Ljubljana related

22 Mar 2019, 12:46 PM

Mladina: The Left bring important issues to the table in government

STA, 22 March 2019 - Arguing that the minority coalition's agreement with the Left is an overdue measure restoring certain aspects of social welfare, the left-wing Mladina magazine points out in its Friday's editorial that Slovenian politicians being offended by the agreement seem to be out of touch with reality.

The cooperation with the opposition Left enabled the government to confirm the revised budget implementation act for 2019 on Wednesday and left several coalition partners believe that the opposition party was enjoying special treatment.

The editorial comments on the leader of the Social Democrats (SD) Matjaž Han's "unfortunate wisecracks" about the Left's alleged privileged status, saying that he was probably provoked by statements released by the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, opposing the agreement and meant to create cracks in the government's facade.

"Parties' deputy group leaders should be the wisest MPs, not the most reckless and irascible ones. But just as the Left has Miha Kordiš, the SD has Han - the only difference being that Kordiš is not the leader."

The deputy group head being so easily provoked is the party's problem, but the editorial finds it more disturbing that he actually seems to believe the opposition party could have a higher status in the Slovenian political arena than his coalition one.

Referring to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Han proclaimed his party to be the overlooked, taken-for-granted, live-at-home daughter, while the Left was the prodigal one. According to the commentary, his allegations seem immature and reflect how out of touch with actual reality many representatives are.

Instead of acting like a "spoiled daughter", Han's party and all the others who were offended by the supposed preferential treatment should rather welcome all the social benefits the agreement advocates.

It focuses on Slovenians who have in fact been overlooked in the past decades, tackling precarious forms of employment, providing affordable housing, introducing a minimum capital gains tax, and re-employing cleaners and doormen who were let go due to the delegation of those tasks to external service providers.

What is even scarier than politicians moaning about the current political hierarchy is the strong suspicion that they might find the above measures "insignificant, marginal, and on top of that expensive" since they do not address issues relevant to them.

Signing the agreement, Han and like-minded representatives should have noted the necessary changes the Left's contribution proposed and welcomed them with open arms, concludes the commentary entitled The Parable of the Prodigal Daughter.

Demokracija: Greta Thunberg's environmental protests are just good marketing

STA, 21 March 2019 - The right-wing weekly compared Greta Thunberg to the myth of Mother Theresa in its editorial on Thursday, stressing that the revival of environmental activism centred around the Swedish teenager serves as just another platform for green activists' marketing.

The paper draws a comparison between Thunberg and Mother Theresa, who was an extremely popular person among conservatives and progressives alike despite her or perhaps precisely because of her conflicting words and actions.

Being against abortion and once allegedly describing AIDS as "God's punishment", Saint Teresa of Calcutta also wore the red bow, the solidarity symbol for people living with this disease, to be "trendy" and referred to homosexuals as "Jesus' friends".

The magazine does not doubt the authenticity of her calling, but it does refer to her work as the Vatican's "greatest marketing victory of the last 100 years", filling their coffers through people's contributions.

"Greta Thunberg is the current Mother Theresa. The Swedish teenager is becoming the icon of global environmental activism," stresses the commentary, pointing out that the myth created around Thunberg serves the interests of those "who live off spreading fears" about global warming.

Without questioning the teenager's good intentions, Demokracija finds her to be a new mascot for climate change activists, who prefer money to the planet's well-being.

Commenting on the 2013 study of the Climate Policy Initiative, which addressed climate risk and estimated global investments in mitigating climate change at USD 359bn, the editorial believes those funds could be used for other purposes instead of appeasing "money-hungry saviours of the Earth".

Environmental activists though maintain that "such resources are far from sufficient" to tackle global warming issues.

On the other hand, the commentary mentions Patrick Moore, the former president of Greenpeace Canada, who has been criticising the climate change movement since leaving Greenpeace over policy differences claiming that global warming is "fake news" as well as "fake science".

