How to know a country is being fucked up

Tanzania’s president John Magufuli has ordered the arrest of the managers of a ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria, after the death toll climbed above 130 and rescue workers pressed on with the search for scores more still missing.

Initial estimates suggested that the MV Nyerere was carrying as many as 300 people when it capsized near the dock on the island Ukara. The precise number was unknown, however, because the ticket-seller had drowned and the machine recording sales had not been found.

During a speech on public television on Friday night, Magufuli referred to “negligence” and said he had ordered the arrest of “all those involved in the management of the ferry”.

The President gets to arrest people, does he? Rather than, say, the police, an investigating magistrate, a judge, you know, the sort of people who do this in a country not an autocracy….

Managed democracy

Even by Russian election standards – the kind that has given us 146 percent voter turnouts – this was a magical turnaround.

With 95 per cent of the votes counted in the gubernatorial elections in Russia’s Far East Primorsky Krai, the Kremlin’s candidate, Andrei Tarasenko was a full five points behind his challenger, Communist Andrei Ishchenko.

But in a sensational final sprint, Mr Tarasenko added an improbable 13,000 votes, equating to nearly 100 percent of the vote in the last one percent of precincts. Even more miraculous was the fact his challenger Mr Ishchenko lost five votes in the process.

There’s a certain richness to the story, given their own electoral habits when they had power, that it happened to a communist.

M. Hulot is on ‘oliday

French minister Nicolas Hulot resigns on live radio in frustration

Quite the most fun part being:

The resignation comes a day after the government announced it was relaxing restrictions on hunting. Mr Hulot said that this decision had made him aware of the power of lobbyists.

What does anyone think an environmental campaigner is if not a lobbyist?

The culture that is Switzerland

Wanted: a manager for the restaurant at the end of the universe.

A remote guesthouse in the Swiss Alps that was hailed on the cover of National Geographic magazine as one of the world’s dream destinations is looking for a new landlord because its proprietors are overwhelmed by the tide of hungry tourists.

Owners of Swiss restaurant complain it is too busy.

They’re not worth this much

Of course, value is subjective. But still:

With its terracotta-tiled stone houses perched on a rocky crag overlooking rugged countryside, it might seem like the perfect Italian hill town.

But San Piero Patti has been losing inhabitants to ageing and migration for decades and has now decided to offer its empty houses for sale at €1 (90p) each in a bid to inject new life into the community.

New owners will be obliged to restore the often dilapidated homes, using traditional stone, timber and terracotta roofing and employing, where possible, local artisans.

Sicily, like most of the Mezzogiorno, is undergoing depopulation. That does leave large chunks of housing that no one locally wants to use. It’s thus cheap enough to buy. But those restoration costs – it’s entirely possible to end up with something worth less on that market than the costs of just having done it up. Sure, value is subjective, you or I might think an Italian cottage worth that doing up cost. The market is telling us that the rest of the world, on average, doesn’t agree.

And there is a reason why these areas are undergoing depopulation of course. Other places offer greater value as a place to live.

The thing is she’s right

Russian women should avoid sex with non-white foreign men during the football World Cup because they could become single mothers to mixed-race children, a senior lawmaker in Moscow said on Wednesday.

Even when Russian women marry foreigners the relationships often end badly, said Tamara Pletnyova, head of parliament’s committee for families, women and children. Women are often stranded abroad or in Russia but unable to get their children back, she said.

She spoke in response to a question from a radio station about the so-called “Children of the Olympics” after the Moscow Games in 1980, a time when contraception was not widely available in the country.

The term was used during the Soviet era to describe non-white children conceived at international events after relationships between Russian women and men from Africa, Latin America, or Asia. Many of the children faced discrimination.

“We must give birth to our children. These [mixed-race] kids suffer and have suffered since Soviet times,” Pletnyova told Govorit Moskva radio station.

Perhaps it would be better if she weren’t right but Russia is markedly more racist concerning such matters than the UK is. A mixed race kid isn’t going to get a fair shake of the stick in that country.

Sure, complain about why that is so but it’s true.

