsterdam. Yeas. And Yes again. I am so very proud with Devi!

But then, of course, there is more, much more to it than it meets the eye. All it takes is patience, especially on these orthodox occasions: the most interesting stories spoon slowly and one needs to be concentrated, otherwise a carefully extended hook for catching on a reference is missed and you are off the cliff. Thus, when I ask her what was her maiden name, she smiles imperceptibly and says Smilevska and sends a quick-look sonde, a probe to sense whether that rang a bell. It did not. I make a full of myself and go on to find, eventually, out that her Dad sat in the Presidency of the Union of Journalists of Macedonia, D-r Blaze Smislevski, the chair of the Commission of working and living conditions of the journalists.
Then, only then, the big picture explodes in front of my eyes. I remember her Dad perfectly well, I know that he worked with prof.d-r Ivan Mikulcic the father of my daughter-in-law who told me stories about the guy. What a world. And all that happens in a "woonkamer" of a house in Delft of Vermeer, some 3,000 km away from her Dad and my in-law!. But I know the house where her Dad lived as a kid, an amiable guy specialist in sport medicine.
Then her husband dives in and says:
-My father was very good friend with professor Mikulcic, too.
-What, the military secret services watched over the the shoulders of digging archaeologists? Shared the spoils of science, did they?
-You are daft. They drank together.
Now, I stop for a moment and reflect: Macedonia has given so many good doctors to the Netherlands. When I came here in 1989 as the Yugoslav National Tourist Office representative, Blagoja K. Janevski was a top-ranking professor with the Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, ph.d. in medicine, world authority in radiology and one of his books (Angiography of the upper extremity) still sells all over internet (at +$200 apiece) as an indispensable tool for new radiologists! Pettish details? No, nei, nixon, non. That is quality. Now deceased, Vojkan Vuzevski was a pathology professor at Erasmus. d-r Igor. I. Tulevski not only graduated, he earned a ph.d. in medicine from the University of Amsterdam and (after B. K. Janevski is one of the most quoted Dutch medicine men for the last 10-20 years. That is how I measure quality of contribution to science, society, whatever. There are more: MD Filip B. Eftimov after graduating from UvA is working, at the AMC Amsterdam, on his specialization, I think in gynecology, dear him. MD Stefan V, Arsov (who my grandson refers to as "Frankenstein" because he thinks that Stefan gets kidneys from dead people to make a new body) has just begun his work as a nephrologyst with the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen on a most interesting project. And there is this charming pediatrist here in Amstelveen who has yet to tell me more what does she do now.

Well, I am looking for that party Devica and Bruno are going to throw soon to celebrate the big event, to meet all these ghost-busters of degrading flesh and ask Blaze Smilevski how do the journalists in Macedonia endure the run up to Europe!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bejanovska-Levavasseur Translates Bogomil Gjuzel, Fires Flames of Painful Memories

She, my friend Marija Bejanovska-Levavsseur did not know what did she was doing when she hit enter and her e-mail clinked on my iMac. Rose a fury of memories and sentiments so nicely buried away. She wrote that one of these days a publisher in Belgium will promote her latest project, translation of a book of poetry titled "Under siege" with her introduction about the author, Bogomil Gjuzel (here left). She could have just as well hit me with a baseball bat.

We were 10 or 11. We sat in the same class of Goce Delcev elementary school. We were the best. My dad and mum were in two different communist goulags. His dad was hung by the communists when we were six. He was pensive. Who would not be. I think the kids knew. There was never a hint of a comment. We played, during recesses, Vinetou. He lead. Small. Large chick-bones. Huge deep-set eyes. He was the first who read Karl May and he assigned the roles for us. He was Old Shatterhand, the blood-brother of Vinetou. I was Fat Jim. Even then, 57 years ago. We jumped over the most dangerous construction blocks with rusted, murderous irons shooting at their edges. In retrospect, he might have had enough and wanted to die. Others fell, hurt themselves badly, even seriously and eventually that game was forbidden. It, thus, became a double challenge.

Then, when the whole school went on an excursion several miles away and when we were returning, during some crimson-clouded, half-dark sunset back to Skopje, the teacher moved us two aside and told us, as delicately as she could, that we, Bogomil and I, would not go with the class to congratulate the birthday of our Dear Marshal Tito as we were earlier told we would. This is not a try-out in literature to revive the conversation but eventually we understood that the class will go as scheduled but we two will not go as scheduled.

That was it. It was dark. I let tears roll down my cheecks. I think the teacher (Milka Sekulovska) also let one or two to swell in the corners of her eyes, but it was very late and I cannot swear on it. We, me and Milka, met latter, many - 40 to be exact - years latter. For the first time we were on a social occasion in Greece, where she was visiting her daughter, now a friend of mine, and it was impossible turning withered pages of memories. All this is pointless, I have struck it out of my mind. Bogomil is alive, he can describe his emotions.
But then, after an incident or two we were both involved in that school things changed. Once we sort of led a revolt or something, there was investigation, reprimands, and soon after he disappeared. His mother or sister moved elsewhere. He moved to a different school. So, I lost sight of Bogomil Dimitar Gjuzelov, my very early, very cherished schooll-friend. He graduated, strange, also English language, at the same college, in a different period. Destiny.

Some 14 years latter, one sunny autumn of 1964, with me just back after a year of studying phonetics and literature in London, there was the reminder of some of the most tormenting and most precious memories of my childhood. Bogomil Gjuzel, the proud author of a second book of poetry, the Alchemical Rose, responding to my invitation that we chat over old times and his new, very modern form of poetry in the journalists club of "Nova Makedonija" daily. I was hopelessly unprepared for his poetry. He was mad angry, if I remember correctly, and it took us some time to socialize again.
Our daughters (On the pic up) appear to go along quite well. His Irena is quite a story because she was, for a time, the spokeswoman of the European Union rep in Macedonia. I always wandered if she was ever going to burst out. She never did.
I believe that she turned every single available piece of paper about her grand father Dimitar Gjuzelov, here left, (the link takes you to a Bulgarian source and language account of his biography) and that she knows (and understands) way more about the most delicate subtleties of the Balkan reality than the people she interprets for.

But all this has little to do with the newest translation, now into French, of Bogomil Gjuzel's poetry. I do no know whether Marija knows much about Bogomil's personal life. I got so bewildered the other day with the scenes of Saddam's hanging, I could not gather my piece for days. And my very first thought flew to Boge (that's how we called him, and those of us who are around still do) and I asked myself, how does HE take these awful pictures. Where do the surface in his poems?
On the other hand what I wanted was to laudate both him and his translator Marija Bejanovska-Levavaseur without loosing from mind the publisher, Maison de la poesie D'Amay. Wanted to help promote his poetry. And I will, eventually. This is just a beginng, because I'll continue the text. Probably here. But you will definitely find out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Hague Tribunal Announcement: Boskoski's Trial Begins April 17; Gotovina's May 7th

Yesterday late aftrfnoon the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal fo former Yugoslavia came out with two long awaited announcements about begining of two trials. One refers to Ante Gotovina, Croatian general, the other about Ljube Boskoski, Macedonian former minister of interior. The indictment against Ljube Baskoski, 46, and Johan Tarchulovski, 32, was issued in December 2005. It charges them with violations of the laws of customs of war". That is judiciary parlance. In simple talk that means "war crimes". Boskoski is charged with "superior responsibility for the act of regular and reserve police including special police units, prison guards, hospital personnel and civilians...A superior is responsible for the criminal acts of his subordinates if he knew or had reason to know that his subordinates were about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators. Ljube Boskoski failed to fulfill his duty as a superior to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the crimes alleged below:"

And then comes the litany of crimes allegedly committed by police-squad members under Johan Tarculovski's command. Practically the text that follows is a legal and logical mess. For me, it shows how totally incompetent Carla del Ponte actually is and how prophetically right was Slobodan Milosevic who in the opening statement said: "She has a brain of a 7-year, of a 7-year old retarded child".

