The World this week from Mennies

Thursday 12 May 2022

Been some time since I wrote a “The World This Week From Mennies” blog and there are various reasons for this . Mainly because I have been very busy at work but also because I have been totally dismayed and disappointed in what is going on in Scottish politics, and indeed world politics.

As for world politics, the main issue at present is Ukraine and dipping one’s tow into that toxic pond is to say the least a risk. However, because of the flood of misinformation emanating from media outlets like the BBC, ITV, and Skye, I decided to look at the big picture and offer a few suggestions as to the roots and causes of this conflict , without making any pretense as to being an expert on the situation, but offering a reasonably informed and researched common sense point of view.

So, let’s start with basics . This war ( or as Russia calls it, “special operation”) was avoidable. On Russia’s side it could have been avoided by acquiescing to America’s will and simply allowing NATO led by the US to continually move east ( despite previous agreements ) by recruiting new members of NATO, and thereby positioning nuclear weapons ever nearer Russia’s border. If Ukraine had become a member there could have been nuclear weapons based there that would have been within 7.5 minutes delivery to Moscow. Russia could also have stopped supporting the two, mainly Russian speaking countries in the Donbas area who had declared independence in 2014, Donetsk and Luhansk.

As for NATO, or let’s not beat about the bush,the US, they could have prevented this conflict by making it plain that Ukraine would not be admitted to NATO and they would support a special consideration in connection with the two breakaway regions in Donbas, again, as per previous agreements.

These agreements were made as far back as when the breakup of the Soviet Union was in progress and initially, they were made during discussions between Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton. These discussions were never transmitted into a formal treaty but were probably made at a time when world leaders could reach agreements that were expected to be upheld.

In 1993 there was an agreement termed the Budapest protocol in which Russia the US, Belarus ,Kazakhstan and Ukraine received assurances regarding security, but these assurances were tied to removal of nuclear weapons from each countries soil and also depended for implementation of an attack on each of these countries by nuclear weapons.

In 2014 there were various protests in Kiev and various other Ukrainian cities including Odessa. There were  strong suspicions that the US, CIA had a hand in them, It is a well-known CIA  tactic when manipulating regime change. This was called the Maidan protests or Euromaidan after the square in which most of the protests took place.  In Odessa the protests turned to civil unrest and resulted in a counter Maidan group being trapped in the trade union building which was set on fire by protesters who had been infiltrated by ultra-nationalists.

As a result of these  CIA sponsored protests the government stood down and was replaced by a pro-western ultra nationalist government, as a result of this the two states, Donetsk and Lugansk declared their independence.

As a result of the two states declaration of independence, Ukraine attempted to subdue both states by force, using ,in the main the Azov battalion who were originally a territorial regiment but were subsumed into the regular Ukrainian Army.

 Azov follow ultra-Nazi ideology and were responsible for many war crimes, including the shelling of civilian areas  in their attempts to retake the two breakaway provinces. Russia supported the two breakaway states.

In late 2014 a series of talks took place in Minsk, the outcome of which agreed on border security for Ukraine and also complete autonomy for the Donbas area. Ukraine never really stood by these agreements and in 2018 formally withdrew from them and sought membership of NATO.

This put Russia in the position of having no other option but to move to remove the threat that Ukraine and the west, were in the process of bringing to their border.

Make no mistake about this, this is a proxy war between the US and Russia fought in Ukraine. It is a war that the US will fight to the last Ukrainian. It is yet another war of the US to facilitate regime change, just as they did in Vietnam, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, bay of pigs( Cuba) Grenada, Panama, Iraq, etc, etc, etc. In doing so they have killed over 6 million innocent civilians and used chemical weapons with gay abandon ,in for example Vietnam ( agent orange). They are the only country to have used nuclear weapons, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Russia is not the cause of this human tragedy, no it is NATO, backed and led by the US. Putin is no doubt no Angel, but he is in my estimation doing what a leader should do, he is protecting the borders of his country against an aggressor, NATO.
Make your own mind up who is the aggressor from this map showing American bases surrounding Russia

American bases in relation to Russia

A Nautical Nomad

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Naples and Civitaveccia

Day 4 in my sojourn to southern sunny climes and yesterday I was in Naples. The name Naples means, New City. It is the third-largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan.
Naples is the centre for visiting places like Sorento, The isle of Capri and of course Pompei. I remember a few years back taking a private tour down the Amalfi coast to Sorento and then on to Pompei. Wonderful day and a bonus was, that the guy who was driving the car was a coach driver and had been to Scotland many times so we had something in common and it made for interesting discussions.

Always a war or a victory

When in Naples, it is obligatory to eat pizza as that is one of the things Naples is famous for, and rightly so, as it is wonderful. I of course, as always, conformed to custom and stopped at a streetside restaurant to indulge, a streetside Restaurant that I have frequented in the past when visiting with a special friend on a previous cruise.

The obligatory Naples Piza

One thing Naples is also famous for is the traffic which is horrendous and traffic regulations are obviously optional. This is shown in drivers’ attitudes to pedestrian crossings. What we in the civilized world call Zebra crossings. Now, I have no idea how a Zebra would get on crossing one of these roads but as far as humans are concerned it is extremely dangerous and whereas in the UK a pedestrian has right of way, in Italy crossing a pedestrian crossing is the Italian version of hunger games and a means by which the Italian government control population. In short, a pedestrian crossing is a government-sanctioned kill zone, so beware!

After a pleasant although dangerous day in Naples, back to the ship, dinner then a short visit to the disco before bed.

Coffee always nice in Italy

Today we are in Civitavecchia another name for the ancient town, a much more serene and safer town than Naples and a pleasure to have a quiet time sitting with a cappuccino and watching the world go by.