Greenpeace denied such allegations, arguing that Moore was on the payroll of climate change denying lobbies, but the editorial portrays him as an example of an individual going against the machinery of green greed.

All our posts in this series can be found here

01 Mar 2019, 14:20 PM

Mladina: Proposed tax reform would mainly benefit the rich

STA, 1 March 2019 - The latest editorial of the left-leaning weekly Mladina tears apart the Finance Ministry's tax reform proposal as yet another taxation tweak to primarily benefits the rich.

Only two years have passed since the last changes that brought the biggest tax burden reduction and greatest gains for those who already have high wages.

While Prime Minister Marjan Šarec now stands to gain almost EUR 1,000 a year, his predecessor Miro Carar saw his wage rise by EUR 2,000 net at the annual level or to EUR 3,457 net a month, effective on 1 January 2017.

The argument keeps repeating - "we are doing this because of those who are the most productive", editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says, labelling this as despicable deceit by those working for the benefit of their own class.

It is true that high wages are taxed more in Slovenia, but on the other hand property is not subject to any serious taxation and the bulk of the income of the wealthiest stems from property.

Meanwhile, the taxation of the average wages of those in whose name the wealthiest would get even more after this reform is comparable to that in similar countries in Europe and is for instance lower than in Austria, Repovž says in the editorial entitled New Tax Cuts for the Rich.

At the same, the government is shying away from a real estate tax or from heavier taxation of those letting out several apartments, while it has also avoided reforming the compulsory health insurance system that continues to channel large sums of public money to private insurers.

This is an arrogant and offensive tax reform proposal that benefits the wealthy and should be withdrawn, Repovž says, adding PM Šarec dismissed the wrong minister this week.

Demokracija: Why does media ignore warnings on government spending?

STA, 28 February 2019 - In its latest commentary, the right-leaning weekly Demokracija is flabbergasted by the fact that a majority of the Slovenian media dedicated almost no attention to the warnings from the Fiscal Council that the general government expenditure planned for 2019 should be EUR 270m lower.

The warning about the need for the country to preserve a structural balance in compliance with the fiscal rule was buried quickly, ending up somewhere "on the dark side of the internet", editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says.

Is the expansive fiscal policy, which could cause a headache in the autumn, really a marginal topic, he wonders. It obviously is, as the media are busy "inflating the popularity of the prime minister," he adds in the commentary entitled It's Good to Be Marjan Šarec.

Šarec is really happy because, as the global economic situation is getting increasingly unpredictable, and forecasts more pessimistic than optimistic, the media do not bother him with questions about what to do if the economic growth happens to be lower than expected.

The fear of the 2008 crisis repeating has made the smart countries (Germany, Norway) start accumulating surpluses and creating reserves, while others are reducing general government debt (Estonia, the Czech Republic).

The only solution for the Slovenian government, if it wants to keep the public sector in the current size and meet the obligations given to the sector "either blindfolded or drunk on power", will be to increase the already high taxes.

The problem is not in taxes themselves, but what you get in return. According to an analysis by the Quality of Government Institute, Slovenia belongs to the countries which spend much, while giving back little to the citizens.

All our posts in this series can be found here

22 Feb 2019, 15:49 PM

Mladina: Šarec's popularity result of well-placed ideology

STASTA, 22 February 2019 - The weekly Mladina says in its latest editorial that the growing popularity of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, his party and the government is a success of an ideology which avoids declaring the state of emergency and portraying leaders as messiahs.

The high popularity "deserves a serious analysis: what we can see is not popularity, not someone being sympathetic, but a success of an ideology of a certain authority, which is fitting very well with the state of society."

In order to understand what is going on, one needs to use political and ideological glasses, not marketing or some other glasses used by the media. "It is about politics and ideology," editor-in-chief Grega Repovž adds in Victory of an Ideology.

He notes that Šarec has, probably not deliberately, abandoned certain concepts which had marked the work of governments for a long time, including in particular portraying the situation as catastrophic while at the same time playing messiahs.

