Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Kopi luwak , or civet coffee, is coffee made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet and other related civets, then passed through its digestive tract. A civet eats the berries for their fleshy pulp. In its stomach, proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet's intestines the beans are then defecated, keeping their shape. After gathering, thorough washing, sun drying, light roasting and brewing, these beans yield an aromatic coffee with much less bitterness, widely noted as the most expensive coffee in the world (Kopi luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between US $100 and $600 per pound)
Thursday, October 28, 2010
We're in a special period- one of the most difficult periods in our history.
Why? Because we're alone confronting the empire. What does this require?
UNITY, COURAGE, PATRIOTISM AND REVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT. Only a weak,
cowardly people surrenders and goes back to slavery. An honorable,
courageous people, such as ours, never surrenders or goes back to
slavery." -Fidel Castro
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I'm not much of a video game guy but one game I've been into forever (or since '98 road to the world cup') is FIFA. As some of you may know in recent years Pro Evolution Soccer has surpassed the staple soccer franchise with far superior game play. I don't have a video game console nor do I play games on my PC so I was pleasantly surprised that the iPhone has in recent times started to offer high quality games.
Last year PES was far superior to FIFA in game play but I heard FIFA made a giant leap with the '11 version so I was eager to test them for myself and here is what I found:
FIFA absolutely massacred PES at everything besides failing to offer Champions League and UEFA Cup competition modes. FIFA 11 has the best and most realistic game play of any soccer game ever made. The graphics are probably the best ever as well. Every single team and player from nearly every league in the world is officially licensed, so you have the real player names, jerseys, sponsors, etc. FIFA dominates PES in every aspect to the point the other one isn't even worth testing out. As a matter of fact if FIFA adds the following it will have the perfect game:
- add every international team like they have for World Cup versions
- add UEFA, Champions League and international cup modes
- add more club teams which aren't in any of the main leagues (Partizan, Red Star Belgrade)
- add a few classic club teams like they had in earlier versions
- add a GM mode for iPhone
The game play itself is flawless besides the fact too many hand ball violations are called and scoring from free kicks is far too difficult (I was 1 for 100 with Pirlo in practice mode). If FIFA adds these changes it will have the perfect game! Until then FIFA 11 for iPhone is definitely worth the $4.99 for those long train rides!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
"are 20 000 black women going to go to a science fair? no! but when lil wayne gets out he'll sell out every stadium"
Thursday, October 21, 2010
During the three decades after World War II, for example, incomes in the United States rose rapidly and at about the same rate — almost 3 percent a year — for people at all income levels. America had an economically vibrant middle class. Roads and bridges were well maintained, and impressive new infrastructure was being built. People were optimistic.
By contrast, during the last three decades the economy has grown much more slowly, and our infrastructure has fallen into grave disrepair. Most troubling, all significant income growth has been concentrated at the top of the scale. The share of total income going to the top 1 percent of earners, which stood at 8.9 percent in 1976, rose to 23.5 percent by 2007, but during the same period, the average inflation-adjusted hourly wage declined by more than 7 percent.
Yet many economists are reluctant to confront rising income inequality directly, saying that whether this trend is good or bad requires a value judgment that is best left to philosophers. But that disclaimer rings hollow. Economics, after all, was founded by moral philosophers, and links between the disciplines remain strong. So economists are well positioned to address this question, and the answer is very clear.
Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, was a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow. His first book, “A Theory of Moral Sentiments,” was published more than 25 years before his celebrated “Wealth of Nations,” which was itself peppered with trenchant moral analysis.
Some moral philosophers address inequality by invoking principles of justice and fairness. But because they have been unable to forge broad agreement about what these abstract principles mean in practice, they’ve made little progress. The more pragmatic cost-benefit approach favored by Smith has proved more fruitful, for it turns out that rising inequality has created enormous losses and few gains, even for its ostensible beneficiaries.
Recent research on psychological well-being has taught us that beyond a certain point, across-the-board spending increases often do little more than raise the bar for what is considered enough. A C.E.O. may think he needs a 30,000-square-foot mansion, for example, just because each of his peers has one. Although they might all be just as happy in more modest dwellings, few would be willing to downsize on their own.
People do not exist in a social vacuum. Community norms define clear expectations about what people should spend on interview suits and birthday parties. Rising inequality has thus spawned a multitude of “expenditure cascades,” whose first step is increased spending by top earners.
The rich have been spending more simply because they have so much extra money. Their spending shifts the frame of reference that shapes the demands of those just below them, who travel in overlapping social circles. So this second group, too, spends more, which shifts the frame of reference for the group just below it, and so on, all the way down the income ladder. These cascades have made it substantially more expensive for middle-class families to achieve basic financial goals.
