Johnny Foreigner

A good trick

With independent media virtually eradicated in Russia, locals speculated that passengers, who travelled from Moscow via Minsk, Belarus, are kept on board to shield them from the truth about the war while on European soil.

So much so, that while their train is parked up for more than an hour, passengers are offered access to a “free Wi-Fi” network. The catch? Before they are granted access to the web, would-be browsers must scroll through a series of graphic images of Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

Large posters featuring similar depictions of the war await those brave enough to peek through the curtains of the train.

There’s an old story

About Tsarist aristocracy:

The ex-wife of a Russian oligarch who was hit with sanctions over Ukraine has had her £8.7 million London apartment repossessed after failing to pay the mortgage.

“Not one person in all Russia would try to press me to pay my bills” said the aristocrat.

This is mildly sorta fun

A Republican Senate candidate endorsed by Peter Thiel is campaigning on a pledge to vote only for judges who oppose the SCOTUS ruling establishing the right to birth control

OK, OK, all very American. The picture editor has decided to use a demo outside the Westminster Parliament as the illustration.

I mean, yes, well, but it was London Bridge that was sold to Arizona, not the Palace.

This isn’t good news

In the wake of his decision to invade Ukraine, speculation has mounted over Putin’s health.

His notably bloated face and neck led to suggestions he may be undergoing treatment with steroids, while there were also reports he had been visited by cancer doctors at least 35 times.

Others have put Putin’s diminished appearance down to his military failures in Ukraine, having failed to capture capital Kyiv within days as predicted.

Well, possibly not. For what if the aim is to go out with a bang?

Fun, innit?

British sovereignty over the Falklands is an absurd imperial hangover that must end
Simon Jenkins

We could actually describe it as rather Imperial to demand that a place’s government must be chosen by geography rather than the will of the people.

You know, Ukraine’s in The Russia’s sphere of influence, all that jazz…..

Is this actually true?

Viktor Orban wins fourth term in Hungarian election
A jubilant Mr Orban has declared victory, with his Kremlin-backed Fidesz party so far winning 54.5 per cent of votes

Kremlin backed? Or is that just the “We wokesters don’t like him so let’s call him something”?

After all, I’d tend to think that being positively pro-Russian wouldn’t really work amongst Hungarians.

while a pro-European opposition coalition, United for Hungary, had nearly 34 per cent, according to the National Election Office.

Is it just that he’s not enthusiastically pro-EU?

his right-wing nationalist invective.

I’ve not been paying attention to this at all. Really pro-Russian is he?

Don’t be so sure Douglas

America is on the move. A rapid demographic change is underway, reshaping the nation’s economic, political and cultural contours. For as long as anyone can remember, America’s big business clusters were in the northeast, the midwest and California. New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles were the kinds of places where enterprising young Americans would go to make their way in the world.

Not anymore. In just twelve months between July 2020 and July 2021, these four cities lost over 700,000 people. A very different phenomenon is playing out in conservative states, especially in the south. Almost 80 per cent of the population growth in 2021 happened in a mere ten counties. Five of the fastest growing counties were in Texas and two in Florida. The fastest of all was Maricopa county in Arizona, which is rapidly filling up with large numbers of Californian emigres.

What do the growth states have in common? They favour freedom.

Yes, very cool. And as the continual complaint is, the first thing they do after arriving in these free places is turn around and vote for all that twattishness they’ve just left behind in CA.

This isn’t something I quite believe

A unit of Russian riot police is suing its bosses for wrongful dismissal after being fired for refusing to invade Ukraine.

The unit from the Krasnodar region of southern Russia had been deployed on what they thought was an exercise in Crimea when they were ordered to cross the border into Ukraine on Feb 25, the day after Putin launched his invasion.

In a sign that the Krasnodar Omon unit was not alone in rebelling against the order to invade Ukraine in Febraury, Mr Benyash said that he has received about 200 requests for legal help “from Siberia to the North Caucasus”

That they’d not want to go sure. Even that there was considerable reluctance.