"Up to and including the government of Miro Cerar (2014-2018), all governments were building their image on attempts to normalise allegedly horrific situations which they had inherited, to prevent the worst from happening, to save us, the country and the world, to be our saviours."

This concept is always comfortable and comes in handy, but people actually do not like to live in an abnormal state, as this causes stress and anxiety. What is more, they feel it as a threat, an actual political mobbing of the nation, Repovž writes.

He argues that the Šarec government has not significantly changed the ideological framework of operation, it is still a slightly leftist government, but predominantly neo-liberal. The essential difference is that it does not harass the citizens and create a state of emergency.

"What people feel and how they respond is the ideological framework of that government. Only when one acknowledges this enables the understanding of the political changes we are witnessing. This is why the first catastrophist in the country is losing support," Repovž says in reference to Democrat (SDS) president Janez Janša.

Demokracija: Macron & Merkel Threaten EU

STA, 21 February 2019 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija claims in the latest issue that the only real danger to Europe at the moment is the "multi-cultural axis Berlin-Paris", arguing that the only way for the EU to survive is as a formation of nation states whose sole interest is to create prosperity based on economic cooperation.

Writing under the headline Sixth Reich, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak dismisses the controversy provoked by Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, in his Foibe Victims Remembrance Day address, asserting that no one in the EU truly cares about what he said.

Instead, Biščak is more concerned about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's stating that "Nation states must today be prepared to give up their sovereignty".

He says that few expressed indignation or protest at her statement and that "no one warned that they will not push their nation into dependence from a new, so far still imaginary sixth reich ... which would give rise to new Europeans, a mix of natives, camel shepherds and Negroids."

Biščak launches an attack on the Brussels bureaucracy, European Council President Donald Tusk and French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he says the nationally minded French consider to be a German vassal.

"Macron is a man who, without asking anyone, put Germany in a position to lead the EU. And the European army. This means that he will hand over to it nuclear arms that only France and the UK among EU countries posses."

Biščak says that the obstacle to these plans is Brexit, arguing that the UK saw through it on time and decided to leave the EU. He says that it will be no disaster for Britain regardless of whether it will be a hard or soft Brexit.

"They can merely encourage to leave the countries which are resisting the senseless EU bureaucracy even now. These are Italy, Hungary and Poland, the targets of the strongest desire for control.

"Only a thorough change of priorities and a rethink about the future can save the EU. It can only be a formation of free nation states whose sole interest is to create prosperity based on economic cooperation."

All our posts in this series can be found here

15 Feb 2019, 18:00 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, February 15, 2019

Mladina: EU election campaign to be dominated by fierce rhetoric

STA, 15 February 2019 - The magazine Mladina says the coming EU elections will be a clash, yet not a clash for a united Europe but a clash within Europe, of one nation against the other, as it comments on European Parliament President Antonio Tajani's recent revisionist statements at a foibe commemoration in Italy.

Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says in Friday's editorial that superpowers America, Russia and China will also get involved because a weak EU is in their interest.

"These elections will be much more ground-breaking than we have hoped," Mladina says under the headline Tajani, Just a True European.

"We can he grateful to Antonio Tajani for his speech at Basovizza, since the majority of people has overlooked the fact that with a few exceptions, most European parties have started resorting to nationalist rhetoric over the past four years."

Nationalist populism has become s staple of political success in the West, even moderate politicians use it for fear of being accused no not being patriotic enough.

"This is of course a way to hell, but also the European political reality," says Repovž, recalling that in fear of losing the race against nationalists, some have gone as far as erecting razor wire on the border during the recent migration crisis.

Just before the elections to the European Parliament, Tajani showed very clearly that the election campaign will be pervaded by nationalist rhetoric. "Nobody will dare avoid it in order not to fall behind."

