US Prison Rape – Redux

I subscribe to the brilliant BBC Documentary podcast feed, that presents all documentaries on the BBC in a podcast. 

The other morning I saw one called “US Prison Rape” , the description read: “Linda Pressly investigates why rape and sexual abuse is so common in America’s huge prison system – and asks if new measures to fight it will succeed….”. 

I thought the BBC had finally picked up on the absolute horror that is the widespread mass rape in US prisons. 

Well guess what? The documentary was about, but only rape of female inmates (usually by correctional officers). 

Now this is pretty dire, but the problem is absolutely dwarfed by the scale and severity of the male rape problem in US prisons, the topic of one of my most popular posts (“Mating Calls“)

They did not utter a single word about male rape. Come on BBC, even the Guardian caught on (11 years after my post mind you), asking “Is the US the only country where more men are raped than women?

Listening to the BBC you would think that prison rape was all about women being rapes and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was brought in to address it. 

How could they have an entire radio documentary and not mention the hundreds of thousands of male victims? 

The documentary: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20586070

See also: 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/12/rape-in-americas-prisons/

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/17/us-new-prison-rape-standards-offer-landmark-protection

http://nplusonemag.com/raise-the-crime-rate

Anatomy of a Nationalist Protest

Yesterday afternoon I decided to attend one of the daily protests in support of Radovan Karadzic that are being organized by Serbian ultra-nationalists.

Here are a selection of pictures from the event, which was entirely peaceful, but in many ways utterly bizarre, especially when Mladic showed up…

A riot police staging position near Studenski Trg (Students Square). These vans are parked about 300m away from Trg Republika (Republic Square) where the rally is taking place.

A riot police staging position near Studenski Trg (Student’s Square). These vans are parked about 300m away from Trg Republika (Republic Square) where the rally is taking place.

This was the scene playing out as I arrived, about 20 minutes before the rally started in earnest. The music is, to my ear at least, unmistakeably Turkish. I have always be surprised at just how Turkish so much of the radical nationalist music and culture seems to be, even though it is completely understandable after 500 years of Turkish occupation. The instrument you hear being played is a Gusle, the same one played by Karadzic in his favourite pub in Belgrade.

The children in the picture were dancing a traditional dance just before this photo was taken.

The children in the picture were dancing a traditional dance just before this photo was taken.

Here is another eulogy to Karadzic, also sung in a distinctively middle eastern / Turkish way:

A man wearing a karadzic tshirt looks on as marshals prepare for the rally.

A man wearing a Karadzic t-shirt looks on as marshals prepare for the rally.

Protestors line up and sing patriotic songs

Protesters line up and sing patriotic songs

A weeping woman gives a three fingered nationalist gesture to onlookers

A weeping woman gives a three fingered nationalist gesture to onlookers

The protesters were mostly older people and tough looking young men. It looked like a few families had come up to Belgrade from Republika Srpska too.

Older people made up the majority of the protesters. There were also some tough looking young men and a few families, but the families looked like they had come up to Belgrade from the Republika Srpska.

The man on the left standard Serbian three fingered salute. The man on the right is making a strange new three fingered salute used by many protesters later.

The man on the left standard Serbian three fingered salute. The man on the right is making a strange new three fingered salute used by many protesters later.

The crowd was smaller than this picture suggests

The crowd was smaller than this picture suggests

The view from the podium

The view from the podium

A riot policeman jokes with colleagues. The police outnumbered the protesters three to one.

A riot policeman jokes with colleagues. The police outnumbered the protesters three to one.

A grinning man gestures to his poster of Radovan Karadzic.

A grinning man gestures to his poster of Radovan Karadzic.

A priest chats to a lady in the crowd. He later joined the protest leaders on the podium.

A priest chats to a lady in the crowd. He later joined the protest leaders on the podium.

This man stood there for hours holding his newspaper above his head. The old and the poor seemed to make up the bulk of the people at the protest.

This man stood there for hours holding his newspaper above his head. The old and the poor seemed to make up the bulk of the people at the protest.

A severe looking young man from 1389.org.yu keeps an eye on the crowd. To his left a man wears a Putin t-shirt. Russia remains the great hope for these protestors.

A severe looking young man from 1389.org.yu keeps an eye on the crowd. To his left a man wears a Putin t-shirt. Russia remains the great hope for these protesters.

Some onlookers wore clothes that matched their political eccentricities.

Some onlookers wore clothes that matched their political eccentricities.

From this angle you can see the protest was tiny.

From this angle you can see the protest was tiny.

When the rally got underway in earnest, people gathered behind the speakers to sing patriotic songs then listen to the speeches.

When the rally got under way in earnest, people gathered behind the speakers to sing patriotic songs then listen to the speeches. Notice the priest in the middle of teh picture in front of the man with the yellow shirt.

The rally appeared to end with some obligatory chants of “Ra-do-van Kara-dzic”

A phalanx of riot police standing-by near the protest. The speech-makers specifically appealed to the crowd not to drink, not to commit any acts of aggression or crimes and to leave the police and journalists alone.

A phalanx of riot police, known locally as “Ninja Turtles”,  standing-by near the protest. The speech-makers specifically appealed to the crowd not to drink, not to commit any acts of aggression or crimes and to leave the police and journalists alone.

