DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.

 

 

Media
Wednesday
Jun082011

RATKO MLADIC THE MONSTER DU JOUR

They finally arrested General Ratko Mladic last week, todays Monster of the Week. There will be others, tomorrow, next week and next year. These “monsters to be” will be Libyan, Somali, Egyptian, Israeli or even Americans, depending how events unfold and how the world media perceives the truth. It is easy to demonize a person, accuse him of war crimes, ascribe to him horrible acts of insane violence, and condemn him but never the roots, the causes of the conflicts that precipitated them to the world stage.          

         It makes us feel good. Another criminal behind bars waiting for justice to be done. We all collectively breathe a sigh of relief. Civilization has been saved. But then another war, another revolution erupts and the cycle repeats itself. Mass graves abound and they all look alike, year in and year out.          

         And then there are conflicts, wars, Iraq and Afghanistan being but two that make the news day in day out, yet somehow escape being tainted by accusations of war crimes, of genocide or simply the murder of civilians. Those deaths, those murders fly under the radar of international scrutiny. They are simply ignored while we smugly congratulate ourselves on our moral hypocrisy.             

         I do not like Ratko Mladic much. I met him twice back in 1994 during the wars in Bosnia, ex-Yugoslavia. He was an arrogant, ignorant blowhard son of a bitch. He was, and remains, a dumb Bosnian peasant, who just happened to be a Serb. He proudly wore his ignorance as a badge of honor as stupid as that First World War military cap of his, sporting a “kokarda”, an insignia of some sort or another. He was at home in a dump of a café in Han Pijesak, a small decrepit town in Eastern Bosnia close to Sarajevo, where I met him, surrounded by a fawning retinue of like jerks. He was sitting on the terrace of the café, the very image of a war lord, beefy and loud, full of himself. The colorful red and white umbrellas kept us cool and in the shade. There was a lull in the war. The war didn’t seem real.

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Wednesday
Jun082011

A DEADLY RITE OF PASSAGE

On a beautiful spring afternoon I was in the local DMV office waiting to re-register my car. I was sitting on a hard green plastic chair clutching my papers: the insurance card [FS-20], the Connecticut Title Certificate [MVCWA-348], the New York State registration application form [MV-82], the current Connecticut Registration Certificate [F1307A], the New York State Sales Tax Exemption form [DTF-803], my paid Out of State Sales Tax form [DTF-804], my Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin [MCO], my driver’s license and other pieces of paper dear to bureaucratic hearts. I was waiting for my number to come up so I could see the next available attendant in this state sponsored insane asylum.          

            Sitting next to me was an overweight housewife bulging out of her purple tube top and green slacks sporting pink flip flops, accompanied by her daughter, likewise color challenged. The girl was clutching a pair of sneakers while wearing another variation of her mother’s flip flops. I overheard their conversation.          

            The gist of it was that the daughter had not prepared or practiced for the test. The mother assured her daughter that the test what a “no brainer”, that she really didn’t have to practice, that anybody, I mean anybody can pass the test. By the way, wear sneakers when taking the test. The cavalier attitude to this rite of passage startled me.           

            Their appointed time came and off they went to the parking lot to take the driver’s test. I watched through the window. Some twenty or so teenagers of all shapes and sizes were standing by these huge SUV’s, pick ups and just plain cars, ready to pass the test and hit the road.

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Friday
May062011

P. S. TO JUSTICE UNDONE, IT'S MURDER THEY SAID

 

from the new york times 
all the news fit to print"
benjamin b. ferencz
14 bayberry lane
new rochelle, new york 10804-3402 
914 632 3717 
May 3, 2011
To the Editor,
The New York Times
New York, New York
          Jubilation over the death of the most hunted mass murderer is understandable, but was it really justifiable self-defense, or was it premeditated illegal assassination?
          The Nurenberg trials earned worldwide respect by giving Hitler[‘s] henchmen a fair trial so that truth could be revealed under law would prevail. Secret or non judicial decisions based on political or military considerations undermine democracy. The public is entitled to know the complete truth.
 