It adds that Tajani is no radical extremist, but a calculating politician with short-term goals in his mind who also has to adjust to the rhetoric of Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini which dominates Italy.

But his statements also show he apparently cares little about Europe currently being a fragile institution with an uncertain future where it can easily happen that European institutions themselves start using nationalist populism.

"Let us not be fooled by his apology," Repovž says, noting Tajani did not think his words would resound from a small village on the far east of Italy all the way to Brussels.

Demokracija: Vouchers could revitalise Slovenian culture and bring it closer to the people

STA, 14 February 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija disputes the quality of Slovenian arts in response to the Culture Day ceremony address by Vinko Möderndorfer, the chairman of the Prešeren Fund board. It argues Slovenia should introduce a voucher system as proposed by James Heilbrun and Charles M. Gray in The Economics of Art and Culture.

"In his speech, Möderndorfer degraded and insulted Slovenians and Slovenia as few before him in a long while ... The recurring theme was the same: badmouthing the state over its stepmotherly attitude to culture despite an extra 30 million euro for culture in this year's budget.

"But it is not enough. It is never enough. Even if the Culture Ministry's budget increased by 100 or 200 million euro, they would still demand an increase in public spending; most on their own behalf," editor-in-chief Jože Biščak writes.

He agrees that Slovenian culture is in the doldrums. However, he says the reason is not underfunding but rather that "a bunch of people, self-styled artists have learnt that they can get money without trying at least a bit to justify it and satisfy the needs of culture consumers".

"Their works, whatever they are, are mostly an aim in itself, no one ever even thinks of fighting for the reader, viewer or buyer. Also because the taxpayers are forced to pay for something they are not interested in even in their nightmare," Biščak writes, offering Möderndorfer's latest film as a case in point.

He says that the only cure is market economy, but he also offers vouchers as a compromise that would suit those who believe culture should be financed from public funds and those who favour market logic.

He proposes that the roughly EUR 380m or EUR 190 per capita that is allocated for culture from the national and local budgets should be distributed among Slovenia's citizens so that everyone gets a EUR 190 voucher a year to spend it on culture of their own choice. The artists who get the vouchers would then exchange them for money from the budget.

All our posts in this series can be found here

01 Feb 2019, 18:00 PM

STA, 1 February 2019 - One of Slovenia's foremost media experts has called for far-reaching reform of media legislation and state subsidies for media outlets struggling in the current business climate, arguing that Slovenian journalism needs strong support from the state.

"The media pluralisation fund, which has EUR 2m available and spends EUR 1.3m on radio stations of special importance, is not enough. It was not enough years ago and is even less so now: journalism globally faces existential problems and is struggling to survive," Faculty of Social Sciences professor Marko Milosavljević told the latest edition of Mladina.

He said a range of measures should be employed, from tax subsidies for media outlets to incentives for hiring young reporters, preserving the networks of foreign and local correspondents.

The government should increase funding for the media to at least EUR 20m per year, he said, arguing that this was still low compared to what some other countries are spending to prop up their media.

www.fdv.uni-lj.si marko-milosavljevic.jpg

Professor Marko Milosavljević. Photo: www.fdv.uni-lj.si

"And don't forget, just one of the major Slovenian owners, who also owns many media outlets, received EUR 7m in subsidies for his non-media companies last year.

"If we can spend that amount of money on certain sectors of the economy, we can easily earmark EUR 20m for the entire Slovenian media industry," Milosavljević said.

As for the legislative side of things, Milosavljević is in favour of an in-depth reform of all media-related laws, including the act on AV services and legislation governing the public broadcaster and the STA.

The view puts him at odds with the government's stated plan to implement minor tweaks of the media law, but Milosavljević says the government has enough time for true reform given that it has just started its term.

"What's required is a strategic meeting by the prime minister and key departments that affect media in any way, at which those responsible would clearly determine that they must cooperate and come up with comprehensive solutions."

