Austin Travel adds a Beulas Glory interdecker

first_imgAustin Travel, trading as Scotline Tours, has taken delivery of an MAN RR4 with wheelchair-accessible Beulas Glory interdecker body, supplied by Moseley (PCV) (01977 609000).The 13.2m coach has 59 Sege VIP passenger seats with leather inserts and piping, drop down tables, footrests and magazine nets. Entertainment is from a Bosch Professional Line system, and a toilet, fridge and drinks machine are all fitted.Sound proofing has been added around the engine bay, and an integrated coach wash including a water tank and pump facility is fitted. Power is from a 480bhp, 12.4-litre engine.last_img read more


Treka delivers 15 minis to Central Beds Council

first_imgCentral Bedfordshire Council held a ceremony in April for the delivery of 15 new minibuses by Treka Bus; the manufacturer has given ‘as much support as we needed’ during the purchasing processHandover ceremony took place at CBC’s Shefford head office in AprilFollowing its announcement of a three-year vehicle supply framework agreement with Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC), Brighouse-based Treka Bus delivered the first 15 of the local authority’s new accessible minibuses.A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at CBC’s head office in Shefford on 6 April to unveil the first of the new minibuses.The 10 Treka 16 coachbuilt minibuses have 16 removable seats with three-point, all-age belts, or they can hold up to 16 wheelchair users.The minibuses also benefit from an Eberspächer dual heating system, and wipe-clean GRP interiorsA PLS Access II passenger lift is fitted to each minibus with the longest and widest platform available. Its safe working limit is 400kg and it has a plug-in remote control as standard. Both the coachbuilt and converted minibuses have fully flat floors.Driver Sharon Prickett was on hand to cut the red ribbon as staff from CBC, local councillors, and senior management from Treka – including Chairman Mark Clissett, Sales Director Helen Day and Production Director Morgan Clissett – looked on.‘Excellent experience’The day was a real celebration for CBC as it has waited a long time for authorisation to replace its ageing fleet of accessible minibuses, which are used for community work, mainly for passengers with special educational needs.Arthi Appathurai, CBC Fleet Service Managers, says: “Treka has assisted us throughout the buying process from start to finish, and it gave us as much support as we needed along the way.“We have had an excellent experience working with Treka, and it is a relationship that we hope will continue in the years to come.” CBC has 65 vehicles in its fleet, and the new minibuses have replaced much older examples.Based in West Yorkshire, Treka is the largest independent manufacturer of coachbuilt wheelchair-accessible passenger carrying vehicles in the UK.www.trekabus.comlast_img read more


‘Make a difference’ with Oxford Bus

first_imgOxford Bus Company has launched its ‘Make One Promise’ campaign, which encourages people to leave their car at home and take the bus once a week for six weeks – with a series of special offers on fares. Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company MD, says: “Our appeal can make a difference and we hope people embrace it.”Fare savings are available on the following ticket options purchased by 26th January, as follows:•City Zone 12-trips reduced from £15 to £12•PickMeUp 12-trips reduced from £30 to £24•Park & Ride service 12-trips reduced from £14.50 to £12•City Zone and South Oxfordshire Zone 12-trips reduced from £30 to £24•South Oxfordshire Zone 12-trips reduced from £21 to £18•X90 12-trips reduced from £72 to £60last_img read more


FORS launches new tyre management guide

first_imgFORS has released a tyre management guide to advise members on how best practice can help improve tyre wear, increase vehicle safety and reduce a vehicle’s environmental impact.The new guide is available to FORS members online.It highlights how robust tyre management policy can improve fleet safety as well as fuel efficiency.FORS Bronze membership stipulates that members must have a tyre management policy and supporting procedures in place to help ensure tyres are correctly managed.The guide includes a range of practical advice to help FORS members build their tyre management policy.Sonia Hayward, FORS Manager, says: “Correctly and accurately managed and maintained tyres make fleets safer and can lead to reduced emissions and real fuel savings for operators.“Over-inflated tyres present a safety issue, as tread contact with the road is decreased, which can affect braking distances and overall handling.“Conversely under-inflated tyres contribute towards increases in emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, and for every 10% of decreased tyre pressure, fuel consumption increases by 2%.“This guide offers a wealth of information and with its handy policy and procedures checklists, it will help members meet FORS Bronze requirement ‘V7 Tyre management’.”last_img read more


