Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2013

Egypt and Brazil: Crazy Stuff Going On Around The World

Egypt is a huge mess right now. To briefly recap. Recently as part of the Arab Spring Hosnu Mubarak the longtime dictator was deposed. The military chose not to get involved on his side, avoiding a Syria like protracted conflict. There were elections and the Muslim Brotherhoods candidate Mohamad Morsi won. President Morsi immediately set forth on an agenda towards a variety of goals including changing the constitution and generally cracking down on dissent as well as other political groups. It was the traditional African/ Middle East "One Man, One Vote, One Time" agenda.

The Egyptian economy, which has a large tourism component, has not been doing well. Death spiral might be too strong but it certainly has not been doing well. People started gathering in Tahrir to protest. They called for President Morisi to step down and were ignored.

The Army then got involved and pulled off a soft coup. The chief Justice of their equivalent of the supreme court was put in charge and elections will be held on a date to be announced later. Much of the Muslim Brotherhood key leadership has been arrested or is still being sought for arrest.

This is not good. The Muslim Brotherhood are not going to take this lying down. Violence has already started. Don't know exactly where it is going to go but probably no place good. Violence may or may not break out into full on conflict or civil war. My guy says the Army can probably hold them down; after all suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood is something they have decades of practice at.

If this is a good thing or not I am uncertain. Honestly Morsi setting up a Muslim Brotherhood totalitarian Islamic state wasn't exactly a good path for world stability anyway. May just be a different branch of the bad tree. While possible that peaceful and fair (well by Middle East standards anyway) election in a reasonable timeframe with this turning out to be a one time thing is possible I doubt that will happen. An alternating combination of military leadership and weak civilian governments a la Pakistan may be the future.

Our government is intentionally not calling this a Coup which it clearly was. Maybe it's just that saying this was a preventative Coup to reinstate lawful civilian leadership is a bit complicated.

Fundamentally this brings up a weak point in American foreign policy. We say that we want democratic governments but in practice we want folks who do not rock the proverbial internatonal boat too much and generally can be dealt with. At least as often as not this means a strong man of some sort.

Aside from communicating with both sides and using soft power to try avoiding a complete blood bath I do not think we should do anything.

The riots in Brazil seems to have tappered out yet it is a bit too early to be sure.

Who knows what will happen next week. In particular I am paying attention to Egypt but who knows what else is going to happen.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tab Clearing

Graves Bushcraft Books

Venice is flooding, like really bad. This is really sad as it is a beautiful and truly one of a kind city. However since the place is sinking they should probably figure something out and get it up and running sooner instead of later.

Egyptian Islamists want to destroy Sphinx and Pyramids. That would suck. We wanted to get there while relatively close in Germany but they had that whole protest and junta thing so that trip got postponed.

File this under you have got to be kidding me and this is why we are broke. We regularly send tens of thousands of dollars getting pictures painted of cabinet heads.

Nato to defend Turkey from Syria.

UK may send troops to Syrian border.

Palestine is working on UN recognition.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

All Sorts of Stuff

Things in the Middle East have been pretty nuts the past few weeks. The government of Tunisia was toppled. Egypt saw their dictator step down. That he is being replaced by the military is not suprising. The history of that sort of thing in the Middle East is pretty established. On a scale of best to worst case outcomes this is somewhere in the middle. Maybe there will be genuine free and fair elections and maybe they will be postponed indefinitely or less than free and fair. I am inclined to say that if substantial steps have not been made toward voting in a parliment/ representative body, changing the constitution, and such in 90 days they never will. A benevolent dictatorship by one guy or a council of sorts, or in this case the military is not the worst type of government to live under though certainly not the best either.

It is interesting that these sorts of events seem to happen in regional clumps. Sort of like the fall of Europe's monarchies, the colonial dismantling of the late 50's and early 60's or the fall of the commies back in '89. I think this happens for a lot of reasons. Economic downturns seem to be a significant factor in these things; almost without exception. I think the reason for this is that the stress economic downturns, and in poor countries spikes in food prices are involved is because they create unrest which the fundamentally unstable and unpopular government can't handle. Sort of like how money problems frequently are a catalyst that leads to divorce in mariages that have other issues.

That reminds me of another thing. One of the wisest things I did while I was dating was to consider womens money habits. I started doing this after seeing a friend who married a very nice gal who is a money train wreck. It really caused a lot of friction and problems for them. The had some stupid high interest debt and just can't seem to spend less than they make. It almost lead to divorce repeatedly.  Of course bad things can happen to good people but typically people who don't have their financial house in order have other issues. Not if they make a ton or know all about investing or anything like that but just that they can live within whatever their means are, pay their bills and generally be financially functional. Marrying someone who can't live within their means or has an entitlement 'I deserve it' attitude is just asking for life long problems.