So, the original indictment (the trial will go on the basis of the second and amended indictment, a bigger mess than the original one) shows that:
1. Ljube Boskoski did not kill anybody;
2. Johan Tarculoski did not kill anybody;
3. He, Tarculovski, did not order anybody to shoot;
4. Both could not have known that people were killed;
5. Some armed thugs or rebels were pursued in their escape (point 22 of the indictment): two ran away (one wounded one unharmed) while three did not share that luck. They, allegedly, were 150 meters away from the place where the the police was and eventually got shot down.
Legally, the defense claims that the prosecution is wrong on form and fact, that changing the indictment is tantamount to an abuse of process

How can this constitute a war crime?

This Swiss stubborn nit-wit drives me mad with what she stutters with the context of the indictment produced in the name of the United Nations.
She pictures an outlandish situation: she does not herself explain what happened on August 12, 2001 around Ljuboten, a village not far from Skopje, near Tetovo, I personally have known as a thriving agricultural community for more than a half of a century. She does not tell the court why did a police unit of the Macedonian ministry of interior appear there. Why indeed?
How many policemen were in the unit?
How were they equipped?
Who sent them there?
She does not say that John Tarculovski ordered his favorite seargent: "Shoot him". She produces an indictment in which a faceless policeman or two, shoot without orders.
Why were they, the police, sent there then and not a year, three years or 23 years before that?
Does this idiotically stupid indictment want to say that the Macedonian police is a bunch of disorderly men who are allowed to go out on shooting sprees whenever they chose?

Why was Ljube Boskoski guilty of not listening to her while he (Boskoski) and prof-d-r Gjorgje MarjanoviK, my schoolmate and European legal authority, had hear the secretary-general of NATO, Lord Robertson stating that there were armed thugs and murderers gone amok around Macedonia and that such a situation should not be tolerated?
Was Ljube Boskkoski expected to read newspapers and her while disregarding NATO secretary-general?
Is it possible that ANY of the individuals that day located in or around Ljuboten were illegally armed?
If so - what sort of arms those were, how were they acquired, why were they used?
Did she, this CArla del Ponte ask herself where, for how long and with what purpose were the farmers trained to use the arms? Did they import them from the EU (Macedonia does not produce any arms at all) or from somewhere else?

How (this is a rhetoric question, it means no-how) can one believe into the impartiality of a court that accepts this crap as an indictment? The justices were obliged to throw it out because Carla del Ponte had to produce the names of every single policeman in the unit. And then pin the ones who pulled (if they did pull) the triggers.
Triggers of what? Did they use bazookas? Machine-guns? Cross-bows? What, dammit?
Eh my Carla, my Carla.
Slobo was right, you know.

The Office of the Prosecutor was earlier disqualified (by a renown, internationally recognized, Tribunal-paid lawyer) to have compound indictments with a shot-gun like (spray-pellets) ammo. She produces 15-20 counts to support her main case and one of those will do the trick. Furthermore, she calls to the stand every possible prosecution-friendly individual who may coraborate to her fancy theory that idiotic Macedonian were out on an unprovoked attack of peaceful, law-abiding ethnic-Albanians. Some of her witnesses in other cases were evidently proven to have lied, but there is no threat of perjury or lying under oath in this Tribunal. Thus, if the defense is not extra-carefull - a false witness-statement can ruin any of the indicted.

The justices did not publicly or otherwise, warn the Chief prosecutor that she willingly tries to interfere with the course of the trial no judge (but the Chinese) dared bring her to senses and tell her that what she is doing is wrong.

This time she deserves to be quartered, covered with tar and feathers and dragged around the world legal community as an example of a lopsided, shamelessly biased prosecutor who begins to believe in her messianic role. The poor woman is nuts.

I expect that Boskoski's defense will have some tough time ahead.
The trial chamber is composed of judges Carmel Agius from Malta, O-Gon Kwon and Kimberly Prost. IN the pre-triel appearances judge Albin Eser was involved. The prosecution is represented by Dan Saxon and Anees Ahmed, but also `Keneth Scott and William Smith. Counsel for Boskoski is Ms Edina Residovic (previosly, till 13 April 2006, Dragan Godzo) , while Johan Tarculovski has Antonio Apostolski as his defense counsel.

(To be completed: defense costs / which witnesses to cal and grill / political repercusions in Macedonia and Croatia)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ghastly Beating Results With 80 Police Summons in Skopje, Macedonia; New Developments

Now, full five days after the ghastly incident in Skopje (when organized thugs have beaten up peaceful elderly people commemorating a historic event of 79 years ago) the police in Macedonia was pressed to do something while some of the local media, most unwillingly, have begun reporting instead of commenting about it by pouring new anti-Bulgarian oil on the already high fire. The "+++flash+++" news about six arrests published here yesterday now appear insignificant.
Not six but EIGHTY members of the Vardar soccer club supporting Komiti associations were summoned to a central police station "for informative talks". Many were kept there more than 12 hours. (Strange link appears under "" doesn't it? Obviously a mix-up, but quite appropriate for the siuation, eh?)
Komiti were Macedonian armed "rebels" or "revolutionaries" -depending on the position one looked at them- who fought against the rule of the Ottoman empire over Macedonia more than 100 years ago. Now they are an unruly, incident provoking, mostly poorly or not educated mass of youngsters composed of
allegedly patriotic, mainly nationalistic gangs.

The daily Utrinski Vesnik after two consecutive texts silenced its editorialist Victor Cvetonvski, a proven anti-Bulgarian, hate-spreading journalist and gave its column to Ljubisa Stankovic, an ethnic-Serb reporter, probably with intention to further perfidiously enrage the local and the international public. Stankovic tells a story that the thugs (now referred by him as "Komiti" and "soccer supporters") were revolted with the attitude of the police. Now the public understands that the thugs have their legitimate office space where they were gathered to plan details for forthcoming sport events, not related to soccer but to handball. Their legal counsel (this group is obviously well funded) Vanco Shahtanski was quoted stating that the thugs were provoked by the people who latter called the police to defend them. This bright Macedonian patriotic lawyer is further welcome to tell the readership of Utrinski Vesnik were chanting slogans like "(Fuck) Your Macedonian mother" and "This is Bulgaria, the other side is Albania".

The smart whatever, continues claiming that his clients found about the commemoration from the media. This lawyer Shahtanski is quoted by Stankovic as claiming that among the group that was attacked were four Macedonian secret-service officers and officials of Macedonian political parties.
Now, how do naive soccer or handball supporters know the faces of various secret-servec officers of Macedonia is another story, but as they say in Macedonia: "Skopsko (beer) and everything is possible". What secret service when their faces are publicly known?

It is very interesting that the editors of Utrinski Vesnik chose to use this quote by the capable lawyer Shehtanski: Whatever the story, those who took part in the incident in the heart of Skopje only defended the Macedonian honor. This sort of go-jo legal capacity protagonis, somebody with a different name but with the same acumen to make stupid outings, appeared a year ago before the Tribunal in The Hague to defend Ljube Boskoski, the former minister of interior. The lawyer (praised by his professor G. Marjanovik) was so confused and told so incredible stuff that the presiding justice Carmel Agius laughed him out. Nobody needs to that with Shahtanski.

