Archive for the 'Elsewhere round Asia and the globe……..' Category

Dec 18 2013

Not quite the Christmas present he wanted back at the begining of the year…….

It was brought by a jolly fat man all right-but it turns out to be the gift that keeps on giving. Don't bend over to pick up the soap:

SAN DIEGO — The first conviction in a massive bribery scandal that has ensnared six U.S. Navy officials could lead to an expanded probe if a senior Navy criminal investigator who pleaded guilty cooperates with authorities as part of his plea agreement.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent John Beliveau II entered a guilty plea Tuesday in federal court in San Diego to bribery charges stemming from the multimillion-dollar fraud probe targeting a Malaysian defense contractor.

Beliveau, who faces a maximum sentence of 20 years when he’s sentenced March 7, said he is sorry for what he’s done.

“I’m here to do the right thing, and that’s what I did today,” Beliveau, 44, said after the hearing.

His attorney, Gretchen von Helms, declined to say whether her client would now assist the investigation, saying only he is “ready to prove he is honorable.”

That noise you hear is the sweating of yet to be indicted conspirators, me thinks.

So much for the Hoe, Hoe, Hoe this year! ;-)

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Sep 22 2013

Wahlzeit

In English, election time-which was the headline of a special edition of Das Bild newspaper yesterday -which was delivered free to our house.

All indicators show that Merkel is on cruise control to a third term as the Kanzlerin ( Chancellor). However because one of her coalition partners lost badly-the Free Democrats, she will have to probably find a new partner-most likely the SPD. And you can bet they are going to want something for the deal.

Yesterday the S.O. and I went to the flea market in downtown Stuttgart. There were some rallies going on on Konigstrasse-and also the posters were all out in force.

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The poster says, "Go vote! On 22 September 2013".  It is from the SPD.

There were a few other posters out yesterday- I really found this one interesting:

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It is from the Alternative Party ( a small left party). The poster says : "Courage for [telling]truth. The Greeks are suffering. The Germans are paying. The banks are cashing in."

And of course our old friends the Pirate Party are still out in force:

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.This one says: " The great coalition of the survellance" "Mass surveillenace must be stopped. Safety laws must be checked."

It is a jab about cooperation with the NSA. By the way-if you look closely the camera is wearing a green Angela Merkel dress-with Angela Merkel pearls. Not so subtle imagery that she is quite on board with this program.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the posters come down tomorrow.

On a positive note-the circus came to town-to the next village over. The connection to the election? Probably none-but it has to be good for at least a couple of irony points.

 

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Sep 18 2013

Another good deal gone fleeting……

For those that do not know, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., has long had a "lock" on the business of providing husbanding services to Navy ships in Asia. It's quite a lucrative business and is also known as a good deal for retiring supply officers who might want to stay in Asia. 

Or at least it was until yesterday:

SAN DIEGO — A Navy commander, a Naval criminal investigator and a defense contractor have been charged with conspiracy in a bribery scheme to gain millions in international port contracts, federal prosecutors said.

Leonard Francis was arrested this week in San Diego, Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz was arrested in Colorado, and NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau II was arrested in Virginia, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement Tuesday night. Each faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

An email seeking comment from an NCIS spokesman wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Francis, a Malaysian national who lives in Singapore, is the president and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., which has had “husbanding” contracts for Navy ships at ports worldwide for 25 years. The contracts — one of which was worth up to $125 million — involve providing services for ships and submarines in port, such as providing tugboats, security and transportation, paying customs fees, supplying food, fuel and water, and removing trash.

Prosecutors contend that Francis conspired to bribe the other men with luxury travel, prostitutes and gifts in exchange for information that allowed him to overcharge on port contracts by millions of dollars.

Could this be a potential business or job opportunity for mois?cool

7 responses so far

Jul 11 2013

Worth repeating.