The idea that Russian employment law allows – effectively, not on paper – a case on these grounds though, that I don’t believe. Therefore not the rest of the story.

Tossers

French customs officials are causing lengthy queues at Dover by demanding physical “wet” signatures on paperwork, business chiefs have said.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said demands for ink signatures on documents required for post-Brexit exports of animal and plant products were creating hold ups at the border as most documentation is produced digitally.

Mitterand once decided to protect the French VCR industry by only allowing customs clearance of Japanese VCRs at the port of Poitou. Which is an inland, river, port, without access for big, first, oceangoing boats. So, transhipment. Plus a customs crew of two men et un chien.

Tossers – let the Germans keep ’em next time.

What a quaint idea

Officials at the port of Antwerp made record seizures last year of almost 90 tons of cocaine, worth an estimated €13billion (£10.8billion), but despite this haul, billions of euros are still being used to “poison” the highest levels of society.

Flanders has high society?

Dutch sex

So, a cloggie interviewed. Maybe a cloggess:

VICE: When was the last time you had sex?
Larissa: It must have been about a month ago.

OK:

Frequency of sex: 10/10

Hmm, so it’s not all that popular as a participatory sport over there then?

It’s France, innit?

Who is surprised by this?

Prosecutors say that as influential members of INAO, France’s wine governing body, the men were unfairly able to ensure that their own domains, as well as others that they were paid to advise, maintained their ranking or joined the select club.

“It’s as if someone passed the baccalaureate (A level) exam after writing the subjects himself,” said Eric Morain, lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The legal battle has been simmering in the Unesco-protected village since INAO published its long-awaited new classification for St Emilion in 2012. The ranking has two main categories: Grand Cru Classé and the more prestigious Premier Grand Cru Classé.

Unlike Bordeaux’s most famous 1855 classification, which is set in stone, the St Emilion ranking is reassessed every 10 years.

Entry is said to boost the price of the wines – reds made predominantly from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes – by about 30 per cent, and thus also affect property prices.

Cartels, self-dealing, fiddling – really, who is surprised at this happening in the French economy?

Frexit on the cards

Not that it’ll happen, this is posturing:

Michel Barnier said that France had to regain the sovereignty it has lost to European courts on Thursday and called for a referendum on a ban on non-EU immigration.

He seems to miss the point of that EU thing in the first place.

The former Brexit negotiator and EU commissioner was accused of hypocrisy because his comments appeared to contradict many of the positions he took when he was helming talks with the UK.

Of course he’s a hypocrite. He’s a politician. He’s also French which is sufficient.

But wouldn’t it be fun if France did leave?

It’s always Latin America, isn’t it?

Brazil’s match with Argentina descended into farce on Sunday evening before it was abandoned after health officials invaded the pitch to deport four Premier League players accused of misleading authorities over their flights from the UK.

This sort of absurd chaos. Just, for some reason, the right place for it. Like Ruritania for princes in hussar uniforms, culturally appropriate.

What is there to fear?

Yes, OK, the Italian right isn’t quite as fluffy as our own. But still:

Meloni has been thrust into the limelight by FdI – a far-right party with roots in a pro-Mussolini party founded after the Second World War – topping opinion polls for the first time after effectively becoming the entirety of Italy’s opposition.

It is the only significant party not in Italian prime minister Mario Draghi’s emergency cross-spectrum administration. It has helped Meloni, 44, and the only female leader of a major Italina party, scoop up disaffected voters, particularly from the once-dominant and right-wing populist Lega.

Rome’s political destiny appears to be tied up with the fortunes of Draghi’s government, his economic plan and the right-wing populists that dominate the polls. And the end of president Sergio Mattarella’s term early next year could usher in early elections that bring about the right-wing coalition long feared by markets. After a period of unusual calm, is Italy heading for trouble once again?

Draghi has been tasked with reviving an economy that has not grown in real terms for 20 years and was hit hard by the pandemic.

A political establishment that hasn’t allowed – let alone produced – growth in two decades. Their overturning might well be welcomed by markets rather than feared.