The state of Kosovo?

Good morning, what to talk about today? The news website isn’t much help – its top story, “Vaccine against HIV ‘no nearer'”, is a headline I would have got a ticking off for way back when I worked at a newspaper. The theory is that if nothing has changed, why would someone want to read it? Anyway, moving on to the World Service, our first item is the Serbian foreign minister telling the UN Security Council that it must stop the province of Kosovo declaring independence.

That’s a bit more like it – is Russian President Putin right to argue that Kosovo is in the same category as the separatist conflicts in parts of the former Soviet Union, such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Trans-Dniester? The Georgian president certainly doesn’t think so, but Mr Putin’s comments have him worried. The Russian president also says it is “not moral or legal” for Kosovo to declare independence – is he right?

Here’s a question for you – is it right to attack your enemies wherever they are in the world? Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has warned Israel to expect just that in retaliation for what he called its role in killing Imad Mughniyah.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch politician, has been in Brussels to plead for political backing for a controversial proposal to get the EU to pay for her protection. The proposal is for teh European Union to create a a fund to help protect people in her position.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy says “Europe needs to defend her because she has defended Europe.” So who’s duty is it to protect free speech? And how far should efforts to provide that protection extend?

On a similar note, how far should a government keep an eye (spy?) on its citizens to keep them safe? President Bush and the Democrat-controlled Congress disagree. The president is even threatening to delay his trip to Africa to “help [the House leadership] complete their work on this critical bill.”

Here’s the view of SJ in Oregon: “I started yelling at the screen when Bush says ‘We’re having a debate in America on whether or not we ought to be listening to terrorists making’ phone calls in the United States. And the answer is darn right we ought to be.’ So everybody who has had phone calls listened to – who knows how many people – are now terrorists? Straight-up unconstitutional and flies in the face of presumption of innocence (innocent until proven guilty). Bush thinks the Bill of Rights exists for no reason – that it’s just some shield for criminals. It’s the other way around – those amendments are meant to protect people from the real criminal… from a gov’t gone mad in its paranoia…”

What do you think?

And do you think? In the NYT yesterday, Patricia Cohen asks Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge? in her review of Susan Jacoby’s new book, “The Age of American Unreason” (also reviewed in Salon).

It’s certainly the kind of debate the chattering classes might have here – and this week they are after ministers said they wanted pupils of all ages to be offered at least an hour a day of culture during the week. Simon Heffer calls it “cultural Stalinism”. Do we value knowledge, art and culture as much as we should or do these things matter less in the modern world of instant news and entertainment?

Oh, and as an aside, it’s not often I agree with Sepp Blatter, but he’s on the money with this one.

7 Responses to “The state of Kosovo?”

  1. 1 George USA
    February 15, 2008 at 11:48

    The woman Ali who wrote a book with her picture on the cover did profit from the in your face book, she is in the bookstores on the shelves. At least she did profit.

    A topic not touched in the US media since overwhelming victories in primaries is that the American people are stating they prefer Obama to Hillary 75% to around 25%. The Clinton campaign has already said that no matter the popular vote, she intends to use “Super delegates” to obtain the nomination against the will of the American people if need be. A discussion of the state of the campaign, the momentum of Obama, and the use of election fraud to put Hillary in no matter what the people want, may be in order at this stage.

    There is no question at all that the Bush administration has no respect for the Constitution or Bill of Rights and has said so before. The real question may be why or how they got the free ride from Congress rather than impeached, allowing them to violate that Constitution and Bill of Rights which many men past and present have fought to defend.

    What is going on in the USA today is something I never thought I would see- the USA looks like a Banana Republic dictatorship today and the elections a farce of flaunting the will of the people for more of the same.

    You will notice I state these things matter of fact and in passing. It is important that open discussion be maintained of these matters to the highest degree possible as a matter of course, otherwise the repression of even the outlet of open discussion is clamped down and the abuses are more rapidly destructive for the nation. Left to their own devices those who abuse power do so to everyone’s harm if unchecked by any restraint. Even Banana Republics need free speech to remain functional.

    You will notice I have no rants against persons, individuals, and it is not a question of personalities, just the move of rule of law and government of, by and for the people, to a form of government more favorable for the profit of some few at the expense of the many.

  2. 2 Brett
    February 15, 2008 at 13:21

    “Bush thinks the Bill of Rights exists for no reason – that it’s just some shield for criminals. It’s the other way around – those amendments are meant to protect people from the real criminal… from a gov’t gone mad in its paranoia”

    *Stands up and applauds*

    “Bush urged lawmakers to act quickly to approve a bill that would shield phone companies that cooperated with the warrantless surveillance program he secretly began after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.”

