Belarus / Białoruś

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I find Belarus a fascinating place primarily because it is close to where I live (perhaps 4 hours drive to the border), possibly dangerous and yet I know almost nothing about it. There is so little news about the place that it’s like living next door to a black hole. This is very unusual for me as the UK has essentially no neighbours and those countries that are close are very transparent and well understood. Poland on the other hand has the black hole of Belarus AND the equally weird Russian island of Kaliningrad sharing most of its north-eastern land borders.

I’ve met perhaps three people from Belarus and I would describe them as ‘shifty’. I got the feeling that were I to check their papers I might find they were not all in order or that they were involved in less than kosher enterprises. I’m sure the other 9,648,530 people are very nice. The CIA World Factbook says things like:

Since his election in July 1994 as the country’s first president, Alexandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion remain in place.

Government type: republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship.

Elections: last held 28 September and 3 October 2008 (next to be held fall of 2012); international observers determined that despite minor improvements the election ultimately fell short of democratic standards;

Belarus has seen little structural reform since 1995, when President LUKASHENKO launched the country on the path of “market socialism.” In keeping with this policy, LUKASHENKO reimposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded the state’s right to intervene in the management of private enterprises. Since 2005, the government has re-nationalized a number of private companies. In addition, businesses have been subject to pressure by central and local governments, e.g., arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, retroactive application of new business regulations, and arrests of “disruptive” businessmen and factory owners.

We had some friends in Warsaw who have now moved to Washington DC, she was Canadian and he was Polish. Her career, as best we could tell, involved bringing democracy to places that didn’t have it and she’d spent a lot of time sneaking around in Belarus. The administration over there disliked the idea of democracy so much that she’d been banned from entering the country numerous times and was at the point where trying to enter again might well be too much of a risk, so she didn’t. Needless to say, she didn’t have a good word for the place but you have to believe that the majority of Belorussians are nice folk who are unfortunate enough to be dictated to by the guy in the picture below and to share the Russian’s lethargic attitude to changing the system.

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Finding news about Belarus is not easy and finding news that is not “Russia is nice to Belarus” or “Belarus is nice to Russia” is even harder. Although, reading between the lines it may be that this economic crisis could be a factor in forcing Belarus to reform and become a more acceptable state in the eyes of everyone other than Russia. Russia is having a hard time and has been gradually increasing its charges to Belarus. For example, the Belorussians are used to making a reasonable income in selling on at market prices oil it has obtained from Russia at a discount rate. The margin Russia is looking for from such sales have been gradually increasing. In the situation of less “aid” from Russia, the Belorussian economy is in trouble to the point of getting in the queue for a bail-out from the IMF. It seems strange to me that aid might be given to a somewhat secretive dictatorship such as Belarus, I mean what atrocities might be found when the place opens up a little or when Lukashenko is finally driven out? Would it be like giving aid to Saddam Hussein or Nicolae Ceauşescu or am I being a big drama queen about this?

Belarus is in a good strategic position in terms of the flow of fuel from Russia to the west with both oil and gas pipelines passing through and this is perhaps one of the reasons the EU is interested in forging closer links with it and other fringe countries. All this cooperation though will surely depend on the behaviour of Lukashenko?

Czech Prime Minister, Mirek Topolanek, on the Eastern Partnership scheme: “The summit on the Eastern Partnership should be in Prague. On the matter of (Belarus President Aleksander) Lukashenko, that would depend on the behaviour of Mr Lukashenko and the Belarus government. But Belarus should be in the Eastern Partnership.”

I get the feeling that Lukashenko’s life is getting a bit more complicated these days. With reducing flow of funds from his best friends the Russians on one side and possible aid from the IMF and promises from an EU Eastern Partnership on the other, he must be wondering which way to turn. I hope the outcome is a good one for the people of Belarus and perhaps one day we can all go visit the place (avoiding the Chernobyl infected parts in the south of course!).

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Vinyl LPs – a lament

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When I was a lad there were only two ways to get your music, one was the 12 33⅓ rpm vinyl LP (long player) or the 7 45 rpm single, the other was the compact cassette or tape.