71% stand space already sold for Euro Bus Expo 2020

first_imgMajor vehicle manufacturers and dealers confirmed for industry’s leading European trade showJust 12 months from doors opening, the organisers of Euro Bus Expo have confirmed that 71% of exhibition space has been sold, with over 270 exhibitors expected.Vehicle manufacturers and dealers confirmed include: Alexander Dennis, BASE, Connaught PSV, Donnegal Commercial Vehicles, GM Coachwork, Ilesbus, Irizar UK, MAN Bus and Coach UK, Mercedes-Benz Buses, Moseley (PCV), Optare, Pelican Yutong, PHVC Minibus and Fleet Suppliers, Van Hool, VDL Bus and Coach and Volvo Bus.Established as a leading international trade fair for the coach and bus industry in 2020, Euro Bus Expo returns to the NEC, Birmingham on 3 – 5 November.9,000 international attendees are expected to attend to discover the latest products and services to advance their business including: Senior decision makers at the largest multi-national organisations through to the smallest family-run businesses, community transport operations and local authorities.“Bookings have been very strong for next year’s event with the majority of key manufacturers and dealers already confirmed,” says Sales Manager Martin Laverton. “Euro Bus Expo 2020 is already positioned as a key event for our industry next year, as operators and suppliers focus on the opportunities for 2020 and beyond. We look forward to delivering another quality show which our industry can be proud of. Prospective exhibitors are urged to act quickly to secure their stand of choice.”The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) is once again the show partner.[box]To book a stand, contact Martin Laverton on 01733 405735 or [email protected] floorplan and more details are available at www.eurobusxpo.comlast_img read more


DVSA clarifies reissued Driver Qualification Card date error

first_imgDVSA has clarified an error with the Driver Qualification Card (DQC) expiry date on some cards that have been reissued to Driver CPC holders who received a seven-month extension to the validity of their existing DQC.The Agency recently announced that new DQCs would be issued to those drivers where the extension is still in force to reflect the change of date by which 35 hours’ training must be completed. However, it has come to light that some of those reissued cards erroneously display the original date of expiry, and not the one that takes account of the extension.A DVSA spokesperson has confirmed that in these instances, a further DQC with the correct expiry date will be dispatched. It is expected that the first of those should arrive very soon, if they have not done so already.The spokesperson adds that if drivers who have benefitted from a seven-month extension that is still current are stopped and asked to produce their DQC before a reissued card displaying the correct expiry date reaches them, they should show their existing card with the expired date on it.The extension to DQC expiry dates was introduced in June 2020. It applies to cards that were due to expire between 1 February-31 August 2020.last_img read more


Notre Dame receives school’s final shipment of coal

first_img Google+ Twitter Facebook By Tommie Lee – October 15, 2019 0 324 A U.S. coal miner, trained by a crew of German experts, operates electric switches controlling movements of a new-type German mining machine operating underground in West Virginia. The imported machine, 328 feet long, produced up to two tons of coal a minute. At right are chunks of coal being transported after the machine has sliced them off the seam. (AP Photo) The University of Notre Dame is ready for the end of an era — one year ahead of schedule.The school has used coal as an energy source since it opened in 1842. Monday, the last 10 tons of coal the school intends to burn were dumped to feed the campus power plant.The idea to switch away from coal was inspired in part by a letter written by Pope Francis about taking better care of the Earth. The school has made strides in changing their energy infrastructure in recent years, part of an effort to cut Notre Dame’s carbon footprint in half by 2030.This final coal delivery should be used up by the end of next year, according to officials at the school. The new energy configuration is also saving Notre Dame an estimated 2 million dollars per year. Pinterest Google+ Twitter Facebook Notre Dame receives school’s final shipment of coal WhatsApp WhatsApp IndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend Market Pinterest Previous articleCass County man gets 43 years for AK-47 shooting in DowagiacNext articleSouth Bend Schools Loses 700 Students This Year Tommie Leelast_img read more