In a recent working paper based on census data for the 100 most populous counties in the United States, Adam Seth Levine (a postdoctoral researcher in political science at Vanderbilt University), Oege Dijk (an economics Ph.D. student at the European University Institute) and I found that the counties where income inequality grew fastest also showed the biggest increases in symptoms of financial distress.
For example, even after controlling for other factors, these counties had the largest increases in bankruptcy filings.
Divorce rates are another reliable indicator of financial distress, as marriage counselors report that a high proportion of couples they see are experiencing significant financial problems. The counties with the biggest increases in inequality also reported the largest increases in divorce rates.
Another footprint of financial distress is long commute times, because families who are short on cash often try to make ends meet by moving to where housing is cheaper — in many cases, farther from work. The counties where long commute times had grown the most were again those with the largest increases in inequality.
The middle-class squeeze has also reduced voters’ willingness to support even basic public services. Rich and poor alike endure crumbling roads, weak bridges, an unreliable rail system, and cargo containers that enter our ports without scrutiny. And many Americans live in the shadow of poorly maintained dams that could collapse at any moment.
ECONOMISTS who say we should relegate questions about inequality to philosophers often advocate policies, like tax cuts for the wealthy, that increase inequality substantially. That greater inequality causes real harm is beyond doubt.
But are there offsetting benefits?
There is no persuasive evidence that greater inequality bolsters economic growth or enhances anyone’s well-being. Yes, the rich can now buy bigger mansions and host more expensive parties. But this appears to have made them no happier. And in our winner-take-all economy, one effect of the growing inequality has been to lure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase for financial bonanzas on Wall Street.
In short, the economist’s cost-benefit approach — itself long an important arrow in the moral philosopher’s quiver — has much to say about the effects of rising inequality. We need not reach agreement on all philosophical principles of fairness to recognize that it has imposed considerable harm across the income scale without generating significant offsetting benefits.
No one dares to argue that rising inequality is required in the name of fairness. So maybe we should just agree that it’s a bad thing — and try to do something about it.
Robert H. Frank is an economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
NEW YORK -- The NBA is prohibiting its players from wearing a new line of sneakers that claims to increase vertical leap.
"Under league rules, players may not wear any shoe during a game that creates an undue competitive advantage," the NBA said in a statement Tuesday.
Athletic Propulsion Labs' $300 Concept 1 shoe employs a spring-based system designed to increase lift.
The Los Angeles-based company was founded by twins Adam and Ryan Goldston, both former USC basketball walk-ons whose father worked in the shoe industry.
The brothers said Tuesday that many NBA players, including about 30 percent of the rookie class, expressed interest in the shoes but they wouldn't reveal names because the players had signed with other companies.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
Monday, October 18, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
It's less physical and the rules have changed, obviously. Based on these rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I'm pretty sure I would have fouled out or I would have been at the free throw line pretty often and I could have scored 100 points.
- Michael Jordan
He is also suspected to have been among those who led the action in which the USA Embassy was set on fire, ‘Blic’ learns.
According to findings by the investigation bodies, Bogdanov is one of the leaders of the extremist football fans’ group of the Red Star FC called ‘Ultras Boys’. He is also a member of the extremist ‘Movement 1389’.
In criminal charges it is written that Bogdanov is not employed and that he works from time to time as a member of security but it is not said at which company.
Kosovo ‘defender’ FULL STORY
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I'm looking to buy a Jugoslavija Basketball National team jersey from 1995. The jerseys are made by Nike and were worn By Jugoslavija during the '95 Eurobarket in which the Croatian team walked off the podium (picke). I am willing to pay up to $2000 if the jersey is in good condition. If anyone has one or knows someone who might please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
he 2010-11 NBA season is about to begin and it wouldn’t be the same if I did not lead off with my updated Top 25 entering the season. The obvious players are around, but I have three new entrants and a list of five players I expect to make a run at the list by All-Star break. The lists are based on last year’s performances, so expect some changes soon. I think this will be the best regular season we have witnessed in quite a while. The Miami Heat made sure of it by adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
25. Carlos Boozer (new)
I have been trying hard to squeeze Boozer on this list and he repays me by tripping over his gym bag and breaking a finger. Anyway, he is one of my favorite players because I never see him take a night off. His jump shot from mid-range is uncanny and he is a very good rebounder. He will miss the structure of the Utah Jazz offense, but should still put up great numbers in Chicago.
24. Tyreke Evans (new)
I walked past Evans at halftime of a Kings-Suns exhibition game and I was amazed at how big and strong he is. Now I know why point guards got out of his way last year. He is a scoring machine and gets it done with force. Evans arguably should have been the No. 1 pick last year, but I will hold off until Blake Griffin makes his debut in a few weeks. I can guarantee you one thing… The Kings are ecstatic that they have a star for years to come.
