Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's the Spelling, Stupid

A report that a "French" woman was stopped from visiting the U.S. - allegedly because her name sounded (vaguely) like al-Qaeda - reminded me of the peculiar quandary of Balkans spelling (or lack thereof).
RT reported that Aida Alic, 33, residing in southern France, was turned back from a flight to New York with her husband and two children, and told she had been "blacklisted". No official explanation was given, so Alic speculated to the regional daily Le Dauphiné Libéré that it must have been her name. All passports list surnames first, so hers identified her as "Alic Aida," which she says, when pronounced, may have sounded like "Al-Qaeda" to the Americans.

Except her name is really Aida Alić. The ć is pronounced as "ch", and it is the most common ending to surnames in what used to be Yugoslavia. If the name was Aida's problem (which may or may not be the case; mysterious are the ways of Homeland Security), it could have been resolved simply by knowing how to spell.

One of the first articles I wrote for, back in 2000, dealt with the problem of Balkans spelling. Because Serbian - and the languages derived from it - is a phonetic language, there is no such thing as "spelling" in it: every letter always sounds the same. While solving the spelling problem, this feature of the mid-19th century linguistic reform also played merry Hell with etymology, grammar, and dialects. But that's another subject for another time.

There are always variations when transliterating names from languages with non-Latin alphabets, such as Russian, Greek, Chinese, Arabic or Hebrew. But there is no transliteration standard for Serbian (or its derivations), which is properly written in Cyrillic. An additional wrinkle is that many modern Serbs (and almost all derivative languages) use the Modified Latin alphabet invented in the early 1800s to replicate the Cyrillic reform for the benefit of Slavs living in Austria-Hungary.

Allow me to illustrate. The last Serbian royal house was named Карађорђевић, after their progenitor, Карађорђе. In Modified Latin, these names would be Karađorđević and Karađorđe, respectively. Properly transliterated, they might look like Karageorgevich and Karageorge. But the lazy, illiterate butchery of language simply erases the modifier marks, turning it into Karadordevic! Even ""Karadjordjevic" would be better, since it at least offers a nod to proper pronunciation of the ђ/đ (like the j in jam). But it still leaves us with a "c" at the end that is pronounced wrong.

Even though modern technology absolutely allows for multiple input alphabets - as demonstrated above - we still get "Alic" and "Vucic" and "Milosevic" and so on. But the problem goes beyond casual usage of lazy illiterates: documents issued in Modified Latin (passports, etc) do not transcribe the names either - so they simply get entered without what the clerks (wrongly) assume are "accent marks." Because of this combination of ignorance and stupidity, most people from the former Yugoslavia emigrating to the West end up with misspelled and unpronounceable names.

Transliteration after the fact is a cumbersome process, and even then, most people don't know how to actually spell their names in English, French, German, Dutch, etc. Previous generations of immigrants have tried, with varying success: Kucinich from Kucinić was a relatively minor change, while Mihajlo Pejić (Михајло Пејић) got turned into Mitchell Paige. Though he was still a hero either way, so there is that.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Kiev Gambit

In my newest column on, I argue that "the Atlantic Empire establishment may be looking for a new Cold War as a way to give the Empire meaning." Having failed at imposing the "end of history", the Empire desires to revert to the comfortable state of perpetual war - "in their minds... the best kind of conflict, in which the national security apparatus expanded exponentially, the military-industrial complex grew fat on government contracts, and the eventual victory of the West was foreordained by the superiority of morals and values."

as seen on Facebook
That won't work, of course, but they are too far gone in the world of their own lies to realize this. Which is why the "government" in Kiev - encouraged by the Empire - has launched a crackdown on the east of the country and ratcheted up the propaganda war. Neither effort is really working; Army convoys are being stopped by civilians in a repeat of the Kosovo Serb tactic, while the propaganda gets debunked almost as soon as it appears. See, for example, the case of the "OSCE observers" that weren't, or the anti-Semitic flyer, or the "photo evidence" even the New York Times felt compelled to retract.