Notre Dame to face Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28

first_imgIndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend MarketSports Pinterest By 95.3 MNC – December 8, 2019 0 540 Twitter Twitter WhatsApp Google+ Previous articlePolice: Alcohol a factor in crash that injured a Cass County manNext articleS.W.A.T. standoff in Elkhart County ends with arrest 95.3 MNCNews/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel is your breaking news and weather station for northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan. Notre Dame offensive linemen Robert Hainsey (72) and Liam Eichenberg (74) celebrate after defeating Southern California in an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the Iowa State Cyclones in the Camping Word Bowl. The game is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28. It will air on ABC 57.The University of Notre Dame official news release from www.UND.com:With a third-consecutive 10-win season in the books, the Notre Dame football team will look for win No. 11 in the Camping World Bowl against Iowa State on Saturday, Dec. 28 (Noon ET, ABC).The Fighting Irish are headed to a bowl game for the ninth time in 10 seasons under Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly, with this year’s postseason trip marking the 36th postseason appearance for the program.Notre Dame capped a 10-2 regular season with a 45-24 victory at Stanford on Nov. 30. The Irish finished the season ranked among the top-15 nationally in both scoring offense (37.1 points per game) and scoring defense (18.7 points allowed per game), while registering three wins against teams in the final College Football Playoff rankings (USC, Virginia and Navy).Notre Dame and Iowa State have never met in football. The Cyclones will become the 148th different opponent in school history, with the Irish owning a 122-22-3 (.840) record against first-time opponents. Earlier in 2019, Notre Dame earned victories over debut opponents New Mexico and Bowling Green.Kelly’s team has won 32 of the last 38 games played and the 10-plus wins in each of the last three seasons is a program first since 1991-93. The Irish completed a second-consecutive undefeated season at home and own the third-longest winning streak in Notre Dame Stadium history. The 296-108 point differential at home this season was the largest by a Notre Dame team since 1932.The Notre Dame offense is led by QB Ian Book, who is the first signal caller in school history to eclipse 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 TD passes in the season. He now ranks fourth in school history with 56 career TD passes. WR Chase Claypool is just the fourth Notre Dame receiver since 1996 to eclipse 400 receiving yards in three-straight seasons, while TEs Cole Kmet and Tommy Tremble had given Notre Dame a pair of tight ends with at least four TD receptions in the same season for the first time in school history.A trio of captains lead the Irish defense in DL Khalid Kareem, S Jalen Elliott and S Alohi Gilman. The defense has been particularly stout early in games, surrendering just 3.09 points per game in the first quarter. Notre Dame has held 24 of its last 25 opponents to 30 points or less. Kareem leads the team with 10 tackles for loss, while adding nine QB hurries, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a TD against Stanford. Gilman owns 66 tackles, trailing only the team’s three starting linebackers, while adding a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles. Elliott has intercepted a pair of passes and broken-up two more.The Camping World Bowl marks the school’s 36th bowl game after the University declined to participate in postseason football from 1925-68. Notre Dame has routinely set bowl game attendance records, including in the visit to the Champs Sports Bowl. The Irish set records at the Sugar Bowl (85,161 in 1973 vs. Alabama), the Champs Sports Bowl (68,305 in 2011 vs. Florida State, tops among games played at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium), the Sun Bowl (54,021 in 2010 vs. Miami), the Hawaii Bowl (43,487 in 2008 vs. Hawaii), the Insight Bowl (45,971 in 2004 vs. Oregon State, tops among games at Chase Field) and the Independence Bowl (50,459 in 1997 vs. LSU).  Ticket InformationTickets for the Camping World Bowl may be purchased directly through Notre Dame at UND.com/BuyTickets.Tickets can also be secured through the official Notre Dame Ticket Exchange. Facebook WhatsApp Facebook Pinterest Google+ Notre Dame to face Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28last_img read more


Michigan among the best states for elder abuse protections

first_img WhatsApp Pinterest Google+ Google+ Facebook By Tommie Lee – December 4, 2019 0 283 Twitter (File Photo/Federated Media) A list of states that offer the best protections against elder abuse has Michigan in the Top Five.The list from WalletHub puts Michigan 4th, behind Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts, which topped the list. New Jersey finished last.Indiana was in the middle of the pack at 25. The share of adults aged 65 and older is expected to be 1 in 5 by the year 2030, according to the study, which also suggests that as many as 13 of every 14 elder abuse cases go unreported.The data looked at a state’s share of abuse cases, gross neglect, complaints of exploitation, and laws in place to protect financial abuses. Pinterest Michigan among the best states for elder abuse protections Facebook IndianaLocalMichiganNationalNewsSouth Bend Market WhatsApp Twitter Previous articleIndiana seeks to extend HIP plan to 2030Next articleMan Facing Charges for Causing Crash, Threatening Police Tommie Leelast_img read more


