Catch 22

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The Mayor and his very able head of PR service


A funny thought occured to me the other day… If the administrative divison into regions goes on as planned and Ljubljana does become a region unto its own, there’s a high possibility that the law will prevent a single person holding both the office of the mayor and that of the regional head.

And with regions becoming the pricipal player in defining the financial relations with the government, the position of the mayor will be weakened considerably, as the municipality will (figuratively speaking -or not) be left in charge of painting the road-signs and mowing the lawns.


This is still speculation, of course, as the legislation on regions is facing huge obstacles within the rulling coalition, but I do sense a certain anti-Zoki sentiment here… First, they take away the money. Then they choose Maribor over Ljubljana as the country’s Cultural Capital of 2012 (again diverting funds away from Ljubljana). Just a couple of days ago they announced a measure to preserve the current “architectual and otherwise” state of Ljubljana’s Central Market, preventing the start of construction of an underground parking lot there. And now this redistribution of power is looming. A coincidence? I don’t think so… More like a Catch 22.

A Front

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Webs-si.net – a supposed front for SOVA


I feel like I’m a sidekick in a Tom Clancy novel… The PM has “announced shocking news” claiming that…







…wait for it…







SOVA intelligence agency established and financed a company with its black-ops fund!!!!.







And I went like… Huh?…


A company, yes… Usually, in spy-speak, such a company is called “a front” and is used “to provide a plausible background story, occupation, and means of income” according to this Wiki entry.

It is only natural for a spy agency to have a front company (often more than one), is it not? But no, the unsuspecting public is again being fed half-baked information, aimed at tarnishing the reputation of everyone in Janša’s sights, most notably (still) the Prez, with the latest discovery being painted as just slightly better than Judas’ betrayal.

If this company really is a SOVA front (which is by no means an established fact, by the way), then I must admit that someone has a sense of humour, as the company’s core business is webhosting and domain registering 🙂 Why get a court order to spy on someone’s server, when you can have your own server and attract dubious web-pages with dumping prices? 😈


BTW: For those of you who can read both Slovene and English: Please compare the Slovene version of PM’s site with the English one. You’ll notice that the latter completely fails to mention the SOVA brouhaha.

So What ?!?

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Forgery or the real thing?


By now you are probably already tired from the brouhaha about the supposed use of SOVA’s black-ops fund to pay for a plane ticket for an Indian quack who supposedly came to cure The Prez.


The former director of SOVA Iztok Podbregar (who – curiously enough – is now the national security advisor to the Prez) claims that the signature on the above document, releasing the funds necesary, is not his. Furthermore, he claims that the document is a forgery, a combination of at least three different documents.


While I admit that it is somewhat convenient for Podbregar to become Drnovšek’s national security advisor two years after Janša came to power, there are some other “conveniencies” present that must not be overlooked:

The one thing that bothers me the most is the fact that for the past 20 years, every time a spy scandal broke out in this part of the world, Janša was there to cry “wolf!”. Namely: the JBTZ trial was basically about a secret and possibly unconstitutional military order somehow making it into Janša’s hands in 1988. Janša was promptly arrested by Yugoslav secret service and shot to Slovene political stardom.

The infamous Depala vas scandal in 1994 (and the attempted coup d’etat) centred around a set of forged secret and possibly unconstitutional military orders. Janez Janša – at the time defence minister – controled military intelligence service (VOMO) which was locked into an interagency fight with civilian secret service VIS (SOVA’s predecessor).

And now, Janez Janša, the prime minister is exposing disputed documents, implying that black-ops fund was misused by the Prez and his office. Feels like a rerun of a bad movie.


On the other hand – even if it did happen: SO FUCKING WHAT?!?! Black-ops is used for all sorts of amoral and unethical shit, such as bribing foregin nationals into spying for Slovenia, getting foreing diplomats laid with hookers and then shaking them down for information, planting undercover agents into terrorist cells, drug-and-arm-dealing rings and stuff like that.

So if they did blow 1000 euros on getting an Indian quack here to hug trees together with the Prez in an attempt to make Drle a bit healthier – what of it? It’s kind of hard to imagine the government allocationg (say) 10.000 euros in the budget for “trying out far-fetched and idiotic, but just possibly succesful ways to cure the Commander-in-Chief”.


The paranoic in me is asking: so just what is Janša hiding if he’s so keen on turning everyone’s attention on a meesly thousand euros….

