e enjte, mars 27, 2008

Armsgate - N.Y. Times article on arms trafficking in Albania

Here is a link to the article in the N.Y. Times that has caused Edi Rama to ask again for the resignation of the Prime Minister, Sali Berisha.

Don't think Mr. Berisha will be resigning...but one thing is for sure...this has a long way to go before we get to the bottom of the story. (and in Albania, you can never be sure that you will get to the bottom of the story!)

Part of the interview is below...

A Mysterious Middleman

The international arms business operates partly in the light and partly in shadows, and is littered with short-lived shell companies, middlemen and official corruption. Governments have tried to regulate it more closely for years, with limited success.

As Mr. Diveroli began to fill the Army’s huge orders, he was entering a shadowy world, and in his brief interview he suggested that he was aware that corruption could intrude on his dealings in Albania. “What goes on in the Albanian Ministry of Defense?” he said. “Who’s clean? Who’s dirty? Don’t want to know about it.”

The way AEY’s business was structured, Mr. Diveroli, at least officially, did not deal directly with Albanian officials. Instead, a middleman company registered in Cyprus, Evdin Ltd., bought the ammunition and sold it to his company.

The local packager involved in the deal, Mr. Trebicka, said that he suspected that Evdin’s purpose was to divert money to Albanian officials.

The purchases, Mr. Trebicka said, were a flip: Albania sold ammunition to Evdin for $22 per 1,000 rounds, he said, and Evdin sold it to AEY for much more. The difference, he said he suspected, was shared with Albanian officials, including Mr. Pinari, then the head of the arms export agency, and the defense minister at the time, Fatmir Mediu.

(Mr. Mediu resigned last week after the ammunition depot explosions; Mr. Pinari was arrested.) The Albanian government has been infuriated by Mr. Trebicka’s allegations. Sali Berisha, the prime minister, Mr. Mediu and Mr. Pinari all denied involvement in kickbacks. But Mr. Trebicka said that after he raised his concerns about Evdin with the Defense Ministry, his company was forced from the repackaging contract.

Our Family

For all of you with children...this is the picture that maybe best describes our family.

Greek New testament manuscripts found in Albania

Link here to Greek New Testament manuscripts that are in Tirana.

Due to the years of communism scholars had not known exactly what was in the archive in Tirana. Now they have had access to what is still here.I'm glad to hear that these documents were not destroyed wither during or at the fall of communism.

He seems to be quite excited about it.

I'll be keeping my eye on his updates!

Albania on horseback

Interesting site here regarding the trip by Robin and Louella Hanbury-Tenison on horse back through Albania. They start in Theth and end up in Gjirokaster. Looking forward to seeing the film and their book in the future.

e martë, mars 25, 2008

Eurovision 2008 - Albania betting odds.

I found this article on Albania. It is in fact a link for the betting odds for Olta Boka in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008.

Now, I have to agree that i think her chances are slim. This due to the song not being the kind that will gain a lot of votes( this is my opinion). Nothing against her, or her ability. I'm sure she has a bright future ahead, and will do her best and sing well...I just think we could have had a more suitable song for the musical taste of other countries.

I wish her all the best, and I know the article is meant to be humorous, but the reference to suicide is not funny - and in my opinion is in bad taste.

Here's the link, though I am sure you won't want to bother going there!

Eurovision Betting Odds: Olta Boka, Albania

March 25th, 2008 at 10:30 by Stuart Heritage

Eurovision betting odds Albania Olta Boka Zemm Lam Peng You asked for it, and here it is - the start of the fourth annual hecklerspray Eurovision betting odds season.

OK, to be fair none of you actually asked for it, but you're getting it anyway. Every day between now and the Eurovision Song Contest in May, we'll be profiling the songs, singers and betting odds of every last Eurovision 2008 contender. Every day. Until you're sick of them. And then for a couple of months after that, because chances are you'll be a bit sick of them by next Wednesday.

So let's kick things off with the Eurovision betting odds for Albania, with help from Paddy Power…

Albania - (pop. 3,582,205; a Mediterranean country in southeastern Europe): Olta Boka, Zemr‘n Lam‘ Peng

We don't want to say that Eurovision songs are a reflection of the country that produced them, mainly because of the horrific things that says about the UK, but if it's true then Albania must be a truly horrible place to live. Year after year Albania's Eurovision entry is a miserable ballad, and the trend's continuing with Zemr‘n Lam‘ Peng, which means We Gambled The Heart. Hopelessly overwrought and containing lines like "The snow of your voice on my heart fell and covered the last shelter of love," the songs sounds like Celine Dion getting concussed and starting to babble in tongues, and it appears to be Olta Boka's way of telling the male population of the world that if you even so much as fold up her laundry incorrectly then she'll run out into the rain, drop to her knees and start bellowing curses into the sky. And not in a good way, either. If at least one Albanian hasn't committed suicide to Zemr‘n Lam‘ Peng by Christmas, it'll be an enormous surprise. Current Eurovision betting odds - 33/1

e hënë, mars 24, 2008

e shtunë, mars 22, 2008

Blood suckers!

