Saturday, February 26, 2011

This week's news.

On February 20, 60 Minutes did an excellent piece on the Tunisian revolution. It's called The Spark and taking the 13 minutes to watch it will give you a good deal of information on how and why the revolution happened.

Last Sunday, February 20, this news broadcast was made of a horde in one of the President's homes in Sidi Bou Said, less than ten minutes from where I live. The actual piece was about twice this long, but I didn't think I'd burden you with the full nine minutes of film with Arabic narration. It shocked Tunisians. The safes were hidden behind walls of fake books, some of them Korans. There were several floor to ceiling safes filled with tight bundles of Euros, Swiss francs, USD, TDN, Another floor to ceiling concealed safe held boxes and boxes of gems and jewelery, There was a case of false documents, and another of various alcohols.

This is only the tip of the iceberg - probably get-away money that they didn't have time to get to. But it's nothing compared to what they syphoned out of the country every year at the expense of their own people. If you feel like watching the whole thing here it is.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How are things, you ask?

I don't think I know. My sense of Tunisia's stability depends entirely on whom I talk to. Every weekend, there is something bad going on in the south, and last Wednesday, there was an "interesting" event at our local mall. The employees struck because the mall reduced their hours from 8 to 6 and reduced the value of their meal tickets as well. The mall food court is too expensive for its employees, and they don't get enough time to go home, so it represented a real hardship. Well, in the middle of the walkout, "bad elements integrated themselves" into the crowd and tried to get back into the mall to loot. (Many people are of the opinion that these "bad elements" that keep popping up are part of Leila Trabelsi's militia, whom she continues to pay from her hideout in Libya. Who knows?) Anyway, there is a tank and armed soldiers in the mall parking lot, a new fixture, so these ne'er-do-wells did not go unnoticed. Shots were fired into the air to change their minds.

You see, I wouldn't have liked that if I had been there. I don't like hearing live ammunition while I park my car to do the groceries. The good news is that the mall employees got their hours and meal tickets restored. The bad news is that all the malls and large intersections and beaches and and and have tanks on them with armed soldiers. I am not getting used to that, and have trouble - unlike the Tunisians - associating their presence with security. Plus, they take up about 8 parking spots. ;-)

The downfall of Mubarek in Egypt helps a lot. There's no going back now. Eyes are trained on Algeria now. Tunisians are justifiably proud of what they started in this tiny country. What the US military couldn't accomplish in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan in two huge wars and hundreds of millions of dollars, the youth of Tunisia brought about in a week. Amazing times.