If the summoned crowed in the police station in Skopje wore uniforms, they would have been enough to form a company as a military unit with 3-4 platoons. Just in case that not all of those who participated in the grisly incident were summoned, but every third of the crowd that had beaten up elderly people, it means that the melee at Mara Buneva plaque in downtown capital of aspiring EU candidate-member country, a force of a battalion of thugs were quickly gathered to defend the "Macedonian honor". Hey: a full battalion-size crowd wielding bats and hurling cement blocks and no police around. And Why on Earth would they do it? You might not have known, but here is their lawyer. To defend the honor of the nation!

Shahtanski says that "Mara Buneva is a Macedonian and a part of Macedonian history" . Then people who place flowers on the place where she fell showed respect. Why beat them up?
Because of what they chanted, says the lawyer. But did they?

Anyway, what excuse there can be for the chief of police when a company of thugs runs amok through downtown Skopje beating people and screaming while the patrolmen idle around? Why all this post-festum now? Why doesn't he resign before the minister fires him. because that is where the whole story will have to end.

It is obvious that the police in Skopje has goofed it big. Spectacular and well executed apprehension of a well loaded single courier of an international drug-smugglers chain cannot balance this gaffe. Eventually, the administration in Skopje will easily find out a way out on the police side of the story about public safety, law and order stuff. The problem, though is elsewhere.
The present and former Bulgarian ambassadors, the media in Sofia and the minister of foreign affairs himself claim that the media in Macedonia have hiked the anti-Bulgarian campaign and that the incident was a direct result of such an attitude. Utrinski Vesnik and its op-ed vizard Victor Cvetanovski have a prominent role in that campaign. The problem is that the administration cannot do a thing: the freedom of the press shelters the attitude in question. Plus one more tiny element: the printed media are practically in the hands or owned by German Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) group. That one is run by three directors or "Geschäftsführers". The last one of the three here is allegedly a friend of Srdjan Kerim: Dr. h.c. Erich Schumann, Dr. Detlef Haaks, Bodo Hombach, And kerim is director of "influential" Utrinski Vesnik, of pop Vest and the largest circulation of all dailies Dnevnik.

A bird tells me that there is always a higher ranking priest: if the Macedonian government cannot do a thing, the Bulgarian, according to that bird, will remove its consent for Srdjan Kerim's candidacy" as president of the next year session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Period? No, no period.
I have also heard that there will be a tacit little campaign that Srdjan Kerim had transgressed on borrowing intellectual property and plagiarized large chunks of somebody else's text to get hold of a "master of arts" (magisterial) diploma from Belgrade University. Kerim would be a very unlikely person to sit in the chair now held by H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, expert on intellectual property protection.
Whether the Bulgarians do it or whether Nikola Gruevski the prime-ministers of Macedonia helps Kerim realize that his name can always be recalled upon revelation of unseemly facts in his biography - that's a technicality really. In any case - one can fool another person all the time, one can fool some people some of the time but one cannot fool all the people all the time. An old adage, and it does not come from a bird.

Macedonia: Fuck Carla del Ponte, the ICTY, the EU & all the Rest; Save the World and the Concept of Sovereignty of Nations!

The other day Sylvera Padori, once a potential journalistic discovery of the tabloid Vecer, told the Macedonian radio-listening public that top-ranking government delegation (lead by the vice prime-minister Gabriala (like my grand-daughter) Konevska-Trajkovska) arrived in The Hague to coordinate the future law of independent and sovereign Republic of Macedonia with the whims and wishes that day ruled the attitudes of one Fausto Pocar and internationally notorious Carla del Ponte. The vice-prime minister was flanked by an old governmental hand, Mr. Mihailo Manevski, the minister of justice and by a novice, Ms Gordana Jankulovska minister of interior of Macedonia.
(The pic above: former prosecutor of Macedonia Stavre Dzikov, left, and his deputy Marko Zvrlevski during a stormy night in Gouda, before the next morning hearing in the Tribunal about the four cases Carla del Ponte wanted so badly)
Since (according prof. d-r Gjorgje Marjanovik, a friendly acquaintance from high-school days) I am an ignoramus in the artistry of interpreting legal procedures, the mere reason that brought this power to The Hague - baffled me. I have not heard of the chair of US Senate Commitee on Judiciary send Patrick J. Leahy flanked by Edward M. Kennedy (that's The Kennedy, you know) and the presidential hopeful Joseph R. Biden down to The Hague to discuss how should the United States of America phrase the law that forbids US citizens tried for war crimes by the ICTY or prevents or most effectively unilaterally (without any negotiation with the ICTY) conditions US present and former officials appearing as witnesses in cases brought before the Tribunal against foreign citizens (as was president Slobodan Milosevic) indicted for war crimes.

It is unthinkable that President of the United States would send Dick Chaney with a bunch of secretaries of departments to discuss with Pocar and Carla how should US laws be written. And now we hear this chick Padori bullshit that "the text of the law must be made befitting the Tribunal and the European standards".
I was amazed that nobody in Macedonia exploded when SIlvera Padori told the radio-listeners that "the draft text of the (future) law was put together under the magnifying glass of the Tribunal".

Since I believe that the prime-minister Nikola Gruevski is an honest and proud man, it is normal to reflect upon the forces that drive him act the way he does in this this case. Everybody knows that the ICTY or the Tribunal in The Hague has degraded into a an ugly and lame duck. It will be dissolved in two or three years. It cannot open up new cases. Why is Macedonia pressed to pass a Law on cooperation with the ICTY? Why indeed?
Macedonia did and continues to cooperate with the Tribunal despite Carla del Ponte's and Tribunal's absolutely arrogant, viciously biased and perfidiously contemptuous attitude towards Macedonian government and the judiciary.

I believe that only the US and their friends in Brussels could have led the administration in Skopje believe that "cooperation" (albeit self denigration) was the right dosage of humility in pursuit of otherwise evading EU or NATO membership. That at the same time when Macedonia was pressed by the US to sign a bilateral agreement that it will not deliver to the Tribunal any US citizen found in Macedonia even if the Tribunal wanted them.

(Here, on the pic left, a paste-up with prof. d-r Vasil Tupurkovski, an old friend who missed a perfect chance to testify at the Tribunal -as witness in the case of Milosevic- during a relaxed New Year dinner not far away from the Capitol; Reminds me of so many missed opportunities.)

So, why not kick their asses? Why should Macedonia play a fool on the international stage? Why prof. d-r Ljubomir Frckoski does not tell his dear compatriots what is all this about? Why miss a chance to make history, to light a match if not a big pyre of light in this dungeon of legality? See what courageous people tell the US Senate Judiciary Committee:
Prof. Laurence Tribe, Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School appeared to extend his testimony about a Military Order issued by President Bush on November 13, 2001, while the rubble of the TWorld Trade Center twin towers was still smoking. He said:
I hope we share the belief that the war against terrorism does not require us to sacrifice constitutional principles on the altar of public safety, We know what is the result of that sacrifice. .. But liberty, properly understood, requires both protection from government and protection by government.
As promulgated, the Military Order, by its express terms, is a direct threat to some 20 million lawful resident aliens in the United States. Almost any act by a resident alien, anywhere, could in some circumstances lead the President to believe the alien has or had some form of involvement with a terrorist organization. Hiring a car for a friend could be a terrorist act ...
The November 13 Military Tribunal Order, despite Bush administration efforts to describe it as more like a mere press release, than a real order,...suffers from the compounding vice that it violates the separation of powers required by our Constitution of the federal government....It installs the executive branch as lawgiver as well as law enforcer and law interpreter and applier...
This "blending of executive, legislative, and judicial powers in one person or even in one branch of the Government is ordinarily regarded as the very acme of absolutism...
Ours is "a government of laws, not men." It is offensive to our founding values to have the powers of drafting the laws, and then prosecuting and adjudicating violations of those laws, embodied in one agency—here, one man.