Another squad of riot police, but they were hidden around a corner away from the rally.

Another squad of riot police (aka “Ninja Turtles”), but they were hidden around a corner away from the rally. Notice that their shields are different from the unit near the rally, suggesting that these are a reserve riot squad (ordinary cops in riot kit) not the specialised Gendermes.

Mladic, Karadzic and now…Miladin Kovacevic?

“Who the hell is Miladin Kovacevic,” you might ask, “A war criminal?”

Not quite, he is a Serb college basketball player involved in the horrific beating of a fellow student in a New York State town who was then helped to escape the USA and return to Serbia by a Serbian diplomat.

The US government is justifiably outraged at this gross abuse of privilege and obstruction of justice.

Serbs everywhere should be outraged that that their own government have not just obstructed justice (bad enough) but tarnished the Serbian diplomatic corp as corrupt criminals who abuse diplomatic privileges to help known fugitives escape justice and they have helped reinforce the Serbs-as-violent-thugs stereotype by making sure this dreadful story of alleged Serb thuggery is front page news becuase of the Serbian state’s involvement, albeit just one corrupt individual.

Thew whole sorry affair revolves around a violent bar fight on the night of May 5th 2008 in the University town of Binghamton in upstate New York.

Here is one account of what happened:

It was the wee hours of Sunday morning at the Rathskeller, a popular hangout for Binghamton college kids, and pretty Melissa Cartagena felt an unwelcome hand on her body.

It was just a grope – but it was late, the guys were drunk and soon things got out of hand.

The scene was a birthday party with a Studio 54 theme, the dance floor was full, graduation was two weeks off.

Among the many revelers was Bryan Steinhauer, a senior honors student with a slight build and a bright future.

Miladin Kovacevic was there, too. The sophomore basketball player, a burly 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, towered above Steinhauer and the rest of the crowd. The jock and the aspiring accountant traveled in different campus circles – but they found themselves in an uncomfortably small space inside the bar on State St.

Ann Pesahovitz and Lauren Levy, standing just off the dance floor, noticed the mismatched duo. A baby blue shirt covered Steinhauer’s 135-pound physique. He stood a full foot shorter than Kovacevic, who was dressed in black.

It was about 1:20 a.m. on May 4. There was a commotion and “a lot of yelling,” Levy recalled, apparently after someone groped Cartagena – a pretty Binghamton University sophomore with Kovacevic’s group.

The dark-haired beauty wasn’t there with the ballplayer; she was with boyfriend, Sanel Softic, a 21-year-old wanna-be state trooper who claims he never laid a hand on the victim.

Kovacevic took it upon himself to defend her honor – though it was not clear who groped Cartagena. Seconds later, Steinhauer wasn’t standing; then he wasn’t getting up. The bespectacled senior was battered to the dance floor. Witnesses recalled the big man’s foot thudding into the smaller student’s torso. And then his head.

Over and over.

Steinhauer – his cheeks shattered, his skull fractured, his brain swelling – was defenseless, his body motionless.

Pesahovitz said the violence ended as abruptly as it began. “He just stopped kicking the victim,” she told police, “and left.”

[From Binghamton University student at heart of Miladin Kovacevic’s attack ]

Kovacevic was arrested a few hours later and spent several weeks behind bars. This is where the sad and brutal story of a violent bar fight becomes a cause celebre and yet another PR disaster for Serbs and Serbia.

Kovacevic was still behind bars when June arrived, although his parents – doctors in their homeland – were working with Serb diplomats to get his bail posted.

At a June 6 hearing, Serbian diplomat Igor Milosevic and the suspect’s mother arrived in Broome County Court with $20,000 cash and an $80,000 money order.

“Standard diplomatic practice,” Serbian Consulate General Slobodan Nenadovic said later.

Kovacevic surrendered his passport, and the local judge instructed him to stay in Broome County pending trial on a felony assault charge.

Just before 6 p.m., the hulking hoopster left the courthouse. Within 72 hours, Kovacevic had left the country – with a new, hastily-issued replacement passport. A high-ranking Serbian government official said Kovacevic’s mother, Branka, wept and begged until Milosevic provided the get-out-of-jail-free card – an emergency document.

Kovacevic flashed the paperwork to board a Lufthansa flight out of Newark. His mother was on the flight with him.

His deception was discovered only when county officials became concerned that he might jump bail. They notified customs officials at the Canadian border that Kovacevic could try to enter the country without a passport.

A check of his status showed Kovacevic was gone. So was Milosevic; officials at the Serbian consulate in Manhattan said he was on vacation as the beating exploded into an international cause celébrè.

Milosevic, his career in tatters, slipped back into Serbia Friday to receive a likely pink slip and possible criminal trial.

Kovacevic was hiding out in his homeland.

[From Binghamton University student at heart of Miladin Kovacevic’s attack ]

The Serbian government (wait, Serbia does not have a government yet!) now have an opportunity to show their maturity and International standing by swiftly correcting the “mistakes” by their Consulate in New York.

Despite what his parents say about the tabloid media bias against him (which does appear to be true), Miladin Kovacevic must return to the USA to face justice. The US courts will take full account of the media circus and careful jury selection by a competent lawyer will ensure a fair trial. Anything less than this and he becomes just another excuse to smear Serbs. And anyway, it is the right thing to do.

