Good luck with this then

The grandson of Joseph Stalin has launched a libel suit against one of Russia\’s leading liberal newspapers, accusing it of lying in an article which stated the wartime leader had killed Soviet citizens.

Sad thing is, with the current system in Russia he might even win the case.

The joys of peasant life

Yes, community there is indeed.

It means scraping a living from the animals you keep and the patches of vegetables you\’ve always grown. It means cabbage soup or beans and potatoes smothered in olive oil, plus chorizo made from every last bit of the pig you slaughtered yourself, washed down with the light red wine made in the shed at the back.

There\’s also horrible poverty. You see, the down side of the peasant lifestyle is that people have to live like, well, peasants.

That military coup in Honduras

•?The Supreme Court, by a 15-0 vote, found that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally by proceeding with an unconstitutional “referendum,” and it ordered the Armed Forces to arrest him. The military executed the arrest order of the Supreme Court because it was the appropriate agency to do so under Honduran law.

•?Eight of the 15 votes on the Supreme Court were cast by members of Mr. Zelaya’s own Liberal Party. Strange that the pro-Zelaya propagandists who talk about the rule of law forget to mention the unanimous Supreme Court decision with a majority from Mr. Zelaya’s own party. Thus, Mr. Zelaya’s arrest was at the instigation of Honduran’s constitutional and civilian authorities—not the military.

•?The Honduran Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of removing Mr. Zelaya. The vote included a majority of members of Mr. Zelaya’s Liberal Party.

•?Independent government and religious leaders and institutions—including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Administrative Law Tribunal, the independent Human Rights Ombudsman, four-out-of-five political parties, the two major presidential candidates of the Liberal and National Parties, and Honduras’s Catholic Cardinal—all agreed that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally.

•?The constitution expressly states in Article 239 that any president who seeks to amend the constitution and extend his term is automatically disqualified and is no longer president. There is no express provision for an impeachment process in the Honduran constitution. But the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision affirmed that Mr. Zelaya was attempting to extend his term with his illegal referendum. Thus, at the time of his arrest he was no longer—as a matter of law, as far as the Supreme Court was concerned—president of Honduras.


•?I succeeded Mr. Zelaya under the Honduran constitution’s order of succession (our vice president had resigned before all of this began so that he could run for president). This is and has always been an entirely civilian government. The military was ordered by an entirely civilian Supreme Court to arrest Mr. Zelaya. His removal was ordered by an entirely civilian and elected Congress. To suggest that Mr. Zelaya was ousted by means of a military coup is demonstrably false.

Have to say that it sounds remarkably unlike a military coup actually.


Foreign criminals have been awarded compensation of £500,000 for being kept in custody beyond their release date.

The prisoners were held while the Government considered whether to deport them.

Under our system you can\’t be held in gaol without a court having approved a reason for you being there.  You\’ve been sentenced, you\’re on remand, a judge or a magistrate has to sign off on your being there.

We do not have a system (unlike many other places) where you rot in gaol while a bureaucrat tries to make up their mind. Yes, this applies to Johnny Foreigner as it does to us indigenes. As it rightly should.

Only one change I would make to this though: the money should come from those bureaucrats who made the error in the first place.

Russians do have a way with names

As some will know, I spent some years working in Russia. One of the things I noted was that the way they named a company was pretty straightforward. If you were the Nabrezny Chelny Ferroconcrete Plant (to use a completely made up name, it\’s actually Kamaz in that town) then as like as not your company name would be \”Nabrezny Chelny Ferroconcrete Plant\” or a contraction of it.

Atomenergoexport for example was the company that dealt with the export of atomic energy equipment.

Simple enough but this can cause minor problems when no one properly thinks through what the contraction is going to look like in other languages.

For example, If Gazprom were to sign a deal to extract gas in Nigeria one might get Niprom. Or Gazeria. Or, as was actually chosen:

Russia\’s energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria\’s state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.*

You know gentlemen? I think you might want to change that, preferably before you get the letterheads printed. Only advice mind, something offered to you for free.

To check just grab any random American who happens to be hanging around your offices.

On the other hand, this might be the very bestest company name since Wang Computers decided to use the same name it did in the US  for the UK market for its service arm.

\”Wang Cares\”

* Thanks to Mark Tinker for the tip off.

The Anti-Gallican League

Reading a book this afternoon I find that there used to be something called the "Anti-Gallican League".

Dedicated to such absurd ideas as keeping French products, French dancing masters, French garlic and French "frickasees" (as well as, one assumes, French diseases) out of a proper plain beef eating nation such as that personified by John Bull.