This originally appeared over at ROK Drop, but it is such a great story of heroism and calm under extraordinary circumstances, that it is worth pausing and repeating here:

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From GI Korea's post:

Lee Yoon-hye, an Asiana Airlines flight attendant, talks about the plane’s crash at a hotel in San Francisco on July 7, 2013. The previous day, the South Korean airline’s Boeing 777 carrying 291 passengers and 16 crew members crash landed at San Francisco International Airport, leaving two killed and 182 others injured. Lee and four other flight attendants prevented a catastrophe by calmly guiding all passengers to escape routes from the crashed plane during the emergency. She was the last to get out of the plane. She also suffered a fracture in her tailbone in the accident. (Yonhap) – See more at: http://rokdrop.com/page/2/#sthash.5j8DpgvD.dpuf

3 responses so far

May 20 2013

Who are you? The Maid?

One particular item I have neglected to comment on in the last couple of months, primarily because I have been rather busy, and also America has been involved recently in Benghazi! Benghazi! BENGHAZI! ( one of the series of non scandals that is warming the hearts of the moron class in America)-something a lot worse happened in my second favorite city in the world.

Hong Kong's top court has ruled that domestic workers are not eligible to apply for permanent residency, ending a two-year battle that has split opinion.

The case had centred on Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a maid from the Philippines who has worked in Hong Kong for more than 17 years.

Domestic workers had argued that denying them permanent residency was unconstitutional.

The ruling has implications for Hong Kong's 300,000 domestic workers.

These workers come mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia, often spending years in the territory.

"The FDH [foreign domestic helper] is obliged to return to the country of origin at the end of the contract and is told from the outset that admission is not for the purposes of settlement and that dependents cannot be brought to reside in Hong Kong," the Court of Final Appeal said in a written judgment.

Ms Vallejos was "speechless but calmly resigned", her lawyer, Mark Daly said.

The decision was not a surprise. Hong Kong's Chinese middle and upper class population had been vehemently opposed to the idea.  All kinds of straws were grasped at by various folks in Hong Kong's power structure to justify their opposition to allow the "vermin" to enjoy basic rights that are actually written into Hong Kong's Basic Law. Regina Ip stated that the government would have to allocate more resources to deal with the increased workload resulting from right of abode applications by domestic workers. 

Hemlock kind of summed up the Chinese attitude well-but don't ever call them racist:

Middle class spared need to wash own dishes

To no-one’s great surprise, the Court of Final Appeal rejects foreign domestic helpers’ claim to right of abode in Hong Kong. This is a story with several very distinct angles.

….

 

 

There’s a subliminal nationalism angle. Most of the helpers concerned are from the Philippines. The Philippines is a joke country; it is the Asian nation China can most easily bully, but it is also the one most likely to mishandle or overreact to intimidation. From Beijing’s point of view, it is appropriate that Hong Kong keeps Filipinos in their place. To Manila, this case could be a reminder that the most demeaning treatment Filipinos receive is from their own country’s incompetent leadership, which leaves them with no option but to migrate – but it probably won’t.

There’s the principles vs populism angle. The government was desperate to get this result because of overwhelming public opposition to allowing Filipino maids’ kids into Hong Kong (as with Mainland mothers, subject to a separate court case). This is the same government that constantly tells us that we have a pressing demographic crisis that can only be solved through a boost in the number of children – and that we shouldn’t discriminate against brown people and Mainlanders.

And that leads to a cultural and racial angle, summed up by the New York Times, which asks if Hong Kong will embrace a more multi-ethnic future. As with legal systems and age demographics, this case highlights Hong Kong’s values schizophrenia. On the one hand, the city is supposed to be part of the People’s Republic of China, with the national anthem on TV and smiling patriotic schoolchildren – sons and daughters of the dragon – waving red flags to greet visiting Chinese astronauts and Olympians. On the other hand, the city fancies itself as a diverse melting pot like New York or London, attracting the brightest and the best from around the world, as indeed it must if it is to maintain the region’s biggest clusters of financial, legal, technical and other skills. In practice, much of Han Hong Kong is insular, culturally solidly Chinese and fears external competition, while a smaller part of the ethnic Chinese populace are cosmopolitan and, often, Western-educated. The first group are in Beijing’s eyes surely the ‘politically correct’ population; the second group plus some non-Chinese are what keeps the place ticking. It is a contradiction Hong Kong government officials can’t resolve, so they wing it.

