Categories
International Relations Culture History

Existential.yu

Graphic: Wikipedia/ISN
Graphic: Wikipedia/ISN

The break-up of Yugoslavia (in all of its incarnations) is now, it would seem, official. As of today, 30 September, websites using the .yu domain extension will be no more, thus ending any existential Yugoslavia debate.

Henceforth, there will be less ethno-nationalist website mystery: Serbian websites will be .rs; Montenegrin websites .me; Bosnian websites .ba (though here some mystery will persist as users will still be unsure without further investigation whether a particular website is from the Bosniak- and Bosnian Croat Federation entity or the Bosnian Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity); and so on.

For many this may be a day of electronic mourning. Indeed, it is sad to see the last remnants of Yugoslavia erased – however small and ephemeral they were – and to be reminded of what has replaced this once thriving socialist republic.

Of course, for many of those who are old enough to have spent much of their childhood and even adulthood under the national Yugoslav banner (generations who arguably use the internet less frequently than their younger ‘countrymen’) this will not mean an end to Yugoslavia. Indeed, one can still find plenty of people who will forever call themselves Yugoslavs. For them, .yu will live on as an ideal rather than a mere nationality, flag or territory (or domain extension).

Categories
Journalism

This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha

This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan
This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan

ISN Security Watch correspondent Samuel Logan has just released his first book, “This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” (Hyperion Books), a non-fiction narrative about Brenda Paz and her last three years of life.

Paz was a young member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, who became a federal informant before she was killed after running away from witness protection.

“This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” uncovers little-known truths about the MS-13, one of America’s most violent street gangs, and reveals how the street life can be alluring. It also takes a close look at the the realities of living inside the US as part of a Latino immigrant community, underscoring the challenges with policing these communities and the fluidity of illegal movement across the US-Mexico border.

The book has been optioned by Paramount Vantage Films.

More of Sam’s extensive work about the MS-13 in ISN Security Watch:

Tri-state trouble with Mara Salvatrucha

Mexico’s Parallel Power

Prison Gangs and Organized Crime

Categories
Culture

Shopping in Sarajevo

Stylin' in Sarajevo/photo: sarajevo-x.com
Stylin' in Sarajevo / photo: sarajevo-x.com

Bosnians are not really into protesting. Clearly, it requires too much mental and physical energy that is better spent … well, in the Bosnian fashion: living life, seizing the day (with coffee and cigarettes, but nonetheless).

Every now and then small groups of war veterans and pensioners will gather in front of a government building to protest not having received their funds, and once, last year, there was a protest when a teenager was stabbed to death by another teenager, but it was entirely unclear against whom the protests were directed (presumably God). Other than that, the only protest to note was when a down-on-her-luck female education official attempted to distract herself from her personal problems by causing a Christmastime uproar, proposing the sacking of Santa and his replacement by some previously unknown Muslim version of the jolly fellow. This time, a few handfuls of people (representing all ethnic-religious-secular groups) gathered in protest outside the main cathedral in the city center.

In the past few weeks, however, a new target for potential protest is a newly opened shopping center. Though the protests are unlikely to develop beyond the verbal complaint and tacit boycott phase, the shopping center is the latest exciting controversy and the main topic of call-in radio and television talk shows. The problem: Well, the shopping center is Arab built and run and refuses to sell pork in its supermarket or to allow the sale of alcohol or the presence of betting shops, the latter a major Bosnian hobby of late.

Categories
Journalism

The Cynicism of Objectivity

The Wizard of Oz, St Laurent St, Montreal / photo: Errol ImagesMedia, flickr
The Wizard of Oz, St Laurent St, Montreal / photo: Errol ImagesMedia, flickr

In the metamorphosing world of journalism, whether a reporter is objective or subjective is no longer the main question. Today, with news agencies and media outlets of all sorts simply regurgitating each others’ work, readers no longer need concern themselves with whether something they are reading is objective or not: that is decided for them by pre-fabricated news that is passed off as reporting and analysis, sold in bulk and distributed by lazy journalists who can hardly be called reporters around the world.

So, having dismissed today’s journalism with a disappointed shrug of the shoulders, here is something completely different: A column by Paul Rogers of openDemocracy that pretends to be reports from a previously unknown consulting firm called the South Waziristan Institute of Strategic Hermeneutics (SWISH), based in tribal Pakistan, where they ostensibly hunker down in tents with full IT communications and have access to representatives of al-Qaida, Washington and London – all at the same time. (I regret to admit that I fell for this – and am aware that others have as well). Despite the hilarity of the idea, whose cynicism even this great cynic found shocking, this experiment by the ever-creative Paul Rogers was believable for a number of reasons: