Notes and shorts from around the world


Goldilocks working for the Kremlin?
The Western media’s “political paranoia” about Russia can be taken to ridiculous extremes. Look at the extraordinary fuss that has been kicked up over a Russian TV cartoon series called Masha and the Bear. One of Russia’s most successful exports – shown in more than 100 countries, translated into 25 languages and racking up hundreds of millions of views on YouTube – it features a cunning little girl who is always getting into scrapes. In 2017, a Finnish paper ran an article declaring the show to be insidious Russian propaganda. It cited claims by an Estonian lecturer that the point of the programme was to indoctrinate children with a positive image of Russia – quelle horreur – and turn them into a future fifth column. In nearby Lithuania, an MP is campaigning to get it banned as a security threat. Recently, an article in The Times has cited a British politics professor who claims Masha is “Putinesque”.  Are these people serious? All this has caused hilarity in Russia, not least because the cartoon characters, these alleged Kremlin agents, are actually based on a fairy tale first popularised by the British author and poet laureate Robert Southey – namely, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. That is exactly what this charge of propaganda amounts to – a fairy tale.
Gaoled for doctored CV
In a case that has provoked uproar in Greece, a cleaner at a state-run nursery was sentenced to 10 years in gaol for lying about how long she spent at primary school. The 53 year old had worked at the nursery for 15 years when a review, in 2014, revealed that she had doctored her school certificate to show that she had completed six years of primary education – as required for the job – when, in fact, she left school after only five. She was later convicted of defrauding the public, a conviction upheld on appeal.
A Supreme Court is due to consider whether the case should be retried. One of 10 brothers and sisters, the woman grew up at a time when it was common for poor children in Greece to drop out of school.
McDonald’s mistakes
Several vegetarians complained that they had found chicken nuggets in the fast food chain’s vegetarian wraps, launched with great fanfare recently. At various branches, staff had confused the nuggets with vegetable goujons.
Bons mots
“It is awfully easy to be hard boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.” – Ernest Hemingway, writer, USA

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