The cassette was always problematic and it was a good thing they made the holes the right size to insert a pencil so you could hand-wind the tape back onto the spools and untie all the knots that had developed when your car hi-fi mangled the thing! The sound quality was never great in my opinion, even when chrome dioxide and other fancy coatings came along. The only good thing about the cassette was that it was considerably more convenient than an LP. It made music portable either via the car hi-fi or those new fangled ‘walkman’ devices. That’s why it died so quickly when the CD came along. The CD was even more convenient (after they introduced ‘anti-shock’ devices) and had much better sound quality. Having said that, it is probably only about 8 years ago that the tape pretty much disappeared without trace. It was about that time I bought my current hi-fi system and I did buy a pretty good Denon tape deck because I still had a reasonable collection of tapes. I don’t think I have any left now and the tape deck is destined to take part in the “Great Allegro Clear-out” later this year.

The LP on the other hand is greatly missed and there’s no way Jose that I’ll be parting with any of my record collection or Allegroing my deck.

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My record collection is sadly not what it used to be as it has been the subject of various attacks of a vile and pernicious nature. I first lost at least as many as I now have in a strange incident involving a carpenter from Newcastle and a window frame. As I recall, although it is rather hazy, I had asked this nasty carpenter to make a window frame for me. I have no idea who the window was for, possibly parents or friends, but I doubt it was for me. Anyway, after it was made the guy increased the price he had originally asked so somehow I ended up giving him part of my record collection in addition to some cash and hating him forever. Like I said, it is all very hazy and may even be the remnant of some psychotic episode of mine but I do know one thing for sure and that’s that a chunk of my oldest records are missing. The collection was further depleted by the more usual reason of ending a relationship and leaving a few records behind or having them smashed by the offended party.

The ones I do still have were all purchased in the UK and were about the only things to have come over here with me. The rest of my UK existence got left behind, or destroyed by offended party. I cannot remember how I got them over here, I suppose it must have been parcel post unless I lugged a few boxes of them onto a plane? Having spent years collecting them, either buying when released or later from those magnificent shops like the ‘Record & Tape Exchange’ on Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith, where you could immerse yourself in a sea of second hand records and tapes. While flicking through the collection for this post I noticed one that probably came from Goldhawk Road or somewhere similar – the stickers say “Spiral Label” “£15”. Pretty expensive really but checking the internet now I see that the ones with the spiral Vertigo label are more valuable and this album, Black Sabbath’s first album might have doubled in value since I bought it.

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I imagine that most people today have never bought an LP, played one, possibly never even seen one. Not their fault of course because for the most part they have simply not been available, so they don’t know what they are missing. There’s something about vinyl that CDs and especially mp3 files just can’t give you. If you equate playing an LP to eating a great Sunday roast dinner then a CD is a roast beef sandwich and an mp3 is a vitamin pill. They all provide you with some essential nutrients but there’s a lot more enjoyment to had from the Sunday roast than there is from a vitamin pill!

The physical size of the thing for a start allows much more to be done with visual aspects such as the album art, which can be quite stunning and as memorable, sometimes more so, than the music itself. All the inserts as well can be of a meaningful size, posters, booklets, etc. Take a look at this boxed set “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Live 1975-85”. It weighs 1.2 kilo and includes 5 albums and a good booklet. You just can’t get that kind of content anymore. What would you rather have, all of this or a big file on your computer?

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I expect that most people who have never experienced vinyl music will expect the sound quality to be pants. After all, how could it be good when you’ve got a primitive needle running round some grooves with all that dust and stuff! Well, I’m not an audiophile but I think they would be very pleasantly surprised to hear the difference between the vinyl ‘analog’ music and the CD or mp3’s ‘digital’ music. I find the music from a good LP to be superior, more mellow, better tonal range, but don’t just take my word for it. It’s a bit like comparing an Ansel Adams black and white photo to an Andy Warhol colour one, if you see what I mean. Both good, but different.