I have been thinking a lot about housing recently. The first thing in my head is location, location, location. I got to thinking about all the different places I have lived and then balanced them against different scenarios. Personally the two options that interest me are living rurally or in a fairly small town. See old stuff about small town vs rural living here. The small town situation lets you walk or ride a bike to do much of your day to day stuff. Being able to walk to a store, restaurant, hardware store or small shop is nice. I particularly like the option of being able to have a couple beers and walk to get something to eat. This could be very convenient if fuel price or even availability get wonky. Living rurally on a fairly decent sized piece of land (I hesitate to define an exact size but certainly a couple acres) appeals to me also. It is definitely something we plan to do once we stop moving all the time. The reason we will wait until then is that going to the time and expense to get animals and equipment as well as set a place up how we want it isn't worth it unless we plan to stay there for a long time.
One thing that people who advocate for living out in the sticks typically fail to understand, or see the full implications of is how fuel prices and their need for transportation make them vulnerable. The cold hard reality is that you need to work to earn an income. As they say the key to a successful rancher is a wife who works in town. Typically your job will be in town. The people who will buy what you produce live in town or scattered over some distance. Rural folks tend to drive a lot if for work, access to stores or entertainment. Working 30, 40 or even 50 miles from home is not abnormal for rural folks. Do the math on that and it adds up to crazy mileage. The percentage of income lower middle class (whatever the heck that means)  rural folks spend on fuel is rediculous and will only get worse. I am not a peak oil doomer but the days of dirt cheap fuel are gone and things are just going to get worse. There are a lot of variables in this one so an easy answer isn't available. However you should think about your area, skills, interests and financial situation and try to come up with some answers for what you would do if fuel prices rose dramatically.
The whole concept of suburbs and other such places (like a small housing development outside of town or whatever) where people live closely but there aren't stores, restaurants and all that stuff does not appeal to me at all. These are probably the worst of both options. If you can't shoot a shotgun off the porch then you should be able to walk to the local grocery store and restaurants.

The nature of houses themselves is the next thing. This is a definite area where people back theirselves into a corner then gripe about it. They buy a home which is bigger than they need as well as fancier than they can afford. If they buy a house where the 30 year mortgage payment is absolutely as much as they can qualify for (and maybe actually pay) then it's not a suprise they are paying for at least 30 years. Clearly it is all the bankers fault, not the knuckleheads who bought more house than they could actually afford.

I saw an ad for this company that does tiny houses. It is an interesting idea. Probably not good for a family of 6 but for a bachelor or a couple it could work just fine. A relative of mine lives in a 2 bedroom cabin that is about 20' x 35' and would be great for a couple or a family of 3-4. I think looking at a house as a place to live instead of a status symbol in your competition with the neighbors is a good start. If your family and or income change it is always possible to add a room or move.

Well it's time for me to wrap this up now so I can go to bed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Random Thoughts: Tunisia, Egypt, Revolutions and Stuff

There is sure some interesting stuff going on in Tunesia, Egypt and Yemen (and the broader Arab world) right now. Not really suprising. All those despotic dictatorships with lots of young unemployed or marginally employed teens and 20 something who are growingly educated or at least exposed to the outside world via technology are a recipe for disaster. Hopefully if they are successful they will be able to break the 'One man, one vote, one time' and military dictatorship back and forth that have rules the Arab world since it became free from it's colonial rulers 60 years or so ago.

In Thailand not so long ago some folks really tried to get a revolution going. They succeeded in shutting down the capital for awhile but were eventually foiled. Some said it was because they were not armed which has some merit. If security forces crack down you can't do much to resist without guns. However I would say that: A) while they had a vocal minority there was not sufficient backing among the population and B) the willingness of the security forces to put down a rebellion are more important than a few dozen or even hundred guns. We saw this with Eastern Europe. The combination of the desire for regime change reaching critical mass AND the refusal of tactical level Army and police units to crush the protesters is essential for this sort of grass roots reasonably peaceful revolution/ regime change under the model of the fall of the USSR and more recently Tunisia. If you have even a fairly big protest and the security apparatus is still down with the regime you get the massacres of the USSR in the 50's and 60's (there were a couple I can't recall of the top of my head and don't feel like looking up) or Tiannamen Square. A government that doesn't pull any punches or care what the international community thinks can crush a pretty determined uprising and use the secret/ political police to keep it crushed. Anyway onto other stuff.

I have had a heck of a week. My schedule was early, late and generally erratic. So ready for the weekend. No real big plans here. Just going to try to rest and relax, do some packing and take care of a few little things. Got a bunch of new gear which I will write more about soon. Also there are a few other interesting things floating in my head.

Anyway I hope you all have a great weekend.
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