23. Gilbert Arenas (new)
The only reason he was not on the list last year was because of injury and suspension. I spent some time with him in Chicago this summer and watched him play. He’s back. Gilbert is a smooth scoring machine and playing next to the ultra explosive John Wall will allow him to destroy defenses. I would not be surprised if Gilbert made the All-Star Game this season. That’s how good he is.
22. Derrick Rose (24)
I caught a lot of flak from my hometown Bulls fans when I included Rose on my top disappointments list midway last year. Despite the disapproval, he deserved to be there, especially after what he showed the final 40 games. He elevated his game to All-Star levels and that is where I expected him to be. He had a tremendous summer with USA Basketball and I think that will culminate into All-NBA consideration at the conclusion of this season. Rose is the best athletic point guard in the league and when he learns to knock down that 15 to 20 foot shot consistently, he will become a terribly hard to defend against the pick-and-roll.
21. Gerald Wallace (19)
Wallace is here for one reason: Heart. Name me a player that outworks him and produces at the same time? He is the best pound-for-pound rebounder in the league and has learned to score as well. Defensively he has always been stellar, but the leadership aspect surprised me last year and that is why he will stay in my top 25 despite all the critics who will say there’s no way he belongs here.
20. Kevin Garnett (23)
The Big Ticket has some bodyguards galore to protect those ailing knees with thousands of miles on them. I believe the addition of Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal to go along with Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins will allow Garnett to roam and become that praying mantis he has been throughout his career. He is one the best leaders in sports and also a Top 5 trash talker. Healthy, Garnett is still a force to be reckoned with. He has to be encouraged by all the help the Celtics have acquired for this championship run.
19. Paul Pierce (22)
I love watching The Truth, but as I have said over the last few years I think he needs to be in better shape. Yes, he plays big minutes. Yes, he scores well. And yes, the Celtics got to the Finals and almost won. I will still say if Pierce lost a few pounds and committed to the weight room, he would easily be a Top 15 player. Things come so easy for Pierce offensively, but his defense is vastly underrated. That’s the truth!
18. Jason Kidd (17)
The old man is still among the fastest and best defenders in the league. Oh, his passing and leadership skills still hover near the top as well. The thing I love about Kidd is that he is a warrior and he improves his game every year. The Mavericks are dangerous because of Kidd’s refusal to stop battling for 48 minutes. He will play till he is 40 years old or better because he leads and wins.
17. Brandon Roy (15)
Can the Blazers field a healthy team for at least 70 games? The attention has definitely been on Greg Oden, but Portland fans should be more worried about Brandon Roy. I am starting to believe he will become an 8 to 10 year player, which does not bode well for a guy like him, who can do multiple things on the floor. When healthy he is definitely a Top 15 player, but multiple surgeries are not a good sign so early in a career.
16. Joe Johnson (16)
Johnson is as consistent as it gets. He does not get his due credit for what the Hawks have done recently. He is very difficult to guard and is an above average defender. He has a tremendous body and rarely misses games, which allow him to stay at 16 ahead of Brandon Roy. Johnson will miss the excellent coaching he received from Mike Woodson and although he signed a lucrative contract, I wonder if he will continue to grow as a scorer and leader in this new system.
15. Rajon Rondo (18)
He proved to me last year that the Celtics have become his team. I am impressed. Look at what he had to win over to become the focal point of the Celtics last year. How many players would have cowered away from trying to grab control from three players that will most likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame? But hold on, it gets worse. Now you have arguably the most dominant center to ever play the game, Shaquille O’Neal, added to the team. Rondo has a devastating array of talents that boggle your mind when you see him perform. He has quickly become one of my favorite players to watch and he rarely disappoints.
14. Tim Duncan (13)
The only reason Duncan has slowly retreated on my list is mileage. He still is one of the top three leaders in basketball. If I had the opportunity to have my son spend a weekend with a player, Duncan would top the list along with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Duncan just knows how to win and will do anything to get the result. I hear that he is in tremendous shape and, if true, watch out for the Spurs.
13. Chris Bosh (14)
I got my degree in History. All throughout history, there were tremendous leaders. But there were great followers as well. Some people view a follower as a weak person, but he is only weak when following the wrong person. James and Dwyane Wade were the right people to follow in this instance for Bosh. I put Bosh in the same boat as Pau Gasol, a player with tremendous abilities, but not the player you want steering the ship. Bosh will continue to be an All-Star, while adding a few rings to the resume as well.