Indiana panel backs ban on drivers using handheld phones

first_img A proposal to ban drivers from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads is advancing in the state Legislature.A state Senate committee voted 8-1 Tuesday to endorse the bill that only permits cellphone use with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies.Tina Smith of Indianapolis testified from a wheelchair about how she and her husband had stopped their motorcycle along a road when they were hit by a minivan whose driver was looking at a cellphone. Each lost a leg in the crash.Smith echoed other supporters of a ban who compared it to the impact of speed limits and laws requiring seat belt use on making highways safer. Indiana panel backs ban on drivers using handheld phones Google+ IndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend Market Facebook Google+ By Associated Press – February 19, 2020 0 261 WhatsApp Pinterest Twitter Twitter Pinterest Facebook WhatsApp Previous articleAverage rent in Granger is highest in the stateNext articlePotawatomi Zoo looking for volunteers Associated PressNews from the Associated Press and its network of reporters and publications.last_img read more


Threat of censure produces key concessions

first_imgIn a bid to gain MEPs’ support ahead of today’s (14 January) crucial censure vote, Santer made a number of pledges which could lead to a radical shake-up in the way the Commission manages itself and an increase in the Parliament’s power to control its activities. Addressing MEPs during a debate on the censure motion earlier this week, Santer sketched out what he described as an “ambitious” eight-point programme to reform the EU executive, largely reflecting Euro MPs’ criticisms of the way the Commission handled its 1996 budget.Stung by a stream of accusations of nepotism, waste and corruption within his institution, Santer claimed that more had been done to fight fraud in the past four years than in the previous 40, although he admitted: “Good is not enough in the fight against fraud; we must be above reproach.”In a bid to bolster public confidence in the Commission, Santer announced plans to set up an independent anti-fraud office last October. But MEPs have questioned whether it will be truly impartial. As a peace offering, the Commission president offered to draw up an inter-institutional agreement containing concrete measures to keep the assembly better informed. He also raised the possibility of individual parliamentary committees being given the right to scrutinise the institution’s spending programmes.Although Santer’s pledges were enough to placate some MEPs, others predicted his bullish speech would backfire on him in today’s vote. “Instead of boasting about the Commission’s achievements, he should have eaten dirt,” said one.The performances of the two Commissioners directly in the line of fire, France’s Edith Cresson and Spain’s Manuel Marín, prompted strikingly different reactions. Cresson angered MEPs by refusing to accept that she might in any way have been at fault, while Marín won plaudits for acknowledging that he may have made some mistakes. Santer said this week that he was willing to take up German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s suggestion that a high-level group of Parliament, Commission and Council representatives be set up to look at ways of improving the Commission’s proposal by the end of March. MEPs say this is likely to lead to a beefed-up fraud-busting unit.The Commission president also promised three new codes of conduct to govern the work of Commissioners and officials, and relations between the two.Socialist Group leader Pauline Green called on Santer to “grasp the nettle and develop a common European administrative culture”, while European People’s Party Group leader Wilfried Martens said the Commission was “confronted with a heritage of bad management” and the time for a “softly-softly approach” was gone.In reply, Santer promised to come forward with a timetable for modernising the administration by the end of this month and pledged to consult MEPs on the best way forward.Parliamentarians will also sit alongside Council and Commission officials on a committee of ‘wisemen’ which will be set up to examine how the EU’s budget is managed.MEPs complained repeatedly during this week’s debate that they had been kept in the dark by the Commission and that light had only been shed on allegations of wrongdoing under threat of censure. “Why do you always have to be dragged here before the bar of public responsibility?” Liberal Group leader Pat Cox asked Santer.last_img read more