Listening to the speech John Kerry made Thursday evening didn't quite make me gag. It did, however, make me feel very happy he was defeated by George W. Bush in 2004 - that's how dire it was. Moon of Alabama does a thorough debunking of Kerry, which I commend to your attention, and The Saker believes it signals desperation:
His statement is a desperate attempt to do what the lawyers call the "last resort rule".  It goes like this: “If you have the law, hammer the law. If you have the facts, hammer the facts. If you have neither the law nor the facts, hammer the table”.  Kerry was hammering the table really very, very strongly... Had the facts or the law been on his side, there would have been no need for table hammering, of course.
As I mentioned before, it is really useful to keep in mind this rule of propaganda: "The propagandist will not accuse his opponent of just anything, but precisely of the deed that the propagandist himself aims to perpetrate." (Ellul)

The Russians do, apparently. They have stopped taking phone calls from Imperial officials. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Forbidden History: Yugoslavia in WW2

I rarely do advertising here, but today I'll make an exception.

Over the past year, Kragujevac historian Miloslav Samardžić has worked to make a documentary about the untold history of WW2 in Yugoslavia. The first six episodes of the series, "Kingdom of Yugoslavia in WW2", are now available for purchase here.

Proceeds from the first six episodes will go towards the funding of the following six. You can also buy the book on which the series is based.

I had a small part in this endeavor as well, as a pro bono translator/consultant on the series' English subtitles. So while I have no financial stake in this documentary either way, I would like to see it continue out of both professional curiosity and a desire to dig up as many facts as possible about this crucial period in history.

Documentary movies - Yugoslavia in WW2

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Truly He is Risen

Resurrection of Christ
"Pascha is not some beautiful legend, not some theoretical theology and not a nod towards a popular custom established in the distant past. It is the essence and kernel of Christianity. It is the victory that God has granted to us.

From the time of the apostles and up to the present the Church has preached Christ’s resurrection as the greatest miracle in the history of humanity. She speaks of this miracle not only as a fact of the Gospels, but – and what is especially important – as a moment of destiny for all those who have received the Paschal good news. This feast bears the most direct relationship to us, for Christ’s resurrection, the Lord’s redemption of the fallen world, is the greatest joy which the human person can experience. No matter how difficult our life, no matter what everyday troubles besiege us, no matter what grief and imperfections we have to endure from the world around us – all of this is nothing in comparison to the spiritual joy, to the hope of eternal salvation that God gives us."

(from the Paschal Proclamation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, of Moscow and All Russia)

Christ is Risen!
Христос воскресе!
Χριστός ἀνέστη!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Great Betrayer

Urged by their masters, the Maydan junta in Kiev has moved to suppress the pro-Russian regions in the east. According to reports coming in from the field, the "overwhelming military force" has fizzed and failed, due to the junta troops defecting or refusing orders to fire on civilians.

It is perhaps too late for the junta to think about this soberly; they are committed, 100% invested in doing the Empire's bidding, else they will be fed to their own "Right Sector" attack dogs. And even if that were not the case, they would still fear the retribution of ordinary Ukrainians whose livelihoods they have ruined with yet another "color revolution."

They are not the first people to think and act so. Many have served the Empire before, only to find themselves deposed and discarded; Wayne Madsen lists just some examples:
The CIA also virtually ran the intelligence services of Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Dominican Republic caudillo Rafael Trujillo, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and Nicaraguan strongman Anastasio Somoza. However, in what may cause some apprehension among the interim leaders of Kiev, it should be noted that when the CIA grew tired of these dictators, it quickly helped eject them from power. Mobutu died in exile in Morocco after being overthrown by forces aided by the CIA. Trujillo was assassinated in his chauffeured Chevrolet Bel Air by plotters trained by the CIA. Noriega was arrested while seeking asylum in the Vatican embassy in Panama City after a U.S. military invasion; he served prison sentences in Florida and France and is now rotting away in a Panamanian jungle prison; and Somoza was forced to flee Nicaragua after a cut-off in U.S. support; his car was later hit by an anti-tank rocket while he lived in exile in Paraguay.
And just the other day, Justin Raimondo wrote about the Empire's propensity for betrayal, using the example of the failed, false twitter in Cuba (all emphasis mine):
This episode shows that the US government, far from being the champion of liberty in a decidedly un-free world, is actually the main danger to liberty on earth. It systematically betrays those it seeks to "liberate," ruthlessly and cruelly manipulating those who dream of freedom from tyrannical regimes – and then abandoning them at the critical moment, just as they left thousands of ZunZuneo subscribers hanging after luring them in with promises of "free" text messaging.