It is rather interesting, what with the faux outrage going on in the US about the supposed mistreatment of women in the service-and the so called glass ceiling-very little attention is given to these women; who actually live-in some cases-with REAL harassment; A REAL hostile work environment; and a wage that is well less than what their services can and should be on the open market. Yet not a peep is heard from the US feminists about it-afraid to show solidarity with the sex, I suppose. And worse yet- the Philippine Government is so inept that they create the conditions by which literally over 5 million Filipinos have to work overseas. As I have pointed out before-it should be a national embarrassment to the country. But somehow successive Philippine governments never get around to recognizing that.

Spike pointed out a while back that the decision fails a test of reasonableness-both for being against Hong Kong's Basic Law- and that it doesn't pass any test of basic fairness and decency:

So that’s legal. But is it fair? Each of these women who sued for resident status has been living and working in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. If they lose their jobs, they have an insanely short period in which to either find a new job or get out of the country – even when they’ve been here for decades.

Even if they have family back in the Philippines or Indonesia, they see that family perhaps once a year, perhaps only once every other year. They have essentially given up their lives to work a six day work week.  They’re on call 18 hours a day and usually have a curfew on their day off. They receive well under US$500 per month in salary (much more than they can earn in their home countries) plus room and board. In return they are an important component of Hong Kong’s economy. They enable two-income families, the only way the average Hong Konger can afford a 500 square foot shitbox from Li Ka-Shing or Sun Hung Kai.  

Opponents of giving residence status to domestic helpers use fear tactics.  Hong Kong will suddenly have 300,000 new permanent residents, all of whom will quit their jobs and live off welfare.  (What welfare?)  Others say that they should have no right to resident status because they never paid Hong Kong income tax, which ignores the fact that their salaries are too low to qualify to pay.

So there’s legal and there’s what’s fair and the two are often not the same.

 

I have a soft spot in my heart for these women-who deal with a lot; who have children they seldom see; hope for a better future; and in some cases get treated really badly. I think Spike is really right here-the masters in Beijing just want to bide their time and destroy everything unique about Hong Kong bit by bit.

8 responses so far

Mar 13 2013

We have a Pope!

Well I sure did not see that coming:

 

I was not expecting an Argentinian pope-and it strikes me as an interesting way to for the church to once again tell American Catholics to STFU. "Pick a pope from America? Just not your America!"

Oh, and while this new Pope Francis may answer to a higher authority, Senora Kirchner, you still  don't get the Falklands. Henry VIII settled that one a long time ago.

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Mar 06 2013

Why didn’t I think of that?

Those crafty bastards on the mainland may be on to something:

SHANGHAI: Chinese couples are flocking to divorce to evade a new tax on home sales after the government cracked down on property speculation, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported Wednesday.



China's central government last Friday issued rules to rein in house prices, including a nationwide capital gains tax of 20 percent on profits owners make from selling residential property.



But a loophole allows couples with two properties who divorce and put each house into one person's name to then sell them tax-free under certain conditions, after which they can remarry, the state-backed newspaper said.



Government marriage registration offices — which also handle divorces — in China's commercial hub of Shanghai were swamped by scores of couples this week trying to untie the knot, including at least one pregnant woman, the paper said.



"She told me she came here to avoid the possible loss in a property transaction, and I could say nothing," it quoted a harried official saying at the registry in the city's Yangpu district, which saw divorces double.

 

 

 

Except I would have, knowing what I know now, skipped the remarrying part.

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Feb 12 2013

267 down-1 to go?

Suffice it to say I did not see the resignation of Pope Palpatine Benedict coming. I didn't realize he even had the option. I always thought, in that job, there was only one way out of it. :/

Nonetheless this a big deal. There has been no Pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII did so in 1415. And he really did not do so voluntarily-he pretty much had it forced upon him by the circumstances of the time.Three rival popes had been selected by separate factions of the church, and a group of bishops called the Council of Constance was trying to heal the schism. Gregory XII had offered to resign so that the council could choose a new pope whom all factions would recognize. It took two years after Gregory XII’s departure to elect his successor, Martin V.