Hopes rise for swift reforms in Romania

first_imghas pledged to continue with reforms designed to stabilise Romania’s economy, which has been shrinking for the last three years and has kept the country one of the poorest nations to emerge from the Soviet bloc.One of the new prime minister’s priorities will be to bring Romania’s rampant inflation down from the current rate of more than 50% to 25-30%. Another will be to press ahead with stalled reform plans necessary to prepare the country for Union membership.Analysts point to Romania’s slow progress in privatising loss-making state-owned industries as a major obstacle to an improved economic performance. The EU recently allocated Bucharest 100 million euro in aid to help with restructuring projects.Romania’s hopes of joining the Union were given a boost at December’s Helsinki summit, when it was invited to start formal negotiations on EU membership next year despite the poor state of the country’s economy and concern that the country was failing to improve its orphan problem. “We are not saying that we prefer the new government to the previous one, but what we are interested in are stable institutions which can get on with the work that needs to be done,” said one official dealing with enlargement.Isarescu, who is not linked to any political party, was sworn in as prime minister on 22 December, replacing Radu Vasile, who was sacked by President Emil Constantinescu last month after he lost the support of his own Christian Democratic party. Constantinescu said afterwards that Romania now had a government “able to cope with major economic and social problems, and tackle complex negotiations with the EU”.Isarescu’s administrationlast_img read more



first_imgUS-based Emerson Electric Co. notified the Commission on 14 February of plans to buy Sweden’s Ericsson Energy Systems. (OJ C46/26, 19 February)Novartis/AstraZenecaNovartis AG notified the Commission on 18 February of plans to merge its crop protection and seeds businesses with AstraZeneca Plc’s own crop protection business. (OJ C53/14, 25 February) Asahi Glass Co./Mitsubishi Corp./F2 ChemicalsAsashi Glass Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Corp. notified the Commission on 21 February of plans to buy joint control of F2 Chemicals Ltd. (OJ C56/06, 29 February)last_img read more


News in Brief

first_imgSINGLE Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein this week urged Germany to drop its objections to creating a single EU appeal court in Luxembourg for hearing disputes over the proposed new Union-wide ‘Community patent’. Speaking after meeting German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, Bolkestein said Berlin’s insistence on a national patent appeals court risked jeopardising the creation of the planned EU patent. Businesses support the Commission’s proposal because it should lower the cost of protecting inventions in Europe – currently five times higher than in the US. But Germany wants cases to go to a German court of ‘first instance’ and be referred to Luxembourg only on appeal.THE Commission has approved the purchase of 70 TotalFinaElf motorway service stations by retailer Carrefour, oil companies Agip, Avia and others. The sale was one of the conditions the Commission attached to its approval of the merger between TotalFina and Elf Aquitaine to create the world’s fourth biggest oil company. The approved list of buyers includes Agip (21 stations), Theveninet Ducrot/Avia (12 stations), Picoty/Avia (five stations), Avia Autoroute (four stations), BP (three stations), Carrefour/Carfuel (17 stations), Esso (four stations) and Shell (four stations).THE European Banking Association said this week that it would formally announce a pan-European system for low-value payments in euro later this month. EBA said the system, called Step1, would provide its bank participants with a single cut-off time for retail payments to all EU member states as well as simplified liquidity management and reconciliation procedures. THE Commission has cleared plans by Compagnia di Partecipazioni Assicurative ed Industriale to buy Falck and Falck’s Societa Nordelettrica unit. TheCommission said the deals would not adversely affect competition in theItalian electricity generation market.last_img read more