From Cuba to Crimea, Washington is engaged in a global shell game, luring sincere freedom-loving people into its various front organizations, and using them as pawns in order to pursue its own agenda – one that has little if anything to do with the natural aspirations of oppressed peoples. And they won’t even do it under their own banner – as bloodstained and ragged with abuse as it is. So distrusted and hated are they that they have to sneak around setting up "false flag" operations: they don’t dare do it in their own name.

And that should tell you something.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pushkov: "PACE betrayed its own principles"

Last Thursday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) - voted to suspend Russia's voting rights in that body, explaining that:
...the military occupation of Ukrainian territory, threat of military force, recognition of the illegal so-called referendum and annexation of Crimea "constitute, beyond any doubt, a grave violation of international law".
The decision was based on a report by Austrian delegate Stefan Schennach.

Following the vote, Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia's Duma (lower house of parliament), gave a statement to the press. The video below, as well as the full English transcript of the remarks (delivered in Russian), are provided by fellow blogger The Saker, an outstanding source of information and analysis on the Ukraine situation.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Empire: It's Not Repression When We Do It

When the "Maidan" crowd was besieging and occupying government offices in Kiev, Brussels and Washington were cheering them on, and sending stern words of warning to President Yanukovich not to dare use force to re-establish order. Now that Kiev is controlled by their pet regime, however, they are demanding the use of force to suppress dissent. As Moon of Alabama points out:
[EU foreign policy chief] Ashton then:

"I call upon president Yanukovych, the government together with the leaders of the opposition to find an immediate way out of this deepening crisis, and to continue the work to find a way to solve the political crisis through dialogue."

Ashton now:

"The EU commends the Ukrainian authorities for pursuing their law and order operations in a measured way, in order to establish the authority of the state."
As for Washington, it sent CIA director Brennan to Kiev this past weekend. It must be a remarkable coincidence that Ukrainian "president" Turchinov then announced an "anti-terrorist" operation against demonstrators in the East.

Meanwhile, former head of Ukraine's security service (SBU), Alexander Yakimenko, claimed that his successor is a CIA stooge:
"Nalivaychenko was recruited by the US when he was Ukraine's Consul General in Washington [2001-2003]," said Yakimenko [to Russia's Channel One], for whom an arrest warrant has been issued in Kiev since he left the country last month... "The US is currently creating a sort of controlled chaos that is helping to blow up the bridges between Russia and Ukraine." (RT)
So while Moscow denies it wants Ukraine dismembered or destabilized - if it did, it could have done so at any point by now - Washington is feeding the flames. Samantha Power talks about "Russian propaganda" and accuses Moscow of organizing protests in the East. If this were actually the case, surely the all-listening NSA would have produced the Russian equivalent of the Nuland-Pyatt Call by now. But it hasn't. Which suggests such conversations do not actually exist - ergo, neither does the alleged Russian interference.

Moreover, John McCain (who the Hell put that lunatic in charge of foreign policy?) is doing the media circuit clamoring for U.S. weapon deliveries to the coup regime. So, Washington (and the EU), who justified their invasions of places like Serbia and Libya by claiming it was a crime for governments to oppress their own people, are telling (and helping) their puppet regime in Kiev to do just that.