Then there are the intriguingly anoraky things about LPs like notes written in the lead-out area of an LP. This is the part at the end of the record where the needle will just go round in circles waiting for you to turn it over and play the other side. The part of black vinyl closest to the label. This area always contains boring stuff like the catalog number and stamper ID as seen below:

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However, on occasion you can find all sorts of other stuff in there. On some albums I’ve found inspirational or personal messages running into a sentence or two but more common is a “signature”, most likely of the cutting engineer. Here are a couple of examples from the albums “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac and “The Captain and Me” by The Doobie Brothers.

“Allen”

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“Kapt. Kipper”

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I see one of the Kapt. Kipper records was sold as ‘rare and collectible’. Hmmm.

I hope vinyl makes a strong and sustained comeback. I’m pretty sure it will actually because it has so much more to offer than an impersonal computer file. I noticed with deep joy perhaps 5 years ago that vinyl was appearing in some record shops. Even though this is so far limited to a handful of albums by ultra-hip artists it is an encouraging sign. I even had Andrew at work expressing an interest in vinyl last week, he’s just over 30 years old and keen on music and fashion. If more people like him start getting interested it might not be long before I can go back to building my library of music to be played at a gentle 33⅓ rpm and give my Rega planar 2 a bit more of a workout!

UPDATE – Andrew tells me today that the latest albums by Kings of Leon, Coldplay and U2 are all available on vinyl. Perhaps the comeback is closer than expected!

ANOTHER UPDATE – the comeback HAS already started. As usual my blog posts find themselves at the leading edge of world events! ;)

Investment tip for the day – go long on shares in companies that produce vinyl records.

Corruption in Polish football – update

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After the resolution of their disputes with UEFA, FIFA, etc, the Polish football association has been quietly getting on with the job of dealing with corruption. Judging by today’s snippet from Poland AM they are making such good progress that they are running out of referees!!

Corruption crackdown nets fifth top league soccer ref

The corruption scandals in domestic football are becoming a widespread problem. Yesterday the Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) detained referee Piotr P., who is the fifth Extra-Klasa league referee to face jail this season. The scale of corruption is so huge that the football leagues are running out of referees. The Polish Football Association (PZPN) could employ referees from abroad, however, it prefers to take less experienced referees from the lower leagues. So far the anti-corruption investigation in the domestic football league, which was launched in 2005, has resulted in the detention of almost 200 people. (Dziennik, p. 9) A.K.

If it is anything like the English Premier League, I’ll bet using referees from the lower leagues is creating a whole new set of problems, that of dodgy decision making.

Are we supposed to feel sorry for Jake DeSantis (and his friends)?

In case the media storm passed you by, Jake DeSantis was an executive at the troubled insurance giant AIG. He, like many others at the firm was asked to give back the bonus recently paid to him. He didn’t agree, has resigned as a result and written a letter (email?) that made its way to the New York Times. To be precise, an after-tax amount of $742,006.40 was deposited in his bank account on March 16th. This payment was a “retention bonus”, I suspect of $1 million before tax and the money, I assume, came out of the tens of billions of dollars given to AIG by the people of the United States to help shore up the company. AIG are in big trouble at least partly because of their involvement in ‘credit default swaps’, which if the last story I posted is to be relied upon were mainly handled out of AIG’s London office.

I think it is fair to say that under a “business as usual” scenario, Jack would have trousered his $0.75 million as would many of his chums and the world would have carried on spinning. Unfortunately for Jack, Obama and others in government voiced concern about these bonus payments, in my opinion quite rightly wondering why the taxpayers should not only bail out their essentially failed business but also fund large bonuses to the executives who managed the firm over a cliff.

In his letter, Jake covers various points relating to the crisis in general, the problems in AIG, the behaviour of his Chief Executive Mr. Edward Liddy and so on. I think it is worth examining, as best we can from the text, what he seems to be saying and perhaps why he is saying it.

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One very important (but understandable) omission from the information we do have is just how much money AIG deposited in his bank account before March 16th 2009, during those “11 years of dedicated, honorable service”. I appreciate this may not have any direct relationship to this particular ‘retention bonus’ but the way I look at things it does have a big influence on how I would expect him to be behaving right now. Judging by my own standards of course, not the standards of bankers generally. I mean if he’s received large bonuses and salary from AIG for the last 11 years then he’s laying claim to a lot less of the moral high ground than he might wish us to believe. Sure, he might have a case as regards this one off situation but if you take a wider view, as I think you should (and employers also should), then perhaps this is a case of eleven you win, one you lose?

