We were due for a makeover. Largely guided by your feedback, we sought to make our newsletter quicker, prettier, and more engaging. We hope you enjoy it, and thank you for all of you who contributed to this process. It’s funny to look back on previous versions of The Current. Whatever the newsletter equivalent is of having acne, braces, and a bowl cut, we had it…
Hope you had a nice MLK weekend, and without further ado, let’s ride! 🌊
In today's edition:
🗞️ Key Stories: Iowa Caucus results
🤯 Happy Hour: New highest-grossing Willy Wonka movie
The Iowa Caucus is the first event of the Republican primary season, and as such, candidates usually spend heavily on it to give their campaigns early momentum. This year’s caucus was on Monday
With 95%+ of the vote tallied, Trump won 51% of the vote. Ron DeSantis finished in distant second with 21.2%; Nikki Haley finished in third with 19.1%; and Vivek Ramaswamy won 7.7%. On Monday night, Ramaswamy dropped out of the race and endorsed Trump
The next Republican primary event is in New Hampshire next week
Hypersonic warheads are capable of traveling many times faster than the speed of sound and are more maneuverable than conventional warheads
Solid-fuel missiles are easier to store and quicker to launch than traditional liquid-fuel versions
On Sunday, North Korea launched a hypersonic missile atop a solid-fuel missile, marking the first time it has launched both together. Analysts believe both technologies can beat missile defense systems
A Roca Poll of the Day earlier this month revealed that 20% of you are self-confessed tech 'laggards'. Yep, you’re still trying to figure out how to program your VCRs 📼… but when it comes to internet security, being fashionably late isn't cool. That's where Incogni swoops in
Data brokers litter your personal data across the web. They use those data to build detailed pictures of who you are. They then sell it to third parties like hot cakes - home address, Social Security number, phone number, mother’s maiden name (does anyone else use this as their go-to security question?), and more
Incogni helps scrub that personal info from the web. A few of us at Roca have done it already (and the rest are laggards too), and it only takes three minutes. They offer a full 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy
Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis defended her hiring of a prosecutor who led a racketeering case against Donald Trump
Last August, Willis’s office charged Trump and 18 others over their alleged attempt to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election result
Last week, one co-defendant accused Willis of hiring Nathan Wade, a prosecutor who led the racketeering case, because she had a romantic relationship with him. The filing claimed that he was unqualified for the role and that the charges should be thrown out
On Sunday, Willis claimed that Wade – who is black – was qualified for the job and alleged racism against him. “Is it that some will never see a black man as qualified, no matter his achievements?” she said
Taiwan’s current president represents the DPP, a party that opposes China’s claims over the island
Taiwan held a presidential election on Saturday that pitted Taiwan’s vice president – Lai Ching-te, a DPP candidate and supporter of independence – against two candidates who favor stronger ties to China
DPP candidate Lai won 40.1% of the vote, versus 33.49% and 26.46% for his opponents
Lai declared his win a “victory for the community of democracies” of the world; in a statement, China reaffirmed its stance on “realizing national reunification”
According to the UN, whose court ruled it a genocide, this occurred: ”In July 1995, forces of the Army of the Republika Srpska, the VRS, invaded the town of Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a few horrific days, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men were taken to places of detention, abused, tortured and then executed. As their bodies fell into mass graves, the machinery of denial of those crimes was set into motion.”
Earlier in the war, which began in 1992, Serb (Orthodox) forces had ethnically cleansed their territory, displacing the Bosniaks (Muslims). Thousands of displaced Bosniaks relocated to Srebrenica, a village surrounded by mountains near the Serbian border.
With tens of thousands of Muslims in an isolated village surrounded by Serb forces, the UN feared a humanitarian disaster. In 1993 they designated Srebrenica a safe area and deployed peacekeeping forces to deter a Serb attack. In 1994, Canadian peacekeepers passed control of Srebrenica over to a Dutch force, Dutchbat.
By early summer 1995, it was evident that Serb forces were preparing to attack. Negotiations were ongoing between Serb commanders, UN commanders, and others. But the Serbs had also taken hundreds of UN peacekeepers hostage, tying their hands and deterring Dutch soldiers from getting involved. In early July, Serb forces began shelling Srebrenica and occupying nearby UN posts. The blockade tightened and people began to starve.
Dutch troops began to retreat, which caused the Bosniaks in Srebrenica to panic. They tried to block roads and prevent the peacekeepers from withdrawing. As shelling intensified and Serb forces approached, the Bosniaks began to flee. Thousands, some of whom were armed, fled into the woods with the hopes of escaping. Thousands more followed the Dutch troops to their base five kilometers down the road.
Over a week, the Serbs caught most of the Bosniaks who tried to escape through the woods. Some were killed in confrontations, but thousands more were arrested. Serb forces proceeded to systematically murder all military-aged males, some boys, and some of the elderly, while raping many of the women. Those who survived documented what had happened.
Those who followed the Dutch troops initially sheltered at their base. The Serb troops surrounded that, though, and demanded that the Bosniaks be turned over for relocation. Over the protests of the Bosniaks – some of whom killed themselves rather than go with the Serbs – the Dutch began turning over the refugees.
The Serbs tortured and murdered the Bosniaks within earshot of the base. Dutch soldiers testified that they watched Serb forces rape Bosniak women and murder boys and men. Still, they wouldn’t let them stay. Subsequent analyses by Dutch organizations found the Dutch soldiers to be ill-prepared and responsible for many deaths.