    – This is mind-boggling! One of the many instances of this administration acting illegally and directly against what our country was founded on. And yet he has not been impeached! I like SJ want to scream at the TV everytime I see Bush talk, or hear some new ant-turrist / anti-freedom, whops, freedom-protecting plan.
    The democrats (and even sensible republicans) need to stand firm and shoot this bill down, let the phone companies be left unshielded, and see once and for all, that if the Democrats stand up against Bush, it is not the end of the world. The only leverage he has now is to postpone his trip to Africa. I suppose if you are left with the alternatives of accepting the bill or having him stay longer babbling on with lies about protecting freedom and democracy by tearing away at the rights of the citizens, its no wonder they may choose to shut him up and get him out of their faces.
    Its nearing the end of his administration, shoot down every dumb idea he and his cronies have (something which should have been done throughout his entire reign) and get them the hell out of office!

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali would make for an interesting topic for the day!

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 gerd wnuck
    February 15, 2008 at 18:27

    Didn’t the Kosovo-Albaniens lost all their ethnical-national rights
    in 1944.

    Imagine an Albanian
    history-textbook with Great-Albania(2nd leage of Prizren) under german
    protection and the holocaust.

  4. 4 Chris
    February 15, 2008 at 18:39

    I am from Crete, Greece, and while we are not so angry and determined to achieve independence from the Greeks as the Kosovars are from the Serbs, there have been several cases lately where the flag of the Cretan Republic (1898- 1912) has appeared, and many voices of disgruntled Cretans speaking of doing something to distance ourselves from Greece, maybe by gaining some autonomy and having a bigger say on what goes on in Crete. Since we were never conquered by the Greeks and Crete was united with Greece by a treaty lasting 100 years in 1912, according to that treaty there should be a plebiscite in Crete in 2012 determining whether or not we will remain part of Greece or not. However, it is said that Greece will try to silence this and hold no plebiscite, showing that they are afraid that the Cretans will vote against re-signing the treaty.

  5. 5 Mark H
    February 15, 2008 at 18:54

    As a musician in the early 2000’s I was in a band which wrote a song about the violence in Kosovo. Some of the lyrics were as follows:

    I can make the ground shake with my mind/ when your heart stops beating it’s a sign/that your whole entire life is just a lie/ when your heart stopps beating it’s a sign/ we stand cheek to cheek with lucifer for five long years/

    As young musicians, we did not understand the point of the conflict, just that the leader wasn’t working to help the situation, and the fact that there were massaccres was hard for us to imagine that anyone other than the devil would be in charge allowing this to happen.

  6. 6 Branko
    February 17, 2008 at 15:49

    First of all, borders of former Yugoslavia were made by Croatian communist dictator Tito. People of Yugoslavia were not asked at all. That was the source of all wars in ex-YU. Second – Since the beginning of war in former Yugoslavia, EU and USA base their politics on double standards. Fact 1.Serbs were majority in eastern parts of Croatia, they were not allowed to separate, because USA & EU forbid change of borders. Fact 2.Same in Bosnia, Serbs want independence in region where they have 90% majority. Taking everything from one nation, not giving it right to decide in which country it wants to live, is barbaric, politic of force. Western people see what they want to see- black and white. Serbs are killers all others victims. Do you really think it is that simple? Turn off your TV and turn on your brains. What about Northern Ireland? Irish people want independence. They have more historical, demographic, religious and other reasons than Albanians in Kosovo. Scotland? Catalonia? Kosovo is not a unique case. The unique things about Kosovo are 65% unemployment (under Serbia it was around 10%), and the largest scale of drug and firearms trafficking in Europe. May it all end up in your children’s hands. Thanks on your Mickey Mouse democracy, but we don’t like it.

  7. 7 Thomas
    February 18, 2008 at 09:08

    A commet about the reference to a New York Times book review by Patricia Cohen last Thursday headlined “Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge” about Susan Jacoby’s book, “The Age of American Unreason.”

    It was Zbignew Brzezinski who noted that the reason for America’s constant foreign policy misadventures is that our news tends to be local.

    This is posssibly because of the vastness of the continental U.S.

    But in today’s Courier-Journal, our local daily, there is not one story of national or international bearing on the front page.

    I grew up an Air Force kid and have attended at least seven different schools in the American northeast. And in not of them was I taught world history. State history and new math was standard. But the curricula even paid short shrift to American history. It’s for that reason that the platinum blond “Are You Smarter than a Sixth Grader” gameshow contestant didn’t know the existence of Turkey.

    And yes, I’ve encountered a hostility to knowledge in the Midwest.

    Just the other day I tried to inform a grocery basket retriever that patrons in the two entrances of the store could avoid collisions if they but the hand baskets on the other side of the door.

    He responded by yelling at me. “You’re always tellin’ us want we’re doin’ wrong in the store.” (Imagine this in a loud sputtering redneck accent.) “You’re only one percent, and we get this from you!” I walked away. He was fired.

    Like too many other towns in the U.S., Louisville will never be other than a parochial village until it acknowledges the rest of the world on the front page of our newspaper. The irony is the hostility with which this idea is met.

    Here, fat, dumb and happy is regarded as an ideal state of being, instead of an insult.

    The tragedy is that the rest of the world is unable to escape this worldview, either.

    –Regards, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

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