Presidentspotting

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Only in Slovenia…


A sleepy Wednesday afternoon and the fact that I unintentionally avoided going to Portorož percipetated a meeting with Culc for a beer and as I turn to my left, I’m shocked with realisation that our Commander in Chief is quietly smiling and talking to Miha Kozinc, an attorney and his former minister of justice.

They met at a bar in the passage of Maximarket store, halfway between the presidential offices and the parliament. No bodyguards, no secretaries, nothing. Just Mr. Kozinc and The Prez. I didn’t hear what they were talking about as I was too busy fumbling my N80, trying to covertly take a photo, but I can only imagine that they were talking the all over the latest brouhaha surrounding the document leaks from Slovenian Intelligence and Securiy Agency (SOVA), whicj claimed that the President’s office made the Agency use its black-ops fund to buy and airline ticket to an Indian ayurvedic doctor who examined the ailing Drnovšek. President’s chief of staff immediately filed charges and perhaps the Prez is contemplating the same move.

But maybe not… If asked about it, I’m sure he would have said something like “can’t a guy even meet with a friend anymore?” and then put on his secretive smile.

I thought it was rather cool of him, sitting in a bar, breaking bread and what have you. As they left he stopped by the next table, patted a dog and chatted with the owner.


Only in Slovenia, ladies and gentlemen… Only in Slovenia

Some Things Just Shouldn’t Be Done

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www.vest.si is newly clad


Just saw “Vesti na Vesti” for the first time over at vest.si (in Slovenian only). And – contrary to most comentators there – I find several things quite disturbing:


For the uninitiated: Vest.si is a media portal/blog set up by Jani Sever and a couple of his more or less well known associates. Sever was forced out as the editor-in-chief of a left-wing Mladina weekly political magazine last summer after a relentless political pressure. According to my information the right-wing government has instructed state-owned companies to stop advertising with Mladina, which led to a sharp drop in magazine’s income as these companies are the largest adverisers in Slovenia. In any event, Jani Sever was removed and then embarked on setting up an independent web-based media, which turned out to be vest.si.


The portal/blog has recently been overhauled and is now featuring a weekly round-up of events, hosted by perhaps the only true media celebrity in Slovenia, Jonas Žnidaršič (also known as the host of Who Wants to be a Millionare). So far, so good and I bow to Sever and his team for keeping the project alive.


But I’ve got several problems with this particular concept of weekly round-up, most notable of which is of course the “infotainment” approach.

I do not dare to object to the content at vest.si (mostly because it is above average, but also because I’m not forced to check it out anyway, so I do it out of my own free will), but I do take issue with mixing what turns out to be a wannabe-sarcastic video-collage with the rest of the content.

Jonas does an excellent job as a presenter. He should. It is just that in my oppinon his trademark sarcasm and cinycism do not mix with the serious nature of the actual news. Vest.si team is great at fishing out embarassing moments of current government, but Jonas’ commentary makes a mockery of what should be serious issues. The paradox that occurs is that it is his appearance in the make-shift studio that makes the round-up watchable, much less the actual content.

Of course the main question is, what this round-up actually is. Is it serious, offering the user the benefit of expanded knowledge, is it – in short – news? Or is it a mockery and a parody, a Slovenian version of the Daily Show/Colbert Report with a twist and a knack for using swear words?


If the latter is the case, then I think that Editor in Chief shouldn’t publish his editorials in the round-up, because they either lose credibility or give undeserved credibility to the show. It is like pouring vodka and whiskey in one glass. Some things just shouldn’t be done.

However, If the round-up is considered news, then I’m sorry to say that it fails the most basic journalistic test: relevance. Namely: what is the point of having a news round-up when all news is published in full anyhow? The video is too long to watch as one can check out a good portion (if not all) of the latest entries on vest.si within those ten minutes and decide for oneself on the relevance of a particular piece of news.

Truth be said, there is some progress. In the latest edition Jonas refrained from using swear words. A big plus. But there is still a long way to go. And I don’t think that the content of vest.si would be any less interesting if it hadn’t been for this round-up. I’ve no illusions about this. I’m positive that the round-up with Jonas will be one of the more accessed and viewed features on vest.si. I just think it’s a bad idea.


But what on Earth am I saying??? Here I am bitching about it, when I’m reguralrely posting naked chicks and guys and swearing al the time, while trying to project an image of a left-wing intelectual. I guess the only difference is that I do it for kicks, whereas vest.si is said to be a true and independent media. I’d hate to see their reputation tarnished because of a small screw-up.




UPDATE: Today’s (Wednesday) edition was much more to my liking – both in terms of what was said in the post and in the comments, as well as pleasing my own taste for content.