Only this way can pressing issues such as the prevalence of hate speech and intolerance, poor media literacy and digitisation be addressed. "It is essential that they start looking for and proposing solutions, technologies and markets are changing radically," he said.

25 Jan 2019, 14:20 PM

Mladina: Šarec facing first test as Janša wakes up

STA, 25 January 2019 - The left-leaning weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the European Parliament election will be the first serious test for Prime Minister Marjan Šarec as the Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša has come out from his hiding and started throwing "bombs", which include his attempt to portray Šarec and his government as an elite.

But in the commentary That Crazy Dance, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž notes that contrary to popular belief, Janša is not a great tactician at all.

"No. Janez Janša has no clue about political tactics - otherwise he would not be the most alienated politician, with whom no-one wants to cooperate. Everybody avoids him."

A detailed look at Janša's latest post on Facebook reveals that he has launched a pre-election attack on his main political opponent Šarec, who is leading all popularity lists, the commentary says, noting that the election campaign has already started.

The strategy is to present Šarec and the government as an elite. "Janša knows that he does not need to go after Šarec individually, he only needs to present the entire government as an elite."

When it comes to the impeachment motion filed against Šarec over the failure to implement the Constitutional Court decision on financing of private primary schools, Mladina says that the matter should be given a closer look.

"What private education we are talking about? Church education. What is therefore Janša's goal? It is to take away from Šarec the aura of a man who can sing Partisan songs and read at a liturgy."

This is a great advantage for Šarec, as he is reconciliation personified, which people like. Janša, on the other hand, wants to show that Šarec is not that, that he is actually a member of the elite, a first-class new man of the old forces.

"This is stupid, of course, but it has never been about truth and facts when it comes to Janša."

Related: All our posts about Janez Janša are here, while those about Marjan Šarec are here

Demokracija: Šarec believes he has supernatural powers

STA, 24 January 2019 - The right-leaning weekly Demokracija says in its latest commentary that judging by his behaviour and statements, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has started to believe that he is Janez Drnovšek reincarnated, but he is actually a socialist who is pretending to be a saviour with imagined supernatural powers.

Portraying him as a Janez Drnovšek or even more favourably are mostly the media inclined to the left, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says under the headline Back to the Future.

"In a nutshell - Šarec is a superman, who will solve all problems of Slovenians with the help from the extremist Left. Just look what wonders the latest raise of the minimum wage does," he says in reference to the steep rise in Šarec's popularity.

"Because of the project which is being praised to the skies and which has raised the minimum wage by an unbelievable 29 euros, people to whom it is intended will pay a higher income tax and will get lower child benefits. You really have to have supernatural powers to achieve that."

But Biščak notes that when socialists wanted to determine prices and what people need and what not, shortages usually followed, which was "miraculously never felt by the elite of the saviours", but by common people.

"Every measure taken by any socialist government turned out to be detrimental. Socialism has never worked and has left only devastation and tens of millions of victims behind. You don't need supernatural powers for that, you need to be wicked and evil."

In socialism, the only way to convince people is to limit their freedom and make them poor, and this is what the Šarec government is doing. The socialist logic is that people always need socialist saviours with imagined supernatural powers, concludes the commentary.

All our posts in this series can be found here

https://www.total-slovenia-news.com/tag/mladina

18 Jan 2019, 15:53 PM

Mladina: Post-election alliances must be clear before EU vote

STA, 18 January 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its editorial on Friday that political groups in the European Parliament should make it clear before the May elections whether they will form an alliance with the European People's Party (EPP), considering that the group includes Hungarian right-wing radical Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Ahead of the elections, it is often heard that Europe is in serious danger of far-right populist parties getting so much power that they would influence the formation of the European Commission, Mladina editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says.

He is critical that these warnings are voiced by the very same people who already tolerate the likes of Orban and Slovenian Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša in their ranks. They are calling for a coalition against populist parties, many of which are already members of the EPP.

Is it even possible to take seriously conservative parties that criticise “orbanisation: and fascism on a declarative level but tolerate the problematic parties, Repovž wonders.