12. Pau Gasol (12)
Gasol has shown to me a lot since the Celtics beat him up two years ago. He is fast becoming the best all-around power forward in the game. The reason I am cautious with Gasol is because he is not in a position of top-dog on his team. I wonder how well he will lead and play if Kobe Bryant is not healthy to start the season. Every player above him has been called on to be the guy. The last time Gasol had that pressure, he failed miserably in Memphis. I personally think he has reached the point of taking control, but I need to see it before I move him up further on my list.
11. Chris Paul (11)
Paul has admitted to watching Steve Nash tapes to enhance his game and I see a lot of similarities. Paul is a tremendous floor leader and scorer. The one negative that has dogged him recently is durability. That alone keeps him listed as the third best guard on my list. The Hornets traded Darren Collison to the Indiana Pacers to show Paul that he is the franchise, but that could haunt them in the short future if Paul demands a trade. If the Hornets are struggling at the All-Star break, the trade rumors will undoubtedly resurface.
10. Steve Nash (10)
People keep retiring Nash and he keeps shutting them up. When will critics realize that he is the only guard since Magic Johnson that enhances teammates’ games to above average levels? Look at Quentin Richardson, Steven Hunter, Shawn Marion, Tim Thomas and, presently, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye. This guy is the best pure leader in the NBA. His numbers last year were better than his MVP seasons. The best shooter in the history of the NBA. He has gone four straight years shooting 50 (FG%)/40 (3P%)/90 (FT %). I love Ray Allen, but if I hear another commentator say he is the league’s best shooter, I will puke.
9. Deron Williams (9)
The best all-around point guard in the NBA. I wonder what his numbers would look like if he was not in the Jazz offensive system. Anyway, the Jazz system is excellent and Williams still has All-NBA numbers regardless. That is why he has ascended to the top among point guards.
8. Dirk Nowitzki (7)
Nowitzki is just Mr. Consistent when it comes to producing for the Dallas Mavericks. I honestly thought he seriously flirted with changing teams this offseason, but it would have been a mistake. He has a solid nucleus in Dallas and I think they have a chance to make a lot of noise this year. The one area I would like to see Dirk improve is his post-ups on the blocks. Although posting players at the free-throw line is potent for him points-wise, it does not get opponents in foul trouble and he is usually the one shooting because teams will not double team. Dirk is the best European player in NBA history and a pleasure to watch.
7. Carmelo Anthony (8)
I wonder how it feels to have $65 million on the table and turn that money down. That’s exactly what Anthony is doing and that leads me to believe he will not be a Denver Nugget for long. The Nuggets are playing with fire if they go into the All-Star break with Anthony and he has not signed the extension. I understand why they don’t want to let him go, but it’s obvious he does not want to be there any longer. He is envious about the goings-on in Miami and wants a change as well. Although he is a tremendous player, the Nuggets will lose leverage in trades the longer they delay the obvious. Whoever acquires Anthony will be getting a first-class scorer and underrated defender.
6. Amare Stoudemire (6)
I must admit that I am heart-broken, but I understand. I loved Amare in a Phoenix Suns uniform, but business is business and New York made an offer he could not refuse. Some people believe Amare will struggle without Steve Nash and I disagree. He can score the basketball on anyone and people will see the other skills he did not have to use in Phoenix. I thought he was the best player after the All-Star break last year. That’s why he stays at No. 6 despite changing teams.
5. Dwight Howard (5)
I love Howard – he will knock your head off and smile about it. Guess what? I want more! I still think he is too nice and friendly to his opponents. He has the best body in basketball and although he knows he can hurt any opponent physically, I don’t see fear in their eyes when they play against him. Players are scared to death of Shaquille O’Neal and if Howard wants to become the next legitimate Superman he has to dominate more on both ends of the court and win championships.
4. Dwayne Wade (3)
Wade is the best penetrator and third best finisher in basketball behind LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire. I really respect his unselfishness in encouraging James and Chris Bosh to join him in Miami. Wade will probably score the easiest 25 points a night in NBA history. Why? Because he will not be double teamed and will have wide lanes to the basket because of the weapons around him. Health has always been a concern when it comes to Wade because of the way he throws his body around. He will not have to be as aggressive this year and it will make him even more dangerous.
3. Kevin Durant (4)
He has rushed to the top of the ladder in a hurry and I don’t think anyone will argue this point. Durant comes from the Kobe Bryant School of Dedication to his Craft. He seems to be a wonderful teammate and leader. The show he put on this summer for Team was an all-time classic. He basically willed himself to become the go-to guy on an All-Star team. If you have played the game at a high level, you’d know how difficult that accomplishment is. Durant can score on anyone at any time and what I admire most is that it’s always in the flow of the game. I would pay to watch him play anywhere.