It's not quite the same in this situation. Benedict is probably doing a noble thing-in offering to allow selection of a Pope while he is still in some sembalance of health and avoid the usual situation where the moles of the Vatican Curia essentially run the Catholic Church-unaccountable to anyone. ( Some say they are accountable to God, of course, but recent history shows they don't seem to actually understand that fine point).

So Benedict is doing a good thing right?

Maybe not. If you subscibe to the ideas put forth by Saint Malachy, whoever succeeds Pope Benedict will be the last Pope. Or at the least the Pope who presides over the destruction of Rome. ( Would anyone miss it?)

There have been 267 Popes in all. Malachy's 112 lines of Latin supposedly predict all since Pope Celestine II. And the successor to Benedict will be the 112th pope in the sequence. The final Pope is supposed to be Peterus Romanus. (Peter of Rome).  Basically, if you believe people hooked on depressing Bible Prophecies-like Hal Lindsay-this Pope sells out the farm to the antichrist. ( Of course its been 40 years since Lindsay said that the European Common Market was the beast with 10 heads-so take his predicitions with a grain of salt).

And as an extra added bonus, sure to screw up your day on this subject-the "We need a pope from Africa" crowd is pushing a Cardinal named Peter Turkson from Ghana as a front runner to succeed Benedict. I don't think he will get elected-but you never know………………

So we got all that going for us.

5 responses so far

Jan 22 2013

Meanwhile-over in the land of Milk and Honey.

Neither of which, interestingly enough, I have ever really found in my journeys through Israel. For some reason, it is always imported from some where else.

ANYWAY……….

Today is Election Day in Israel. Since the results of the election will have a direct impact on the complexity of my job in the next few months, I thought this column by one of my favorite Haaretz authors-was quite appropriate for today.

 

If you're in Israel today, vote as if your life depended on it. It does.

Over two terms, we've learned that Netanyahu will do anything and everything to stay in power. Including nothing. Especially nothing.

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I intend to vote the hell out of this election. I intend to vote us the hell out of the occupation. I intend to kick Netanyahu in his kitsch and his slime and his cowardice and the way he'll hold on to the leather chair until we the people pry it from his cold, dead hands.

We. The people of this country who want to see peace – the two thirds of the population who want to see two states bring an end to one endless crippling Israel-killing occupation.

I intend to vote the hell out of this election, and the one after that, which could come sooner than anyone – especially Bibi – thinks. I intend to vote because I've been disenfranchised by the one in 25 Israelis who lives in settlements. I intend to vote this time and the next, and the time after that, because the government of this country has been hijacked by the spirit and the waste trail and the living, ruling heirs of Meir Kahane, and because Netanyahu just sits by and watches and fools himself into thinking that he's co-opting them, because, above all, he's scared shitless of them.

 

One of the best parts about my job today is that I have gained an real appreciation for how complex politics are in Israel. And only Israelis could make it as complex as they do. In America its pretty simple-you are either on the side of the selfish or not. In Israel, all the players are selfish-its just what they are selfish about.

Netanyahu, 63, is now the second-longest serving Israeli prime minister after David Ben-Gurion. After tomorrow’s expected debacle for Likud-Beiteinu, he will no longer be considered an electoral asset by his subordinates. What’s more, he will be lagging behind them politically; with the arguable exception of Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, every single Knesset member in Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi – the presumed bulk of the next coalition – will outflank Bibi on the right. He will be the new government’s “liberal.” That still probably won't stop him from attacking Iran-which will fuck up my work life royally, but one can always hope. Plus as long as Netanyahu remains Prime Minister, one will have to deal with wacko American evangelicals thinking he is paving the way for them to the rapture and Armageddon. Uh, no, thank you. We can skip that-and more settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the way forward for American Christianity or Israeli Judaism.

5 responses so far

Nov 20 2012

Better to laugh than to cry.

At least in Israel anyway-its a way to keep one's spirits up till Hamas finally gets the message that shooting missiles at Israelis is a shitty way to advance their cause.

