Martin Neskovski’s death: a silence stronger than words

Almost four days after the death of Martin Neskovski (the kid’s real name) the Macedonian media and police continue to pretend that nothing has happened. Every day the square is filled with young protesters, who gather under the slogan “Stop police brutality”, but you wouldn’t know if it was up to the local newspapers and TV stations. This deliberate attempt to make this issue go away by simply not talking about it is the biggest admission of guilt the police and the government could ever give. No words could ever be as strong as their silence.

Stop police brutality

"Stop police brutality", the slogan and logo adopted by the protesters

Igor Spasov, the alleged killer, has been arrested and will stay in prison for 30 days, but every one else with connections to this case is happily denying any responsibility. Gordana Jankuloska, the Minister of Interior, refuses to resign on the grounds that she sees no political motivation behind the killing; even if that were true (which I’m pretty sure is not) the simple fact that a cop brutally killed a young man should be reason for her to step down. Only a shameless person could think otherwise.

Martin Neskovski

A picture of Martin Neskovski, held by a protester in Square Macedonia (Photo: A1)

The police, on the other hand, is doing everything they can to keep the investigation as far away from public eye as possible. The coroner’s report, for example, was sent to them on Monday at lunch time, but they have only commented on its contents yesterday. In fact, later that day they actually denied having any such information in their possession. Everything is prepared to try to make the case go away and be forgotten. It is, then, up to the citizens of this country to stand up for Martin and respect his memory by demanding justice. I’m afraid he won’t get it any other way.


Daniel’s death and Macedonia’s dangerous path

Last Sunday Macedonia held early parliamentary elections, which saw the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE confirm their majority, though by a smaller margin that the previous elections three years past. The voting went on without much fuss, unlike the previous elections in 2008, and despite some minor irregularities all international organizations deemed the vote as fair and correct. However, the day was not to end without tragedy, as during the celebrations of DPMNE’s supporters in Skopje’s central square, a 23-year-old kid, so far identified only as Daniel, was beaten to death.

So far, much is unclear about how the incident started and who perpetrated the crime. Many rumors are circulating, mostly because most of the mainstream media, controlled by businessmen connected to the government, chose to largely ignore it, and the police has not been very open to discuss it as well; this has given space to speculation. The strongest rumors indicate that it was a member of the Alpha team, the Macedonian police special forces, who has beaten young Daniel to death. The reasons for this brutal attack are also unclear, as many point out the youngster tried to attack the party’s supporters, some one from the prime minister’s entourage or even the prime minister himself.

Protest againt police brutality in Skopje's central square

Protest against police brutality last night in Skopje's central square (Photo: Netpress)

No matter what the cause may have been, there is obviously no reason for such brutality. The fact that it happened on election’s night, along with the fact that most media close to the government has chosen to ignore it (as well as the first statement from the police, claiming there were no external signs of violence on his body), leads me to believe that the attack on Daniel was politically motivated; regardless of what he might have done, this represents the abuse of force typical of an arrogant leadership boarding on dictatorship. It’s a cause for concern, one more in a country where intimidation techniques have been used more often than not to quiet dissent and silence the opposition.

From all the smoke screens caused by the media and police silence and their attempt to dismiss this as a minor incident, there is one thing that remains clear: Macedonia is going down a dangerous path. Maybe it’s a little too early to make a clear judgement on what happened on Sunday night, but it seems to be part of a pattern that has been a trademark of Nikola Gruevski’s governments. There is no space for the voices of those who have a different opinion from the current rulers. None of us can say what were Daniel’s political views, but whatever those were, they seem to have been the reason behind this attack and his death. I can only think of one type of country in which this is a common practice: third world dictatorships.

The sanctity of marriage

Angry Birds in real life

Hi, my name is André, and I’m angrybirdaholic. And, apparently, not the only one. Deutsche Telekom built this amazing IRL level of Angry Birds for a new commercial. It was shot in the catalan city of Terrassa and I love every little bit of it, from the exploding pigs to the ska version of the theme song (that is now playing on a loop in my head). Can I play with one of these, please? =)

Tim Minchin is a very funny guy…

…and quite a romantic, if you ask me. =)

Why I stopped giving Facebook personal information

I don’t like Facebook. Not the website itself; even though it’s filled with uninteresting and perfectly dispensable crap, it’s a good way to stay in touch with friends and know what they’re up to. What I dislike about Facebook is the company, the people behind the wall posts, the status updates and all the little “like” buttons spread all over the internet.

There are more than a few reasons for this, and every now and then the company makes the headlines for the wrong reasons, showing the evil side of the social network that keeps me from using it as much as I might like in different circumstances. This most recent episode in the war against Google is just another example. The two companies are fighting for the data produced by Facebook’s users, but if Zuckerberg and his pals try to convince that it’s to protect you, don’t listen; they’re only trying to protect their ability to offer more targeted ads to you via the information you give them about yourself, an advantage they have over Google if your profile is private.

Is the Zuck Dr. Evil IRL? (image by Geekcomforts.com)

I abhor hypocrisy, and Facebook are masters at it. They want the internet to regard them as a special company, that deserves a special set of rules. They want all their users to go public, to make their personal profiles available to the world, but they don’t want anybody else to use that information. They want to be able to import contact information from other media, be it Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo!, but they don’t allow any other website to do the same with their contacts information. And, worst than anything else, they never ever ever delete the information you upload on the site, even if you “delete” your account.

This is why I stopped uploading anything personal to Facebook. If there is a Youtube video, or an interesting website, or some photos I took, or whatever I want to share with my friends, I will put it here and use Facebook only to publish the link to the blog. The real content will stay here, on my blog, where I have absolute control over what happens to it. If I choose to delete it, so be it, I will be done with it. That is a power we do not have in Facebook. Their vision is one of ownership: once you share it with us, it’s ours to keep. And all the information they have on you and me and everyone else is worth billions to the company. Unknowingly, we’re feeding the machine with every like button we click. More than wanting to be the Internet, they want to be our lives. And until we all realize this and stop falling into the trap of “sharing” and “liking” every little thing on the web through Facebook, they will continue to be successful, by selling our personal information.

But my bet is this won’t last forever. Every company that tried to be bigger than the Internet itself fell, eventually, and the same will happen to Facebook. It seems impossible today, sure, but there will come a day in which our lives will go on without it. I’m guessing that will be a happy day.

Pomplamoose cover Angry Birds theme

The wonderful Pomplamoose, an indie duo and Youtube darlings from San Francisco, have covered the Angry Birds theme in adorable fashion. If you liked this song, check out their Youtube channel.