Foreign countries are different places

They do things differently there:

Parisian parents are outraged that a school lunch consisting of “industrial triangular sandwiches” was served to their children instead of a balanced, cooked meal this week.

Imagine, a sarnie?

Some things are of course the same, bureaucratic lying:

Parents were aghast when their children told them they had been given “an industrial, pre-packed triangular sandwich of the kind sold at motorway service stations,” said one mother, Anne.

“The children had been promised what was described as a special picnic meal, but this is verging on a scandal.”

“Special picnic meal” is good.

“Magnificent wildlife safari ” – camping in the cow field. Other similar invited.

I’m just wondering

National Thowheed Jamath

Currently identified as responsible for the Sri Lanka bombings. Local offshoot of Isis or Al-Quaeda sorta thing.


Sinhalese tend to be Buddhist. Tamils Muslim. There’s that decent leavening of Christians who were the targets here. Or Christians plus foreigners in posh hotels.

What’s the overlap between Muslims in NTJ and Tamils? For the island has had a ghastly civil war based on those racial lines – well, OK, varied groups exploiting those racial groupings perhaps – in recent memory.

Another way to ask the same thing, is NTJ really just Tamil extremists under another guise? Or, perhaps, a new banner for the old grievances?

One thing I’ve noted – and I haven’t gone looking, so it might be that I’ve just not seen – is that no names have been released even while 24 people or whatever are arrested. In this environment a name being near perfect identification of Tamil or Sinhala.

Jus’ wondrin’ really.

French organisation

If France’s record-breaking capitulation in the Guinness Six Nations opener seemed shambolic at the time, then it appears even more of a bungle-fest with the revelation that Sebastien Vahaamahina had no idea he was captain in the second half.

The lock, who threw the wild pass that George North intercepted for the late, winning try, explained that, after Guilhem Guirado’s withdrawal in the 58th minute, he was bemused when English referee Wayne Barnes asked which penalty option he preferred.

“I told him to address the captain,” Vahaamahina said. “He replied, ‘you are the captain’. I did not even know I was a captain. The staff did not warn me.”

Parisian lunchtimes

Somehow I’d believe this more of Rome really:

Armed robbers pulled off a brazen bank robbery off Paris’ Champs-Elysées on Tuesday morning, locking staff and customers in for hours while they rifled through dozens of deposit boxes.

The masked suspects, some reports say at least four, burst into the Milleis bank – formerly Barclays – at around 8.30am local time on the Champs-Elysées roundabout.

They proceeded to tie up staff and customers with plastic tape and sprayed them with an unidentified liquid smelling of bleach, according to French reports.

According to Eddy Sid of the police union SGP Police FO, the suspects “placed a placard on the front door saying that the bank was shut”.

The gang calmly searched around 30 deposit boxes for three and a half hours before making their getaway at midday with an unknown quantity of valuables.

Yes, OK, it wasn’t lunchtime etc. But just a “Closed” sign makes more sense to me a little further south than Paris.


A teenager managed to lose his driver’s licence just 49 minutes after getting it, German police said.

The 18-year-old was returning from his successful driving test when officers in the town of Hemer checked his car with a laser speed gun.

He was clocked travelling almost twice the speed limit – at 95km/h (60mph) in a 50km/h (30mph) zone.

Americans, eh?

Founded in 1989, the company now employs 1,000 people, according to the grocery chain’s website. There are 20 Bónus stores in Iceland, and 12 in the Faroe Islands.

The store might not boast an international presence

Given that the Faroes and Iceland are different countries, they’ve got an international presence, no?

This is fun

The family of the bride also accused that they already offered the groom a washing machine, refrigerator, cooler, TV, and a bike (Bajaj Pulsar)when the wedding date was finalised. Speaking about the incident the grandmother of the bride said, “They made these demands five days before the wedding. He refused to marry after we said we can’t fulfil them. I don’t know who tonsured his head.”

The groom and, apparently, most of the male members of his family were “tonsured” as a result of the disagreement.

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.