I am a daily reader of Haaretz.  ( I have also been struggling to learn Hebrew, but the less said about that little adventure, the better).

Anyway……..

They published a cute article today about life under the rocket fire in Israel. Want to impress your girlfriend? Take her on an "Iron Dome Date":

The Iron Dome batteries are the hot spot of every city they are deployed in, the "'in place to be" is next to the Iron Dome missile defense units. Even knowing they're supposed to take cover during missile attacks, there are thrill-seeking "war tourists" who are camping out next to the missile batteries in the daytime and in the evening, staring and photographing. There are even reports of Iron Dome dates – couples taking a pizza and a bottle of wine and sitting next to the batteries waiting for them to fire. Seems like a pretty extreme measure to impress a girl. Sitting out in the open while missiles are flying seems like an incredibly stupid thing to do,and violates every Home Front Command order – but the spectators interviewed on television shrug it off and say watching the Iron Dome helps them "feel safe and protected." So grateful are residents of the southern cities for the rocket-busters that they come offering gifts and food to the troops manning them. One man in Ashdod even set up a full barbecue grill next to the Iron Dome today to cook lunch for the soldiers, and told his television interviewer he was "building a fire under fire." The food is often more than the soldiers can eat; they give the leftovers to the journalists who are also crowded there.

 

And of course, there is the awful inconvience of ill timed rocket attacks, which evidently have caught some Israelis, in flagrante delecto

After five days of war, there was finally a short but hilarious satiric segment by the folks at “Eretz Nehederet,” Israel’s equivalent of “Saturday Night Live,” with spot-on impressions of the grandstanding news correspondents and politicians, and a sketch on the embarrassing situations in a Tel Aviv stairwell during missile attacks – people seeing their neighbors in various states of undress, sheepishly taking shelter with their one-night stands.

And of course, after the fact-there are always the insurance companies to deal with. You think hurricanes are a problem? Try inquiring with your insurance company to see if you have "rocket insurance":

The barrage of missiles causing property damage in a swath of southern Israel will prompt questions over what compensation the government provides for those affected. Amir Dahan, who heads the Tax Authority's compensation department, provides some answers.

What is the actual role of the compensation department in the current Operation Pillar of Defense?

"We are responsible for identifying damage to civilian property, compensating residents and repairing the damage. When something happens and we receive a report of it, we immediately go to the scene. Our teams consist of a Tax Authority employee and an appraiser or engineer, who come to the site where a rocket has landed, access the damage and, together with the victim, fill out a claim form."

 

 

 

And finally,  there is the not so  well timed sports joke:

"So the IDF bombed a soccer stadium in Gaza where they were storing and firing missiles. Unfortunately, I have to note that this was the only victory that Israel has had on a soccer field this year."

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Nov 03 2012

It is all about the packaging

Until everything goes horribly wrong:

BANGKOK: The Thai government is cracking down on illegal beauty clinics and unlicensed doctors after the death of a high-profile woman.



The name of her job says it all.



Athitiya Eiamya worked as a "pretty" – a term used for the almost ubiquitous product promotion girls who work the trade shows and city shopping malls.



But Athitaya's life ended tragically due to complications from a botched filler injection to make her buttocks appear fuller, administered by a man with no medical training.



Legitimate beauty clinics abound in Bangkok but there's also a burgeoning network of underground, cut price practitioners offering the same kind of services at sharply discounted rates. And while customers may save money, the real cost could actually be their life.



Dr Thara Chinakarn, Director of the Bureau of Sanatorium and Art of Healing, Ministry of Public Health Ministry, said: "Some people have undergone beauty procedures despite knowing that it was being carried out by an unlicensed dermatologist. This is absolutely unsafe and dangerous. Don't care just about convenience and cheap price or let an unlicensed dermatologist inject some substance into your body as it is risky and dangerous." 



The current maximum penalty for operating without a licence is a three-year prison sentence plus US$2,000 fine and as yet, there are no plans to increase the severity of that punishment.



But the government has initiated a crackdown following a recent spike in cases of botched procedures.