Igor Milosevic, the diplomat who “was swayed by a mother’s tears” needs to face the consequences of his stupidity. In a sense he is even more responsible that Kovacevic because he knowingly helped an accused man escape custody and violate the terms of his parole. This is a crime. Diplomats do have immunity in their territories they are stationed, but they are not above national law. At the very least Mr Milosevic should be fired (if it can be proved he was merely stupid). If there is any suggestion of bribe or mens rea, he should face criminal charges here in Serbia.

He completely violated diplomatic accords and brought shame and disrepute upon his country – the very opposite of a diplomat’s mission. An example to any other diplomats “swayed by a mother’s tears” might be well advised.

See also:

Bar fight in upstate New York turns into international incident as Serbian suspect flees – Associated Press
Thug Life: Finding Miladin Kovacevic – NY Post
Serbian diplomat Igor Milosevic punished for aiding Miladin Kovacevic – NY Daily News

Michael Totten again, this time On the Road to Kosovo

“Lippmann…argued in his best-selling book called Public Opinion that democracy was fundamentally flawed. People, he said, mostly know the world only indirectly, through “pictures they make up in their heads.” And they receive these mental pictures largely through the media. The problem, Lippmann argued, is that the pictures people have in their heads are hopelessly distorted and incomplete, marred by the irredeemable weaknesses of the press. Just as bad, the public’s ability to comprehend the truth, even if it happened to come across it, was undermined by human bias, stereotype, inattentiveness, and ignorance. In the end, Lippmann though citizens are like theatregoers who “arrive in the middle of the third act and leave before the last curtain, staying just long enough to decide who is the hero and who is the villain“. – “The Elements of Journalism” by Bill Kovac and Tom Rosensteil (2001)

In day-to-day life, as in science, we all resist fundamental paradigm change. Social scientist Jay Stuart Snelson calls this resistance an ideological immune system: “educated, intelligent, and successful adults rarely change their most fundamental presuppositions” (1993, p. 54). According to Snelson, the more knowledge individuals have accumulated, and the more well-founded their theories have become (and remember, we all tend to look for and remember confirmatory evidence, not counterevidence), the greater the confidence in their ideologies. The consequence of this, however, is that we build up an “immunity” against new ideas that do not corroborate previous ones. Historians of science call this the Planck Problem, after physicist Max Planck, who made this observation on what must happen for innovation to occur in science: “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning” (1936, p. 97). –  “How Thinking Goes Wrong: Twenty-five Fallacies That Lead Us to Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer

Michael Totten has posted the latest in his series on the Balkans, this time covering Serbia (outside of Belgrade), Republika Srpska and Bosnia & Hertizigova, Croatia and Montenegro.

After massive battles in the first two parts (1 & 2), I was pleased to see this one was much more balanced and fair.

The report is only mildly anti-Serb in the sense that all the nasty characters and places are Serb, all the decent folks are non-Serbs. That said, he did plug “Old” Belgrade nicely.

What follows is my response to Michael. It will make no sense unless you read the original article.

These articles and their subsequent discussions highlight the Serb predicament.  The double standards, the denial of Serb victimhood, the libels against the Serbs (as though they did not have enough real crimes to be guilty for) and a distinct lack of empathy, it is all there, mostly in the comments. They highlight the fact that what was true of Lippmann’s 1920’s America is doubly true of the Balkans today (and the ongoing debates about its past, present and future).

The Serbs are permanently established as villains, the rest – Croats, Albanians and Bosnian Muslims – are all designated victims or heroic resistors of Serbian aggression. The very word “Serb” is a loaded word. One finds that even on websites like Michael Totten’s, commentators are welcome to post openly hateful libels against Serb whilst merely pointing out that the libels are based on half-truths, cherry picking, hasty generalization or lies,  will get your banned or warned.

As H. L. Mencken noted “For every complicated problem there is a simple and wrong solution”. In the Balkans it is blame the Serbs. In the Middle East, blame the Israelis, elsewhere it is typically blame the Americans.

As I noted in my Pajama’s Media article I believe that most Serbophobia is based on what British journalist Nick Davies calls “flat earth news”, a story – in this case Serb villainy – that appears to be true and is widely accepted as true, such that eventually it becomes a heresy to suggest that it is not true — even if it is riddled with falsehood, distortion, and propaganda.

People are deeply ignorant about the Balkans and its recent history (not to mention medieval or pre-history). All they know is what they picked up in that third act, namely that the villains are Serbs. This exploited by  anti-Serb bigots whose favourite tactic is to point out Serbs wrong-doings, but out of context and without comparison. This is, of course, the fallacy of Selective Observation.  When  one addresses this fallacy by noting the wider picture or pointing out that Serbs comparatively blameless/innocent/not guilty, one risks being accused of being a bigot attacking the groups one is comparing the Serbs against.

A good example of this is the Serbs-as-WW2-collaborators-and-Jew-killers libel. One an Albanian-American commentator kept trying to claim that “Serbs” were anti-Semites becuase – oh the irony – a Croatian documentary about Serb collaborators in WW2 claimed as much.