At this point it is perhaps worth me giving an opinion about how to look at money so you can see where I’m coming from. Money is like petrol in the tank of your car. You need to drive the car a certain amount each month for the family to do what they are used to doing (basics like rent/mortgage, food, school fees, phone bills, birthday presents, etc) so you need enough petrol in the tank each month to travel those kilometres, lets say you need 10 litres a month. For most people it is a delicate balancing act, and pretty hard work, to make sure that someone is giving you at least 10 litres of fuel each month as a salary for working your nuts off. You might be unlucky and have to accept less, in which case you have to trim your travel needs, you might be lucky and get a bit more in which case you can either travel more or keep some spare fuel in the tank for a rainy day.

I don’t know what percentage of workers get bonuses. I imagine it is extremely low, so for the vast majority of employed people the monthly routine doesn’t change much at all, they get 11 litres a month, they use 10 of them, after 10 months they may have saved a spare month of fuel then again there might have been a few unexpected journeys and they had to use some of the spare fuel. Whichever way you look at it, the chances of these people ever filling a 60 litre tank is pretty slim, they have very little or no ‘reserve fuel’ and if the 10 litres a month stops coming in they have a very real problem very quickly. If they have no rich aunts to leave a fortune and they don’t win the lottery then life might start looking a bit like a treadmill.

For some people though, primarily those fortunate enough to have stumbled into a profession where plenty of money can be made for their employer relatively easily, the outlook is far less gloomy. Being paid considerably more than you need each month or being paid bonuses, in some cases both. When this happens you can suddenly paint a very different picture. If you get paid say 30 litres a month when you only use 10, it doesn’t take very long at all to be running always with a full tank and have even more set aside in a reserve tank. If you’re given an annual bonus of say 150 litres you’re in a similar position. If either or both of these situations are repeated over a period of years, you’re sitting on your own little refinery because some of your spare fuel is by now being used to generate new fuel of its own! You have enough fuel to meet your basic needs for years into the future even if salaries and bonuses stop coming in. Therefore, your ‘oh shit!’ horizon is way off in the far far distance, not next month or the month after as it is for many people.

Trying to come back to Jake for a second. From my experience an annual salary in the USA of $200,000 is considered to be an extremely good one. The average annual income in the US for 2007 was around $50,000. If a family had annual costs of double the average income, one assumes they would be really enjoying themselves. So let’s assume Jake has acquired some of the expensive tastes most financiers seem to have and his equivalent need of my 10 litres a month is $90,000 a year, $7,500 a month. This bonus he’s giving back is enough fuel to cover his basic needs for 100 months (eight years)!

This brings us back to the missing information – how much fuel has he already got in his reserve tanks from his 11 years with AIG? Is it reasonable to assume that a man getting a $1,000,000 bonus just for staying with the company might have been a high earner for at least some of the last 11 years? I think it probably is. So just how much of a problem for him is losing this bonus? Moves his ‘oh shit’ horizon eight years closer but if it was already at 25 years before this bonus then so what?

These lines also suggest that he was doing very nicely thank you in the previous years:

I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million.

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation.

It might therefore be expected that he wouldn’t like the idea of a massive reduction in salary:

Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

Unfortunately it’s not clear for how long he’s been working for $1 a year or whether this is some new idea just introduced. It sounds from the part about “sense of duty to people coming to AIG’s aid” that this has been imposed very recently. I suspect therefore that the gravy train of high salary + high bonus has come unhitched so they all jumped on a more politically correct $1 salary + high bonus train instead (for the short term). Or at least that was the plan until Obama got involved. Either way, we’re back to the question of how much fuel he’s got in his tanks already. I’m sure we’d all be happy to work for €1 a year if I we were getting paid huge bonuses and had massive reserves of fuel.

So, he accepts the $1 a year proposal because he can easily afford to and because he knows he’s in for a whopping bonus. Then the brown stuff hits the fan and his bonus is gone as well, so he gets the hump and resigns.

