Posts from the “In The News” Category

Fear: A Style Guide

Posted on February 2, 2014

I always enjoy it when Google News goes democratic and features, right below something from the BBC or New York Times, blog entries from the sort of sites that allege (in green Comic Sans) that the Queen of England is a reptilian shape-shifter. Today’s example greeted me when I loaded the “Kosovo” section of my newsreader. Though (unfortunately) offering no paranormal speculations, Julia Gorin’s “Our Muslim Kosovo: Throw Mormons From The Stairs” column — published at a U.S. outfit called “Right Side News” (get it?) — was a treasure in its own right, as charmingly mid-2000s as a white studded belt. Written from a “War on Terror” perspective for a U.S. Mormon/Evangelical audience, Gorin’s column connects a 2013 incident in which two Mormon missionaries…

Kosovo Quits Smoking*

Posted on June 3, 2013

There are times, here in Kosovo, where it can be nice to be reminded of home. I will confess that I derive a comical and inordinate amount of satisfaction from the tiny Petro-Canada logo at the corner of a billboard near Qafa. I get a kick out of seeing a small boy rocking a Montreal Expos cap in the traditional red, white, and blue. But sometimes it’s not quite so warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it’s annoying as hell. On April 4, Kosovo – in keeping with modern norms and prejudices – adopted a series of anti-smoking laws that prevent people from smoking in cafés, bars, and “public areas”. As has been the case in Canada (or at least my part of Canada) since 2008,…

Here Comes The Money

Posted on April 24, 2013

Yesterday, I wrote about the recent agreement between Serbia and Pristina, and about how perhaps not every Serbian person in the world is totally over-the-moon about it. In Mitrovica, 20,000 people gathered on Monday to say “No To The Brussels Agreement.” At the headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church, meanwhile, Patriarch Irinej told press that the deal “appears to mark the pure surrender […] of our most important territory in spiritual and historical terms.” So it’s obviously kind of touchy. Not everyone is happy. The Serbian Orthodox Patriarch isn’t happy, and Tom Hanks (seriously) isn’t happy either. And even though the talks were sponsored by the European Union, Brussels is not the sort of entity to really delve into things like this, or to have…

We Have A Deal

Posted on April 23, 2013

Last Friday, Belgrade and Pristina agreed to “normalize relations” between Serbia and its breakaway, independent-with-an-asterisk former territory of Kosovo. Like so many supposedly certain things here, this newest declaration is full of ambiguities, mismatched definitions, and opportunities for plausible denial. It’s easy to be cynical about these things. When I arrived here, I was astonished at the degree to which Kosovo was willing to depend on vague assurances, “dialogues,” and other such questionable things. But it’s better than the alternative. When, I have come to realize, you see major world powers and organizations giving their imprimatur to these sorts of labored, dishonest-seeming constructions, its because they are concerned that guns will fire in their absence. All parties remain, for the moment, able to see…

Unchained Melodies

Posted on January 22, 2013

As per Edmund Burke, those who cannot remember the past may well be doomed to repeat it. But so are those who do remember it; who remember it obsessively and minutely, who pore over its many defeats and setbacks, who almost savor the righteous grief provided by its catalogue of shrieks and horrors. The recent spate of vandalisms, desecrations, and passive-aggressive incursions around Kosovo and Southern Serbia is not due to any failure of memory. The other night, I went with a group of internationals (to use the Pristina shorthand) to watch Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained at ABC Cinema, and it was entertaining. A Spaghetti Western with mythic overtones, let’s say, or an exquisitely realized cartoon. A Siegfried fresco in bloody watercolors. A fun…

Kosovo 1.0

Posted on December 19, 2012

Last Friday, a remarkable thing happened in Pristina. I mean that in the original sense, of course: a thing worthy of remark, or perhaps created solely to prompt remark, occurred here, and now everybody is talking about it. As all of my local readers are already aware, I am referring to the violent cancellation of Kosovo 2.0’s “Sex” issue party, which was shut down by a mob of club-wielding thugs whilst police – according to eyewitness reports, if not official record – did noticeably less than they may have been expected to do, or less than they may have done in another jurisdiction. People got hurt. Things were destroyed. Luckily, it did not go any further than that. Because sometimes these things do. What…

Reductio Ad Abserbum

Posted on July 25, 2012

In yesterday’s post concerning UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Kosovo, I addressed SG Ban’s late arrival by cynically noting that “the first rule of power is make ‘em wait.” I wasn’t wrong, really — just a little sunburnt and surly — but new reports from Koha Ditore indicate that my aim may have been a bit off. There’s a first (not first) time for everything, I guess. According to the Pristina daily, the power in question was not exercised by Secretary-General Ban at the expense of us rapidly reddening journos, but instead by Serbian border authorities at the expense of the UN. Though Ban’s meetings with the Nikolić government in Belgrade were characterized by calls for “dialogue” (that grandly disingenuous modern favorite!) and…