As I noted in the comments:

Lets say that it is true that 11,000 Jews were killed by Serb collaborators in WW2, how does that crime stack up against the crimes in context of the time and region?

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum states that:

“The Croat authorities murdered between 330,000 and 390,000 ethnic Serb residents of Croatia and Bosnia during the period of Ustaša rule; more than 30,000 Croatian Jews were killed either in Croatia or at Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

At the same site we read that Romania killed 270,000 Jews and Hungary killed 500,000 Jews.

The People of Albania, to their credit, were heroic in hiding and protecting Jews in Albania. To their discredit, though, they had an Albanian SS Division and they too had collaborators who handed over Jews. The number of Jews handed over was tiny, but this is because there were only 2-300 Jews in the entire country.

The picture was different outside of Albania proper.

“Between 1941 and 1944, nearly 600 Jews from Greater Albania were sent to their deaths in various concentration camps around Europe. It is for this reason that many historians disagree over the role of Albanians in the Holocaust. While Albanians may have attempted to rescue the Jews in Albania proper, the government was aware of the round-up and deportation of Jews from the Kosovo region.” [Jewish Virtual Library]

She kept trying to libel the Serbs as anti-Semites based on their putative historical crimes and I was forced to post Jewish and Israeli holocaust sources to expose her blood libel, but in doing so I was forced to point out Albanian and Croatian wrongs.

She was doing to Serbs what was done to Jews for centuries, making up lurid and patently false charges of brutality and evil that the ignorant and bigoted public accept as true. And this is just one example of many. The anti-Serb comments on the Totten articles are a veritable example sheet of fallacies: Proof by Anecdote, hasty Generalizations, Straw Man, Guilt By Association, Biased Sample…the list goes on.

Oddly enough I am not that worried about the more active and open bigots. Their one-sidedness and extremism tend to serve as warning to the more intelligent readers (the ones who matter) . Self-advertising hater-mongers are not the danger, it is the soft bias that causes the most trouble.This is where people like Michael enter the story. Despite his protests to the contrary, I detected a clear, lack of sympathy towards the Serbs (so far anyway).

This conforms with what I have observed about biases in general, even in their mildest forms, they strangle empathy. On example is Michael driving around with a Belgrade registered car getting paranoid about being mistaken for a Serb, but yet completely failing to imagine what it must be like for a real Serb to face that constant aggression and hostility.

Who cares if some independent US journalist “does” the Balkans and comes out against the Serbs based on his few hours in country?

Well I care.

Michael certainly seems to have left with a negative impression of Serbia (and Serbs) that is completely at odds with experiences reported by most visitors I have spoken to. I think this is becuase he arrived with that “impression” and he saw only what reinforced it, not what is really here at all.

His visit was way too brief for him to really experience the country and he spoke to only the ultra-liberal wing of the political spectrum (imagine getting your US “facts” from Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, John Berger and Naomi Klein). No wonder he left with the same impression he arrived with.

The problem, as I note below, is that this is an influential independent journalist who is also, I believe,  a completely honourable and well intentioned person.  His voice carries weight and it is precisely people like him that need to be engaged or otherwise, lies pass into history.

The basis of so much Serbophobia and anti-Serb reporting is that so many lies have already passed into history about this country, its people and its recent history.

One of the gravest problems is that the urgent requirement for Serbs to own up to and repudiate what was done in their name is scuttled by gross exaggerations, lies and being blamed for things they did not do. It is further aggravated by negative characterizations of the Serbs growing like mushroom on the back of previous negative characterizations.

Serbs will not be able to grant justice to those they wronged until the wrongs against them are at least recognised, if not redressed. It is for this reason that I take the fight to the comment sections of blogs and spend my precious time countering the bigotry I find there.

Here are my commerts posted on Michael Totten’s blog post.

Continue reading

Michael Totten on Belgrade and Serbia

This post is a about Michael Totten’s report “A Dark Corner of Europe” Part 1. You need to read this article for this post to make sense. Michael Totten’s article is mostly very good article, and I, perhaps unfairly, am focussing only on the negatives here.

Michael Totten is a great independent journalist who I have followed avidly over the last few years, especially as he reported from Lebanon.

He is supposedly the master of independent journalism and canny travelogues but my respect for him has been slightly tarnished after he visited Belgrade – my adopted home town – and filed a hatchet job about it that completely contradicts what every other visitor is reports. He suggests, in essence, that Belgrade is a “dark corner of Europe”, a squalid xenophobic and anti-Semitic hell hole full of “Communist architecture”.

Well OK, that may be a bit of a stretch, but the article is negative, at times snide (especially the photo captions), misleading about Belgrade (and Serbia) and very one sided in that is only presents an ultra-Liberal view of the situation here from the perspective of a local film-maker (Filip David).

The Belgrade of Michael’s report is nearly unrecognisable to me, a resident of three years. It says nothing about the real Belgrade that I have lived and worked in for three years, the booming vibrant cosmopolitan party town that rapidly growing numbers of appreciative visitors are flocking to in greater and greater numbers. Unfortunately I think it tells us plenty about Michael’s lack of research, poor planning, paucity of diverse contacts on the ground and his previously revealed touch of Serbophobia .