Last financial point is to ask whether donating it to a charity helping victims of the crisis is really the most appropriate thing to do? As I see it, the money belongs to the government. Fair enough, there was a series of government & management cock-ups that ended up with it being paid to him but this is surely little more than an erroneous transfer from the people of the USA to Jake. I’m sure the charity will put it to good use but I’d return to sender.

Financial considerations – sympathy factor 0/10

Other considerations

He worked hard to get where he is today. Good for him, but so did plenty of other less fortunate people. Sympathy factor – 2/10

He feels like he’s been screwed by his boss and by the government. You’re having a laugh aren’t you? Especially coming from America, land of hire ’em and fire ’em. Sorry, but we all get screwed by our bosses and politicians no matter what’s in our contracts. Sympathy factor – 1/10

I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

Neither was I involved in it mate and I bet the workers at that car plant that got laid off wouldn’t even know a credit default swap if it slapped them in the face. Interesting to note that you DID have a handful of colleagues in your part of AIG who WERE responsible for causing the problems. Wonder how much money a handful of people can lose? Sympathy factor – 0/10

I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

Once more, HOW MUCH MONEY WERE YOU PAID IN THE 11 YEARS LEADING UP TO THIS HEART BLEEDING PROBLEM OF YOURS? Sympathy factor – 0/10 (subject to revision if we ever find out how much he earned)

I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

Hmmm. Becoming clearer.

I’m sure he’s a decent enough guy. It’s patently obvious that he’s been royally screwed-over by all concerned and has written this letter at that moment when red-eyed rage has died down but anger and a desire for revenge are still running through his veins. There are plenty of barbs hidden between the lines and a strong feeling of injustice that he wasn’t personally involved in credit default business so why should he be punished.

Life’s a bitch. The guy needs to step back a little and see the picture from a few other viewpoints, then perhaps we won’t feel so bad about it all. Might even dig deeper and give last years bonus to that charity as well!

This kind of investigation needs to be taking place in far more companies than just AIG. Certainly in any and every company that has received a bail-out of any size, financial services company or otherwise.

What’s Brown doing about this? Nothing?

Warsaw NatureWatch update

Welcome to spring in Warsaw!

Just when you thought it was safe to put all those snow moving tools back in the garage, you wake up on the 5th day of spring to find this:

The only saving grace of this morning was spotting what I’m fairly sure was a female Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (Krogulec).

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My first impression was of a Kestrel but this was not hovering over an open field, it was being extremely nimble between trees close to our entrance door. It shot from one tree to another, appeared to grab something off a branch and then did a very tight U-turn and shot off again. It was fairly large for a Sparrowhawk but the females are larger anyway. I didn’t see anything large in its beak as it passed me so I think the red squirrel and other birds were unharmed. Maybe it tried for a smaller bird and missed, there were a few of them around this morning enjoying the refilled peanut feeder.

Financiers BonusWatch update

The battle between GOOD and EVIL continues! :)

From Poland AM this morning:

Sales bonus row at Bank Millennium spills onto Net

Bank Millennium is reportedly in dispute with some of its sales staff over bonuses, which have either been frozen, or cancelled, while some staff may even have been sacked over the issue. According to posts that can be read on internet forums, the bank removed bonuses for some sales staff in December and January, while making those affected offers they cannot refuse. “They told me to resign, or if I do not do this, they threatened [me] with a disciplinary sacking. […] I was punished for the same thing a few times,” one of the posts reads. According to an official bank statement made by spokesperson Wojciech Kaczorowski, “All bonuses for 2008 were paid or will be paid to employees who are entitled to them. Inside the bank different groups of employees receive bonuses on different dates.” According to unofficial sources, the problems are related to a recent audit of sales structures, according to which some results, mainly in terms of selling credit cards, were artificially upgraded by employees. The bank recognized these activities as unethical and, in some cases, took away bonuses, while in other cases staff were sacked. (Puls Biznesu, p. 9) M.M.