As a result of reading the book I of course came home and cooked roast beef…although I might have been Frenchified (or, to be honest, been influenced by wanting to live a little longer) by tipping away some of the lard…not all I hasten to add, retaining enough for a proper gravy….and using some garlic to flavour said beef.

However. This "Anti- Gallican League". Does it still exist? Might I become a member? Or did it die soon after birth, back in the 17 (mumble mumble decade of choice) s?

Anyone know?





Live out the credit crunch in Portugal

He\’s quite right about this:

While there were never enough hours in my days in London, here in rural Portugal the time passes languorously. Once or twice a week we\’ll make the trek to the village of São Brás de Alportel but, for the most part, we relish the solitude: planting tomatoes and peppers, trekking down to the valley to draw water from the well, reading and doing chores around the house. When we arrived a few weeks ago we were dismayed at the lack of internet up here but the absence of it has given us a greater excuse to cut ourselves off, for a while, from the bustling world beyond. News from the outside world trickles slowly up into these hills.

Cheap place to live (his 400 euro a month rent sounds about right), good weather, can be "sossegado" etc.

Calling SB de Alportel "rural" isn\’t quite right really. It\’s a turn off on hte road from Faro to the airport…..but then one of the things about the Algarve is that, once you get 5 minutes away from the concrete coast you can indeed find ruralish villages. I\’m just not all that sure that being a 10 minute drive from an international airport really qualifies as "rural".

However, there is one thing I\’d really like to note. Living down there on Portuguese wages (500 a month) ain\’t nearly so much fun as living down there on English ones. The sort that might be made by a freelance writer writing a piece for the Guardian about how cheap it is to live in the Algarve for example.

People are weird

Appeals delayed the execution of his sentence, but the verdict was affirmed, and Neu mounted the scaffold on February 1, 1935. Before the trap was sprung, he treated witnesses to a spirited rendition of an original song composed especially for the occasion. Its title: "I\’m Fit as a Fiddle and Ready to Hang."

International Diplomacy

It\’s a tough job but someone\’s got to do it.

How will we know if the meeting is a success?

The CEBR has an answer.

"If it causes Sarkozy to flounce off in a huff," the organisation tells me, "then bring it on. There is a rule of thumb that anything international that upsets the French (moves against protectionism or reform of the CAP) is probably a good idea."


Well Monsieur…..

President Sarkozy yesterday threatened to wreck the London summit if France’s demands for tougher financial regulation are not met.

France will not accept a G20 that produces a “false success with language that sounds good but contains no commitments”, his advisers said.

Asked if this meant a possible walk-out, Xavier Musca, Mr Sarkozy’s deputy chief of staff for economic affairs, said: “A basic rule with nuclear deterrence is that you do not say at what point you will use the weapon.”

If I could just point out that Heathrow is thataway?

Won´t take you long to get home.

No, really, we love the French. Honest.

An officer in the U.S. Naval reserve was attending a conference of officers from the U.S. navy and the French navy. At a cocktail reception, he found himself in a small group that included personnel from both navies.

A French admiral started complaining that whereas Europeans learned many languages, Americans learned only English. He then asked: \’Why is it that we have to speak English at these conferences rather than speak French?\’ Without hesitating, an American admiral replied: \’Maybe it\’s because the Brits,

Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn\’t have to speak German.\’

In 1966, upon being told that Charles de Gaulle had taken France out of NATO and that all U.S. troops must be evacuated from French soil, President Lyndon Johnson told Secretary of State Dean Rusk: \’Ask him about the cemeteries, Dean!\’

So, at end of the meeting, Dean asked de Gaulle if his order to remove all U.S. troops from French soil also included the 60,000 plus soldiers buried in France from World War I and World War II. De Gaulle never answered.

Ms. Betancourt


This is understandable. The FARC are a only bunch of illiterate peasant drug dealers who have been force-fed Marxist Boloxology. This is combined with the arrogance and egotism of knowing they have the power of life and death over people thanks to their drug bought AK-47’s. They are trained to take what they want without considering the suffering they cause, and treat the “people” they supposedly represent with a haughty distain.


How Irish

I know, I know, we shouldn\’t be making Irish jokes in these enlightened times. However:

Prawo Jazdy, presumed to be one of the hundreds of thousands of Poles lured to Ireland during its economic boom, was the Scarlet Pimpernel of motoring, leaving a trail of multiple identities and vehicles across the data base of the Republic’s Garda Siochana.

With not a single conviction by 2007 and more than fifty offences recorded, the police decided to take a closer look at Mr Jazdy, according to the Irish Times and Irish Independent.

The result was unexpected and embarrassing: in a letter that is now doing the rounds of Garda e-mail inboxes, a traffic division official wrote that it had come to his attention that officers inspecting Polish driving licences were recording Prawo Jazdy as the licence holder’s name. “Prawo Jazdy is actually Polish for \’driving licence\’ and not the first and surname on the licence,” he wrote.