Perhaps an analysis of his post is in order to help illuminate some of the unfair points?

Michael and the Taxi Driver

The post starts off with Michael and Sean being berated by a taxi driver, who rips them off.

Even cursory research about Belgrade would have revealed the many warnings about the Taxi Mafia who operate from Belgrade airport.They have pretty much cleared out of the airport now, but for many years they have been a pest that both rip off visitors and ruin people’s first impressions of the city.

Well informed visitors simply call one of the many legitimate taxi companies or go to the taxi desk at arrivals and order a legal taxi. A ride into to any part of the city would normally not cost more than 1000 dinars (or on a Sunday, maximum 1500).

The Taxi Mafia are criminal scum, and as you would expect they represent the worst of the country. It comes as no surprise that the cab driver took his opportunity to berate Michael and Sean.

Michael writes that he was afraid to reveal he was a journalist, some 9 years after the bombing, and was worried for his safety because of then recent embassy attacks. It was an unfounded fear, because even in 1999 – at the hight of the bombing –  foreign journalists and citizens were treated (as they are now) with kindness, respect and hospitality. Take for example Marko Hoare, a British journalist and Balkan expert:

During the Kosovo War of 1999, I lived for more than a month in an ordinary Belgrade suburb, solely in the company of the native people of Belgrade and without any contact with other foreigners. Several times, during and immediately after this war, I crossed the Serbian international border. During this period, on not one single occasion did I, as a Briton, experience so much as a curse or a rude word from any Serbian citizen or border guard, despite the fact that my country’s airforce was bombing their country. One border guard even said to his colleague, in front of me, that what NATO was doing had nothing to do with me, but was the fault of higher powers. The Serbian people, for the most part, are not hooligans and do not engage in random acts of mob violence and destruction. Why should yesterday’s demonstrators have attacked McDonald’s restaurants, when during the Kosovo War the local management of these restaurants patriotically (as they saw it) supported the Serbian defence against NATO ? McDonald’s posters in 1999 Belgrade displayed the colours of the Serbian flag and promised a share of their profits to a fund for military invalids. Those who view themselves as engaged in a righteous act of national self-defence (as most Serbian people, however misguidedly, genuinely did in 1999), do not degrade themselves with acts of rioting and looting. One rioter was burned to death in the attack on the US embassy; this wave of violence, which has already produced dozens of injuries in recent days, is already violent in comparison with the revolution that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. [Emphasis mine Source]

Michael and the Hotels

Michael complains about the horrible Hotel Royal and denounces Belgrade’s hotels. He writes:

Most of the city’s hotels are in so-called New Belgrade. They are overpriced, far from the city center, and surrounded by communist-era monstrosity architecture.

No, they are not Michael. The two biggest ones are (Hyatt and Intercontinental), but most hotels are in the Old Town (Stari Grad). Many ARE overpriced, but that was because until now most visitors were businessmen – a captured market – and there was no competition.

Things have changed radically. A whole new generation of excellent and affordable hotels have opened in and around the Old Town. Had you done your research you would have found out that the Hotel Royal is one of the worst hotels in the city. Why did you not try Le Petit Piaf or Hotel City Code or any one of the brilliant hotels nearby?

Michael Looks for A Party

Michael and Sean set off in search of some fun, but only found a Ethno-Karaoke bar and a Turkish themed dive.

Michael you walked UP Kralja Petra, you should have walked DOWN to Strahinjica Bana (aka Silicone Valley) one of Belgrade’s famous “strips” where you would have found hundreds of glitterati partying on the many bars and restaurants. I have no idea what Karaoke Bar you found, but you were 100m away from Bar Central, a world class cocktail bar with brilliant music and crowd (it is out of shot to the left in the photo captioned “Belgrade after midnight”).

Had you asked anyone, they would have directed you to one of the clubbing areas (like the river party boats).

If only you had made contact with any of the expatriates in Belgrade we could have guided you away from the crap bars and shown you Belgrade’s incredible nightlife.

Belgrade is deservedly famous for being a fantastic party town. It is a real pity you did not have someone to show you around. Even people like Tom Merchant, founder of award winning travel company Black Tomato, have praised Belgrade lavishly , as have The Times of London , the New York Times and dozens more.

Michael and the Writer

Michael interviews a local writer who speaks for the ultra-liberals of Serbia.

I support the Liberal Democratic Party so the early part of Mr Filip David’s interview with Michael Totten  pretty much sums up what I think about much of the politics here.

That said, I am a foreigner and I have my own biases. But Mr David is unrepresentative of Serbs in general, and presents a deeply negative view of Serbia that even I would dispute.

Imagine I went to America and interviewed Michael Moore then reported back that his was the authentic voice of the USA? Well that is kind of how many Serbs will feel about Michael’s encounter with Filip David.

At times Michael and Mr David veer into speculation, generalization and stereotypes. They try and pass off Serbian anti-Americanism as the product mere propaganda and conspiracy theories.

It is true that the lunatic fringe and the Radical Party peddle absurd anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories but do not let that obscure the fact that Serbian anti-Americanism is firmly rooted in rightful outrage over the Clinton administration’s illegal and murderous bombing of the country in 1999. That bombing campaign is now widely seen to have been the result of being duped by the KLA, an attack on a sovreign state in supported Muslim separatist ethnic nationalists who went on to Ethnically Cleanse Serbs, Gorani and Roma from Kosovo and then turn the province into a corrupt and violent mafia state.

