Posted on: December 14, 2014
Romania’s “televised revolution” was the most exciting event of 1989, that momentous year when country after country fell out of the crushing embrace of the Soviet Union. This week is the 25th revolution of the Romanian’s violent but successful revolution.
The fall of the Berlin Wall provided the main drama of that year and the revolutions in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the other central European countries were smooth and “velvet” compared to what happened at the end of the year in Romania. Continue reading
Posted on: June 12, 2012
Romanian villagers face down Canadian mining corporation over cyanide lake.
A small charity has succeeded in blocking a multi-billion dollar Canadian gold-mining operation in the Romanian village of Rosia Montana. Romania’s new Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, has promised a “transparent” investigation into the controversial project “so that permitting decisions take into account the national interest, environmental protection and European legislation.” This could set the project back by at least five years. Continue reading
Posted on: May 2, 2012
This article also appeared in Romanian on www.121.ro.
My son Luca is nine years old and he’s obsessed by the supermarket chain Mega Image. If you ask him “What would you like to do today?” his face lights up and he says the same thing, time and time again: “Go to Mega Image!”.
When we get to one of the outlets of the rapidly expanding chain of small supermarkets that are dotted around Bucharest, Luca gets to work: he patiently waits by a check-out counter until there is a pause between customers and then he asks innocently “do you have any cards that the other customers don’t want?” They are unable to refuse his charms. Continue reading
Posted on: April 26, 2012
This article also appeared in Romanian on the Contributors section of Hotnews.
When I published my first article in the Huffington Post I was greeted by over 100 negative comments, all from people who passionately believe that cannabis should be legalised (my crime was to suggest that cannabis can cause psychosis). Most comments on most articles in most news-sites seem to be negative and there is a phenomenon in UK (I’m not sure if it has reached Romania yet) called “trolling” whereby a group of like minded people, or “trolls”, bombard individual articles with negative comment, creating the impression that the people are against the point made by the journalist. It is a form of PR. Continue reading
Posted on: April 12, 2012
You can also read this article in Romanian, on the Contributors section of Hotnews. I don’t have a TV as I can’t stand the sensationalist nonsense pumped out by ProTV or the endless “analysis” the 24 hour news channels inflict on the public every evening. But when something interesting does actually happen you get to hear about it (I was in a Romanian village in the early 1990s when a peasant told me the American’s were bombing Iraq. “Nonsense” I replied. But he was right, he’d seen it on his ancient black and white TV). Continue reading
Posted on: January 11, 2012
This video was found in our archives, translated into Romanian and published in Jurnal National (click here).
If you want to see the video without reading all this text, go to the end of this article (scroll down).
The Story Behind the Video:
The ending of the year (2011) seems to be a month of nostalgia, particularly in Romania where the media are wallowing in a sea of memories based on unanswered questions about the 1989 revolution. Searching for answers gives editors pages of material (the biblical phrase “old wine in new bottles” springs to mind) and characters like Petre Roman, Romania’s first post revolutionary PM, get wheeled onto TV chat shows to discuss their memories of Communism. Continue reading
Posted on: December 20, 2011
In 1989 I taught myself to be a journalist (I had no idea you could study it in university). By the end of that year I was covering the Romanian revolution for Scotland on Sunday, a newspaper that was too “Scottish” to send me over to witness the action on the ground. I didn’t get here until January 1990, which I thought was far too late, but there was still plenty of drama on the streets of Bucharest. Continue reading
Posted on: October 16, 2011
This article was also published in Romanian on Contributors.ro
“There are two types of political lobby campaigns” explained my tutor of political science at Liverpool University, “you have the big movements with hundreds of thousands of members, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. They make a lot of noise and get media coverage, but they rarely change things. The other type of lobby is done ‘in smoke filled rooms behind closed doors’ by big business groups who have limitless funds, patience and time.” George Monbiot writes brilliantly about the evil effectiveness of the corporate lobby groups in the Guardian and there was a recent article in TIME (“Is Obama Bad for the Environment?”) which describes how Obama is ruling in favour of Big Oil despite having been elected on a wave of pro-environmental promises. Continue reading
Posted on: June 14, 2011
It’s not easy finding treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction in Romania. I know this because I have been looking for addiction treatment services in this country over the last year. You may be wondering why I’m looking for treatment (are you wondering if I’m addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or sex?). Continue reading
Posted on: June 7, 2011
This article was also published in Romanian on Hotnews.
Anyone who knows Romania is aware that Sighisoara is a pretty amazing place. Guidebooks describe is as the only medieval citadel in Europe that is “lived in” and the old centre is one of the “must sees” on the Romanian map. But I have avoided the place for about 5 years for a number of reasons: I was seriously put-off after visiting a so-called “Medieval Festival” (a grotesque combination of kitsch and heavy metal); and it takes so long to get there by car from Bucharest (over 5 hours) and the train doesn’t exactly hurry. Continue reading