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Jasmina Tesanovic

Jasmina Tesanovic is an author, filmmaker, and wandering thinker who shares her thoughts with BoingBoing from time to time. Email: politicalidiot at yahoo dot com. Blog: jasminatesanovic.wordpress.com.

Europride and Gaga in Rome

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(Lady Gaga performs during a gay pride concert in downtown Rome. Stefano Rellandini / Reuters)

The gay icon Lady Gaga was there wearing her green wig, together with up to one million people marching chanting singing in a carnival gay pride march.

Rome is the capital of Vatican too, the place where Pope lives and preaches from his balcony every Sunday morning about how people should live and love. Lady Gaga's motto this Sunday was the power of love. She recalled her Italian origin and name ( La Germanotta) and, in a passionate speech, demanded immediate equal rights for the gays, meaning the right to get married, have children etc. While singing her new song Born This Way, an anthem to diversity...

But only few days ago, the Pope announced his firm opposition to equalize even straight informal marriages, that is, unions not sanctioned by God in a marriage sacrament. Where the Catholic church is concerned, gay marriages are not only a taboo topic but even a place of severe demonization and homophobia.

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Mladic in The Hague

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PHOTO: Bosnian Muslim woman Alic Mina cries near the grave of her son Mihrudin before a mass funeral in the village of Memici, about 30 kilometres from Zvornik, June 1, 2011. The remains of eight people, victims of an "ethnic cleansing" campaign that former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic is accused of instigating, were retrieved from mass graves in Zvornik and buried during the mass funeral on Wednesday. Mladic, extradited to the Netherlands from Serbia on Tuesday after 16 years on the run, will appear in court on Friday, according to a statement issued by the court on Wednesday. Mladic was indicted over the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica, close to the border with Serbia, during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


Now that the Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic is safely behind the bars in the Hague international war tribunal, some questions are becoming more urgent.

Where was Mladic hiding all these years? Who helped him evade justice? Why did his protectors stay silent and unpunished? Will there be a investigation and a punishment for them, too? In Serbia, in the Hague, in hell?

In 2008, Radovan Karadzic, Mladic's best-known ally and also a highly wanted war criminal, was arrested in Belgrade while posing as a New Age medical guru. Karadzic had been living undercover for years, with a semi-public persona as a quack medical expert. He often appeared in conferences and wrote for fringe medical papers.

I interviewed some people who worked or spent time with Karadzic.

Somehow I believed those rather simple-minded devotees, who burned candles to cure cancer. Surely people this gullible could not imagine that Dragan 'David' Dabic, this hoarse-voiced impostor with his gloves, long beard and white topknot, was actually Radovan Karadzic. After all, Karadzic was a blustering politician who was always clean-shaven and in dark suits.

But at one point, one of my informants from the clinic became conspiratorial. He pulled out his cellphone showing me a snapshot of the worn, thin face of an elderly man.

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Ratko Mladic, "God of Genocide," arrested

(PHOTOS / REUTERS. At left, in 1993: Bosnian Serb army Commander General Ratko Mladic (L) salutes.)

The self-proclaimed “God of genocide” in Srebrenica, the Serbian ethnic general Ratko Mladic was arrested today in a small village eighty kilometers from Belgrade.

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Sultan Berlusconi on Trial


[video link]

Silvio Berlusconi will be the first head of a G-7 state to be arraigned in court on charges of paid sex with a minor.

A few days ago, the court from Milan issued a subpoena for the Italian premiere, on a charge that could carry a penalty of 15 years of prison. This April 6, sugar daddy Silvio will face three adult female judges from Milan, the Italian women that the press here in Italy call his "Nemesis."

A right wing commentator of the TG1, one of the TV channels owned and controlled by Berlusconi himself, said: I believe in his innocence, but by the time he proves that, his reputation will be gone forever. And to tell the truth he worked hard on that himself! What on earth did he think he was doing when he meddled with minors and showgirls?

The Church as well as Catholic believers are divided. It's not about sex, says one of the high ranked church officials: hardly any Italian anymore confesses those misdeeds as sins. It's his way of doing it. Then there's the hardcore of Italian machismo, who aspire to that level of misbehavior themselves, and frankly admire Berlusconi for his orgies.

"Ruby The Heartstealer," the Moroccan illegal belly-dancing minor, was the last-known in the lengthy chain of Berlusconi's sweethearts. Ruby may have triggered a final avalanche of shameful publicity that will crush the lascivious premiere... but, Ruby nevertheless just cheerily appeared in Italian television, in black lingerie, peddling a tell-all book. Italians have always adored sexy foreign girls: Belen Rodriguez, the Argentinian top model, is the star of the Sanremo music festival although she cannot sing, and also the spokesmodel for a wireless Internet service, though her appeal is by no means high-tech. Italy's high-fashion business puts a premium on female beauty, not to mention a bald market price.

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Italy: Bad Day for Sultan Berlusconi as Millions of Women Demand He Resign


Photo (click for large) by Francesca Ottobelli: anti-Berlusconi protesters in Italy today.

"If Not Now, When?" was a national demonstration of Italian women, against Berlusconi and, to put it bluntly, his porno-democracy. The demo had other slogans as well: Resign! Basta! I don't give up! ADESSO, NOW!