Very important observations by prof. Tribe, you'll be impressed. I mean, you should read the whole testimony: it is amazing. THAT is real America, that is the Spirit of America that gave me wings. The other stuff, say one or another administration or event - all that passes. And if you can - do suggest Mr. Mihailo Manevski also read this.

Let me go back to the Tribunal in The Hague where people rather die than endure the whims of prosecutors and prejudiced justices. This is what Honorable Pierre-Richard Prosper, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, U.S. Department of State, had to tell the senators:
International tribunals are not and should not be the courts of first redress, but of last resort. When domestic justice is not possible for egregious war crimes due to a failed state or a dysfunctional judicial system, the international community may through the Security Council or by consent, step in on an ad hoc basis as in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. That is not the case in the United States.

My, my. But then he concluded:
Because justice and the administration of justice are a cornerstone of any democracy, pursuing accountability for war crimes while respecting the rule of law by a sovereign state must be encouraged at all times.

That is what the Chinese justice told Carla del Ponte when he allowed her to demand those four cases from Macedonia and when he ruled (that means when he ordered her to return them without any meddling back to Macedonia within a fixed poeriod of time, a period long passed now. So why discuss anything with her? Why not approach the Court directly? Why not raise the subject in the UN?
(My poor self impressed with the performance of Stavre Dzikov at the Tribunal) Prof. Cass R. Sunstein, a Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor of Jurisprudence Law School and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago testified before the senators that:
History suggests that war crimes tribunals do not always provide fair procedures and indeed that there is inevitably some danger of a miscarriage of justice.

The most scathing remarks were pronounced by Mr.Timothy Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute in Washington D.C. who said: On November 13, 2001 President George Bush signed an executive order with respect to the detention, treatment, and trial of persons accused of terrorist activities. The president declared a national emergency and claimed that Article II of the Constitution ...empowered him to issue the order... Because Article I of the Constitution vests the legislative power in the Congress, not the Office of the President, the unilateral nature of this executive order clearly runs afoul of the separation of powers principle.
President Bush would like to be able to issue his own executive arrest warrants...Under the order, the person arrested cannot get into a court of law to challenge the legality of the arrest. The prisoner can only appeal to the official who ordered his arrest in the first instance, namely, the president. The whole purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to make such procedures impossible in America.
Thus, Congress cannot authorize the use of executive warrants with mere legislation.
President Bush would like to be able to seize and deport people without any hearing whatsoever. As noted above, under the executive order, the president can have people arrested outside of the judicial process and held incommunicado at military bases.
The problem, as Justice Robert Jackson once noted, is that "No society is free where government makes one person's liberty depend upon the arbitrary will of another."

Article III of the Constitution provides, "The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment; shall be by Jury." The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury."
Like to read the full text? OK, Here is the link

Thus, this is what the US Senate was told be knowledgeable people when they discussed powers of the President of the US versus the Constitution of the US when America was under a heinous attack by foreign terrorists short six years ago. We know what happened as a backlash. If, say, the pilots of the two airplanes full with unsuspecting passengers parachuted seconds before the impact and landed in Central Park, these experts on Constitutional law argued before the US Senate and all the country that when captured the attackers would have had a Constitution-clad guarantee to have a public trial by jury.
How miserable (in this context extended so far here) appears this minister of justice of Macedonia who is dictated (by a stuttering legal mind like Carla del Ponte) a draft-law text as if a schoolboy sitting his spelling exam. But then, this is a clear signal for all the judiciary in Macedonia:
If useless laws are created and passed in this way - then you better expect that the justices will fool around and fuck-up every other law of the country. Irrelevant what the European Union or anybody else will think about that.

And finally, it is the big bad wolf from Brussels who needs to howl and show teeth instead of poor aspirants like Macedonia, molested by every other bully on the dark road to full membership. Stop that Carla del Ponte blackmailing the Balkans into unseemly submission. She so visibly failed to come close to prove her own indictment against Slobodan Milosevic that there is nothing she can do now. Let her better try establish police force and see how does she really rate with the international community.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A $717 Billion Big Bloody Shark Circles My Blog: Will AllianceBernstein LP Bite?

Now and then I look at the addresses of providers of the visitors to my sites. Today showed that people from AllianceBernstein LP (formerly Alliance Capital Management) have been checking my stupid texts. They have begun reading at 04:11 (that is CET, Central European Time) this morning and they were still on at 07:17. Some seven visitors all in all. Since these people from AllianceBernstein LP administer about $717 billion of assets of more than 100 mutual funds - I was very much impressed.
I woke up my wife to tell her how important was what I published on the Volkskrantblog!

-You are nuts,-she said.-You must be dreaming.
-Come and see for yourself,- I retorted.
-Why? It probably is some poor Macedonian cleaner who sweeps the floors in that firm in New York after everybody had gone,- she said turning her back.

My optimism was torpedoed.

(Left pic: US Policeman books for wrong parking. Can I book AllianceBernstein LP for unanounced parking at my site? No? OK. Just kidding)

There are 4,588 employees with AllianceBernstein LP. A hell of lot of them small fry. But then, if the firm manages nearly as much money as the accumulated foreign currency reserves of all China, it should know better than leave the computers accessible to Macedonian floor-cleaners in New York City. Then I got enraged: why the floor-cleaner should be a Macedonian? What's wrong with a hard-working Portorican, a pedant German or Swiss?
And then, how can a floor-cleaner sit on a computer for three full hours? Who will do the cleaning? The CEO or the VPs?
No, the time spent on my blog indicates that it must have been a bigger fish. The conclusion boosts my self-confidence.
My bitter attacks on hedge funds and the IMF is paying off: they begin to notice.Germany may have chickened out and given up clipping the wings of those birds of pray - but not me! They are all after the pension funds of hard-working people, after unsuspecting firms that amass cash for growth. The hedge-funds of the US insist to have the right to enter any financial market (to buy out a firm in Sweden or Russia or anywhere) while they keep the borders of America closed for the employees of those countries to compete on the labor market of the US.
So I decide to dive in into the waters, with this shark still around, and see who it actually is.
I am stunned with what shows up.
Florida (that the retirement paradise of the United States, also home of the scandal after the mess with the votes that buried Al Gore's near Presidency) has a State Board of Administration (SBA) that manages public fund mandates. Florida law specifies that the Governor, (that was the brother of the President of the USA when this happened), the Chief Financial Officer, and the Attorney General constitute the Board of Trustees for the SBA. So, that body filed a lawsuit against Alliance Capital Management for a $334 million loss Florida’s pension plan suffered under Alliance’s financial management. Oh la-la! It is not an individual, not a fellow fund-manager who sues, it is a key state of the USA that is after AllianceBernstein LP that boasts with managing $717 billion!
That is why, then, these people are interested in my writing against the hedge funds stomping and snatching pension funds around the world.
It appears that this $334 million loss the lawyers representing the State of Florida believe must be payed back to the SBA - is peanuts for AllianceBernstein LP. Between January 11, 2005 ($40,79) and yesterday Its share price more than doubled ($86,86). How wouldn't it, with such losses on their customer's side! But then, the practice to deal on the brink of the legal obviously leads to slips.

