No Land’s Man or How Not to Do an Election

The 2014 presidential elections were a pyrrhic victory for Western values in post-Communist Romania.

Note: a Romanian language version of this article was published by Gazeta de Romania, a London-based newspaper for Romanian expats. Read it here.

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Thousands of Romanians living abroad have been disenfranchised in the presidential elections in which the prime minister and candidate Victor Ponta first came in on a ten percent lead from the runner-up, Klaus Iohannis, who won by about the same margin after two rounds, meaning Ponta lost over twenty percent of the voting population in two weeks. Here’s what happened:

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The Medianett saga: adventures in mercenary churnalism

“Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme…” – John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1667

Cub reporters: beware of marketing agencies employing investigative journalists. These wrongens* will likely try to corrupt you.

Initially I wanted to be the source instead of the reporter on this story because I was involved directly, but then again I might as well do all the work myself.

Caption: Faces of media corruption. The pictures above were sourced from the public Twitter accounts of the three.

Back in August 2014 I was desperate for a job. I had just moved in with my girlfriend and freelancing wouldn’t cut it, so I started applying to every reporting job available, without checking out the potential employers beforehand. One ad sounded particularly good:

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The Reformed

Execution by Anastasia Ciupac

Execution by Anastasia Ciupac

The Balkans have a very rich history of the little guy getting fucked over.

Choosing a life of crime is one way to fight against oppression. Of course, it will ultimately prove a false battle because the criminal eventually becomes an oppressor himself.

The cat’s head is a symbol of the bona fide criminal in East European underworld subcultures.

The eye in the mouth represents the criminal’s reformation through art.

Like the gangster rappers in the United States of America, he saw another way of living through expressing himself.

From an article written by Roberto Saviano in issue 17 (2010) of The Drawbridge literary newspaper:

“Art becomes your life, not because it brings everything together but because only your art can keep you alive and guarantee your future. There is no alternative to fall back on.”

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Nursing a crisis

Rod_of_asclepiusIn light of news earlier this month that the NHS is seriously overspending on agency staff, Rotherham Hospital provides a glimpse into how the dogma of outsourcing often achieves the exact opposite of its intended purpose which is to save money.

Absurd practices continue nearly a year after The Yorkshire Post revealed a damning report portraying Rotherham Hospital as chaotic and dysfunctional. That report, which the hospital fought in court to keep secret and lost, found financial mismanagement, staff feeling intimidated and harassed and possible conflict of interest in the board.

This came after a new digital patient record system pushed by the trust’s brass turned out useless for patients and ran over budget to the tune of £10m, having initially sucked out £30m in 2013, almost bankrupting the organisation. Rotherham General Hospital is now running a deficit of £31m, according to its most recent accounts.

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Rumbreath

by Fluke Mafaldo

I’m a drunken fool, baby –
A fever-sick dog for you.

Let’s hit the road one morning, but let’s take the books with us too.

We’re losing it all here, anyway
And there’s not much about it
We can do.

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Rave heads, revisited. Revisited.

Photo taken by Frantzesco Kangaris at an illegal rave in east London, circa February 2014.

Photo taken by Frantzesco Kangaris at an illegal rave in east London, circa February 2014.

The Cable nightclub in London Bridge and the Vibe bar in Brick Lane – raving institutions both – were forcibly shut down within a year or so of each other and now the authorities put the squeeze on Fabric, conditioning its license on getting sniffer dogs.

No surprise then that people are flocking back to illegal raves!

Illegal raves are a part of British culture that’s gained mythical status around the world. Starting with the second summer of love and ecstasy all the way through to 2014, illegal raves are a staple of the Kingdom’s otherwise heavily-regulated nightlife. In a country where most pubs shut at midnight and you need a council license to put on a block barbecue on a Sunday, illegal raves are the result of a unspoken agreement between the cops and the more hardcore punters, acknowledging “some people need to let their hair down properly” – with seriously powerful drugs, seriously powerful music and bouncers that are there to actually keep security instead of spoil the fun. And no curfew.