2. LeBron James (1)
“The Decision” has made James a villain in every city except Miami, but let me warn the boo-birds that will attend games to heckle him… It will hurt your team’s chances of winning the game, so don’t do it. I believe because of the negativity surrounding his decision to join the Miami Heat, James will have the most productive season of his career and lead the Heat to the Finals. With all due respect to Wade, the Heat will become LeBron James’ team. He is the best athlete in sports and in my estimation will be mentioned as arguably the best basketball player ever before it’s all said and done.
1. Kobe Bryant (2)
What he did in the playoffs and especially against the Suns in the Western Conference finals gave him the edge in the apples and oranges race for No. 1 against James. I have said this numerous times and it still has not changed – Bryant is the best offensive machine in NBA history. There is a reason why he has overcome the negative publicity that dogged him on and off in his career. He is the most committed athlete to his craft in sports and fans respect it to the utmost.
JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 25
Chauncey Billups (20), Yao Ming (returning from injury), Josh Smith (25) Tony Parker (21) and Manu Ginobili.
SOON TO BE IN THE TOP 25
John Wall, Brook Lopez, Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut and Blake Griffin.
Read more: http://blogs.hoopshype.com/blogs/johnson/2010/10/14/the-top-25-revisited/#ixzz12P7ShSjo
My mom only had one eye. I hated her… She was such an embarrassment. She cooked for students and teachers to support the family.
There was this one day during elementary school where my mom came to say hello to me. I was so embarrassed.
How could she do this to me? I ignored her, threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school one of my classmates said, ‘EEEE, your mom only has one eye!’
I wanted to bury myself. I also wanted my mom to just disappear. I confronted her that day and said, ‘ If you’re only gonna make me a laughing stock, why don’t you just die?’
My mom did not respond… I didn’t even stop to think for a second about what I had said, because I was full of anger. I was oblivious to her feelings.
I wanted out of that house, and have nothing to do with her. So I studied real hard, got a chance to go abroad to study.
Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. I had kids of my own. I was happy with my life, my kids and the comforts. Then one day, my Mother came to visit me. She hadn’t seen me in years and she didn’t even meet her grandchildren.
When she stood by the door, my children laughed at her, and I yelled at her for coming over uninvited. I screamed at her, ‘How dare you come to my house and scare my children!’ GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!!’
And to this, my mother quietly answered, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address,’ and she disappeared out of sight.
One day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house. So I lied to my wife that I was going on a business trip. After the reunion, I went to the old shack just out of curiosity.
My neighbours said that she died. I did not shed a single tear. They handed me a letter that she had wanted me to have.
‘My dearest son,
I think of you all the time. I’m sorry that I came to your house and scared your children.
I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I may not be able to even get out of bed to see you. I’m sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up.
You see.. when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn’t stand watching you having to grow up with one eye. So I gave you mine.
I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye.
With all my love to you,
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Is Ralph Lauren launching bikes? Whilst these are concepts for now, there seems to be enough buzz online for RL to go into production in a limited run. Collaborating with Affinity Cycles, these fixed gear bikes are sexy as. C'mon Ralphie, what are you waiting for - launch them.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
To: LA Reid, Steve Bartels, Steve Gawley, Michael Seltzer, Joseph Borrino, Chris Hicks
Subject: PUT MY SHIT OUT!
Peace to all,
With all do respect to you all, Nas is NOBODY’s slave. This is not the 1800′s, respect me and I will respect you.
I won’t even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it. People connect to the Artist @ the end of the day, they don’t connect with the executives. Honestly, nobody even cares what label puts out a great record, they care about who recorded it. Yet time and time again its the executives who always stand in the way of a creative artist’s dream and aspirations. You don’t help draw the truth from my deepest and most inner soul, you don’t even do a great job @ selling it. The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren’t…. not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP. Pretty fucked up situation
This isn’t the 90′s though. Beefing with record labels is so 15 years ago. @ this point I just need you all to be very clear where I stand and how I feel about “my label.” I could go on twitter or hot 97 tomorrow and get 100,000 protesters @ your building but I choose to walk my own path my own way because since day one I have been my own man. I did business with Tommy Mottola and Donnie Einer, two of the most psycho dudes this business ever created. I worked well with them for one major reason……. they believed in me. The didn’t give a fuck about what any radio station or magazine said….those dudes had me.
Lost Tapes is a movement and a very important set up piece for my career as it stands. I started this over 5 years ago @ Columbia and nobody knew what it was or what it did but the label put it out as an LP and the fans went crazy for it and I single handlely built a new brand of rap albums. It’s smart and after 5 years it’s still a head of the game. This feels great and you not feeling what I’m feeling is disturbing. Don’t get in the way of my creativity. We are aligned with the stars here, this is a movement. There is a thing called KARMA that comes to haunt you when you tamper with the aligning stars. WE ARE GIVING THE PEOPLE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT. Stop throwing dog shit on a MAGICAL moment.