Meanwhile, in the US of A it seems that progress is being made with requests for AIG bonuses to be voluntarily returned:

The New York State attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Monday that he had persuaded nine of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group to give the money back, as the Senate retreated on plans to tax such bonuses. Mr. Cuomo said he was working his way down a list of A.I.G. employees, ranked by the size of their bonuses, and had already won commitments to pay back $50 million out of the total $165 million awarded this month. But in a reversal of the stand he took last week, he said he did not intend to release any names.

“If the person returns the money, I don’t think there’s a public interest in releasing the names,” Mr. Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters.

So $50 million was paid to nine executives, one assumes? I like the subtle threat about not naming those who return the money, the assumption being that those who do not will be named? This whole thing is likely to end up keeping a few lawyers busy I suspect.

Interestingly, the article goes on to say;

Mr. Cuomo said that he hoped eventually to recover $80 million in bonuses paid in March to A.I.G. employees in the United States. But he said an additional $85 million had gone to people outside the United States, and he did not believe his office had the legal standing to pursue them. That would appear to spare people in A.I.G.’s financial products office in London, the seat of the company’s business in credit-default swaps — the derivatives that nearly sank the company and paralyzed the global financial system last fall. “We have a very aggressive theory about our jurisdiction, but we don’t have a theory that gets us to London,” Mr. Cuomo said.

So. Looks like the AIG staff in London, those actually causing most of the trouble, will be getting away with it? Surely in such circumstances one would think the ‘special relationship’ would come into play and a call to Mr. Brown’s office would allow pressure to be applied in the UK too? Another example of the UK being soft on bankers? Does the UK have more to lose? Are the bankers threats of non-cooperation more of a worry to Brown than they are to Obama?

You know, I wonder if perhaps these bankers have got it right. Perhaps everyone who’s suffering from losing a bonus, losing a job, salary reduction, whatever should get as uppity as these finance guys. Get out there in the streets, refuse to cooperate, take a stand! Let’s see where that leaves us all.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of – “The battle of Bankers Bonus – how the west was lost!”.

The city of Głubczyce finds 15 minutes of fame!

The city of Głubczyce is home to around 13,000 citizens of the Polish Republic and can be found right down at the bottom (62 km from Opole) just a slip of the surveyor’s pencil away from being in neighbouring Czech.

After the usual roller-coaster ancient Polish history, the city ended up in the German bit that snaked its way along the Czech border and stopped shortly after Głubczyce. Being good citizens, they settled down in 1933 to training Nazi SS and SA troops and all was well until the Soviets turned up in 1945. There was a siege, the Germans lost, 40% of the city was destroyed and the name was changed from Leobschutz to Głubczyce. Now they have a website.

More interestingly, they also have a mysterious beast!

Through the wonders of the Google translation (we really must do a competition sometime for the best Google translation) I can bring you the story of Głubczyce’s bloodthirsty, killer, predator!

For some time the good farmers of this region have been finding odd cases of their livestock being killed in strange circumstances.

…several times attacked the livestock in the vicinity of the White. His victim died warchlaki, calves and stukilowy porker.

You know what they say, nothing hurts more than being attacked in the vicinity of the White! Ouch! All the more so when you’re just a cute little stukilowy porker.

Local opinion was that this was the work of either a puma, snow leopard or leopard.

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This view is a veterinarian who watched zagryzione animals. According to him, that an aggressor who attacked livestock in Mokrej is a large predatory cat, provides the nature of their injuries, including skins cut wounds inflicted with sharp pazurami.

Fair enough! Who’s going to argue with a vet?

At the beginning of March, some guy called ‘TVN24 Peter’ managed to catch the beast on film.

– Or the wild boar, nor the fox does not appear. It looked like a cat, but a lot of times larger. He had held the tail down – all pointed to a cat – reported on-air TVN24 Peter, author of the film. – He had also raised his head high, I looked so weird – he added.

Well TVN24 Pete, who wouldn’t look weird when faced with a lot of times larger cat, eh? Speculation is that it has escaped from a zoo or a farm in Czech (the Czechs being famous for their snow leopard farming), or possibly that it was illegally imported as a cub and then released when it needed more than a tin of Whiskas a day.

So far nobody has caught the Głubczyce Gargoyle but the police are certainly taking it seriously enough to issue a stark warning;

Police appealed to residents of the region to preserve the exceptional care.