Had you Michael diversified his interview subjects, he may very well have come to understand that even those who support Kosovo independence here are outraged at the bombing and the general bullying manner in which post-Milosevic democratic Serbia has been treated by the US, EU and UN.

At one point Michael shocked me with this throw-away comment, writing:

Kosovo’s current prime minister Hashim Thaci, who really is a bit sketchy, was recently and absurdly accused of harvesting and selling Serb body parts. When you throw The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into the mix, it’s a good idea to fact-check what you hear – which is frankly good advice in the Balkans in general, not just in Serbia.

Well Michael here is what you do not know: Those allegations came from noted UN prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in her book “The Hunt”. The do sound like rubbish, but as Human Rights Watch have noted, the underlying fact is that hundreds of Serbs have been “disappeared” since 1999 and the KLA are directly implicated. HRW have called for an investigation:

NEW YORK — A senior Human Rights Watch (HRW) official has called on Priština to investigate the fate of more than 400 missing non-Albanians in Kosovo.

In this way, Fred Abrahams argues in a commentary carried by BIRN, “it would prove it cared for all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity”.

Carla Del Ponte’s book, Abrahams says, with allegations concerning the possible trafficking of prisoners’ organs from a mysterious yellow house near the Albanian town of Burrel, “has led to Serbian officials exaggerating the claims, while officials in Priština and Tirana called them a slanderous lie”.

“The accusations and denials obscure a fundamental point. Whether or not it’s proven that a trade in human organs took place, no one denies that about 400 people – most of them Serbs – went missing in Kosovo after the war. [Source]

So he is not “a bit sketchy”, he oversees a government that allows the ongoing sectarian violence against Serbs, a government which is the inheritor of power from the KLA – a state department listed terrorist organisation and mafia enterprise that is directly implicated in the mass murder of both non-Albanians and Albanians in Kosovo.

For more on the Albanian organ harvesting case and Albanian mass murderers being freed by the Hague after killing all witnesses, see:

http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/harvesting-kidneys-from-abducted-civilians-in-organ-farms/

http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/hague-won’t-investigate-war-crimes-against-serb

You might notice that the point is not about whether the Organ Harvesting is true or not, but the blanket refusal of UN and other bodies to investigate alleged crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo.

It is the double standard that irks Serbs. Every ridiculous claim but its enemies are reprinted as gospel truth whilst acknowledged war crimes like the abduction of 400 Serbian civilians remains investigated (and unreported) to this today.

Snide Remarks

Michaels photo captions are very snide at times. For example in one photo he captions a picture of Belgrade’s military museum and writes:

Serbia likes to show off its military hardware in public. “They’re just like Russians,” Sean said and laughed when he saw this. “And Arabs,” I said.”

Well no, Michael, it is a museum. Do American’s like to show off their military hardware in public too? I mean what the hell is the Intrepid doing moored at New York?

Serbia had not been bombed

During a walking tour Michael “saw virtually no evidence that Belgrade had ever been bombed.” A walk down Kralja Milena would have provided you with all the evidence required. There are multiple shattered building right across the road from the US Embassy.

Later he sees,

“[The] bombed-out Belgrade TV station building…[which]…stood out as one of the few remaining demolished buildings from the air campaign. It seems to be left as a show-piece. It’s hard to say, though, if this building was left in its condition to wave the bloody shirt against Americans or against the Milosevic regime.”

This is an interesting point because I have wondered why so many ruins have been left in place. Serb opinion is split. Some say it is, as Michael says “to wave a bloody shirt”. Other people have told me there are unexploded bombs, that it is massively expensive to clear the sites and that there are fears of Depleted Uranium. I am not sure if any of that is true.

Michael reveals his ignorance about what really happened in Kosovo

Michael writes that

“[Milosevic’s] ethnic-cleansing campaign turned 90 percent of Kosovar Albanians into refugees”.

This is a half-truth, and as such is one of the enduring anti-Serb myths of the war.

The typical story starts with genocidal Serbs picking on poor defenceless Albanians and ends with trains of Albanian civilians pouring out of Kosovo terrified for their lives, the survivors of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

CUT!

That is the KLA/Western Media version and has no bearing on reality. It was all media warfare.  The story should have started back in 1981 with the Pristina riots. It should have charted the KLA insurgency and, murderous campaign against Albanian rivals. It should include the ethnic warfare against Serbs that culminated in the Serbian Army being deployed to fight the KLA insurgency.

And of course the the story did not end with the Kosovar civilians leaving in droves. We later discovered that the massacres and ethnic cleansing claimed by NATO and the KLA did not happen. The civilians fled because they were warned to by the KLA and because they were terrified by the news reports from the duped Western media. They all returned home within a few months. And then they set about hounding, persecuting and ethnically slaughtering non-Albanians so that 90% of non-Albanians have been permanently Ethnically Cleansed from Kosovo since the NATO bombing.