After the State of Florida lawsuit the almighty Securities and Exchange Commission of the USA announced (three years ago, in December 2003) a settled enforcement action against Alliance Capital Management L.P. for defrauding mutual fund investors. The Commission ordered Alliance Capital to pay $250 million, consisting of $150 million in disgorgement and $100 million in penalties. All of the money was to be distributed to the shareholders harmed by Alliance Capital's market timing arrangements.

Why should AllianceBernstein LP enter in those deals if not for greed or extra high profit? They administer more than 100 mutual funds, many specialized for health care and technology, but also pension funds, corporations, and not-for-profits. But then - they are not epitome of a Wall Street merciless profit-hunter: the French insurance giant AXA owns more than half of the company. OK, they are headquartered in New York City (on the 1354 Avenue of the Americas - that's Sixth Avenue actually, not far from EXXON) but have offices in 47 cities in 24 countries! My visitors from AllianceBernstein LP could be from any of those cities and I cannot really say which one. But that does not matter. I doubt they were after the contents of my post about Speculative Selling of Copper Hits Radovis, Macedonia because they were not interested whether that Makes Me Sad and Angry.

Whatever the reason for their visit, I need to say that the information by Sootle that this site is worth $527 does not indicate the selling price. After the visits by AllianceBernstein LP-Alliance Capital Management L.P. personnel, well, the selling or leasing price would be closer to $52,700, We know to make money too!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Speculative Selling of Copper Hits Radovis, Macedonia and Makes Me Sad and Angry

Tosko called me the other day to say "Hi" after returning from his New Year's trip to Macedonia. We blabbered about Esther (his wife) and Katarina (his daughter) and about Zvanko (my best man in Skopje who invited them for a great lunch) and eventually he asked:
-Don't you miss Macedonia? You haven't been there for eight months.
I do not keep count how many times people go where, but this question struck a note. Somewhat gloomy, depressing and annoying note. It was useless to begin telling dear Tosko that I just came back from Radovis, where the people bake one of the best "pastrmayliya" in the country. (Pastrmayliya is something like pizza, but then different, it is made of chunks of pork meat, chunks of lard and several freshly broken eggs over round pieces of home-made dough which is baked at the lokal bakery.) He would not have understood.
The Financial Times took me yesterday to Radovis. The news (Please see the illustration here with my comment interpolated within the original text) that speculative selling had put the prices of commodities under further pressure meant that the people in and around Radovis must have had a rather gloomy Xmas and New Year. Between December 7, 2006 and January 4, 2007 the prices of copper have tumbled from $6,800 per tone down to $5,800 per ton.
The VakantieBeurs has just opened its doors and it was Ruzica Panevska my old, ailing colleague in tourism, who used to come and who is a native of Radovis. Then, my friend's Ratko Radjenovik, an architect, had a bos Risto Gusterov, one of the few richest people in Macedonia comes from Radovis, the only copper mine in Macedonia. We have not met, but he was so often in our conversations (not about Radovis where he donated money for a church to be built AND decorated by Ukrainian artists) about life in Macedonia and Russia, that I feel as if I know the guy. Zvonko Cipusev, who was two or three times my host in New York, albeit his dad Iliya, comes from Radovis.
Radovish is on my mind al the time. It is almost like Georgia.
But then Sveto Hadji-Jordanov the brother of my class-mate Marika Hadzi-Jordanova wrote a remarkable study about the waste-waters from the copper-ore field. Bunches of other friends come from that south-eastern corner of Macedonia. These several days I continuously contemplate how much damage will they suffer, the people of Radovis without the speculators, greedy ogres with claws tearing the lives of the innocent people, ever knowing that Radovis exists..
And Tosko tells me I do not visit Macedonia!

I daydream that there would be smart Macedonians or Turks, who live around there, who would put all their moneys to stockpile for themselves the copper at $5,800 and sell it when it goes back to $6,800 or $7,800. Then I begin to devise complex loans: what they actually need is the $1,000 per ton to obtain the command over the production. The banks should follow them because they will have had the collateral, the $5,800 value of copper per ton.
Radovis, actually Buchim, the mine, has been operating since 1979. It was 82 % Government owned and had approximately 800 employees. The mine produces about four million tons of ore per year and a similar quantity of tailings. Now the mine is private. It was bought two years ago by a businessman, Aleksander Borstein, who says he is Russian, though he does not sound so.

Concentration of copper, gold and silver is achieved through a flotation process using sodium- and potassium-alkyl-xanthates, sulfuric acid and a bacterium (Bacillus ferrooxidacae). Cyanides were formerly used in the flotation process, but this practice ceased long time ago.

During the first years of Buchim I was shocked to see how much is 70,000 tons of solid waste that is spat by the exploitation every year. And then so much next year. And next again. And it had been in operation ever since 1979! My first door neighbor in Skopje retired as a chief technology engineer from Buchim. I know the ills of the enterprise.

The waste contains heavy metals from the flotation and all that rubble goes into a huge dam not far from there. People get sick out there from inhaling the dust from the 30-hectare hydro-tailings dam. Many mineworkers suffer joint ailments and silicosis. Actually, all local citizens. will suffer sooner or latter. Trees that are planted take time to develop and people live on hope and high price of the copper. Not any more.

The waste waters are another problem. The stream from which cattle drink appears bluish on the surface but it is from the copper-hydro-xy-carbonate that is discharged at the rate of 10 liters per second and settles on the bottom.
Surface water samples point to contamination with heavy metals while analyses show values for copper concentrations between 50 and 200 mg/1. That is 50,000 times higher than the surface water quality standard in Germany . If you transfer that in percentages, the water around the mine is 5,000.000% worse in Radovish then in Dusseldorf. Here, around my Amstelveen, according Dutch standards, they would have a general alert if the values for copper in groundwater are 0.015 mg/1 and 0.075 mg/1, respectively. Out there in Radovis - 50 mg/1 is "normal".
That is - If there is water.

Open pit mining, ore dressing and flotation in Bucbim mine are accomplished by using vast amount of water. The
complex water circulation scheme means water losses. In this process, part of the flotation waste water enters the nearby watercourses, thus contaminating them with heavy metals, organic tensides, etc. Resulting contamination is further spread up to the Vardar River and Aegean Sea.

Smaller part of the ponds and other out-of-pipe water reaches the underground aquifers and lowers the
quality of water used in nearby village-wells. Acid mine leaching of copper minerals in the overburden disposal site as well as the waters from the mines - also contribute in stream pollution. The waste waters from overburden leaching are extremely concentrated and contain up to 840mg/L cuprum-dioxide in an average flow of 2 liters per second.

Republic of Macedonia has some poly-metallic complex sulfide ore deposits. They are used for production of metals like copper, zinc, lead, silver and even some gold. The exploitation of sulfide ores requires a complex treatment during which the low-grade ore is enriched. copper concentrate is produced by flotation and is later transformed into blister copper and finally into electrolytic copper of 99.95 purity.