A flash mob in 280 cities of Italy and 50 cities abroad, millions of people, mostly women, but also men and children. The demonstrations have been growing in the months since Berlusconi got caught up in the sex scandal vertigo with minors, prostitutes, pimps and orgies.

A week ago in Milan, in a big rally, the prominent intellectuals in Italian public life threw themselves into the campaign: the distinguished professor and writer Umberto Eco, Roberto Saviano the star of the antimafia campaign, the judges of of the constitutional court, trade union leaders and many others. But as one of the speakers, the orchestra director Pollini remarked : Berlusconi will never step down.

Berlusconi did not leave public life. On the contrary, he sped up his counter-campaign, attacking the judges in Milan who brought the latest of many legal cases against him. He even threatened to take his case to the European Parliament and sue the nation of Italy. He organized rallies in his support , claiming that his innocent altruistic interest in young girls had been cruelly misunderstood. He also accused the investigators of orchestrating a communist-biased coup against himself as head of government.

But his luck may be turning these days, after sixteen long years of media monopoly and political domination. Even the Catholic daily, Avvenire, came out with a big editorial claiming that decent Catholic women should be in the public squares on the 13th of February. It's rare of the Church to urge women to take to the streets to defend their dignity. Then there is the dignity of the state to consider, for the ludicrous shambles of Italian public life has become a matter of international concern.


(photo: Francesca Ottobelli)

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Berlusconi's "Rubygate" in Italy: Private Vices, Public Virtues

vv02.jpg (image: a shot from the movie "Private Vices, Public Virtues")

Many years ago, I took part in a movie directed by Miclos Jancso, called "Private Vices, Public Virtues." It was a dissolute story of sex drugs and rock-n-roll, anachronistically set in the Austro-Hungarian empire.

In the film, the rebellious heir to the crown of Franz Joseph gets murdered by his own father, the Emperor, for a criminal public display of orgiastic excesses, which involve the nobles of the court, plus the many less noble participants of the collapsing empire.

I remember vividly when a group of girls arrived from Rome to participate in the film. "Il gruppo Max," they were called, and they brought their film assignment with them: "pronte a tutto," ready for anything. Meaning ready to do anything requested by the film production, ready to dance, to sing, to strip, to have sex on camera. Ilona Staller, who later became the famous Italian parliamentarian Cicciolina, was one of that group.

And they perfectly performed that task: it was in the seventies, make love not war, hippies, free love, with men and women, among men and women, kings and beggars, friends and foes...

The movie was a commercial flop, and an artistic failure.

However, from today's perspective, that film was clearly a futuristic experiment. These days, all the Italian dailies have headlines which are paraphrases from that Movie: "ragazze pronte a tutto," "vizi privati pubbliche virtu," "il re perverso e triste," papi of the nation....

Of course they refer to the Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, and his endless squalid story with underage girls, professional paid escorts, TV stars who become deputies and government officials, all thanks to his protection.

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Temple of Dawn: visit inside a Brazilian UFO cult

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Don't trifle with spirits, said my American friend as we enter this weird syncretic Brazilian sanctuary in the outskirts of Brasilia, called the Temple of Dawn.

I am wearing my white Brazilian dress with big black Brazilian ants on it, and I cover my bare shoulders with a colorful silk shawl with tiny celebrity faces: from Hitler to Jesus.

It is about to rain outside, one of those tropical storms is coming. But inside the barn-like temple, it is stuffy and misty with incense, like a science fiction movie-set from the 1930s. My eyes are burning, my nose is running, but I am glimpsing incredible figures and paintings on the walls, on the brick labyrinths, numerous thrones, veil like fabrics.... The Temple of Dawn worships UFOs, Tutankhamen, Jesus, the disembodied spirit of an Indian chief named White Feather... name it. "Aunt Neiva," the cult's prophet and founder, created the church in a trance some 50 years ago.

Neiva used to be a truck driver married with four kids, before her spiritual gift descended on her and she became a prophet. She founded this cult community, and, advised by spirits of the dead, she dictated the cult's highly elaborate costumes and rituals. Our spiritual guide is a very warm pleasant church functionary in a complicated black, white and orange uniform, with a sash and a white surcoat adorned with crosses, badges and stars. He is telling us this elaborated story, without much philosophical or religious consistency. Every logical question makes him wriggle.

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The Shroud Crowd: a dispatch from Torino, Italy

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Since April 10th of this year, Torino, Italy has been crowded by a strange mob of tourists: endless streams of international and local people, old and young, pious and less pious. They are Catholics, and believers of other religions, too.

The Shroud Crowd walks the majestic straight streets under the portici of this city, the first capital of Italy. Italy is celebrating its 150th anniversary next year, in 2011. Actually, people in Torino are wondering if that event will become an official "celebration," since the right-wing government of premier Silvio Berlusconi is so eager to split the country between the north and south, the rich and poor, the locals and the foreigners. With the separatists of the Northern League in power, the unification of Italy is presented as a curse more than a benefit.

The crowd meandering the streets of Torino is not here for political reasons. They are here to see the shroud of Christ: a piece of fabric appertaining to the most famous martyr in the world, after his crucifixion. Now, that's the legend. The scientific and historic truth is that this frail and stained cotton wrapping, of obscure origin, was brought to this part of the world by Anne de Lusignan, Princess of Cyprus, and Duchess of Savoy. In the year 1452, Anne bought the Shroud from yet another woman, the widow Jeanne de Charney, in exchange for a minor castle.

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