Weird

Early reports suggested that colonel Skripal and the unnamed woman may have been exposed to the synthetic drug, Fentanyl, which is up to 10,000 times more powerful than heroin and has been linked to scores of deaths in the UK.

Killing someone with opiates works. Assuming the dosing is correct.

But why?

That it’s difficult might be true

Doctors in Germany on Tuesday spoke out against proposals for medical tests to check the age of asylum-seekers.

Leading politicians have called for compulsory tests amid allegations that migrants are lying about their age and posing as minors in order to avoid deportation and claim extra benefits.

But senior doctors warned that medical tests would not be reliable and risked harming asylum-seekers’ health.

“The investigations are complex, expensive and laden with great uncertainty,” Prof Frank Ulrich Montgomery, the president of the German Medical Association said. “If you carried them out on every refugee, it could interfere with human wellbeing.”

Perhaps it’s something that is used sparingly. That three foot one over there, w’ll assume – in the absence of a beard – that it’s a child not a dwarf. That 6 ‘ 8” hulk trying out for the basketball team, perhaps that claim of being 15 should be checked?

But “we’ll not test because that would be nasty” is perhaps not the way to go.

One of the interesting things about Germany is that there are lots of rules. Also, that the population think there should be lots of rules and also that they obey those lots of rules. To the point of following the listings of whose turn it is to sweep the communal courtyard etc.

Going to be interesting to see what happens with the addition of large numbers of people who don’t think there should be lots of rules nor that they should be followed.

How much does “ordnung” depend upon people being Germans in the first place?

How excellent

Mr Hulot, who last summer announced that France will outlaw the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, has a Land Rover he keeps at his holiday home in Corsica, a 30-year-old 2CV, a Peugeot, a Citroen, a Volkswagen camper van and a BMW.

Running old vehicles is actually pretty good for the environment. As you’ve not demanded a tonne or two of new steel in the new vehicle (s).

But isn’t it excellent that we get to hear about M. Hulot’s holiday arrangements?

Cat, pigeons

On a day marred by clashes between police and voters, 2.26 million people took part in the referendum, regional government spokesman Jordi Turull said. That represents a turnout of 42.3 percent of Catalonia’s 5.34 million voters.

Of those who took part, 2.02 million Catalans voted “yes” to the question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”

People aren’t going to risk being beaten by the police to vote no now, are they?

Before the results were announced, he said he would keep his pledge to declare independence unilaterally within 48 hours of the vote if the “Yes” side won the referendum.

This is going to get very messy very fast.

How very, very, Russian

The monument in the heart of Moscow was supposed to be a tribute to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the creator of the AK-47 assault rifle.

Unfortunately, things went wrong, spectacularly so. The etching on the plinth was not of a Kalashnikov but the StG 44 rifle used by the Nazis during WWII.

The mistake was spotted by arms experts, the BBC reported. It left the authorities having to use an angle grinder to remove the offending image.

Big plans and the appalling cock up.

Extremely amusing

So, Milos Zeman is running in the upcoming Czech Presidential election. To do so he’s got to have an open bank account (really open, every transaction must be recorded, publicly, as it arrives).

This lists the amount donated, by whom. And the way he’s set it up is to simply actually show his actual bank account.

Which, as we should know from our own money transfers, has a space for notes in it.

So, in order to post a note to this public document you have to transfer some money into Zeman’s campaign fund. The smallest amount you can transfer into a Czech account is 0.01 of a korunna. There are 29 korunna to the £. This is not therefore a large sum.

At which point, people are doing so. One note was “See ya Pete, off to the pub with Nancy.” Which is now a public note on the campaign site of Milos Zeman and cheap at that price of 0.01 Ks.

It does in fact get better. The smallest euro transfer you can make is 1 euro cent, which is 0.25 of a korunna. But this bank makes no charge for receiving a korunna deposit, and it does for a euro one. Or any foreign currency. About 20 korunna charge in fact.

So, some rather large number of people are transferring 0.25 korunna in in the hopes of bankrupting the President’s re-election campaign.

Jara Cimmerman would be proud.