Related: Slovenian “word of the year” announced

"The argument used by conservative politicians dedicated to democratic and Christian values is simple: it allows them to somewhat control these parties... This is a terrifying and unconvincing argument that leads to the legitimisation of radical positions."

But the problem has wider implications. "Let us assume that populist right-wing parties outside the EPP reach more than 30% in the European Parliament in May. For the first time in history, all big political groups in the parliament will have to join forces and form a grand coalition."

But so far none of the large groups has demanded of the EPP to clean out its ranks. "Of course, this is hard. But this does not make it any less necessary," the paper says under the headline With Orban against other Orbans?

Demokracija: New think-tank not to be trusted

STA, 17 January 2019 – The right-wing weekly Demokracija expresses doubt in Thursday's commentary about the Cathedral of Freedom, a think-tank whose stated goal is to promote the establishment of a liberal party. The paper says the true intentions as well as its potential are questionable.

One of the initiators criticised the "rhetoric of patriotism and independence euphoria" on the right. This targeted primarily the Democrats (SDS), the implication being that it should be food for thought for the party's leader, the paper, co-owned by the SDS, says in Cathedral of Freedom and Seven Myths.

"I'm probably not the only one to interpret this as (yet another) appeal to Janez Janša to gradually withdraw so a generational change may take place," the paper's editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says.

"Something similar happened before last year's general election, when the noble right presented itself as an alternative to the allegedly radical and contaminated parties and individuals on the right... We know what happened at the election."

The commentator says that the proponents appear to realise that in order to change things they will have to form a liberal political party, but this looks like wishful thinking considering the fate of such initiatives in the past and the initiators' stated intention not to do the legwork required to actually establish a proper party.

The paper also expects the initiators to take a clear stance on several key issues, including how they understand freedom of speech, the coalition's attacks on opposition media, media legislation and multiculturalism.

"But more than anything, they will have to state what freedom means to them. Is it the absence of incarceration or of any kind of coercion? Is it the right to act, speak and think any way you want, without others, including those in power, imposing restrictions? The public will demand clear answers. Absent such answers this will be yet another dud."

All our posts in this series can be found here

11 Jan 2019, 16:20 PM

Mladina: Low Salaries in Slovenia are Because of Company Policies, Not Taxes

STA, 11 January 2019 - The weekly Mladina says that wealthy entrepreneurs are preparing the battle field ahead of a tax reform planned by the government. They are narrating a story of an engineer who is paid poorly due to high taxes and decides to leave the country to work abroad where taxes are lower. This, as it turns out, is nothing but a myth, Mladina says.

Under the headline “Abused Engineers”, the latest editorial of the left-leaning magazine says that engineers do make less in Slovenia than they would, for example, in Austria.

But this is not because of higher taxes but because company owners, Mladina specifically points to the owner of a successful exhaust maker Igor Akrapovič, do not give them higher pay.

Moreover, engineers are actually paid far less than what the entrepreneurs claim, the paper says, suggesting the bosses are actually talking about themselves.

In fact, income taxes for what engineers actually make in Slovenia are lower than in Austria. Only if they were paid as much as company owners claim they are, would the income tax be higher, a Mladina journalist has found.

He also busted the myth that engineers are leaving the country, providing numbers that only 70 engineers left Slovenia between 2012 and 2017. Most of them went to Croatia, which suggests that they were Croatian citizens studying in Slovenia who returned home after graduation.

"Will we allow yet another coup of demagogy? Will they abuse our empathy again?" the weekly wonders.

Reporter: President Pahor is an inclusive statesman

Note: this editorial is actually from last week

STA, 31 December - The right-leaning weekly Reporter commends President Borut Pahor in its latest commentary for his effort to be a voice of reason and a statesman who wants to build bridges rather than ostracise.