When I took my girlfriend to her first illegal rave (in Hackney Wick) the bouncer stopped her at the door to search her bag. She told him she had no drugs, to which he replied – ‘I don’t give a monkey about your drugs, but you have to drink that bottle of cider outside. There’s no glass allowed.’

In February I had unprecedented, all-in access to a crew that puts on illegal raves in East London and I spent every weekend with them over a couple months, looking at how it works and going to their parties. One night Frantzesco, a Guardian photographer joined me to get some snaps, and he expressed surprise at how “overground” it all seemed. The doormen even gave us wristbands, like at licensed parties. “Was it really illegal? What makes it illegal?” he asked. The editors asked the same thing just before the story ran, to make sure we had our bearings right. It wasn’t immediately obvious. The loud music, the squatted building, the semi-residential area, the drugs, the laughing gas, the lack of toilets, the booze, the lack of any official license at all, I explained.

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The orphans of Romania who are building new lives underground

A story I wrote and that ran in Huck Magazine, a subculture bi-monthly. I knew about the children of the tunnels, but was just one of the passers-by. Huck readers and I now look at them through the eyes of Joost, the Dutchman photographer who lived with the boys, and in many respects was one of them. What a Channel 4 presenter called “hell on Earth” is the circumstantial home of a streetside family that’s seen harder times than most of us can dream of:

Homeless and disenfranchised in Eastern Europe – by Matei Rosca

Joost Vandebrug’s intimate photo project captures the cobbled-together community of the lost boys of Bucharest.

“What do you expect? We are here, at the Gates of the Orient, where nothing is ever too severe.” – Mateiu Caragiale via Raymond Poincare, Craii de Curtea-Veche, 1929

Romania is a country with a troubled present and a violent past. Far from healed, it still bears scars from Niculae Ceausescu’s totalitarian communist regime. Two of the deeper ones are the failing child protection and healthcare systems.Despite a lack of data, charities estimate that 1,000-1,200 minors aged between four and eighteen are sleeping and living rough in the city of Bucharest. About half are thought to be Roma. Drug, alcohol abuse, hepatitis, AIDS and other health problems are rampant. They are constant targets of paedophiles and violent policing and they survive mainly off charity, petty crime and panhandling.

Graffiti around Bucharest's Gara de Nord, where the Lost Boys hustle and huff glue. Picture credit Joost Vandebrug

Graffiti around Bucharest’s Gara de Nord, where the Lost Boys hustle and huff glue. Picture credit Joost Vandebrug

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Tech Strings

“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?” – Joseph Heller, Catch 22, 1961

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This picture I took at 2014’s EMF Camp festival in Bletchley UK is an apt depiction of the atmosphere in some corners of the tech industry.

 

Pando.com is the San Francisco-based website that first covered the Silicon Valley wage-fixing cartel and most harshly scrutinised Pierre Omidyar’s motives for putting $250 million into his First Look media venture. Most journalists ignored the scandalous conspiracy to steal tech workers’ wages and ran drooling coverage of First Look, letting Pando take the freehold on both stories. Then Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post and nobody showed any more mercy because The Post wasn’t a quaint tech startup which could do no wrong.

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From The Guardian: Ikea funds went to Romanian secret police in communist era

Secret police files reveal six-figure payments to Ceausescu’s henchmen, as retailer denies knowingly paying Securitate.

by the Deviant’s Matei Rosca in Bucharest
251: The picture shows the state archive's inventory entry for the formerly classified dossier of a dedicated secret operation over several years, evidence of the close relationship IKEA had with the Securitate

251: The picture shows the state archive’s inventory entry for the formerly classified dossier of a dedicated secret operation over several years, evidence of the close relationship IKEA had with the Securitate

 

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This is Iulian Nanu’s world and we are all just living in it

Editor’s memo
 
Such as it is, here’s the inevitable first guest post on this site.
 
Tired with office routine and disillusioned by the rat race of corporate Britain, a friend of the Deviant decided one year ago to develop the White Saviour inside himself and build some much-needed justification for his selfish views of the world. He wanted to believe he deserves his easy life because he is a good guy, and to cement this largely illusory pillar of his mind, he conveniently took a year off to travel and volunteer.
 

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