You don’t get another Nas recording that doesn’t count against my deal….PERIOD! Keep your bullshit $200,000.00 fund. Open the REAL budget. This is a New York pioneers ALBUM, there ain’t many of us. I am ready to drop in the 4th quarter. You don’t even have shit coming out! Stop being your own worst enemy. Let’s get money!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
By Srdja Trifkovic | On October 5, 2000, in a coup by the security forces staged against the backdrop of massive street protests, Slobodan Milosevic was removed from power in Serbia. A decade later, the author says in ChroniclesOnline, many of those who cheered his downfall at that time have nothing to celebrate.
In the run-up to Peti oktobar many of us believed that a change of regime—any change—was essential to Serbia’s recovery from six decades of war, bloodshed, communist and neo-communist nightmare. We were wrong.
It is futile to debate whether Milosevic’s dead-end regime was “better” or “worse” than what Serbia has today with its “pro-Western” rulers. It is like discussing whether pancreatic cancer is preferable to congestive heart failure. Let me be specific.
On October 10 the first “gay pride parade” will be staged in Belgrade. The government has been promoting the event as yet another proof that Serbia is fit to join the European Union, that is has overcome the legacy of its dark, intolerant past. It has threatened the opponents of the spectacle with violence and judicial consequences. It has earned praise from all the right quarters in Brussels, Washington and the NGO sector for its “public commitment to … thwart any attempt to stop the march from proceeding to its conclusion.” There will be five thousand policemen in full riot gear marching with a few hundred “LBGT” activists on the day.
This is pure anarchotyranny in action. The current government in Belgrade is quite powerless to protect its citizens from harassment in the NATO-occupied province of Kosovo. It is powerless to prevent young jihadists from pelting with stones tourist buses from non-Muslim areas in the majority-Muslim region of Novi Pazar—not in Kosovo, mind you, but in “Serbia Proper.” It is powerless to stop rampant corruption by its own functionaries and politically associated cronies. It is powerless to halt open war-mongering by Islamic extremists such as Mufti Zukorlic in the Sandzak region in the south, or advocacy of ethnic separatism by Hungarian activists in the north. It is powerless to evict the Gypsy criminal underclass from usurping prime real estate in the nation’s capital. It is unable and unwilling to arrest and prosecute mafia bosses, privatization tycoons and foreign agents in its own ranks.
At the same time, the regime of Serbia’s Euro-Integrators led by President Boris Tadic is brutally efficient in clamping down on those “extremists” who dare protest the promotion of sodomy and who dislike the imposition of psychopathological “norms” imposed by the regime’s foreign mentors. It is good at normalizing criminality and criminalizing normality. Serbia will never enter the EU, of course, and it will never be absolved of its alleged sins harking back to the Milosevic era, but in terms of anarchotyrannical shackles it is eminently “Western” already.
In foreign affairs Serbia’s position is even worse. It is incomparably worse than a decade ago. On September 10, at the UN General Assembly, Serbia abruptly surrendered its claim to Kosovo. As Diana Johnstone explained in Counterpunch, the government in Belgrade tried to pretend that this surrender was a “compromise”; but for Serbia, it was all give and no take:
In its dealings with the Western powers, recent Serbian diplomacy has displayed all the perspicacity of a rabbit cornered by a rattlesnake. After some helpless spasms of movement, the poor creature lets itself be eaten. The surrender has been implicit all along in President Boris Tadic’s two proclaimed foreign policy goals: deny Kosovo’s independence and join the European Union. These two were always mutually incompatible. Recognition of Kosovo’s independence is clearly one of the many conditions—and the most crucial—set by the Euroclub for Serbia to be considered for membership.
But “denying Kosovo’s independence” had never been a genuine goal. For some years now Tadic and his cohorts have been looking for a way to capitulate on Kosovo while pretending not to. The formula that led to the surrender at the UN last month was simple: place all diplomatic eggs in one basket—that of the International Court of Justice—and refrain from using any other tools at Serbia’s disposal. Last July 22 the ICJ performed on cue, declaring that Kosovo’s UDI was not illegal.
That is exactly what Tadic’s regime and its foreign handlers had expected, and wanted. It should be noted that the government of Serbia asked the ICJ only to assess the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, not to consider more widely Kosovo’s right to unilateral secession from Serbia or to assess the consequences of the adoption of the UDI, namely whether Kosovo is a state, or the legitimacy of its recognition by other countries. As a former British diplomat who knows the Balkans well has noted, international law takes no notice of declarations of independence, unilateral or otherwise, as such; they are irrelevant.
