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July 2008

Euro Camping Trip 2008

Obama-Mania hits Germany, originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

Greetings from London. The Two Crabs are back from camping across Germany, with stops in Nuremberg, Munich, The Bodanese (Lake Konstanz) and the Black Forest. More photos and full trip report TK.

We happened to be in Germany during Sen. Barack Obama's visit to Berlin. Germany, and most of Europe, has gone absolutely ga-ga for Obama. Hundreds of German fans turned out to welcome Obama in Berlin; never mind that they can't vote for him. Obama has indeed become an international celebrity even bigger than -- dare I say -- Britney Spears and Paris Hilton!?!

Shameless plug: We're upgrading to new camping equipment. Anyone interested in buying a tent, sleeping bags or a rucksack? All REI and all in great condition. Drop me a line for details!

I was a soldier in Bosnia once ... and young

Girl   From Mr. Crab:  Many years and gray hairs ago, my U.S. Army reserve unit was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina for a six month NATO peacekeeping mission dubbed Operation Joint Endeavor. More than 60,000 soldiers from some 35 countries came together to form IFOR, or Implementation Force. The mission: to enforce the Dayton Peace Accord, which ended Bosnia's bloody civil war. 

    The deployment to Bosnia marked my first trip to Europe, and first significant time away from home. It was also the first time I experienced some of humanity's worst atrocities.

My MOS, or military occupational specialty, was "print journalist" for the 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (29th MPAD, Baltimore). In common parlance, we were war correspondents. My usual duties involved writing "good news" stories for military publications. But occasionally I was assigned to more dicey missions like photographing illegal Serbian weaponry in the Zone of Separation (ZOS), a demilitarized zone that separated the Bosnian Muslim and Serbian forces.  

    One day I was tasked to cover the anniversary of the Srebenica massacre. For the uninitiated, Srebenica was the site of the worst European massacre since World War II.  In July 1995, the Serbian Army executed some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men.  A year later, the world media descended on Srebenica.  A huge mass grave war had been recently discovered but not yet excavated; human remains and bits of clothing were visibly scattered on the ground. Thousands of Bosnian women came to mourn, many holding photographs of their missing husbands, sons, brothers, fathers.

    Bimage1 The International War Crimes Tribunal quickly indicted  Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic for genocide, including the Srebenica massacre. But both men fled and disappeared, some believe, with the help of Serbian nationalists who did little to bring the men to justice.

     Yesterday, after 13 years in hiding, Radovan Karadzic was arrested and arraigned in Belgrade. He will now be extradited to the Hague, where he'll stand trial for crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, the story does not end there.  Ratko Mladic is still a fugitive. And don't get me started on the Dutch forces who allowed Srebenica to fall, but that's a whole other can of worms.  

    Bimage4 Worst of all, it appears the majority of Serbian people have never fully come to terms with the war or accepted their role in this dark period of their history. A few months ago I was having dinner at a local pub and got to talking with the chef, a Serbian expat. We somehow got into a heated discussion about the Bosnian War. The gist of his beliefs were: the Srebenica massacre never happened, the "liberal media" and President Clinton invented lies about genocide to make Serbs look bad, the international community exaggerated Serbian atrocities and downplayed Muslim atrocities to create a reason for bombing and invading Bosnia, etc.  You get the point.

     After World War II, Germany accepted responsibility for its crimes. German concentration camps became memorials and living museums. All things Nazi remain banned in Germany. Even denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany.   But in Serbia, sadly, it appears the Bosnian war has been swept under the rug.  I leave you with Spanish philosopher George Santayana's famous (often misquoted) adage: "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,"

Notes from a small island

On Strike

--Mrs. Crab has been home for the past few days because she's on strike!  Actually, the teaching assistants and other government workers in the UK are on strike including garbage collectors.  We saw a few strikers marching up our road yesterday.   Europeans go on strike about as often as we Yanks change our underwear. The French and Germans are particularly adept at strikes, usually to complain about threats to their precious 35-hour work-week or six weeks of mandatory paid vacation.  But the Brits aren't far behind. The strangest things about European strikes is that they are announced well in advance, and only for a set amount of time, whereas in the US unions will go on strike until their demands are met or at least a compromise.  What's the point of saying you're going on strike, say, on Aug. 4 for 48 hours only?  Go figure.

Guys & Dolls
Mrs. Crab's school (The "Fame" of East London) put on a performance of Guys & Dolls this week. Mr. Crab shot the official photos for the production. And I must say I was quite surprised. It was a great show. The girl who played Miss Adelaide was absolutely brilliant. And her American New York accent was spot-on!  I'm always impressed by her school productions. It was WAY better than the last "professional" play we saw in London...Ibsen's Rosmersholm: Two-and-a-half-hours of dreadfully-boring dialogue and so-so acting.  Talk about a snooze-fest!

London news story of the day
LONDON (Reuters) - A Briton has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out a series of sex attacks on sheep, London police said on Friday. The 27-year-old man was held at his home in Dulwich, south London, on suspicion of bestiality with sheep. He was also wanted in connection of the possession of drugs with intent to supply. Detectives said the arrest followed allegations made to them in May and June. "Two male joggers said they had observed a man molesting the sheep in a field at Botany Bay Lane, Chislehurst," police said in a statement. "A similar incident was reported to police by a stables employee in the area." Media reports said the man had been barred from visiting farmland while officers carried out their investigation.

Bluecrab  Goodbye, Blue Crabs
AP had a depressing story about this disappearing fate of the Maryland Blue Crab from the Chesapeake Bay, and with it, a way of life. Even more shocking is the news that crabs are now selling for $200 a bushel!  Dag butchie!

Only in America

Only in America, originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

I was gobsmacked when I saw this license plate on a minivan parked at a Target store in Baltimore. This plate is SO wrong on SO many levels.