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Cash for bad people and flogging a dead horse

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

If there was one thing the coronavirus pandemic (remember coronavirus? It was very popular in 2020) taught us, it was the value of being creative to make ends meet.

Some people started businesses, others adapted surprisingly well to working from home, and one enterprising former pub landlord allegedly secured loans from the British government and sent the cash to ISIS (remember ISIS? They were very popular in the mid-2010s).

Tarek Namouz is on trial accused of taking advantage of the “bounceback” loan scheme that was meant to prop up the U.K. economy and using the money — reportedly thousands of pounds — to fund the terror group in Syria. Declassified’s lawyer — I say lawyer, it’s just me after watching “Better Call Saul” — could find nothing in the small print of the bounceback loan scheme contract that says the money can’t be used to fund foreign mercenaries. Yet another government failure!

Speaking of giving money to bad people, the EU’s latest Russia sanctions package proposal would target not only the energy sector — including a ban on crude oil (which is just like regular oil but from time to time it tells you to f*ck off) and banks (bad news for anyone who opened a Sberbank savings account in 2021 lured by the offer of a free Vladimir Putin bobblehead for every new customer) — but also some of the Kremlin’s mouthpiece media outlets.

Announcing the planned sanctions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen didn’t name which propaganda outlets would be targeted but my colleagues were told it was Rossiya RTR/RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24 and TV Centre International (the latter of which was clearly the result of using the Kremlin’s random name generator machine. The EU also has such a machine, as shown by this week’s announcement of the health data space!)

Speaking of spewing out words that don’t always mean anything, the European Parliament has voted in favor of election changes that include that hardy perennial … the transnational voting list! I don’t know about you but all people talk about in the markets and bars of my neighborhood is which pan-European MEP they will vote for in the next parliamentary election. This was the fifth time the idea of transnational lists had been officially proposed by the Parliament, which has seemingly yet to work out that most people don’t vote for MEPs from their own country, so are unlikely to vote for people from somewhere else. Still, you know what they say … if at first you don’t succeed, keep going until people get so fed up with you that they give in.


“If you decide to join NATO and Russia invades, we’ll provide you with this many guns.”

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.

“The touching testimony of a victim who got scammed into paying for Twitter, a free-of-charge platform,” by Giovanni Cellini.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s Slot News Editor.

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