The ICJ advisory opinion was deeply flawed and non-binding, but the government in Belgrade was given a perfect alibi for doing what it had intended to do all along. It could not be otherwise. Ever since the appointment of Vuk Jeremić as Serbia’s foreign minister in 2007, this outcome could be predicted with near-certainty.
As President Boris Tadić’s chief foreign policy advisor, Jeremić came to Washington on 18 May 2005 to testify in Congress on why Kosovo should stay within Serbia. In his subsequent off-the-record conversations, however, he assured his hosts that the task was really to sugar-coat the bitter Kosovo pill that Serbia would have to swallow anyway.
Two years later another advisor to Tadić, Dr. Leon Kojen, resigned in a blaze of publicity after Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer declared, on April 13, 2007, “We are working with Boris Tadić and his people to find a way to implement the essence of the Ahtisaari plan.” Tout Belgrade knew that “Tadić’s people” meant—Vuk Jeremić. Gusenbauer’s indiscretion amounted to the revelation that Serbia’s head of state and his closest advisor were engaged in secret negotiations aimed at facilitating the detachment of Kosovo from Serbia—which, of course, was “the essence of the Ahtisaari plan.” Jeremić’s quest for sugar-coating of the bitter pill was evidently in full swing even before he came to the helm of Serbia’s diplomacy.
In the intervening three years Tadić and Jeremić had continued to pursue a dual-track policy on Kosovo. The decisive fruit of that policy was their disastrous decision to accept the European Union’s Eulex Mission in Kosovo in December 2008. Acting under an entirely self-created mandate, the EU thus managed to insert its mission, based explicitly on the provisions of the Ahtissari Plan, into Kosovo with Belgrade’s agreement.
That was the moment of Belgrade’s true capitulation. Everything else – the ICJ ruling and the General Assembly spectacle included—is just a choreographed farce …
That farce will continue with the forthcoming visit by Hillary Clinton to Belgrade. Aiding and abetting Muslim designs in the Balkans, in the hope that this will earn some credit for the United States in the Islamic world, has been a major motive of her husband’s and her own policy in the region for almost two decades now. It has never yielded any dividends, of course, but repeated failure only prompts the architects of the policy to redouble their efforts. Washington will be equally supportive of an independent Sanjak that would connect Kosovo with Bosnia, or of any other putative Islamistan, from western Macedonia to southern Bulgaria (“Eastern Rumelia”) to the Caucasus. The late Tom Lantos must be smiling approvingly wherever he is now, having called, three years ago, on “Jihadists of all color and hue” to take note of “yet another example that the United States leads the way for the creation of a predominantly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe.”
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A DECADE after his downfall Milosevic appears almost decent in comparison to his current successors. He was guilty of many sins and errors, but they were a matter between him and his people. The Hague was the wrong court designed to find him guilty of the wrong crimes.
First of all, Milosevic was not a “Serbian nationalist.” Until 1987 he was an unremarkable apparatchik. His solid Communist Party credentials—he joined the League of Communists as a high school senior in 1959—were essential to his professional advance. His name remained relatively unknown outside the ranks of the nomenklatura. Then came the turning point. As president of the League of Communists of Serbia, in April 1987 Milosevic traveled to the town of Kosovo Polje, in the restive southern Serbian province of Kosovo, to quell the protests by local Serbs unhappy with the lack of support they were getting from Belgrade in the face of ethnic Albanian pressure. When the police started dispersing the crowd using batons, Milosevic stopped them and uttered the words that were to change his life and that of a nation. “No one is allowed to beat you people; no one will ever hit you again,” he told the cheering crowd.
Used to two generations of Serbian Communist leaders subservient to Tito and reluctant to advance their republic’s interests lest they be accused of “greater Serbian nationalism,” ordinary Serbs responded with enthusiasm. The word of a new kind of leader spread like wildfire. Milosevic’s populism worked wonders at first, enabling him to eliminate all political opponents within the Party leadership of Serbia in 1987. A huge rally in Belgrade’s Confluence Park (1988) and in Kosovo to mark the 600th anniversary of the historic battle (1989), reflected a degree of genuine popularity that he enjoyed in Serbia, Montenegro, and Serbian-inhabited part of Bosnia and Croatia in the late 1980s. But far from proclaiming an agenda for expansion, as later alleged by his enemies, his Kosovo speech was full of old ideological clichés and “Yugoslav” platitudes.
The precise nature of his long term agenda was never stated, however, because it had never been defined. He was able to gain followers from widely different camps, including hard-line Party loyalists as well as anti-Communist nationalists, because they all tended to project their hopes, aspirations and fears onto Milosevic—even though those hopes and aspirations were often mutually incompatible.