It seems to me that everyone in Albania is a medical expert.

They all seem to know what different medicines treat their particular ailments. They all know the best doctor for YOUR problem, but no-one seems to have any faith in the doctors for their OWN problems!

Most medicines are available over the counter, and some older women take valium to help them sleep!
I had a friend that had a particularly bad cough and he complained to me that the chemist gave him tablets but they were not helping. I took a look, even though I know very little about medicine. I saw that he taking codeine( a pain killer). I gave him a bottle of cough syrup and he was better in a couple of days.

The other day as I was shopping, I noticed these on sale. Leeches!
Not that I would fancy this treatment too much!
I have heard that these have made a comeback in the medical world for wound healing after an operation!
However, I hear that those that use them, do become quite attached to them. ;-)

Reminds me of the joke about the man who was ill and the doctor prescribed to him leeches twice a day. A week later the doctor returned and asked how his health was. The man replied that the first couple of days he had managed to swallow the leeches whole, but after that he had to fry them, and cut them up before he was able to swallow them...

e martë, mars 18, 2008

Explosion Update.

So far the number of dead has reached 14 confirmed, but still expecting it to rise.
There appear to be many missing, and until families are allowed back into the area, the true number will not be known. In fact, due to people working at the site illegally the true number may never be known.

Fatmir Mediu was on TV yesterday explaining his decision to resign. I must admit I thought he came across very well, and very sincere. He should have resigned, but I am sure he is the "sacrifice" to avoid the Prime Minister from resigning.
Mediu said that it may be hollow words but he apologized to the families that has lost loved ones.

The opposition party is requesting that the Prime Minister resigns.
There is a petition here, campaigning from some for the Prime Minister to resign.

Unfortunately, this will be like any other "disaster" that has occurred in Albania. The people will all be against it. They will all blame the current government. Calls will be made for something to be done. But no-one will do anything to bring this about! Everyone will just stand back and let it disappear from the news as something else bumps it from the headlines. By the time the true number of dead is known, it will be old news. No-one seems to ever make a stand to get something done!
The above petition page is very nice...but I can't imagine Mr. Berisha losing much sleep over it!

It seems to me that Albania is full of people claiming "S'ka shtet"...but no-one is really interested in doing something to change it!

Sali Berisha promised to re-house everyone that had property destroyed, and to make Gerdec once again just like it used to be.
But as one newspaper said, " Kalaja kemi, por Skanderbeu ka vdekur!" ( "We have the castles, but Skanderbeu is dead!)

e hënë, mars 17, 2008

And in 5th place.........God!

Must admit I enjoyed reading the thoughts of Father Silvio in the "Law and Life" magazine dated December 2003.
Here is his article...( obviously speaking of the Catholic population of Albania)

"When I first came to Albania I heard many things, but I heard most about Father Gjergj Fishta. I had heard about him when I was in Italy...we used to hear Radio Tirana in Italian. When I came here (Albania) as soon as I left the ferry boat every Albanian talked to me about Father Gjergj. Father Gjergj here, father Gjergj there, until I got bored. Later, I observed that on St. Anthony's day many people rushed to go to the church in Laç. They went 2-3 days, many without eating. It was not just Catholics, but also muslims and Orthodox believers. I valued very much this simple faith of a poor people. Visiting various towns and villages I heard songs of the Lady of Shkodra (The Virgin Mary). The songs are known throughout Albania. It was beautiful. In Tirana, I was in the church that Father Zef served. I saw that he was loved and met by all. He was very active, meeting with politicians, vip's etc. They talked about many things (however I do not know if they talked about religion). On reflection, my opinion for Albanians is that for them, first was Gjergj Fishta, second, St. Anthony, third, The Blessed lady, whereas fourth was Zef Pellumbi. And though I did not find in what place God was in their lives, I think that there is no doubt that he is fifth!"

e shtunë, mars 15, 2008

Explosion at Vore.( including video link)

News just coming in over the TV channels of an explosion near Vore at a ammunition store.

There are no pictures as yet, but there would appear to be some casualties.

One witness said on Tv that there was no building in Vore without its windows broken.

Reprts of Rinas Aiport being evacuated.

Check your news channels and websites for further updates.

Edit: 2.30p.m.
150 casualties....at least 4 in serious condition.
The accident allegedly took place when an American company was carrying out ammunition elimination.
There were around 30 soldiers based at the accident site in Gerdec.
The Durres-Tirana road is closed.
Much damage has been done to buildings in Vore, and even at Rinas.
One bus had its windows smashed as it was travelling from Durres to Tirana.

Try here for more up to date information.

