Too close to call

“Palauans everywhere are waiting for the results of yesterday’s elections in their island nation”, reports Guam’s Pacific Daily News.


Tommy Remengesau 3443
Polycarp Basilius 1960

Election Day in Palau!

Today is election day in Palau, a tiny independent Pacific island nation (population 20 000) currently in a “compact of free association” with the United States. President Tommy Remengesau jr is fighting for re-election on a platform of “preserving the best while improving the rest” against businessman Polycarp Basilius.

That’s a tough choice: James Brown-style political rap against a wicked moniker.

What the hell’s a “compact”?

EU leaders sign new constitution…

… and cause massive traffic jams in my neighbourhood. I mean, couldn’t they have done it on another day? Saturday morning was good for me; I don’t get up till ten and there are plenty of parking spaces for their limos.

All roads approaching Campodoglio were blocked off by chainsmoking Carabinieri, while the riot police read the sports pages in their armoured buses and the lowly traffic police chatted to elderly residents, ignoring the gridlock forming behind them and the blood transfusion ambulance wailing to get through… Just another day in Rome.

Beware of vultures

One of the best things about living in Rome is learning its history. For history read legend, if not gossip, self-promotion and smears. Politics as usual, then as now.

Here’s how Livy describes the founding of the city in The History of Rome:

As [Romulus & Remus] were twins and no claim to precedence could be based on seniority, they decided to consult the tutelary deities of the place by means of augury as to who was to give his name to the new city, and who was to rule it after it had been founded. Romulus accordingly selected the Palatine as his station for observation, Remus the Aventine.

Remus is said to have been the first to receive an omen: six vultures
appeared to him. The augury had just been announced to Romulus when double the number appeared to him. Each was saluted as king by his own party. The one side based their claim on the priority of the appearance, the other on the number of the birds. Then followed an angry altercation; heated passions led to bloodshed; in the tumult Remus was killed. The more common report is that Remus contemptuously jumped over the newly raised walls and was forthwith killed by the enraged Romulus, who exclaimed, “So shall it be henceforth with every one who leaps over my walls.” Romulus thus became sole ruler, and the city was called after him, its founder.

An image suddenly came into my mind of Berlusconi shouting the same thing into the television cameras this morning. Not that he wouldn’t like to, mind.