Mar. 11th, 2006

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Via Reuters:

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has died, the UN tribunal said on Saturday, just months before his war crimes trial was expected to conclude.

"Milosevic was found lifeless on his bed in his cell at the United Nations detention unit," the tribunal said in a statement.

"The guard immediately alerted the detention unit officer in command and the medical officer. The latter confirmed that Slobodan Milosevic was dead."

The tribunal said the Dutch police and a Dutch coroner were called in and started an inquiry. A full autopsy and toxicological examination have been ordered. Milosevic's family has been informed, it added.

The tribunal did not say how Milosevic had died. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told Reuters Milosevic had died of natural causes.

Milosevic, 64, suffered a heart condition and high blood pressure which had repeatedly interrupted his trial in The Hague on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Two cardiologists treating Milosevic in The Hague had warned he was at risk of a potentially life threatening condition known as a hypertensive emergency, when surges in blood pressure can damage the heart, kidneys and central nervous system.

I won't weep at his passing. It would have been convenient if he had died after the trial had been completed and the verdict delivered, not before. The former Yugoslavia needs catharsis.
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When the subway northbound stopped at the King TTC station early this morning, I was nearly run down by a man in his 50s, drunk and wearing a Roots hockey jacket. He was followed by the friend, the sober straight man to the other's amusing drunkenness

It wasn't pathetic at all. Eh. Aging's not a bad thing, it seems. The sap will continue to flow in my veins, and fun will still exist for me in a way that won't caught my cohorts to smile politely and avert eye contact.

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Jason McClure's study "The Falklands War: Causes and Lessons", published online in November 2004 in the Strategic Insights (III.11) examines the motivations of the Argentine junta for invading the Falkland Islands in 1982. Arguing from a theoretical approach, McClure claims that Argentine national pride and resentment ahelped lock the junta into a conflict with Britain that it might well have won. He errs in ascribing this to a "Third World" mentality, not only because "Third World" isn't a useful category at all in this sort of study but because the motives he ascribes come from a sense of relative decline. Compare Weimar Germany or Italy after the First World War.
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I was decidedly impressed by Night Watch last night. It's a standard sort of supernatural film, involving a long-standing civil war fought between the supernatural Others, beings like vampires and shapechangers who can access the parallel dimension known as the Gloom, all needing training in communities. Two rival communities, Light and Dark, co-exist under a shaky truce, both sides preparing for an apocalypse to be brought about by a new Other who--alas, as is the Others' want--will opt to surrender to the Dark rather than nurture the Light inside. The central character is one Anton Gorodetsky, a young man who first becomes aware of his status as an Other--a seer--in 1992 after he hires the service of a Dark Other who promised to break his estranged wife's affair and abort her child. Twelve years later he's in the service of Light, glumly tracking down creatures of the Dark who try to break the truce by preying on Muscovites without permission. It's at this stage that he meets one boy and one woman, each critical in their own way for what's coming.

If the above capsule sounds clich├ęd, that's because it is. There's only so many times that a battle fought between ancient competiting coalitions of good and evil can manifest itself on the streets of a modern metropolis. The genius of Night Watch lies in its synthesis of this plot line with the globalized and capitalist present of post-Communist Moscow. Though I was almost certainly missing a slew of cultural reference points, I could get enough things--the inclusion of dubbed scenes from the Season 5 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Buffy vs. Dracula", the bullying policeman who harassed the grey-looking Gorodetsky, the smiling vapid Europop singer who takes a break from her concert to become the cruel tormentor of a starving novice vampire with a Mason jar of blood held just out of reach, the anonymity of the crowded Metro--to enjoy the film. The brilliant cinematography also helped quite a bit, drawing tropes from music videos and The Matrix at whim. Night Watch deserved to be the most popular film in Russia in 2004. Me, I'll be mildly unhappy with the wait for the upcoming sequels.
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