UPDATE April 15, 2014): MoA offers this quote as further proof of Who/Whom in action:
Obama says the U.S. urges Ukraine's military not to get involved in a conflict that must be resolved politically. He's expressing outrage about images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic guns on Ukrainian people.
Obama says in a statement that Ukraine should respect the right of protest and that protesters must be peaceful. He's calling for dialogue to reduce tensions and address the people's grievances.
Confused? Don't be - this was a statement made on February 20, calling on the Yanukovich government to appease the (pro-Empire) protesters. Now that it's his stooges have taken over in Kiev, the Emperor is all about crushing the (pro-Russia) protesters with overwhelming force.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ukraine Update

To someone who has only watched the Western media - with its calculated nurturing of the rabid squirrel attention spans - the situation in Ukraine may make no sense beyond the simplistic narrative of "good Ukrainians" facing off the "invading Evilrussians."

One could just look at all the posts here tagged "Ukraine," but alas, my coverage of the crisis has been rather spotty, since I've had to spare some attention to Serbian issues as well.

To remedy this, I've been meaning to put together a brief summary of events in the past four months, but that turned out to be unnecessary: Russian vlog "Goblin News" has already done so. Watch their video here, with English, German or even Ukrainian subtitles (select from the CC menu). Hat tip to The Saker for finding the video.

The Saker has also posted Vladimir Putin's letter to Russia's gas buyers in Europe, and his analysis thereof. Both are worth reading, as is the Saker's coverage of recent unrest in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, and other regions in the East.

As for the big picture, I have a new piece up on today, comparing the present situation with the plot of an undeservedly forgotten 1991 sci-fi novel. For all the differences, there are some eerie similarities - the transformation of the USA into a militarized, paranoid police state, and the use of Ukraine to strike at Russia, to name just two. And the author, Norman Spinrad, has a keen eye for understanding and describing what makes people tick.

About the only advice I can give, based on 15 years or so of observing the media, is this. When you read, watch or listen to the coverage of Russia in the West, keep in mind the following observation by Jacques Ellul, in his 1962 book "Propaganda":
"The propagandist will not accuse his opponent of just anything, but precisely of the deed that the propagandist himself aims to perpetrate."
In other words, an extreme form of psychological projection. Observe many examples of it in Frank Furedi's account of Western activists, published in Spiked. So, the next time you hear about Russia "violating international law," or "invading" someone, or being "imperialist", keep in mind that those accusations speak far more about the person or organization making them, than about their target.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

If the Shoe Fits

A few days ago, a reader sent in a comment demanding I "stop using sexist remarks against women." (Being sexist against men is OK, then?)

Apparently, my recent use of "harridan" annoyed her, because it's a derogatory term that only applies to women, so my anonymous correspondent demanded I "cut it out."

Not a chance.

As a very American saying goes, "if the shoe fits, wear it." And does "harridan" ever fit the two women I mentioned in the article! Like a bespoke article of clothing. They are, in fact, belligerent, "bossy" women, carrying on in ways that are entirely inappropriate to anyone in their profession, male or female.

There is this thing I endeavor to adhere to here, called precision of language. So long as people like Ambassador Power and "journalist" Amanpour behave like harridans, I will call them that. I may also use shrew, termagant, harpy, gorgon, battle-ax - or any number of other appropriate expressions available in the English language.

And the Thought Police, both official and self-appointed, can go hump a burrow. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

"Kosovian" Suicide Bomber Behind Baghdad Attack

Serbian national television RTS reported earlier today that the March 25 suicide bombing in Baghdad was the work of Blerim Heta, a "Kosovian" Albanian. This, they say, is the first confirmed instance of any Balkans jihadist taking part in a suicide attack; there have been reports of Bosnian Muslims doing so in Iraq, but none could be corroborated.
Screenshot of the RTS report
Heta is a native of Uroševac (called Ferizaj by Albanians), and his family believed he was fighting in Syria. They confirmed his death, with Blerim's father Remzi denouncing religion and claiming his family followed "European values", while his son was "seduced".

RTS further cites a report on the website of the jihadist outfit ISIL, confirming Heta's death and referring to him as "Abu Habbab al-Kosowi".

Yet the most interesting detail of Heta's biography - that he worked for the U.S. military at Camp Bondsteel, the major military base right outside of Uroševac - is mentioned only in passing. When did he work there? What was he doing? Was he fired and then turned to jihad, or the other way around? Or was he recruited there to go to Syria? Questions about, yet RTS offers no answers. Maybe someone else will.