The Garage

Now you might be wondering as to the relevance of the photo above. Well, there is a story to this, and it goes back several years to one of my previous visits to Civitavecchia.

I was having a wander through the back streets as I am want to do on these trips and I came across this very place which is, or at least was at that time a garage. Now at that time, there was a rather large guy at work on a car and deeply engrossed in some problem under the bonnet. Now this fellow was of ample proportions and was obviously wearing a pair of ill-fitting trousers. This meant that as he was bending over the front of the car his trousers were somewhat revealing giving an opportunity for the photo of a lifetime.

Now it was rather difficult to discern whether what I was witnessing was a view of anatomy or a view of a contraption for parking a bicycle. Anyway, I decided to take a photo in the spirit of a bit of tongue in cheek humour.

Now the appliance I had at that time was a tablet and it was not a straightforward process to take photos with, so whilst trying to get this tablet set to take a photo. One of the two guys who were with the large mechanic looked over and realized what I was about to do and seemed to mention it to the mechanic.

Well, it would appear that the mechanic had an acute case of humour deficit syndrome, as he exploded into a tirade in some foreign language, quite possibly Italian. Now I do not speak Italian but between his tone, blood vessels on his face and the gesticulations with his hands and arms I did manage to get the impression that he was upset in some way and got the distinct impression that remaining in that vicinity could possibly result in a terminal outcome. I of course responded in the Scottish vernacular and there was quite a standoff.

I had of course pre-assessed the situation and was quite confident that I could have, if I necessary, outran the three of them quite easily, with the mechanics trousers in all probability falling down in the first few yards of the chase, however in the interest of Italia-Scotia relations and my own continuing good health I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew a short distance and around a corner to check to see how the photos had come out, only to find that they had not been taken at all.  

So, today I again found the garage but unfortunately, it was closed up. Perhaps the mechanic has moved to greener pastures and is now a cult figure on some bicycle parking manufacturer website or perhaps he has retired. Whatever he is doing now I wish him well.

Now before anyone asks if I make a habit of going around the world taking photos of men’s rear ends, I can assure you this was in all innocence, and solely in the interest of a twisted sense of humour.


A Nautical Nomad


A Nautical Nomad

9 May 2022

I haven’t posted for a while, in fact since my last wee trip to Spain and Portugal, but here I am again on my travels. This time it is from Barcelona going deeper into the Mediterranean sea than the last time, hopefully, the weather will be better and warmer.

So my trip started on Saturday with an overnight in Edinburgh at a guest house called Murry Park “Hotel” for some strange reason. I think it must be the first time I have stayed anywhere without seeing a single member of staff. There was a notice on the door with a phone number to contact, which I did and received instructions on the code to open the door whereby I found the key to my room in a bowl on the dresser. Oh well, a sign of the times I suppose.
So once settled in I headed to a nearby hotel for a meal and a couple of pints to set off the trip.

Sunday started at 03.00 with a walk to a nearby bus stop to catch the airport bus. Bang on time and a short trip along Cortsorfin Rd to the Airport. now I had heard that there were serious problems at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam where I had to change flights, so I was somewhat apprehensive regarding getting to the ship on time. However, although there was indeed a very long line at the passport control in Schiphol I managed to get through that and get to the gate in plenty of time. To all Brexiteers reading this, the line waiting on clearing non-EU passports took 40 minutes. The line for those with EU passports took 5 to 10 minutes. I don’t think there has ever been such a blatant exercise in self-harm in the history of the planet.

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Leaving Scotland

in the event, I arrived at Barcelona Airport about half an hour later than I would have, so not too bad at all. It has been some time since I sailed on the Epic, a very large ship and at one time one of the largest in the world. It takes around 4.5 thousand passengers, but these days some of the royal Caribbean ships take 6.5 thousand passengers, virtual floating cities. So boarded the ship around 15.00 and settled into the cabin which is a studio cabin. Pretty compact( small)

in the event, I arrived at Barcelona Airport about half an hour later than I would have, so not too bad at all. It has been some time since I sailed on the Epic, a very large ship and at one time one of the largest in the world. It takes around 4.5 thousand passengers, but these days some of the royal Caribbean ships take 6.5 thousand passengers, virtual floating cities. So boarded the ship around 15.00 and settled into the cabin which is a studio cabin. Pretty compact( small) but sufficient. unpacking did not take long as before I came I have repacked into a carry on suitcase as I had heard that one of the problems at Schiphol was the luggage and I did not want to get to the ship without my luggage. The last time I lost luggage was a number of years ago whilst cruising on the Concordia, yes the one that sank, nothing to do with me, as I was on it exactly a year before it sank and incidentally it was the only cruise ship I have been to that I did not get an emergency drill. So A few photos of the ship.

Pool deck in the evening


Sunset, day one as we head for Corsica

I had dinner at the buffet as it was an easy option and the choice of food was not bad. Then the obligatory tour of the bars and entertainment venues, one of which is the Cavern, dedicated to the Beatles, having a very acceptable Beatles tribute band.

The Beatles

It had been a long day but it was not yet complete without a visit to the disco. Where I showed the youngsters how to dance. After a 23 hour day, I found my bed a very welcome place to be.

Today we landed on Corsica which is a French island. Beautiful place and the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. I had a very leisurely wander around the town with of course the obligatory stop for a cappuccino, bliss. mA few photos of the town.

A morning cappuccino

Where Napoleon was born

Looking out over the town square

So to tonight, the ship has just left the pier and heading to Italy. Dinner then perhaps some Beatles music. Then possibly the disco. It has been a pleasant day.