As he addressed an open day at the Presidential Palace to mark Independence and Unity Day, the president said he wanted more mutual respect in the coming year, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla notes in More Respect in 2019!

He adds that Pahor had asked at the national holiday more than 500 visitors to carry on his call for mutual respect, understanding and respect of differences.

The president's words are welcome and they again confirm that Pahor is or at least tries to be the president of all Slovenians more than any of other presidents before him.

"He is making an effort to be a voice of reason, a statesman who does not exclude, but connects."

According to Šurla, in the increasingly politically polarised world, full of ostracising and hatred, such a stance by the president is not always welcomed, unfortunately.

Pahor is being attacked more from the left than from the right, which is very telling. What the leftist ideological extremists have been bothered by most during Pahor's reign is his normal relationship with the political right, concludes the commentary.

All our posts in this series can be found here

04 Jan 2019, 17:56 PM

Mladina: Protests in France are a sign of widespread economic insecurity

STA, 4 January 2019 - Commenting on the anti-government protests in France, the left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest editorial that French society has finally realised what its main problems are.

Looking at the poverty statistics for Slovenia and Europe, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says that a high poverty rate is the reason for the French protests.

In Slovenia, 268,000 people lived below the poverty line in 2017 but as many as 345,000 were at risk of social exclusion, meaning one in six citizens. And Slovenia is among the countries faring rather well in Europe, he notes.

Until late autumn or early winter 2018, European and Slovenian politicians had been ignoring these people. They never perceived them as a political force.

"But there is hope that the protests in France will bring change. Because what we have seen on the streets in France have been protests that started among the poor and their message and frustration was quickly heard and understood by everyone but the French elite - at least for a while."

Most French citizens were able to identify with their feeling of despair that they will not be able to catch up and improve their lives. "Why? Because this is also how the middle class, which has been regressing for decades, feels."

The last crisis has left everyone feeling that no job is safe anymore and that the future is not bright, Repovž says. Save for a few exceptions, this is a source of constant and immense stress for Europeans.

Almost all European societies have become pressure cooker societies. France is important in this respect because it is almost always the first one to explode.

According to Repovž, the social stratification between those with no future and those choosing among the latest models of electric vehicles coming with state subsidies is a source of discontent, which extremist policies feed on.

But the French protesters have shown that most of the society has seen through smokescreens and realised what its actual problems are. People realised that they are not in a difficult situation because of immigration or a neighbour who receives social transfers but because of those who are in power.

"What a twist. And what a warning," Repovž says under the headline 345 Thousand People.

Demokracija: New York Times is wrong to attack Trump on Syria withdrawal

STA, 3 January 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija takes issue with The New York Times' comments on the US's involvement in the Syria war. In January 2018, the "lighthouse of global journalism" attacked President Donald Trump for keeping US soldiers there and only a year later it criticised him just as strongly for announcing a withdrawal from Syria.

"The situation was tragicomic. [Defence Secretary] Jim Mattis, who was the most hated person in the White House after Trump, became a hero of the left overnight. He was described as the 'last adult' in Donald Trump's administration," says editor-in-chief Jože Biščak.

Any reasonable man must have trouble understanding such a U-turn in the editorial policy of the paper boasting as many as 125 Pulitzer prizes, Biščak says.

"Trump is undoubtedly a unique president, even controversial at times. It is still too early to say how he will be judged by history. The mainstream media have already passed judgement and labelled him the worst president in history.

"But Trump has an effect on these journalists like no president before him. They are changing views and opinions, giving up their editorial policies exclusively based on what Trump says or does. No, he simply cannot do anything good."

The media have completely ignored the fact that Trump is a businessman and as such he knows that wars do not bring prosperity, new factories do.

The media attacked Trump in October for withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia but the criticism quickly died down after some Pulitzer laureates actually read the deal and found out it only concerned land missiles and not the sea-based, air-dropped and space nuclear weapons, Biščak says.

And that the US is far ahead of Russia in nuclear systems for launching missiles from the sea and land.