The key issue was the constitutional framework within which the Serbs should seek their future. They were unhappy by Tito’s arrangements that kept them divided into five units in the old Yugoslav federation. Milosevic wanted to redefine the nature of that federation, rather than abolish it. Then and throughout his life he was a “Yugoslav” rather than a “Greater Serb.” In addition he was so deeply steeped in the Communist legacy of his formative years (and so utterly unable to resist the pressure from his doctrinaire wife) that even after the fall of the Berlin Wall he kept the old insignia with the red star, together with the leadership structure and mindset of the old, Titoist order.
The tensions of this period could have been resolved by a clear strategy once the war broke out, first in Croatia (summer 1991) and then in Bosnia (spring 1992). This did not happen. In the key phase of Milosevic’s career, from mid-1990 until October 5, 2000, a cynically manipulative Mr. Hyde had finally prevailed over the putative national leader Dr. Jekyll. As the fighting raged around Vukovar and Dubrovnik, he made countless contradictory statements about its nature, always stressing that “Serbia is not at war” and thereby implicitly recognizing the validity of Tito’s internal boundaries. Very much against the prevailing trend of Western commentary, I opined at that time that “Milosevic is cynically exploiting the nationalist awakening to perpetuate Communist rule and his own power in the eastern half of Yugoslavia.” (U.S. News & World Report, 18 June 1990), that for Serb patriots “trusting Milosevic is like giving a blood bank to Count Dracula” (The Times of London, 23 November 1995).
Milosevic’s diplomatic ineptitude and his chronic inability to grasp the importance of lobbying and public relations in Washington and other Western capitals had enabled the secessionists to have a free run of the media scene with the simplistic notion that “the butcher of the Balkans” was overwhelmingly, even exclusively guilty of all the horrors that had befallen the former Yugoslavia. At the same time, far from seeking the completion of a “Greater Serbian” project while he had the military wherewithal to do so (1991-1995), Milosevic attempted to fortify his domestic position in Belgrade by trading in the Western Serbs (Krajina, Bosnia) for Western benevolence. It worked for a while. “The Serbian leader continues to be a necessary diplomatic partner,” The New York Times opined in November 1996, a year after the Dayton Agreement ended the war in Bosnia thanks to Milosevic’s pressure on the Bosnian-Serb leadership. His status as a permanent fixture in the Balkan landscape seemed secure.
It all changed with the escalation of the crisis in Kosovo, however. His belated refusal to sign on yet another dotted line at Rambouillet paved the way for NATO’s illegal bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999. For one last time the Serbs rallied under the leader many of them no longer trusted, aware that the alternative was to accept the country’s open-ended carve-up. Yet Milosevic saved Clinton’s skin by capitulating in June of that year, and letting NATO occupy Kosovo just as the bombing campaign was running out of steam and the Alliance was riddled by discord over what to do next.
The ensuing mass exodus of Kosovo’s quarter-million Serbs and the torching of their homes and churches by the KLA terrorists did not prevent Milosevic from pretending that his superior statesmanship, embodied in the unenforceable UN Security Council Resolution 1244, had saved the country’s integrity. The ensuing reconstruction effort in Serbia was used as a propaganda ploy to improve the rating of his own socialist party of Serbia and his wife Mirjana Markovic’s minuscule “Yugoslav United Left” (JUL).
For many Serbs this was the final straw. Refusing to recognize the change of mood, in mid-2000 Milosevic followed his wife’s advice and called a snap election, hoping to secure his position for another four years. Unexpectedly he was unable to beat his chief challenger Vojislav Kostunica in the first round, and succumbed to a wave of popular protest when he tried to deny Kostunica’s victory in the closely contested runoff.
His downfall on October 5, 2000, would not have been possible if the military and the security services had not abandoned him. There had been just too many defeats and too many wasted opportunities over the previous decade and a half for the security chiefs to continue trusting Milosevic implicitly. Their refusal to fire on the crowds—as his half-demented wife allegedly demanded on that day—sealed Milosevic’s fate. After five months’ isolation in his villa he was arrested and taken to Belgrade’s central prison. On June 28, 2001, Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic arranged for his transfer to The Hague Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, in violation of Serbia’s laws and constitution. It was the first major self-inflicted humiliation by Serbia under its new, “democratic” management. The process is going on, unabated, nine years later.
Ten years after Milosevic’s downfall, “the record of history” is yet to be articulated on the tragedy of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It will come, probably too late to alter the unjust and untenable temporary outcome of the wars of Yugoslav succession. Sadly, those who had collectively invented a fictional character bearing the name “Slobodan Milosevic” in the 1990s are using the tenth anniversary of his downfall as a welcome opportunity to put the finishing touches on the caricature, and to demand from his successors further surrenders and new humiliations as evidence that Serbia has overcome his legacy. Vae victis!
Dr. Trifkovic is the Foreign Affairs Editor of the CHRONICLES: A Magazine of American Culture