Edit 3.45pm

Video here.
6 dead so far, but waiting to be confirmed... unfortunately the number is likely to rise.
160 injured.
Lots of video coming in on TV from Vore and many houses with the roofs blown off, or now without tiles. Many restaurants and shops with blast damage. Most are with aluminum doors, windows and store fronts. These have been totally destroyed.
There appears to be extensive material damage in the area.
Hospitals calling for blood donors.
Saw a video of Vore and a large shell was lying in the street obviously blown there from the explosion. This was a shell almost a metre in length.

Heard news that there ARE survivors from the army depot. There appears to be chaos in Vore, electricity is down and many are suffering from shock as the windows of their homes have been blown out.

Going out now.
So I will not be able to give any more updates. I'm sure national news will keep you up to date in the link above.

16 March 8.15p.m.
9 now reported as dead, but numbers expected to rise.

Big problem with looking after the families evacuated from Gerdec.
The army are trying to clear the area around the houses in their village but has become a "mine" zone with many unexploded shells lying around.

Extensive material damage. Most families, if not all will be without insurance.
Around 200 houses are said to be totally destroyed and 300 badly damaged.

More photos here.

March 17th 6.45p.m.
Defence Minister Fatmir Mejdiu resigns as the opposition party calls for the Prime Minister to step down.
Demonstrations at Vore by the residents angry at the explosions and the refusal to let them return to their property.

Red Bull Motorcross Exhibition

Just back with the boys from the Red Bull demonstration in the centre of Shkoder.

Must admit I was impressed by it, and for once something in Shkoder to take the children to and have some fun.

Well done Red Bull and the Bashkia at Shkoder!

e premte, mars 14, 2008

Can you spot the face ?

Okay...a bit of fun for you.

Can you spot the face in the above picture of coffee beans?

There IS a face hidden amongst the beans.

e enjte, mars 13, 2008

One out of Four is not bad!

Just got my permission to stay in Albania renewed.

Foreigners have to have permission to stay in the country up to 3 months, thereafter they must leave the country or else have permission to stay granted from the government.

I have just had mine renewed again till 2009.

I have permission to stay in the country that says...

Vendlindje: Aberdeen, England (should be Aberdeen, Scotland)

Kombesia: Irish (should be Scottish)

Shtetsia: English (should be British)

Ngjyra e syve: Brown (should be blue)

e martë, mars 11, 2008

The Crepes of Wrath

Just in case anyone has not seen it...

The Simpsons are always well worth watching, but this episode is a must.
Bart is sent to France as part of a student-exchange and Homer gets Adil Hoxha, from Albania to live with them. Homer is impressed by Adil...but he does not realise that he is really a spy (a.k.a. the Sparrow!)

e enjte, mars 06, 2008

16 të vdekur në liqenin e Farkës.

Woke up to the tragedy of 16 dead in the lake in Tirana.

Apparantely 20 people had crossed the lake on 2 small boats which take a maximum of 8 people. However they had 11 and 9 in the two boats. The families were celebrating the birthday of a young man 23 years old. They were also celebrating the birthday of two twins both 5 years old. After the meal they all got in one boat to cross back over the lake and the accident occurred. Only 4 survived. The twins were amongst the dead.

Some of the dead are as yet unidentified, and some are from Berat.

My prayers are with the families of the lost ones.

)Probably best to try here for updates)

Edit : report in Shqip here.

e martë, mars 04, 2008

Quick Update

Half time

Barcelona 1 - Celtic 0

It is men against boys!

Barcelona scored after only 2 minutes and the wee man turns to me and says "Yeeeeees....ishalla fitojme 3-0"

"Time for bed Aron!"

Final Score 1-0 Barcelona. As convincing a 1-0 win as you could get. And would you believe it, that I just noticed I have been wearing my Barcelona T-shirt today!! :-( I love watching Barcelona (except against us!)...and I hope they go on to win the Champions League!

Parenting is Fun!

Tonight is the Barcelona-Celtic Champions League game in Spain.
Celtic trail 2-3.
Celtic are my favourite team and i am hoping ("against all hope")that they will do something remarkable and qualify. My head tells me that they have no chance and that they will do well to escape a 4-0 defeat.

Now comes the problem...
I have 3 boys. In fact I am from a family of 3 boys, so I know what it is like to grow up in a home full of boys. My eldest son, Aron is almost 9 years old and is now starting to like watching football and his 2 favourite teams are A.C. Milan (because Ronaldo plays for them) and Barcelona (because Ronaldinho plays for them). So tonight he will be supporting Barcelona! I will be supporting Celtic.(of course!)

No doubt, if Barcelona get a couple of early goals then poor Aron will be going to his bed early!

Now, which team will he support when Scotland eventually have to play Albania?!

e hënë, mars 03, 2008

First for Photos (late)

Sorry but I am just back online after 5 days without internet. There was some kind of problem and they had to wait for someone from Tirana to come and to fix the problem, so that meant no posting.

Anyway, here is a photo that should have been posted a few days ago.

...and another couple taken yesterday at Shengjin on my mobile phone (LG Viewty - 5 mega pixel camera. I highly recommend it!)