Daily Archives: April 16, 2013

♦ JP Rathbone looks at the fading of Chávez’s political dream in Venezuela, arguing that the results of Sunday’s election represent “no kind of mandate for [Nicolás] Maduro or the radical socialism he espouses.

♦ “Either I bought [the lumber], or I stole it. But I can’t have done both. And actually, I did neither.” Russian blogger Alexei Navalny talks to the FT’s Charles Clover, ahead of the start of his trial on Wednesday.

♦ The Washington Post has the story of a mysterious Iranian-controlled factory in Germany which closed its doors last month. Could it have been involved in a scheme to aid Iran’s rogue nuclear program?

♦ The debate around whether women can have it all has been swirling for a while now, but today psychotherapist Naomi Shragai considers the other side: men who struggle to balance their work with family time.

♦ Guinea-Bissau is considered one of the world’s leading narco-states. Adam Nossiter writes about a long-running US sting operation that managed to snare a former chief of the country’s navy.

♦ Young Turkish people living in Germany are being asked to choose between German or Turkish nationality because they don’t have the right to hold onto both once they reach the age of 23, reports Judy Dempsey in the New York Times.

♦ “The finish line at a marathon is a small marvel of fellowship,” writes Ezra Klein. “Today, the final line of the Boston Marathon is a crime scene.” Also on the subject of yesterday’s tragedy in Boston, the New Scientist has a post on what clues the bomb fragments may yieldRead more

Liberty Leading the People, Eugène Delacroix [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s nowhere left to hide! The champagne socialists have been outed, their secret extravagance and hypocritical lives of luxury exposed once and for all!

At least, that’s what critics of François Hollande’s government must have been hoping.

What actually emerged from the enforced declaration of assets by French cabinet ministers on Monday was somewhat less exciting.

Ok, so there are a few millionaires – foreign minister Laurent Fabius is officially the cabinet’s richest member, with assets of around €6m; minister for the elderly Michèle Delaunay has about €5.4m, including two houses and €15,000 in jewellery.

And yes, Arnaud Montebourg, that famous leftwing fireband, owns an Eames chair that he bought for €4,300. But who said socialists weren’t allowed to covet icons of modern design?

You can peruse the documents yourself, minister by minister, on a special website courtesy of the French government. We found the section marked: “Véhicules terrestres à moteur, bateaux, avions, etc.” of particular interest. From it, we have learned the following.

Clio Expression Eco - 94g/km CO2 (image courtesy Renault)

This is the most popular car in the French cabinet

1) This is not a cabinet of petrolheads or luxury car enthusiasts. With a few exceptions, these ministers like cars that are French-made, sensible, easy to park, and inexpensive. Thus, the most popular car in the French cabinet is the Renault Clio, a vehicle described by WhatCar magazine as a chic supermini [that] offers low running costs”.

2) Most, though not all, are patriotic in their car-buying. We counted 4 Citroens, 9 Peugeots, and no fewer than 19 Renaults. Of the Renaults, after the Clio, the Twingo and the Megane were particularly favoured. Only a few ministers broke from French brand names – including minister of defence, Jean Yves Le Drian, whose cars include a Suzuki Wagon R from July 2004 and a Lancia Ypsilon from 2012. Read more

By Gideon Rachman
Travelling between Madrid and Barcelona on a recent weekday afternoon, I wandered into the first-class section of the train. There was only one passenger, snoozing on the black leather seats – and he turned out to be the conductor, who looked up startled at the sound of an intruder.