French government gets coronavirus, wages war on the world’s oddest website

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

Those of you familiar with the game COVID-19 EU Leader Top Trumps will know that you get the highest score possible for potentially infecting another head of state or government.

So congratulations to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who tested positive for coronavirus just after he had a meeting with Belgian PM Alexander De Croo, forcing the latter into quarantine and providing another example of Big France doing the dirty on Little Belgium.

Thankfully, no one involved displayed any symptoms, and De Croo was quickly out of isolation after a negative test, but that didn’t stop Operation Damage Limitation being deployed by the French government. Clement Beaune, the secretary of state for European affairs, swiftly deleted a not-at-all-staged-looking Instagram post in which he (unmasked) shared a laugh with Castex (masked) while they looked at something clearly hilarious on Castex’s mobile phone.

Perhaps they were browsing on Wish, the online shopping site that’s like Amazon on drugs. On Wednesday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced that the government was asking for “the delisting of the site on all search engines” in a bid to protect consumers from, erm, themselves and their late-night shopping habits.

“Either it complies with the rules aimed at protecting consumers or we will take a step further … and ban the site from French soil,” Le Maire said on France Inter radio.

This is a terrible disservice to French consumers who could be deprived of the following genuine items for sale on Wish (and after having looked at these products for research purposes, you only imagine the horrifying customized adverts that now keep popping up on my computer. It would have been easier to explain away porn):

A pair of shorts containing a collage of the actor Nicolas Cage’s face;

A muzzle for a cat that makes it look like it’s been kidnapped by ISIS;

A selection of motorbike-style helmets for your pet chicken;

A soap dispenser in the shape of a nose.

There are a lot more and I highly recommend you call off work sick and spend the day browsing (and potentially buying) this nonsense before the fun police in the French government take it away from you.

CAPTION COMPETITION

“Now you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands, you might need to know how these work. Press this button and you get Netflix.”

“Netwhat?”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“No, I don’t need a new suit in a slightly darker blue color.“

“Don’t worry, Charles. It takes months before they notice the change,” by Jonas Willequet.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.



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