The exploitation of copper ore deposits, together with metal extraction that follows, causes severe environmental pollution problems. Yeah, that's a problem, but the open pit exploitation still employed 480 people and left the owner with $20 million annual profit... depending whether copper was in the cross-haires of speculators or not. A hell of a lot of work. There are many Turks around, old Turkish villages, right up in the mountains. Most picturesque. And very, very bitter. They feel neglected: the Albanians and the Roma get most of the attention. But that is not right. I know through my late friend, an ethnic-Turk, d-r Halit Shaban that not a single one of the Turks in Macedonia is actually forgotten. They are so desperately few.

Both the director and the editor of the most influential daily newspapers are ethnic-Turks. One of them, Srdjan Kerim otherwise a crook in the eyes of people who think plagiarism is tantamount to theft, may become the next president of the General Assembly of the United Nations. So, they are not forgotten.

Tosko is wrong, I do think of Macedonia without being there.

Kerim's right-hand man, a sort of grand-vezier, Erol Rizaov is also an ethnic-Turk from Eastern Macedonia. Rizaov is a crook too, but an influential one as well. He did rise (once) his voice about neglected cultural aspects of the Turkish heritage in Macedonia but would have exploded a campaign about the conditions (miserable) of these Turks here.

Copper works in Buchim, has been in operation 25 out of the 27 years since 1979. Open pit mining is applied with a capacity of some 4 million tons a year ore. The average content of copper in the ore is low: a quarter of one percent (0.25% Cu) but for poor Macedonia that is a boon even without the one gram of silver per one tone of ore. How much silver from 4 million tons of ore? Flotation efficiency is 1.2% (m/m) and the separation of useful components is 85, 35, and 60% respectively, for copper, gold and silver. After metallurgical treatment, that takes place elsewhere, annual metal production averages 8,000 tons of copper, 800 kg of gold (Aurum) and 800 kg of silver (argentum).
How much does this cost? With the prices under speculative pressure you need to see for yourself. Take gold for instance: Now gold is traded around $616 an ounce, highest price in maybe 20 years!. Who knows how will the slide affect the Russian (?!) owner of the ore and, then, the people who work for him? Silver sells at about $12,4 an ounce in new York bidding.

Strange - all this runs in front of my eyes just because of the news of the speculative selling of commodities on the stock exchanges around the world and my reflections what misery it will bring, unexpected, to the people around Radovis...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Joseph Biden Has Fooled the US Senate, Jon Arda the President of the US - Kick the Bigger Jackass out!

Democratic Sen. Joseph -Joe- Robinette Biden Jr. (that's awkward: he is 65, must be Sr. ;-))), announced his intention to contest the Presidency against potential high-profile Democrat rivals as Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama, senator for Illinois. ``I am running for president,'' he said Sunday (January 7th) on the NBC ``Meet the Press'' show. I would not have bothered you with that: a Biden candidacy is an anachronism. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of potential Democratic candidates, Biden won the support of just 4% percent of respondents, trailing Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee. In that context Joe is a lightweight. (NATO went to bomb military installation in Kosovo, but civilian targets 400 400 miles north were burning; photo by Jaroslav Pap)

Biden has been a senator (longest ever serving Delaware (with Rhode Island the two smallest states of the Union) for the past 34 years. He was away from the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill for seven months in 1988 after undergoing surgery for brain aneurysms. His earlier efforts to win the Democrat Party primaries failed in scandal: he was accused of plagiarism (by the Doukakis camp) and had to step out of the campaign in disgrace.

Unfortunately for me, lightweight or not, Joe is also the brand new chair of the Senate Committee on foreign relations and he had chosen to announce the fact by producing (for the Financial Times, on January 2d) a rather disturbing article titled "Opponents of New Kosovo Must Be Stopped".

Does this statement actually express readiness for war? Must! Well, in this context, this must obviously is a declaration of war. What happens if somebody else thing otherwise: that Kosovo must not be given independence, when the must and the must not clash with each other? How do you stop an opponent?

These questions are purely theoretical: I do not care this little bit whether Kosovo gets now or waits (patiently) for independence. What happens if the people of Florida, or New Mexico, or Hawaii declare they want independence?

He wants Kosovo independent although he says that Kosovo is not ready for full sovereignty. Even after independence, Nato and the international community will need to provide security guarantees for Kosovo’s minorities and strengthen its economy and institutions. He insists on this fake arrangement because of perverse reasons: The people of Kosovo – already the most pro-American in the Islamic world – will provide a much-needed example of a successful US-Muslim partnership.

(Delaware is a tiny red dot, the 49th state of the union, smaller than Kosovo, and Biden is one of the two senators of the stte to Capital Hill)
How come Kosovo, a pocket on the Balkans, for some 500 years the treasury and patriarchal seat (established and recognized by the Ottoman empire) of the Serbian Orthodox Church, suddenly constitutes a part of the Islamic world? What is the territory of the Islamic World? Only 3,000 web-pages or millions of square kilometers, billions of adherents? How is the Islamic World organized, does it have a khalif or other joint head to represent it entity, what are the formal relations between various religious communities of sovereign states with muslim population? There are between 1,600,000 to 4,700,000 muslims in the United States and probably not more than 1,7 million on Kosovo. That obviously does not make the Union, America, a part of the "Islamic world", does it?
(Strange, there is no mosque on this idylic pic of a village on Kosovo)
The senator and aspiring president of the United States implies that the Sunni muslims in Iraq will be so very much impressed with an US-suported independence of Kosovo that they will begin putting roses and carnations down the mouth of the patrolling GI's rifles. The problems of the US with the Islamic World are different, they lay elsewhere and whatever this charlatan wants to do on Kosovo will bear no effect on US standing with the muslim world. Therefore this position is outright stupid and counter productive. It proposes yet one showdown with Serbia and Russia because it is not a solution through a political dialogue. Biden should think how to extract the US forces from Kosovo. He should open venues of communication between ethnic-Albanians and Serbs. What will Kosovo produce, with what resources, who will it trade the goods and services with? Why would anybody anywhere in the world listen to him?

Is he going to appropriate funds to keep Kosovo financially afloat or is he call more help from the US Army? Or is this recipe for toughness a consequence of those brain aneurysms?

Biden was expected to seek a nomination for the the White House race in 2008. The media reports that he has about $3.5 million in his campaign account.

this is a YouTube slip titled "Joe Biden's racist slip"

I have a feeling that Biden (he chaired the Senate Foreign relations committee from June 2001 through 2003 during the US-NATO intervention over sovereign Serbia) who traveled a lot to the Balkans, itches to somehow iron-up the job so hopelessly muddled. He called the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic a "war criminal" but he did not help Carla del Ponte prove that in court. All he did was watch while Milosevic, claiming he was maltreated, was kept in his prison cell to die instead of being treated in Moscow. I think that Vladimir Putin had a cunning plan when he swallowed the insult of the refusal by the court to accept the Russian Federation guarantee that Moscow will return Milosevic after a medical treatment. Russia has nothing more to offer related to Kosovo.

Kosovo does not need NATO or US troops. It needs continuous heavy subsidies to perform as an independent state. Somebody has to come two steps forward and extend a solution for that problem. Even if there is not one single Serb left on Kosovo - the territory, independent and sovereign, will have to be indefinitely financially supported while at the same time it has to behave in accord with the international norms.

Serbia is not a part of that riddle. I have a feeling that Serbia only wants that people like Joe Biden force a solution which will prove itself untenable and will eventually allow this once proud country come in terms with this rapidly changing world. Serbs should be thankful to the first senator for the First State because they will have yet another fool who does not know what is he talking about but still commands the rostrum of the US Senate.