In total, 8,372 people are listed as disappeared or killed in the massacre.
In 2004, a UN court found Serb commanders and soldiers at Srebrenica guilty of genocide. In 2007, another international court upheld that ruling. Arrest warrants were issued for the Republika Srpska president, Radovan Karadžić, and the lead Srebrenica Serb commander, Ratko Mladić. The former was arrested in 2008 and the latter in 2011. Yet today, Karadžić’s and Mladić’s names are plastered on buildings across Serbia and Bosnia’s Republika Srpska.
Every Serb I spoke to said the same thing: Srebrenica was not a genocide. They most commonly argue that all sides committed war crimes. The Bosniaks were therefore equally guilty and the Serb troops were no worse than anyone else. That narrative allows Mladić and Karadžić to be war heroes.
When you point out that no other event during the war matched the brutality and scale of Srebrenica, some Serbs say the death toll is exaggerated. Others say it was only marginally worse than massacres by the Bosniaks. When you mention the genocide convictions, they scoff: “Politics.”
The ensuing stories will flesh out why people think that way.
The Srebrenica memorial is situated on a rural road opposite the former UN base where Dutch soldiers turned thousands of Bosniaks over to Serb forces. A graveyard has nearly 7,000 bodies retrieved mainly from mass graves. The tombstones have the victims’ names, birth and death years, and a Bosnian inscription that roughly says, “Don’t say that those who believe in Allah are dead. No, they are alive, but you don’t feel it.”
The graves run in lines across the field. A separate block lists the names of all identified victims.
In the museum, situated in the former UN base across the street, I asked an employee what Serbs think when they see this.
“They don’t,” he said. “To them it’s not bodies, it’s just stones. And this was a civil war. That’s what they say.”
The man was a 33-year-old Bosniak who had grown up here and was five years old when the massacre occurred. When the Serb troops approached, his parents fled into the woods and left him with his grandmother. All of them survived.
“The Serbs do not try to understand what we went through,” he said. I asked why.
He added that no Serbs work at the memorial. “Maybe some construction workers,” he said. “But not in the museum.”
While at the museum, a group of Middle Eastern tourists passed through, as well as a Bosniak school group. I asked one of them, a 17-year-old, what he thought.
He paused, then added: “You can see it on YouTube. There are videos. It’s a horror movie.”
Today, Srebrenica is a quiet and depressed town tucked into the mountains a few miles up the road. While looking at a restaurant’s menu there, a man came out and beckoned us inside.
Three men were sitting in the restaurant, which was one small room with four tables and a woman cooking in the back. After a while of sitting there, the men – all in their 40s or older – introduced themselves as Niyaz, Dragan, and Mladim.
Niyaz was a Bosniak (Muslim); the other two were Serbs (Orthodox). Mladim spoke some English; Dragan spoke some Russian, which I also speak. We spoke through that mix of languages.
Dragan told me he was from the Bosnian-majority Federation but had moved to Srebrenica after the war. I asked why.
“That’s just what it was,” he said, flicking his hand. What he was saying was that he had been ethnically cleansed.
I said we were here to learn how people felt about the genocide.
Mladim, the youngest of the bunch and the English speaker, rolled his eyes.
Minutes later, a couple kids came in and gave the three men hugs. They greeted the kids with “assalam-u-alaikum,” the Muslim greeting. Niyaz gave them a few bills and they ran out.
As though that interaction was proof, Dragan, one of the Serbs, turns to me and goes, “No genocide.” He added, “War. Politics.”
“Everything was good during Yugoslavia. We had peace. We had the number one passport – we could go everywhere.”
Mladim added, “Prosperity. We had prosperity.” He then invited us to get a beer with him at a nearby bar.
“This is a dead city. Everyone goes EU,” he said. “My son and daughter, Germany. Ex-wife, Germany. No work here.”
I asked what he did for work.
Minutes later, out of the blue, Mladim said, “Your president’s son created coronavirus.”
“Yes. Everything America’s fault. Ukraine – America. Israel – America.”
At this point, the bartender – a young English-speaking woman – chipped in: “People here blame everything on America because of the [NATO] bombing.”
What did her generation think about what happened here?
“Here is like a small town anywhere. Frankly, no one gives a shit about history. The problem is just that there’s no prosperity. People only care about history when elections come around.”
“I had Muslim classmates and no one told me to hate them,” she said. “Growing up here was great. There were a lot of people and I loved my friends and family. But now, it’s hard. Everyone has left.”
Mladim offered to walk us to the bus station, a mile or so up the road. On the way, we passed an office for a Serb political party that showed a picture of Vladimir Putin.
“Putin is number one,” Mladim said. “Russians are our Orthodox brothers.”
Over the walk, Mladim repeatedly and emotionally said that Srebrenica wasn’t genocide.
“One million Serbs were killed in World War 1, two million were killed in World War 2,” he said. “Genocide? No genocide! Maybe 6,000 people died.”
I asked what he thinks when he passes the tombstones.
Max F has all the bragging rights today. His Bills defeated Max T’s Steelers in a dominant fashion. As much as Max T would like to argue that the Bills were soft for postponing the game — even in a blizzard that made the stadium look like the planet Hoth in Star Wars — the 31-17 final score left little doubt.
But time to be friends again. Let’s have a great week!