 

Why am I not surprised?

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Oct 29 2012

A good day to be on this side of the Atlantic

As Hurricane Sandy bears down on New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and about 10 other states. 

I'm working late tonight-so I have been following the storms path on the news. Upwards of 1 million people are without power. Evidently Atlantic City, Cape May and New York are getting the stuffing beaten out of them.

The Atlantic has a good post up-pointing out that the likelyhood is we will see more of these types of storms-not less:

But the scary thing out there isn't annoying journalists hyping every hurricane like mad, but rather that storms like Sandy will be more commonplace. And instead of being a "storm of a century" Sandy and "storms of the century" like it, could be storms we could start seeing more and more of. Though scientists don't really want to go out on a limb linking extreme weather to climate change—NPRs' Adam Frank goes into this brilliantly—they are pretty clear on one thing: 

Oceans Are Getting Warmer. That means hurricane season is getting longer: "When you heat the oceans more, you extend the length of hurricane season," Weather Underground's Dr. Jeff Masters (seriously, go read his stuff) told Democracy Now. "There’s been ample evidence over the last decade or so that hurricane season is getting longer—it starts earlier, ends later. You’re more likely to get these sort of late October storms now," he adds.  As NPR's Frank explains, a warmer ocean means more evaporation, and evaporation means more storms. According to an MIT study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, scientists found a connection between warmer years and strong hurricanes. In that same vein, warmer oceans give storms like Sandy more energy to sustain themselves. And it just so happens that in the first six months of 2012, sea surface temperatures on the Northeast Continental Shelf experienced record highs.  

The increase of the number of hurricanes increases the chance of one of them lurching toward the Northeast, and that's one reason why we can't just throw around the term "storm of the century" whenever we feel like it (otherwise, we'd be the journalists who cried "storm of the…"). 

This storm is going to be a real mess that is to be sure.

4 responses so far

Oct 11 2012

Just don’t throw the crumbs on the street.

Otherwise you might end up getting caned.

SINGAPORE: Doughnut lovers in Singapore will soon no longer have to bring home boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts whenever they return from overseas.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Corporation on Thursday announced that it has signed an agreement with Star360 Group to bring its doughnut shops to Singapore.

Under the agreement, 15 Krispy Kreme franchise locations will be set up in Singapore over the next five years.

 


One more reason to cry myself to sleep tonight, thinking about the walk up the non moving escalator. When they opened a Krispy Kreme in Shinjuku, the place had huge lines at all times of the day. I wonder if Singapore will have the same. In Hong Kong they used to have one in Soho-but it never really took off. ( It was just down the street from McSorley's-one of my lunchtime haunts in HK).

One response so far

Aug 27 2012

The trouble with sequels…..

Expat @ Large finds several of them with the lastest installment in the Bourne Series:

c – the surprising absence of girly-bars and other sex-tourism establishments as the camera pans up any given road, street, lane or ever-narrowing alley. Needless to say all of these establishements are owned, managed, and protected by the said Police. Nope, not one view, not one plaintive arm stretched out of a smokey-glassed door in Angeles city, not one face from behind tattered curtain in the, um, rest of the slums with the pleading call: "You buy me drink!"

 

No Hookers were solicited or harmed in the making of this movie.

No responses yet

Jun 19 2012

Euro 2012 fever

Sorry for the lack of posting. Guests for work in town and damn the luck, have had to eat out and drink beer twice in a row. Got home tonight to watch the second half of the England- Ukraine Game. I have been watching as much of the tournament as I can-and plan to watch Friday's Germany game in a Biergarten.

Which had the proper result. England advanced. Ukraine-as befits a former part of the former Soviet Union-joins Poland in hosting the games but not playing in them. As it should be.

The cold war reflexes die hard it seems. I'm happy that all the "proper" European teams advanced, and the former Warsaw Pact countries ( with the lone exception of the Czech Republic) are now safely riding the pine.

But someone is going to have to explain the UEFA point system to me. I don't understand how France gets beat by Sweden and still advances.

Anybody able to explain how the point and group ranking system works?

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