Similarly, the withdrawal from Syria means that 2,000 soldiers of US land forces will return home but the US will still have troops in the 6th fleet in the Mediterranean and in the 5th fleet in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.

Secondly, the move is in line with Trump's plan to end the oil conflicts in the Middle East. The US no longer needs Arab oil. Thanks to innovation by US energy engineers, focussing for example on shale oil, the US has become a leading superpower in oil and natural gas production.

"This has not only caused a drastic fall in oil prices in the US, it had also led to a new political strategy in the Middle East, as Trump is taking Islam's strong weapon (oil), which it had been using against the Western civilisation for more than a hundred years."

These are the things that the global mainstream media (including in Slovenia) refuse to see and accept. And it is what destroyed its reputation permanently, Biščak says under the headline The Time It Takes for Earth to Circle Around Sun.

"The media turned out to be much more ferocious than Trump, who actually cares most for peace and his citizens."

All our articles in this series can be found here

28 Dec 2018, 13:00 PM

Mladina: Fake news at Spiegel shows how important it is to stick with reality

STA, 28 December 2018 - The latest editorial of the weekly paper Mladina looks at Spiegel's Claas Relotius scandal as a symptom of a spectacle-seeking media landscape that has been compounded by new media forms. These are cashing in on the credibility built by traditional media in the past while only mimicking real journalistic tenets.

Serious print media, which actually are the only ones with enough room to carefully dissect social events and processes, find it hard to compete and attract readers these days.

While facing competition from thousands of new platforms, traditional media are also suffering under commercialisation, under the need to only have content that is extraordinary, giant, surprising.

The Relotius case is of course a warning to the media, whose existence is a basic condition for democracy but also has the potential to cause enormous harm.

It is a warning to everyone, to journalists, as well as to the public. It shows that reality is not always interesting, shiny, explosive, extraordinary. It is often banal, a little grey, frequently even uninteresting, full of data, some of which paradoxical, sometimes without a guilty party and simply a result of unexpected circumstances.

However, it is worth hanging on to such a reality, even if it is not be as juicy or attractive as videos of accidents on YouTube or emotional posts on Facebook.

Reporter: A welcome inquiry into the Bank Asset Management Company

STA, 24 December 2018 - Reporter welcomes in its latest commentary the establishment of the opposition-initiated parliamentary inquiry into the Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC), which according to the right-leaning weekly is "one of the biggest hotbeds of white-collar crime in recent years".

In the commentary headlined “Self-service Bad Bank”, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla says that "we are living in a country which has all the elements of a parallel state, where informal levers of influence are stronger than formal ones in many fields."

According to him, networks from behind the scenes actually rule the country. Unlike the government, which is supposed to work in principle in the public interest, these networks take care primarily of the interests of its members, so that as much public money as possible ends up in their private pockets.

Welcoming the parliamentary inquiry into the bad bank, the commentary notes that many bad things happened and are still happening behind the walls of the BAMC. There were probably some criminal acts committed, but they have so far not been discovered by the Court of Audit or criminal investigators.

Soon after being established in 2013, the bad bank turned into a self-service restaurant for networks, where a lot of tycoons, who first dug a hole in state-owned banks, made profits.

The new inquiry, which will probably be headed by New Slovenia (NSi) MP Jernej Vrtovec, should be welcomed, as the deputies intend to investigate both the transfers of assets to the bad bank and the possible involvement of public office holders in these transactions.

"Of course they were involved, because it is well known who made the staffing decisions at the BAMC in the recent years, who let the Scandinavians be chased away from there and merged the in-house banks of Kučan's Forum 21 - Faktor Banka and Probanka with the BAMC and then even employed their people in it."

All this happened in the term of the government headed by Miro Cerar, or actually headed instead of him by people from behind the scenes while he was consciously looking away, concludes the commentary.

Other posts in this series can be found here (note that sometimes we use another right-wing weekly, Demokracija)

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