So please shut up about the temporary, propaganda-driven KLA-orchestrated media stunt and pay some attention to the real outrage of Kosovo: The hundreds of thousands of deracinated Serbs, Gorani and Roma (not to mention the hundreds of missing, probably dead abductees), the illegal bombing of Serbian civilians, the human slave trafficking, the drug smuggling, the ongoing oppression of minorities in Kosovo. That is the real outrage in this story. You may very well see it first hand.

Since you are going to Kosovo. Make sure you visit the embattled Serb communities living in razor wire surrounded ghettos, guarded by foreign soldiers and under daily attack from Albanian sectarian violence.

Head to the south of the province, try and visit the village of Velika Hoca and the town of Orahovac. What you find will shock you.

Safe in Belgrade

Towards the end of the first instalment Michael asked Filip David “I feel like we’re safe here, is that true?”. Mr David replies “Yes, generally. But sometimes you will have somebody say they don’t like you if they hear you speak English.”

Michael notes that no-one had been rude to he or Sean. I think it is worth noting that Belgrade is one of the safest cities in the world. There is virtually no street crime and xenophobia is so are as to be almost unheard of. An American is in more danger in London than Belgrade where the overwhelming majority of encounters will be hospitable and helpful – more so than any Western European capital.

Final thoughts

Michael, if you read this, please get in touch with me next time you are in Belgrade. I am a fellow writer on Pajama’s Media [here and here ], a fan and an ideological fellow traveler.

I will introduce you to ideas that you have not explored, for example how it was the KLA who mastered Hizbollah-style media warfare and used it to dupe the West into unnecessary and illegal aggression against Serbia. I will give you Western conservative’s account of what happened here. I guarantee that there is a vast and nuanced complexity to the situation here that you are missing right now, a complexity that I can help explain.

And I will take you out and show you a proper Belgrade good time, I will make sure you are put up somewhere decent and I will get you to the airport for free.

Do we have a deal?

e’Lollipop – Return of the Classic

e’Lollipop [IMDB], one of South Africa’s most famous and successful films,  has been re-released on DVD in advance of a sequel, e’Lollipop 2: Tsepo’s Story.

From the film website:

“First released in 1976, this extraordinary motion picture story of two South African children and their dog, Sugarball, touched the hearts of audiences around the world.

Despite the fear, hatred and brutality that plagued South Africa in the mid-1970’s, e’Lollipop told a story of friendship and commitment that transcended racial boundaries.

After nearly being banned in South Africa under Apartheid, it went on to become a cult classic. Shot in Southern Africa, Lesotho and New York, e’Lollipop was seen in over 40 countries and starred local and international talent including the late Ken Gampu, Oscar and Golden Globe Award Winner José Ferrer, and Golden Globe Nominee Karen Valentine.”

It really is a beautiful story. Also from the site:

Continue reading

Immigration ‘small benefit’ to UK

 

The central tenet of those who support unrestricted mass immigration has long been its putative economic benefits.

When the social costs of mass immigration were pointed out, the Homo Economicus argument would be deployed.

I have long seen through the sham of this argument and I am on record slamming it regularly.

See or example:

Today I read of a vindication of sorts. It turns out that people like Robert Henderson and I were absolutely right all along.

From the BBC:

Record levels of immigration have had “little or no impact” on the economic well-being of Britons, an influential House of Lords committee has said.

It says competition from immigrants has had a negative impact on the low paid and training for young UK workers, and has contributed to high house prices.

The peers, including two ex-chancellors and other Cabinet members, say there should be a cap on immigration levels.

…In their report, “The Economic Impact of Immigration”, the peers said the government “should have an explicit target range” for immigration and set rules to keep within that limit.

…And they rejected claims by ministers that a high level of immigration was needed to prevent labour shortages as “fundamentally flawed”.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Immigration ‘small benefit’ to UK

Cultural insights

In March 2003, social psychologist Richard Nisbett published his groundbreaking book “The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why“, which challenged the received wisdom that all human groups perceive and reason in the same way. He came to the conclusion, based mostly on observation and social psychology studies,  that Asians and Westerners

“Have maintained very different systems of thought for thousands of years….The collective or interdependent nature of Asian society is consistent with Asians’ broad, contextual view of the world and their belief that events are highly complex and determined by many factors. The individualistic or independent nature of Western society seems consistent with the Western focus on particular objects in isolation from their context and with Westerners’ belief that they can know the rules governing objects and therefore can control the objects’ behavior.”

5 years later, neuroscience research is confirming Nisbett’s observations. From the Boston Globe:

East is East and West is West, and the difference between them is starting to turn up even on brain scanners.

New brain research is adding high-tech evidence to what lower-tech psychology experiments have found for years: Culture can affect not just language and custom, but how people experience the world at stunningly basic levels – what they see when they look at a city street, for example, or even how they perceive a simple line in a square.

Western culture, they have found, conditions people to think of themselves as highly independent entities. And when looking at scenes, Westerners tend to focus on central objects more than on their surroundings.

In contrast, East Asian cultures stress interdependence. When Easterners take in a scene, they tend to focus more on the context as well as the object: the whole block, say, rather than the BMW parked in the foreground.

To use a camera analogy, “the Americans are more zoom and the East Asians are more panoramic,” said Dr. Denise Park of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas in Dallas. “The Easterner probably sees more, and the Westerner probably sees less, but in more detail.”