‘Don’t pander to prejudice’, urges report

first_imghas fuelled a wave of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments since 11 September, according to two new reports.The studies, by the Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and UK-based Refugees Studies Centre, acknowledge a greater sense of public fear of minorities but strongly urge European politicians to avoid “pandering to prejudice”.The EU Monitoring Centre cited evidence of rising attacks in every member state against symbols of Islam, such as mosques, and the harassment of Muslims, particularly women in hijabs (headscarves). Its chairman, Bob Purkis, said public anxiety in the wake of 11 September had been a major factor in the increased racist attacks: “A greater sense of fear among the general population has exacerbated already existing prejudices and fuelled acts of aggression and harassment across Europe,” he noted.The group’s report blamed sensationalist reporting in some sections of the media of extreme Islamic views and claimed that ‘mixed messages’ from politicians on asylum-seekers were fanning the flames.“By demonising refugees and asylum-seekers you legitimise racism and xenophobia,” Purkis added.The report, which was compiled before the recent electoral successes of anti-immigration parties in France and the Netherlands, did however commend the efforts of the majority of EU politicians, community leaders and the media for helping to enhance inter-faith dialogue and tolerance.It said more practical initiatives to promote intercultural understanding were needed, however.The Refugees Studies Centre report, on forced migration, sought to dispel the notion of ‘bogus’ asylum-seekers drawn to Europe by the allure of ‘generous’ benefits. It found that the vast majority of asylum-seekers were fleeing conflict or persecution. Of the leading ten countries from which asylum-seekers came to Europe, seven had experienced war in the decade up to 2000 and three had a history of repressing minorities.The report’s authors, Stephen Castles and Sean Loughna, suggest that tougher immigration measures, such as those currently being touted by Britain’s Tony Blair and Spain’s José María Aznar, would do little to stem the flow of asylum-seekers.“Preventing illegal immigration requires fundamental rethinking of our relationship with the developing world. Strident calls for tough action may serve to assuage popular fears stirred up by right-wing parties, but will do nothing to achieve long-term solutions,” the authors noted.Instead, they recommended a programme to address the underlying issues of conflicts, oppression and poverty – that cause people to flee their homelands – through intervention, investment and action against human rights abuses.The publication of the two reports comes against the backdrop of increasing discussion of the issues surrounding Islam and its impact on Western society – until recently a largely taboo subject for all but the far-right. Joschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign minister, this week called for greater dialogue and analysis of the relationship between Islamic teaching and “modernity”.“What we need is a culture of tolerance,” he told diplomats in Berlin. The Green minister’s views were echoed by his UK counterpart, Jack Straw, who said there was “a debate to be had”.last_img read more


Lukashenko’s rival faces trial by fire, water and TV

first_imgOn 3 February it started a series of documentaries about modern history. The first was pretty mild, merely saying that President George W. Bush’s grandfather had laundered Nazi money, while American corporations had financed the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union. It also claimed that the Coca-Cola company had invented Fanta especially for the Nazi war machine. That was standard stuff in the Soviet era. I remember listening to Radio Moscow, Radio Peace and Progress and other Communist broadcasters trying endlessly to prove that as Hitler was a capitalist, so capitalists must be Nazis.The next programme started by denouncing American democracy, saying that election results are “carefully choreographed”. That really puzzles me: does that mean that the wicked string-pullers decided that it was necessary to have a cliff-hanger result in Florida in 2002? A bit later on, he added a new note, saying that “Hollywood is being run by masons and sodomites”. I wondered if he had forgotten the Jews, or was saving them for later. Walt Disney, incidentally, is the “destroyer of children’s souls”.Against this daily, hourly drip of pro-regime, anti-Western programming, it’s very hard for the opposition to make headway. Alexander Milinkevic, the rather impressive physicist who is the democrats’ joint candidate and the beneficiary of rather muted outside support, gets just two half-hour television broadcasts. Until last week, when candidates were registered, campaigning was prohibited, so he has just four weeks to get his name across before the election on 16 March. He can’t advertise in the non-state press (and there isn’t much else), or even meet voters except in state-approved locations. He can’t spend more than $30,000. He has to watch his words: “slander” is a vague charge in the electoral rules, which can get you disqualified. None of this, of course, applies to President Alexander Lukashenko, whose plentiful public appearances, denunciations of the opposition, and fawning media coverage are justified on the grounds that he is speaking not as a candidate but as head of state. That goes down well with his core supporters, who are provincial, ill-educated and untravelled. They are also the ones most likely to believe the absurd smears against the opposition. And with other voters? If the regime would only give me a visa, I’d go and find out. But why? If the choreographers are capable of keeping us all in doubt for weeks, surely they are clever enough to fix the result properly from the start? Logic may not be a central ingredient in this brew, but nostalgia for the most pungent propaganda of the Stalinist- era certainly is. Viewers were next treated to a guest appearance by Yuriy Vorobyevskiy, a Russian “expert” who explained that America’s system of government “is rooted in the philosophy of masons”. I once heard freemasonry described as “the great conspiracy of the second-rate”. At best, it is a good way of raising money for charity, fuelled by some bogus rituals. At worst, it makes even murkier that slightly sleazy world where local government and land development overlap. But Vorobyevskiy spoke darkly (and unilluminatingly) about the “truly repulsive” masonic rituals. I was puzzled by the lack of details, so I googled “repulsive masonic rituals” but found zero entries. There are some lurid sites attacking freemasonry in general, but I don’t imagine they were much help for his programme: they are not only clearly written by mad people but also denounce freemasonry for its links to, er, Communism. center_img Edward Lucas is Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist.last_img read more