                                                                   /s/ Benjamin B. Ferencz
 
 
the writer was a prosecutor at the nuremberg trials
 

  

 

Friday
May062011

JUSTICE UNDONE, IT'S MURDER THEY SAID

 

          “Justice was done” was Barack Obama’s take on the assassination of Osama bin Laden. It wasn’t. Justice was not done, it was undone. Obama, of all people, a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former law professor and a lawyer, should know better. Justice requires that laws be honored and not discarded for political expediency.
          Assassination is the extrajudicial intentional killing by a government of a person for a political purpose. Perhaps Attorney General Eric Holder should remind him that assassinations, or “targeted killings”, sanctioned by a sate are illegal. As early as February 18, 1976, President Ford signed Executive Order 1190, a finding and directive having the force of law, banning political assassinations [“Prohibition of Assassination. No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”] President Carter followed suit with Executive Order 12036 which banned even indirect U.S. involvement in assassinations. President Reagan finally signed the still in effect Executive Order 12333 on December 1, 1981 which provides:
executive order 12333-- united states intelligence activities  46 fr 59941, 3 cfr 1981 
2.11 Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.
2.12 Indirect Participation. No agency of the Intelligence Community shall participate in or request any person to undertake activities forbidden by this Order.
          Sadly Obama is following the lead of two morally deficient Presidents. Bill Clinton, a Yale Law School graduate, recently and publicly admitted to secretly approving bin Laden as target for assassination [after the U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar as Salaam in 1998], and George Bush who publicly called for his murder, “his head on a plate”, after 9/11. Fortunately for them, and for us, his murder/assassination did not occur on their watch.    
          Justices Roberts, Thomas and Scalia, and those other dolts now sitting on the Supreme Court, can not be counted on to give the President sage advice. President Truman heeded Justice Robert Jackson’s principled call preventing the summary execution, the “assassination” “murder”, of Nazi leaders after the Second World War: “The only course [we have] is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused [in the present case bin Laden] after a hearing [in a court of law] as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear.” The result was the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, an imperfect meting out of a victor’s justice, but justice nonetheless.

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Tuesday
Apr262011

THE CURSE OF BLACK ELECTRIC SPAGHETTI

 

My kitchen counter is covered by an unsightly tangle of black electrical cords each terminating in a distinctly different charger head meant to be plugged into an electronic device: an IPhone, a Blackberry, a cell phone, an IPad, a Kindle, whatever. You grope, untangle and then blindly try one after another before finally finding the right one. Comes the weekend when your children visit, the tangle grows exponentially. What a mess, what a waste.
          Way back when, at the dawn of the electronic age, manufacturers conspired, probably in violation of present day anti trust laws, to standardize products. All radios used the same electric plug to access electrical power. You could only buy record players [remember them, those things with turntables?] that rotated at 33 1/3, 45 or 78 revolutions per minute. You could not go out get a record player that revolved at, let’s say 53 revs, no way. You had to go with the flow, the accepted universal way of doing things.
          So what is it with all these electronic geniuses, the MIT, CalTech and RPI graduates, the guys at Intel, Toshiba, Soni, Apple? Can’t they get their act together and agree that power for all of their gadgets will be accessed through a universal power plug that all devices could use interchangeably? Is simplicity, sanity and savings too much to ask?
          Some forwarding thinking electrical engineering students from, of all places, Belgrade, Serbia have just devised a “Strawberry Tree”, a free standing kiosk that harnesses solar energy and makes it available for free to passerby’s  whose electronic device are about to expire and need that an immediate jolt of electricity to keep on going like the Energizer Bunny. But in order to make it function the device has sixteen, count them, sixteen different electric chargers to accommodate the most frequently used devices.
          The “Strawberry Tree” will be installed in front of the European Parliament Building in Brussels and featured at European Commission’s “Week of Sustainable Energy Development”. But does it really take sixteen almost identical charger heads to make the idea work for most of us walking down the street? Do I really want a great big tangle of black wire spaghettini or capellini littering my kitchen counter? I think not. So to you electrical engineers out there: “Come on guys, get your act together!”