And then, there is this Jon Arda. I cannot figure out how could Arda pass by Joshua B. Bolten, the President's chief-of-staff, "The Second-Most Powerful Man in Washington" and got a seat on the President's council of Environmental defense? The man (also in the Financial Times) claims that the market forces are best qualified to take acre of global warming. I do not remember such a plain stupidity from the mouth of a Presidential adviser for decades.

Not even Google takes this man seriously: try search for "Jon Arda, Financial Times" and see what you get. A mess.

The market forces did not puzzle themselves with questions about chemistry, how gases interact with each other, market forces are not scientist who labour years hitting their heads with formulae and calculations before they come out with a small item in Nature for dumbs to get it all in an instant and then figure (in an instant) a global solution for global warming: let it go on, the market forces will take care of it.

There is no point asking "how". The market cannot take care of itself, to begin with. There is no market unless the society brings in laws, unless it imposes them with army, police, inspectors, judges, medics, lawyers. A lawless market is a grab-and-go, it is a jungle, it is a permanent tribal war, continuous disorder. Jon Arda arduously tries to attribute to the market the capacity of reasoning, of scientific discovery, of concluding. Arda attributes to the market the capacity of the human brain, of vision. The market does not care what will happen to the humankind when all the oil is spent. It is non-market capacities that tell the market (tiny bits of information) what is what and what will happen in one or another scenario and then the market reacts with establishing specific price tags to goods and services.

But global warming is something that is beyond price, beyond that sort of reasoning. How much will it cost DuPont the mere 12" rise of sea-levels in the Lowlands from where this blog comes? Will the global market decide about it and what will be, in such a case, the influence on the price of those 12-inch-higher seas by the economy of Tibet or Kazakhstan? Or they will have no say? Will the Dutch market get money, incentives or lose anything? I do not see the stock-exchanges bother about all this genuine panic, the alerts disturbing the world. The markets grow, new records are being established as the screams that we are late are fake. The markets, actually, do not care what happens ten years from now.

Take this Dutch government, the Parliament, for example. Half the Lowlands is under sea-level and the market of markets, the Damrak or IEX index, rises as if Al Gore came to tell them that his people have discovered a lift to heaven or an ocean of oil under The Hague. Prices of the property which will be flooded in no time - rises sky-high, acually even higher than in Denver, Colorado! Not a word abou new taxes for dams or other protection - if there can be one. That is how the markets regulate the issue of global warming.

If the science tells the market that an asteroid is going to hit and break to pieces this magma-filled, egg-shelled planet in exactly 19 years - do you think shares will tumble, electricity will go for free, deep-space vehicles with messages about our existence, screams for help will be sent out to unknown destinations by the market forces? I cannot accept that this sort of chicken brain roams around the mightiest office on Earth.

Kick the jackass out of the White House, Joshua. And press the President toward that Kyoto deal. Now.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Future of Macedonia Described by the Owner of Mysterious Piece of Scroll Called Firman

The more one knows , the more one suffers,- goes an old dictum that, I do not know why, I have embraced it as Serbian. Well, there probably will be consequences, but, after reading Firman by Stefani Sen Senar I have just learned yet few new things. At this moment I do not have a clue how ominous will this freshly acquired knowledge prove to be, but I will immediately spread it - to distribute as evenly as possible the potential collateral damage.
Stefani Sen Senar embarked on a story about centuries old magic upon which to support her intricate plot for her second novel related to Macedonia. There is this scroll of devastating, magic power. Actually - this scroll is a firman (in Farsi) or ferman (in Turkish). It carries a royal order. She develops "Firman" in series of flash backs and she uses and abuses the technique abundantly and at will. If Stefani read more of the legendary queen Scheherazade (Shahrazada) stories (you know that they were bundled into the Book of One Thousand and One Nights) she might have produced a remarkable piece of somewhat strange melange of literature. Since she was more exposed to dry history texts, language lessons and down to earth journalism - her 194-page pocket-book novel is differently shaped.

Although Stefani deals with a very complex story - it is easily readable. The ext may pass as a police intrigue around a mysterious document, the ferman, but it is not that simple. Stefani swaps swift, once romantic other times outlandishly brutal actions between the real and the world of her burning imagination. She does it with ease, and that ability I find the strongest aspect of this novel. It is not a rocket flying out up in the skies. It is more of a ominous meteorite spewing long trail of fire and debris behind it and one, eventually, towards the end, realizes that by its dreaded impact with Macedonia it will have probably fizzled. None of those worlds she creates (the imaginary is hellish, much worse than the real one) is comfortable for either her heroine or the social environment in which she moves. That sort of position is troubling: the author (half-Macedonian, by her mother's side) packs her heroine, Pela, for a trip, in a search of the murderer of her parents, to Turkey but allows that such a determined search of a most bloody mystery is cancelled in five minutes at a table of a spiritless Skopje railway-station buffet by a potential adulterer and derailed to Ohrid with an incentive of free accommodation.

(That on the left is a royal firman - Sultan Selim the First, and next to it - Stefani)
The charm of "Firman" is that of a polished jigsaw puzzle. The building of the final picture is interspersed with varying levels of intrigue and statements reflecting Stefani's heroine's opinion about the potentials (meagre) of the Macedonian soil, about the competence (very poor) of its police, about the chances (minimal) of the young authors to be translated or the possibility (non-existent) of true emancipation. What is evident and guaranteed is an onslaught by merciless, head-cutting savage muslims who appear and disappear at will, terrorize and keep the population subdued. I do not know what significance to ascribe to the torture-cum-murder camp for the Macedonian prisoners dragged by the mystic army from Galichnik right to the outskirts of Solun. The the rich herdsmen of Galichnik did posses large pieces of property around Solun but it is all gone now. Affluent shoppers from Skopje tend to go to Solun over the weekend - is this a message that there will be their undoing? All that is Pela's last nightmare. She is miraculously waken up and thus saved from the executioner's hand. Back in reality she sees the old man with the lion-head penchant on his necklace. She goes to him and he reveals the last piece of the jigsaw-puzzle. This old man reveals to Pela that she needs to burn, destroy the firman she had inherited from her great great-greatmother and prevent the realization of the prophecy. If she does not do it - everything, herself too, may perish.

Thus, a well-educated, affluent Parisian mademoiselle, half-Macedonian by her father's side (the novel somewhat rearranges the used autobiographical elements) rows to the middle of Ohrid Lake and burns the magic firman, which we knew for some time, was a key to the great mystery.

There may be a piece (even two or three) missing or not nicely fitting here and there, but that one, the destruction of the firman, the finite severance with the past, is the last item needed to understand (any way you may want to) the jigsaw puzzle that Stefani Sen Senar has produced for us.

