Friday Musings


Been a while since MB wrote about anything other than cheery weekend thoughts and photo challenges. Day-1 of the Middle East weekend is now upon MB and he is sipping coffee in a Doha coffee shop, having just wolfed back a warm chocolate tart. All, generally speaking, is good with the world. A short trip to the UK is imminent (of which more anon), and two weeks back home for Christmas break is eagerly awaited.

MB has been following the US Democratic Party primaries in recent weeks, watching lots of it on YouTube, and actually mentioned one of the candidates in a HX blog post of mid-September, related to Artificial Intelligence. As MB followers of old would expect, same candidate went from zero to hero in the following weeks and managed to raise USD 10M in a month. In the last week alone he has raised over USD 1M. So it seems that when MB gives a should-out, miracles are possible!

MB just watched a YouTube video of the same candidate, which is approx 1 hour long, but extremely engrossing. If there is a smarter guy running for the White House who understands the issues of the day, and how they might be solved, MB is unaware. MB will go a step further, and state – there is not (unless MB enters the race!). This guy is the real deal, and MB (again) wishes him well.

Back in the Middle East, there is much bubble, bubble, toil & trouble. MB has many Lebanese friends who are stressed out to a man and a woman at present. Past political mistakes have allowed rampant corruption and now chickens are coming home to roost. The people, regardless of their religious affiliations, which in the past might have kept them in check, are protesting at their poverty, lack of opportunity, and more recently at the failure of banks to allow full access to people’s own funds and to introduce ‘rationing’ of cash. The corrupt politicians are making matters worse every time they open their corrupt mouths and are pouring fuel on the fire. Recent days have seen matters regress further and most are fearful for their futures.

A similar story is unfolding in Iraq with the population protesting violently for the same reasons. However, the Iraqi army are far more trigger-happy than the Lebanese, and hundreds of protesters are dead.

Related to the above stories, and never written of previously by MB he thinks, is a very prevalent theory amongst Arab nationals. When things are going badly, one will hear many of one’s Arab friends blame “outside forces” who “control” their region (USA, Israel, the West generally). This ‘theory’ is obviously the easy option, so it’s grabbed with both hands by the locals. When you ‘know’ that ‘outside forces’ are in ‘control’ then you never have to look in the mirror and ask yourself any serious questions. In no other location that MB has ever traveled to has he heard locals so vocally blame others for their own troubles and mistakes. The coincidence of people’s protests in Iraq and Lebanon at corruption and poor governance in recent weeks was evidenced by an Arab friend to MB last week as yet further proof of “outside forces” pulling the strings and “controlling” the region. Strooth!

So dear followers have a good weekend.

Regards from MB.

Romania – 1/7 – Protests


Greetings to all from MB who has just returned from a short break to Romania. It was Eid Al Adha public holiday last week in the Muslim World/Middle East so MB took the chance to go on a father/daughter adventure with daughter MB2. For the next 7 days MB has decided that he will give followers a glimpse of his adventures – one pic per day.

Thanks MB. Don’t mention lads.

First pic was taken at night in the city centre square where there were huge protests about one week before MB’s visit. Locals were protesting about the corruption that exists in the country, the fact that many must go abroad to find decent paying jobs and low wages. Many Romanians living abroad returned home to take part. The Government accuses the tens of thousands of protestors of attempting a coup. And in any event, the Government instructed the police to take a heavy hand which involved battens, pepper spray and tear gas.

One elderly protester called Ilie Gazea allegedly died from medical complications following tear gas inhalation. The Government state that his death had nothing to do with any tear gas or protest-related medical issues. The protestors, to a man and woman, blame the Government/Police for the man’s death. The only thing that both sides agree on is that the unfortunate man was a protestor and he is now dead at age 65.

MB asked the guide on his first-night tour around Bucharest to stop so MB could get a chance to take a few night shots in the square and talk to the very small number of protestors that maintain a nightly vigil to keep the protest movement alive. It was an interesting conversation.

The following shot is of a small candle-lit shrine to the memory of Mr Ilie with his picture in the centre holding his eyes during the protests.

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