Bad Luck Borat

Bad luck for Tofik Mamedov, the Borat of Botany, whose car got crushed by a huge rotten tree limb. It’s lucky that he and others were not injured.

The good news is that the car is a crappy old Rover, and is now written off, so Borat can now get insurance money for a newer and better car to put Labour Party signs on at the next election.

Great success!

A two-tonne tree branch that snapped from a 150-year-old oak tree, badly damaging a row of parked cars in Auckland Domain yesterday, was probably rotten but was “extensively” checked by council staff last year.

About 1pm, the tree appeared to split in half, slamming the 15m limb on to four cars parked beneath it. The cars’ roofs were crushed and windscreens shattered. No one was injured.

Council parks manager Mark Bowater said the limb that “failed” stripped away part of the trunk of the tree, revealing internal decay.

“That appears to be the cause of the failure,” he said.   Read more »

Humourless Bastards

The Atlantic

The Kazakh government really are a pack of humourless bastards:

Following some embarrassing incidents involving its national anthem, Kazakhstan has passed new legislation imposing stiff punishments for treating its state symbols with disrespect.

Under a bill passed by the upper house of parliament on June 14, anyone who mistreats or desecrates state symbols, which include the country’s flag as well as its anthem, faces up to a year in jail or a stiff fine, the Novosti-Kazakhstan news agency reports.

The new legislation was drafted after Kazakhstan made international headlines over a mix-up involving its national anthem at a March sporting event in Kuwait. Then, the hosts accidentally played a version of the spoof anthem that featured in the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which extols Kazakhstan’s potassium and prostitutes and memorably contains the line “Kazakhstan: greatest country in the world, all other countries are run by little girls.”

That blunder came just days after a goof-up in northern Kazakhstan, where the Ricky Martin song “Livin’ la Vida Loca” was accidentally played instead of the anthem at the opening of a skiing festival.

The incidents made headlines and got laughs abroad, but at home Astana — ever sensitive to its international image — was not smiling.

This new legislation is its response, and the penalties are tough: up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of 3.2 million tenge ($21,000). Bakytzhan Sagyntayev, the minister for economic development and trade, has said that the legislation came in response to the anthem mix-ups and to an incident where people were found to be using the national flag to transport garbage.