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 a Contributing Editor 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 and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.




Presidents Putin and Obama are blood brothers joined at the hip with a like disregard of international law when it suits their country’s interest and their individual agenda; but that has been true for Russian and American leaders since at least the Second World War. The only difference is a matter of perspective

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had an evil twin in Joseph Stalin, but he was just as willing as Stalin to flaunt international law. He and Stalin callously carved up Europe into two spheres of influence at the Yalta Conference in 1945 without as much as a “how do you do” to the countries that would be subjugated by Communism for decades. Ironically the conference was held in the now contested Autonomous Republic of Crimea which Vladimir Putin has just graciously annexed to the Russian Federation.

Roosevelt had no qualms in bombing civilian population centers of no military significance such as Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki or of detaining United States citizens of Japanese origin. Stalin’s crimes were so many and so notorious that they do not need listing.     

Harry Truman inherited Stalin and acquiesced to Russia’s control of the Baltic States, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia at the Potsdam Conference. His “police action” in Korea was nothing more than an undeclared war in contravention of The Hague and Geneva Conventions.

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“You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests” Secretary of State John Kerry speaking on “Meet The Press”, March 2, 2014

Only two nation building models are currently in play. The first, invented by the United States is where disparate geographical regions with divergent interests peacefully band together to advance the common good. The same result can be also achieved by brute force. The second is where equally disparate regions once joined in a common nation state secede and separate; again either peacefully or by force of arms and civil war.

In either case nation building is constrained by physical reality and factors that are seldom in dispute. The resulting nation states must address the ethnic and religious makeup of their populations and the geographic and economic realities of their location in order to exist and remain viable.

Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour fought for the unification of Italy irredenta grafting mismatched areas such as Sicily and Sardinia onto an otherwise homogeneous body politic, nation building by force of arms. Prince von Metternich’s dream of German unification came into being with the Princes of the various German states proclaiming Wilhelm of Prussia the Emperor of the German Empire in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, nation building by peaceful means. The European Union initially established in 1993 is an ongoing and expanding experiment.  

In contrast twelve independent republics came into being on December 26, 1991 with a simple stroke of a pen, a signed declaration, without a shot being fired, dissolving the old USSR, followed closely by two more, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the result of Czechoslovakia’s peaceful “Velvet Divorce” in 1993. Not so for the newly independent republics of ex-Yugoslavia: Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia et al. They were created by a bloody ethnic civil war and a peace put in place by brute force.

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I eat lunch in this little French restaurant around the corner from my office in New York City. What attracts me besides the convenience and the company of the regulars is the bar menu. For $20 you have that day’s chef’s special and a glass of wine. The French call this menu option either “prix fix” or “table d’hôte”, you get what you order and pay for.

If for some reason the day’s special does not appeal you are free to order from the menu, or as the French would have it “á la carte”. Either way you order exactly what you have decided to eat, the choice is yours. You are not charged for dishes, drinks and deserts that you have not ordered or even contemplated eating. Not so when it comes to cable .

Cable has evolved into three basic components: telephone service, high speed internet and cable TV, each with unique advantages and disadvantages.

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Here's a new round of articles published in The Country & Abroad Magazine's Summer, Autumn and Winter 2013 editions. Click on the image to link to the article.





It seems that the Los Angeles City Council has finally woken up to the harsh reality of what the current minimum wage laws have inflicted on millions workers in the United States. Federal and state minimum wage legislation has fostered a sub class of people living in abject poverty unable to meet basic needs and living not from pay check to pay check but from debt to debt leading to dead end despair.

The Los Angeles Times reports that members of the City Council are expected to propose that large luxury hotels of more than 100 rooms be required to pay employees a living wage of $15.37 an hour and not the California minimum of $8.00. It’s about time that the harsh reality of the minimum wage is acknowledged by an elected body affirmatively asserting that “such a hike would lift housekeepers, busboys and maintenance workers out of poverty and inject much-needed cash into a languorous local economy”.

Los Angeles has championed “living wage” regulations in industries over which it exercises control. In 1999 a city ordinance mandated that employees at the Los Angeles International Airport be paid at least $15.67 an hour and another 2007 ordinance required employees at 13 nearby airport hotels be paid a minimum of $11.97. Last year the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, the nation’s fifteenth busiest, followed suite with voters approving a $15 minimum wage for its employees and those of dependent businesses such as car rental companies.

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