I interrupt my blogging silence with what appears to be dramatic news about Croatian media institution. Business.hr, online edition of eponymous Croatian business newspaper, is unavailable due to its site being infested by malware. T-Zombix, Croatian blogger extraordinaire, investigated the matter and displayed his findings in this post.
It appears that everyone who happens to visit the site might get infected with something called Mal/Iframe-G.
T-Zombix suspects that the "Youth" (in other words, Croatian Democratic Union Youth activists/astroturfers) got angry due to their inability to spam articles comments with pro-Sanader material.
On the other hand, this isn't the first incident that major Croatian news portal got offline due to malicious activity. In December, index.hr was unavailable for two days due to DDOS attack. .
In another attempt to revive my blog, I decided to start a series of posts titled "What Have I Done Lately". In short, this is supposed to give some sort of explanation why I haven't been so active in blogosphere in past three years.
The posts are going to give brief English summaries of all major posts in my official Croatian blog, starting with December 2005. I'll also give few contemporary comments whenever it is possible.
I've just downloaded new version of Firefox, and it seems O.K. It's a little bit Spartan compared with Firefox 2, but this is mostly due to lack of add-ons. I like the design. It makes browsing simpler and visually more pleasing.
Every blog is a work in progress. As I approach my 4th
blogging anniversary, I see that this blog haven't seen much progress lately.
So, I will try to make updates a tad more regular in near future, as well as
work a little bit on design, links and perhaps even add some new features.
Start of EU accession negotiations re-ignited Croatian
enthusiasm for capitalism, which reflected itself in Croatian newsstands having
business-related weeklies for the first time. First of those is Lider, in which
I saw an article about war between Croatian Internet portals.
In it Matija Babić (Matija Babic), the owner of
www.index.hr, claims that he is working on television-related project. A year
ago, many would have been sceptical about his chances to make some sort of
major impact on that media. But after successful launch of 24 sata, there would
be somewhat less sceptics in that area.
It remains to be seen with what kind of television and what
kind of project Matija Babić is going to be involved. If I have to guess which
of three major networks is involved, I would say Nova TV. They are in the
greatest need for some major changes.
I'm afraid that times when I felt great respect for
www.index.hr as reliable and brave source of information are long gone. While I
wait for this website to return to its former glory, I often get amused by
effects general dumbing down of Croatian media had on it.
The latest example is this. If you ignore the
image and pay some attention to title, you will notice that an unknown author tried
to write Paris Hilton's name phonetically, which is against Croatian language
To make things even more amusing, the title wouldn't hold
under scrutiny even if he had been posted on the website with .yu domain. In Serbia,
"Paris Hilton" is written as "Peris Hilton".
Three hours later, index.hr removed the error ("Pariz Hilton" in original version).
"Idle priest baptises goats" is an ancient proverb
very popular in this part of the world. In our more secular times it could be
applied to certain group of individuals that live on taxpayers' money under the
pretext of representing taxpayers' interests in Sabor.
One of the more recent examples of the phenomenon is the
initiative of two "left wing" representatives - Šime Lučin (Sime
Lucin), former interiors minister in Ivica Račan's (Ivica Racan's) cabinet and
Ivo Banac, former head of Liberal Party. Two of them sponsored new bill that
would replace same sex unions with same sex marriages. Lučin, whose tenure of
Croatian top lawman is less remembered than his designated role of chief gay
rights lobbyist within Račan's government, stopped short of proposing gay couples
to adopt children, thus showing that the bill had the tacit blessing of his
boss, obviously interested to again reinvent SDP as some kind of
"leftist" and "progressive" alternative to HDZ.
Although SDP leadership and its section of media
establishment supports the initiative, it will amount to nothing except
providing sensationalist headlines to the likes of 24 sata or adding few
percentages of votes to HDZ and other social conservative parties at the
In the meantime, another Sabor representative decided to
play the role of idle priest. His name is Furio Radin and he represents Italian
ethnic minority in special seat. Until recently soft-spoken Radin was one of
the most respected members of Croatian political class.
That was until he declared Croatia to be under attack of
"hate speech" on the Internet and lambasted Croatian police and other
government services for allowing such attack to go unanswered. In an interview
for Večernji list he proposed creation of a "special body that would
monitor and control the Internet and prevent appearance of hate speech".
He also claimed that there was "a simple and reliable IT system" that
could achieve that aim.
To say that Radin's plan is pointless waste of taxpayers'
money is an understatement. If Radin's words are genuine, they show complete
lack of understanding of what Internet is all about and how the concepts of
free speech and censorship dramatically changed in past few decades. Radin's
mind is still entrenched in the dark days of 20th Century when the only public
expressions of opinion came through tightly controlled press and broadcast
media. I doubt that he feels nostalgic for those times and yearns for the
status Communist apparatchiks enjoyed in the likes of Pravda, but majority of
his colleagues in Sabor are going to adopt his initiative for that very reason.
However, Croatian public - at least its section that
comprehends the freedom of expression concept - shouldn't worry about Radin's
plan resulting in anything other than few headlines. Even if Sabor passes the
appropriate laws and creates new Internet bureaucracy, its ability to suppress
hate speech - and use this opportunity to suppress any thought remotely
critical of Račan/Sanader - is going to be very limited. Other, more
experienced, better funded and better equipped institution in the world failed
to tackle much more serious issues of viruses, spam and cybercrime. I doubt
that Croatian state, which is constantly failing to provide basic public
security in the very heart of Zagreb, will employ tens of thousands full-time
professionals necessary to properly monitor and block hate speech in Croatian
Usenet groups, Internet forums and blogs.
I feel very reluctant about introducing the word
"fisking" to Croatian vocabulary or Croatia-related discussion, but
this article by
index.hr deputy director Neven Barković (Neven Barkovic) about Radin would
serve as a perfect example of "fisking".
Slobodna Dalmacija today all but confirms that Blanka Vlašić
(Blanka Vlasic), high jumper from Split and one of Croatia's few sport
heroines, engaged in activity that made Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic),
another citizen of Split, famous. The article - which covers the paper's last
page - mentions some incriminating photos of Ms. Vlašić that have apparently
been posted on one of Iskon.hr forums and shows one of them. Another photo - of
Vlašić at stadium - is published in order to allow readers to compare the two.
Family and friends, when asked for comment, neither confirm nor deny the
authenticity of the photos.
This revelation isn't likely to create scandal as big as
L'Affaire Severina. Unlike the pop queen that used to be embodiment of Croatian
nationalist values and Catholic virtue, Blanka was known for enjoying lifestyle
not that different from Paris Hilton's - something that recently began to be used
as convenient explanation for her disappointing results at the stadiums.
The news is undoubtedly going to comfort all those
disappointed with the recent revelation that the heroine of "Renata Sopek
sex video" was actually Hungarian porn actress Dora Venter.