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Border plan sparks fear in Kosovo’s Serb enclaves

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A possible land swap between Serbia and Kosovo, suggested by their leaders to end one of Europe’s most volatile territorial disputes, has sparked concerns that the border could be redrawn along ethnic lines and reignite festering communal ethnic animosities.

With few details yet made public, media reports say that the Serb majority northern border region around the city of Mitrovica would be incorporated into Serbia under the plan, which would also see Belgrade hand over a mainly ethnic Albanian region in Serbia.

The trade-off would also see Belgrade finally recognise its former province as an independent state, 20 years after a bitter war between Serbia’s forces and pro-independence ethnic Albanian guerrillas that led to Kosovo breaking away from Serbia in 2008.

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, who along with Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic last year raised the possibility of redrawing the border, has insisted a revised version would not be drawn along ethnic lines.

– ‘Clear ethnic division’ –

But the plan has sent ripples of alarm through minorities in these regions, notably among ethnic Serbs living in enclaves dispersed in Kosovo who would be unaffected by such a deal.

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A territory swap would mean “clear ethnic division so that within decades there will be no Serbs left in Kosovo,” said Stefan Filipovic, a 24-year-old Kosovan Serb activist in Gracanica, one of those enclaves and a short drive south of the capital, Pristina.

There are an estimated 120,000 Serbs living in Kosovo in total. Of those some 40,000 are thought to live around Mitrovica — and are likely set to be part of the land swap — while a further 80,000 live deeper in Kosovo and would remain under Pristina.

Gracanica, home to one of Kosovo’s main Orthodox monasteries, is one of six mainly Serbian municipalities that are like islands surrounded by Kosovo Albanian neighbourhoods.

For Rada Trajkovic, an ethnic Serb politician in his 60s living in Gracanica, the border change would amount to creating “two mono-ethnic spaces” and lead to Serbs leaving Kosovan enclaves.

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Trajkovic is one of few Kosovar Serbs willing publicly to criticise Srpska Lista, or Serbian List, the minority’s main political outlet. Most of Trajkovic’s fellow Serb colleagues back the Belgrade line of President Vucic.

– ‘Abandoned by Belgrade’ –

Long a taboo subject, a territorial exchange has the backing of the United States as well as several EU officials.

Germany, however, is opposed, warning of the potential for a renewed flare-up of the hardline nationalism which has marked the still fragile Balkans in the past.

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A NATO-led peacekeeping force has guarded Kosovo since it broke away from Serbia in a bloody war in 1998-99 that left more than 13,000 dead.

Border revision “is a very dangerous, particularly dramatic idea,” says Filipovic, who feels “abandoned by Belgrade”.

Recent years have passed in the vicinity in tranquil enough fashion, save for occasional demonstrations by Kosovar Albanians demanding the monks give up some of their land.

But in 2008, the year Kosovo declared independence, an Albanian fired a missile at the churchyard wall.

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“I am personally in possession of very credible information… according to which they are already working on the details of an exchange of land along ethnic lines,” says Father Sava, who during the conflict protected Kosovar Albanians from Serbian forces.

In his view, border alterations “would amount to abandoning 80,000 Serbs, leaving them with a very low and dubious level of security and protection.”

One of the very few to oppose President Vucic in public, Father Sava was last year the target of a Belgrade tabloid press campaign that described him as a “great Albanian patriot” — or, essentially, a traitor.

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He’ll ‘rot in prison’: At least one House Dem has bigger plans for Trump than impeachment

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An increasing number of Democrats have come out in favor of beginning an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's actions in recent days. But Rep. Fre?derica Wilson of Florida bucked that trend on Monday by coming out specifically against impeachment, warning it would have negative consequences.

However, she made clear she wasn't opposed to impeachment because she's a fan of Trump or thinks his conduct isn't condemnable. In a tweet featuring an antagonizing and absurd meme, Wilson explained that she feared Trump would benefit from an impeachment push:

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Jared Diamond believes America is ruining itself in 4 different ways

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Jared Diamond is not afraid of big ideas. He has tackled such subjects as evolutionary psychology, the reasons why the West rose to global dominance, the lessons to be learned from "traditional societies" and the relationship between environmental change and the decline of ancient civilizations. and why ancient societies fell into decline.

Diamond has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship as well as the National Medal of Science. His bestselling book "Guns, Germs and Steel" won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Trump supporters are furious that knitting website Ravelry took a stand on white supremacy

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When you think of the knitting community, you might envision an elderly woman, sitting on a rocking chair in front of a fire with a pair of large knitting needles. In truth, the knitting and crocheting demographic has changed drastically in the twenty-first century, becoming younger, hipper, and increasingly tied to DIY culture.

Ravelry is a website where both millennials and knitting grannies (among other demographics) meet to talk about knitting, crocheting, weaving, and other craft and fabric arts. But if you plan to crochet a MAGA hat or knit a Trump sweater, think twice about posting it on Ravelry. The forum-style website, which is often described as "Facebook for knitters," recently issued a statement that they would ban open support of Donald Trump on their site. The widely-publicized move suggests that even communities that aren’t seen as specifically political — like knitters — are becoming politicized, sometimes in toxic ways, in an epoch of extreme political polarization in the United States.

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 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH 

Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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