She makes it even more twisted because her Pela moves in the past and the present too. Then - nothing is actul or real: this is a sort of day-dreaming or, I would say, nightmarish pseudo-historic session burdened with pretty rigid, so very Slavic (and obviously French too) and quite heavy prejudices against muslims. In my view the introduction of medieval barbarism in the plot is superfluous and results with rather gloomy thoughts that the author reveals an actual rather appalling prophecy for Macedonia and the Macedonians. The text sort of transcends from one to another shape, it is a travelogue and then dives into historical topics and an evocation of items that are not only as complex as terrorism, individual and collective violence and cultural intolerance but are quite contemporary. Stefani Sen Senar produces an accurate and touching (although somewhat laconic and summarizing) evocation of the social network in which Pela tries to accommodate herself slowly coming to terms with the “Balkan way of life”. But her Pela (probably from Pelagija, a rare feminine name, after the saint Pelagija of Tarsus) is, unlike my rigid Balkan self, an adaptable person. She takes people's names as granted. One needs to be nuts to let an unknown giddy man calling himself Jesus-the-Philosopher sit on one's table and accept a drink from him. names are revealing: there are real people in Macedonia called Tito (like Tito Petkovski, the former speaker of the Parliament of Macedonia) or Stalin (like Stalin Lozanovski, the former secretary-general of the Union of Journalists of Macedonia) and it does not take much brain to conclude that they were given those names by their parents willing to send a message about their credos, family political, moral and so forth preferences which, in turn, reflect as specific upbringing that eventually exposes itself in the character of the innocent. If this Stefani's character Jesus-the-Philosopher was set as painter in Bronx, I could swallow him as a Portorican. But in Ohrid? Zivko Chingo, a very special writer, native of Ohrid, used to invent those strange surnames to his characters and places. Stefani does it with Belakulakovska, the surname Pela carries now, untransformed, battered during a century of use in France. Or Milbogovski (Dear-to-God). My stomach revolts against those names but, eventually, that is totally marginal.

I cannot help feeling that the author was not quite clear whether she was going to re-work this piece of narrative into a differently shaped novel or a screenplay for a first-rate action-movie. A sort of "Indiana Jones" type of plot, bloody mysterious butchery in a plushy Parisian XVI arrondissement takes a young woman to a derelict Ohrid house with a creepy cellar full of hallucinants, magic words, total solar eclipses over Macedonia, party infighting and splits within the VMRO top, head-cutting in public by ninja-type gangs and the lot - well, quite a story for the first novel in French.

"Firman" remains on my night-table. Now it is in a phase of second and eventually a third reading. I have a feeling that Stefani had done injustice to Abdul-Hamid (he was in Skopje on a tour of Rumelia) of whom my recently deceased father-in-law, an economist, said "He was OK". He had personally seen the sultan in an open carriage then, adding: "All the town went out to cheer the sultan. We had no problems with the Turks. The real problems had begun latter". Stefani's problems will begin the day some producer asks her to make a synopsis out of the "Firman". But those would be sweet pains of creative writing.
If you understand French, this is a link to an oral review by Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine. It is pleasant to listen to and quite lavishing for Stefani Sen Senar.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Financial Times predicts that NATO can survive Afghanistan. True or False?

To start with - this question is wrong. It pretends that NATO ship-shape forces have just stormed into the far-flung land and now face crucial encounter on which depends the Alliance's future.
First of all NATO is practically comatose. From a defense organization against a potential Soviet (Warsaw Pact) attack on the so clled Western Democracy the US led, supported and commanded Alliance is in disarray. There is no Warsaw Pact any more: who is NATO potential attacker? None of the NATO member-countries borders such. (Do not sping-jump here - this statement is a trap!)
The Supreme commander cannot get a response from any of the founding-member countries to his plea for one thousand more soldiers in Afghanistan.
NATO is now described as "expeditionary force". This attribute is not a lapsus lingue. it to fake being "a global police-force" without global (United Nations) consent?
Since when Europe needs an expeditionary force? Why send armies out to other continents to impose Anglo-American interests?
The first military intervention by NATO - being idle for decades - was to bomb a legal president out of office, the center of Belgrade, hit civilian installations, a TV station and the Chinese Embassy. Serbia or Rump Yugoslavia were not a threat to the western world. It is so sad that literally ALL military operations in the 58-year long history of NATO were led against rump Yugoslavia. NATO and the US have more heavily armed troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo NOW than anywhere else excluding Iraq. Full 16 years after the Yugoslav wars NATO-US Army keep military guard over poor Serbia!
Now Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (of all thinking people) has to re-invent NATO! My people retort to such an proposition: "C'mon grandma, conceive and deliver a baby-boy". The guy is the third Dutchman on the watch in NATO: full 20 out of 60 years of the Alliance its General Secretary is a Dutchman. This Dutchbat that ran away abandoning 6.000 men and boys be butchered by Mladic's forces - is now expected to eradicate the Afghani fierce warriors! That assumption is comic. Two dozen Macedonian soldiers help them do it although all of the Macedonian army could not subdue what former secretary-general of NATO, Lord Robertson, said were "thugs and murderers" in the hills around Skopje!
I mean, NATO is a cover-up for the US military engagement around the world.
One may expect that NATO troops be sent to topple Juan Evo Morales Ayma in landlocked Bolivia, by the Pacific, if a city-mayor of Santa Cruz there asks the Alliance for help to proclaim independence from La Paz. The Alliance might negotiate a corridor through Peru to the ocean.
This hypothesis may sound ridiculous but it is not.
NATO needs votes, not soldiers and arms. half of the EU countries do not produce bullets, least of all sophisticated arms. There is no credible enemy around the Solar system to invent for justification of NATO existence as military force to be engaged in defending its members from an armed military attack. Even worse - there is not a "potential" threat to pointed to.
If the world, the planet needs anything - that is a UN police force to disarm those nations that produce, carry, tinker and trade with specific weapons of mass destruction. But then - we talk of a UN Police Force or UN Peace Keeping Force, we talk of something totally different from NATO. Such a notion is unnerving: When a UN secretary-general Butros-Butros Gali dared mention such a necessity - he was banished from the world and the US vetoed his re-election. Butros Butros Gali coined the term “micro-disarmament” to refer to efforts to remove arms from civil conflicts, to disarm rebels and insurgents. But imposing this would have meant that the US could not stage the "Albanian rebellion" in Macedonia and US Army military instructors, allegedly secret agents, would have been exposed when they were all rounded in Arachinovo near the capital Skopje.
That is why the Financial Times is wrong when it says that NATO will survive Afghanistan. NATO is useless.
To alter this plain fact somebody has to either create even a theoretical danger to European security, dismantle the EU own military force or change the statute and revamp the reason for NATO further existence. The suggestion that NATO is an "expeditionary force" is therefore the first sign that the US may have succeeded in transforming NATO into its auxiliary armed muscle which it flexes at will at the expense of other taxpayers.
NATO's expansion policy is seen by Russian Federation as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia. In February 2003 France and Belgium vetoed the procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany did not use its right to break the procedure but said it supported the veto.
But the Alliance did achieve the dissolution of the socialist-communist world. Not it has to make sure it remains so for ever. The 26 heads of the member-countries concluded (in Washington D.C.) that The Alliance has an indispensable role to play in consolidating and preserving the positive changes of the recent past, and in meeting current and future security challenges.
I think that China, Russia and India on the East and Latin America in the West will be those challenges (not military but economic, which is worse because NATO was always about economy, capitalism and supremacy not actual military conflict) for the Alliance. It can have ten times more member-countries like Slovenia, Slovakia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg but it will matter nothing. NATO, obviously, is an absolute ZERO without the USA fighting machine. NATO cannot exist one day without effective US presence, coordination and command.
The world will be much better off if the US transformed the NATO into a French Foreign Legion type of lean, mean fighting machine payed for by the member countries, commanded from the Pentagon and stationed wherever necessary. The national armies would be for display and honorary shows only. Screw the military establishment - see Malta, Iceland, Luxembourg, Slovenia. Too costly and obviously useless...
If the world situation arrives at the doorsteps of a real military conflict - then NATO will be dismantled by the event self. That is why it, the Alliance, as it is - NATO is as virtual as this blog. Can disappear without anybody but the big fat cats in uniforms and their pussies in Brussels noticing...