Notes and shorts from around the world


Hounded but guilty
In a country plagued by the scourge of corruption, it is the media's job to hold politicians to account, so it is a bit rich to accuse the media of killing the colourful ex-mayor of Valencia, Rita Barberá, who died of a heart attack two days after being grilled by investigators over a party funding scam. They have “hounded her to death,” wailed her colleagues in the right wing Popular Party. To listen to their eulogies, one would think she had been a paragon of virtue. She had not. Yes, she deserved credit for turning Valencia into one of the most vibrant cities in the Mediterranean, but she was also notorious for sleazy behaviour, claiming $410,000 on travel and meals in just three years, and blowing a similar sum on an armour plated Audi, for which the city cannot now find a buyer. She had also been implicated in a huge bribery and money laundering scandal, yet escaped prosecution by clinging on to her senate seat and the immunity it provided. The left wingers who showily stalked out of parliament at news of her death might have shown an unfortunate lack of humanity, but while a politician suspected of corruption may escape justice by dying, that does not necessarily make her innocent.
Finding little Miss Lost
A four year old girl who crossed the Mediterranean alone is to be reunited with her mother. Oumoh and her mother fled the Ivory Coast together, but were separated in Tunisia. Somehow, Oumoh ended up alone on a boat to Italy and arrived on the island of Lampedusa. She was entirely friendless and officials had no means of tracing her family, but two weeks later, another young refugee from the Ivory Coast was scrolling through a police officer's phone when she spotted Oumoh's photograph on it, and recognised her. Oumoh's mother has now been traced and the pair is set to be reunited soon in Italy.
Don't panic!
The owner of a young, blind rescue goat with severe anxiety problems has found the perfect way to keep her pet calm. She dresses the kid in a duck costume. Leanne Lauricella said that Polly would run around and cry whenever she left the room, until she bought the duck outfit at Halloween. “As soon as I put it on her, she just instantly got calm,” Lauricella said. “She goes into a trance. She just closes her eyes and she's out.”
Bons mots
“As I looked out into the night sky, across all those infinite stars, it made me realise how unimportant they are.” – Peter Cook, British comedian
“In diplomatic circles, it is said that an ambassador is someone who thinks twice before he says nothing.” – Ben Macintyre, British author and historian

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