Stories from Quick Reads and Slovenia
Author, actor, educator, television and film director Timothy John Byford died in Belgrade on May 5, 2014, after a long illness. Born in Salisbury, England, Byford spent most of his life in Belgrade, where he moved in 1971 and later became a naturalized citizen of Serbia.
As news portal InSerbia reports:
He is best known for his children’s TV series: Neven (‘Marigold’), Babino unuče (‘Granny’s Boy’) and Poletarac (‘Fledgling’) (all for TV Belgrade) as well as Nedeljni zabavnik (‘Sunday Magazine’), ‘Musical Notebook’ and Tragom ptice Dodo (‘On the Trail of the Dodo’) (all for TV Sarajevo). ‘Fledgling’ won a Grand Prix at the Prix Jeunesse International Festival in Munich in 1980.
Byford marked the lives and childhoods of several generations in Serbia and other former Yugoslav states through his television shows and educational programs. His presence was also felt in everyday Belgrade life, where he once rallied to have Banjica Park protected because of its feathered wildlife, and the term “Byfordian accent” has for decades been a popular way of describing someone who speaks Serbian well but with a heavy English accent.
Byford was genuinely beloved by his vast audience and fellow Belgraders, which has been touchingly apparent on social networks since his passing. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and local media have been adorned with praise and gratitude to Byford and his contribution to culture and happy childhoods in Serbia and other former Yugoslav states. Enes Dinić from Serbia was among those who recounted Byford's wise words on Twitter:
"Život je avantura, ako ga živite hrabro." R.I.P. Timothy John Byford
— Enes Dinić (@eniko_neno3) May 5, 2014
"Life is an adventure, if you live it courageously." R.I.P. Timothy John Byford
— Enes Dinić (@eniko_neno3) May 5, 2014
As the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) blog reports, the Serbian, Turkish, Slovenian and Brazilian under-18 girls’ national volleyball teams showed outstanding results on the weekend of July 27-28, some with a perfect win-loss ratio. Full stats and results are available and regularly updated on the Federation's website.
The UK labour movement restrictions placed several years ago to prevent migrants from Romania and Bulgaria from moving permanently and seeking employment in the UK will be lifted on January 1, 2014. Some predict large migrations of workers from these two countries, among the poorest in the European Union, while others say that migrations will be so small they will barely be felt and many emphasize the fact that Romania has a growing, innovative IT industry that will also benefit the British IT industry. Other Eastern European countries have also helped boost the UK's thriving IT industry in the recent past, such as Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia and more.
Dozens of bloggers [sr] from Serbia, as well as from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia, attended Blogomanija [sr], a regional blogging conference that was held in Serbia on Dec. 7-9. Among other things, they discussed [sr] the impact of blogs and social networks on social and political life in Serbia and the region.
[…] At the moment protests in Slovenia are directed against many different targets. Mayor Kangler, Mayor Janković, prime minister Janša, interior minister Gorenak, the failed industrial and construction tycoons, the banksters, even the president-elect Pahor already found his way to the “Gotof je” (He’s Done With) posters. But there is a common message to these protests. The people realised they’ve been robbed of their own country. And they’ve come to take it back. […]
Balkan Buro, a Dutch non-profit “dedicated to providing a platform for artistic and cultural encounters between Western and Southeastern Europe,” announces the Balkan Snapshots Festival 2012, which will take place in Amsterdam on Sept. 21-23: “three nights of music, creativity, movies and inspiring debates!”
In “Libricide,” Ante Lešaja has documented the process of “purging” of “unsuitable” books from Croatian schools and public libraries by the right-wing HDZ government in the 1990s. According to a Jutarnji List interview [hr] with Lešaja, the “purging” was based on ideological and ethnic criteria and affected books “written in Cyrillic [script], [Ekavian dialect], books by Serbian authors and publishers, by ‘suspicious’ Croats, by leftists…” As a result, 2.8 million books (13% of all the library material) and 3,000 monuments of the anti-fascist struggle were obliterated. Comments on the link by Macedonian Facebook users suggest that similar processes are taking place in other ex-Yugoslav states, with janitors throwing “obsolete” books into trash.
Updates on the upcoming Dec. 4 parliamentary elections – by Dr. Filomena and Sleeping With Pengovsky (here, here, here, and here). Pengovsky concludes: “The way it looks right now, Janša seems poised to win on 4 December. However whether or not he will be able to form a coalition remains a mystery […].”
“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.
The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative – a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:
Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.
A short video presents the campaign:
Four Slovenian tech start-up companies have exceeded their initial funding expectations and managed to accumulate a total of some 400,000 U.S. dollars in funding on the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarted over the last year. Slovenia, a Eu country with a large and growing unemployment rate, has a growing ICT industry and many young entrepreneurs seem to be finding solutions to economic hardship in innovation and seeking funding from abroad while retaining their companies and development centers at home. Inventures.eu covers the success of these start-ups on Kickstarter in more detail:
Rick Falkvinge, the founder of Pirate Party, reinterprets the wars of religion that devastated Western Europe in the XVI and XVII centuries in terms of the current struggle to control information through overbearing legislation related to copyright and freedom of expression:
The religious wars were never about religion as such. They were about who held the power of interpretation, about who controlled the knowledge and culture available to the masses. It was a war of gatekeepers of information.
[…] [PM Janez Janša] already controls the parliament. He controls the economy. And as of last Sunday, he also controls the president of the republic. […]
The only unknown in this scenario are protests. The political class, even down to “middle managers” is shit-scared and they honestly don’t know how things will turn out. I don’t think anyone does. […]
Russian collective “Chto Delat? // What is to be done?” published an essay by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, who considers Pussy Riot “conceptual artists in the noblest sense of the word: artists who embody an Idea,” and fight against the cynicism of power-mongers who strive to return Russia to the tsarist level characterized by Leon Trotsky (1905) as “a vicious combination of the Asian knout [whip] and the European stock market.” The text has been translated into various languages [en, ru – middle of page, it, sr, sr, mk, gr] and reprinted by bloggers and progressive portals throughout Europe.
Spotted by Locals: Experience cities like a local features a few dozen locations, including CEE cities of Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Krakow, Ljubljana, Prague, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius, Warsaw, and Zagreb. A random sample post from Zagreb, Croatia: Hrelić Flea Market – The Aleph of Zagreb; from Bucharest, Romania: The Haunted House – Armenian Neighbourhood; from Sofia, Bulgaria: Nissim – A True Old-School Bookstore.
Stefan Geens of Dliberation discusses how photography is under legal attack in Slovenia, since the country's information commissioner has decided that all faces in published panoramic photography should be blurred out – a decision with great consequences for the Slovenian photo scene.