Cultural insights – The Boston Globe

Sucker Punch

 Carlos Rotella at Slate has a good article on  “The art, the poetry, the idiocy of YouTube street fights” – the posting of online fight videos. He reports from the virtual “Land of a thousand asswhippings”.

The fight video is a compelling genre and holds a grim fascination for many. There are some great “stories” in some of these fights: Bullies beaten, loudmouths silenced, assaulted women avenged, one man beating twenty attackers and pimps felled by karate instructors. Unfortunately they are the exception.

The vast majority are simple thuggery, bullying, gangs stomping  outnumbered victims, unwilling schoolboys goaded to fight and drunken street fights. The sheer unfairness of many of them is staggering. Sucker punches, men beating women and as mentioned gangs attacking lone victims. It seems that the most disgusting cowardice brings no shame in some cultures. In my culture, striking a woman was considered an enormity. According to these videos, it is perfectly normal behavior in most places.

Referring to this video, the Slate article notes:

I’m hideously fascinated by the sheer dumb enormity of this infamous sucker-puncher’s belief that landing one of the most cowardly cheap shots in the archive confirms him as a man among men. He actually says, “I’m so cool”—and adds, somewhat anticlimactically, “I’m not the average motherfucker.”

I am also fascinated by this. And outraged. The puncher is the  most contemptible coward yet he is completely unaware of both his cowardice and idiocy. One has to marvel. I think that perhaps notions of chivalry, nobility and fairness are much rarer than I thought.

Two videos  one from the article and one I found as a result of the article – are outstanding. One for the sheer hilarity of the start and the brilliance of the end. the other for sheer horror of what very may very well have been a murder.

Firstly the hilarity…You must watch to the end. From the article:

Take, for example, this 81-second masterpiece. Listen to the crowd’s response when the guy in the red shirt assumes his stance. It’s as if they’re exclaiming “Doofus!” and “Genius!” at the same time. Is Red Shirt a clown? Is he actually good at martial arts? Is he scared stiff and trying to bluff his opponent, or deeply serene and about to wipe the floor with him? The doofus/genius effect persists throughout the fight, which you have to watch to the very last second in order to appreciate its full import. On the one hand, Red Shirt displays competence: He keeps his feet from getting tangled up, stays focused on his foe but also checks for blindside attacks by additional opponents, remains relatively calm when warding off blows, and delivers a decisive shot. On the other hand, his performance takes on a certain awkward quality when the initial You Just Made a Big Mistake moment gives way to an extended sitzkreig that goes on so long the video-maker had to edit some of it out. When he does finally land the big blow, it looks more like a prayerful haymaker than an expert application of the Vibrating Fist of Death.

 

And now the horror….

I will not embed this video because I never want to have this sort brutality expressed through my blog. A gang on Asian kids firstly brutalizes a cowering boy, then the real nastiness begins when they suddenly turn on a girl in the crowd. A single butch attacker begins the furious assault – and then in what looks like some sort of hideous emergent flocking behavior, a group of girls continue the assault with a viciousness that is hard to believe, not to mention watch. The girl is left completely unconscious, possibly dead.

There is debate about what happened and where.  It appears to be a Chinese or Filipino gang somewhere in North America.  The police and FBI have been alerted to its existence.

Here is the video [WARNING: HORRIBLY UPSETING AND BRUTAL]

 

Via – The art, the poetry, the idiocy of YouTube street fights. – By Carlo Rotella – Slate Magazine

Anglo-Saxons wanted genetic supremacy

From Ancient Worlds News:

The Anglo-Saxons who conquered England in the 5th century set up a system of apartheid that enabled them to master and outbreed the native British majority, according to gene research.

In less than 15 generations, more than half of the population in England had the genes of the invaders, investigators say.

“The native Britons were genetically and culturally absorbed by the Anglo-Saxons over a period of as little as a few hundred years,” says Dr Mark Thomas, a University College London biologist.

“An initially small invading Anglo-Saxon elite could have quickly established themselves by having more children who survived to adulthood, thanks to their military power and economic advantage.

“We believe that they also prevented the native British genes getting into the Anglo-Saxon population by restricting intermarriage in a system of apartheid that left the country culturally and genetically Germanised,” he says.

“This is what we see today, a population of largely Germanic genetic origin, speaking a principally German language.”

…The Anglo-Saxons, Germanic tribes who lived in present-day Germany, northern Holland and Denmark, invaded Britain in 450 AD after the fall of the Roman empire.

They conquered England but were unable to penetrate far into the Celtic fringes of what are now Wales and Scotland. They coincidentally prompted an exodus of Britons to what is now Brittany, France.

The population of England at that time was probably around two million while the number of Anglo-Saxons was minute: the lowest estimate puts the number of migrants at less than 10,000 some 200 years after the invasion, although others put it at more than 100,000.

How could such a tiny minority have ruled a country so emphatically? How could it skirt assimilation with the native British majority and impose a language, laws, economy and culture whose stamp is visible today?

The answer, suggest Thomas and colleagues, is an “apartheid-like social structure” that enshrined Anglo-Saxons as the master and the native Britons (called “Welshmen”, from the Germanic word for slave) as the servants.