Most amusing.

Davide Boni, a councillor in Milan for the Northern League, which also opposes the building of mosques in Italian cities, said that kebab shop owners were prepared to work long hours, which was unfair competition.

Sadly, that view, while amusing, isn\’t limited to odd Italian politicians. This is also fun:

There is confusion, however, over what is meant by ethnic. Mr Di Grazia said that French restaurants would be allowed. He was unsure, though, about Sicilian cuisine. It is influenced by Arab cooking.

It\’s one of the fixtures of Italian life that anyone from 20 or 30 miles south of wherever the thinker comes from is thought to be a little too Arab or African for the thinker\’s liking. A little like California in this manner: everyone agrees that Southern California is the preserve of nuts and flakes, it\’s just that "Southern" starts a few miles further south from wherever you are.

Vladimir Putin

This is fascinating. I\’ve no idea whether it is true but it\’s fascinating.

In Mrs Putina\’s account, Mr Putin\’s father was a Russian mechanic, Platon Privalov, who got her pregnant while married to another woman. She claims her son, nicknamed "Vova" was born on October 7, 1950, exactly two years before Mr Putin\’s official birth date.

In 1952, Mrs Putina married a Georgian soldier, Giorgi Osepahvili, and moved to Georgia with her son. In December 1960, under pressure from her husband to disown her child, she delivered "Vova" back to his grandparents in Russia. Mrs Putina believes that the St. Petersburg-based "parents" referred to in Mr Putin\’s biography adopted her son from his grandparents.

He was a) born in Georgia and b) illegitimate. The first part might not matter too much (give  that both parents were ethnic Russians) but there\’s still  a social thing against bastards in Russia.

The French Agriculture Minister speaks out!


It\’s the usual hogwash.

But Europe\’s focus must be on encouraging the development of local agriculture. Doing so is the only way to achieve greater global food security and reduce poverty. It will also make it possible to ensure that today\’s high prices for agricultural products are transformed into opportunity for poor farmers. This is vital because, according to the World Bank, growth in farming eliminates poverty twice as much as growth in any other economic sector. Indeed, agriculture remains the primary productive sector in the world\’s poorest countries, employing 65% of the working population and, on average, contributing more than 25% to GDP.

Twat. If agriculture is such an important part of poor country economies then the one thing we don\’t want to do is encourage localism. We want to encourage trade, so as to grow the value added in that important part of the economy.

Further liberalisation of farm trade will not ensure food security.

Cretin. Of course more trade will increase food security. By sourcing food from multiple sources, from different parts of the world, we\’ll be free of the effects of purely local phenomena like drought, floods and so on that destroy crops.

But, in a world where productivity differentials can be as great as one to 1,000, it would be unwise to rely on markets alone to enable the poorest countries to expand their economies.

Moron. It is precisely because there are such variations in productivity that we want to have trade. If, to use entirely made up numbers, one hour of human labour will produce 1 kg of rice in one place and 1 tonne of rice in another then of course we want to grow the rice in the latter place and trade it for whatever can be done with that 999 hours of net labour saved. That\’s what trade is for, it\’s the very definition of wealth creation to do such things.

Nor is it likely that much economic expansion will result from competition between multinational food distributors and producers in countries where famine still stalks the land.

Idiot. Food will be in greater supply and cheaper if the more productive producers and distributors get involved. Isn\’t that actually what we want?

Instead, bringing together outside expertise and local knowledge of the geography and environmental and economic constraints in order to spread risks and share the management of resources and projects is far more likely to help poor countries achieve food independence.

Flaphead. We don\’t want countries to achieve "food independence". Just as we don\’t want cities, towns, villages, families or individuals to do so. We want people to trade with each other for it is this division of labour and specialisation which makes us all so stinking rich. Even a Frog might have noticed the connection between not being crouched over a hoe in the fields and being wealthy.

It was such an approach that, in less than 20 years, helped postwar Europe achieve food sovereignty.

Twit. As above, we don\’t actually want food sovereignty, just as we don\’t want car sovereignty, wine sovereignty or iPod sovereignty.

Countries that have protected their agricultural development from the threats posed by international markets – such as India or Vietnam – have achieved substantial reductions in agricultural poverty.

Blatherer. Countries which have not so protected their agricultural development, like, say, Canada and Australia, have abolished agricultural poverty.

The time has also come to prioritise agriculture in order to ensure growth with a more human face. At the heart of the EU, France wants to play its part in a collective effort that is fast becoming a major issue for us all.

And that\’s a Frenchman talking to you. Give us your money so that we can pay off our tiresome peasantry.

No. Michel, please do just fuck off.