Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We watched the final episode of ‘The Island’ and were all vaguely disappointed. I can’t quite figure out why. After twenty wonderful riveting beautiful episodes why should this last one have been a disappointment? Was it because there were too many loose ends to tie up? It did seem to be even wordier than usual and that, for Greece, is saying something. Or did Theo lose his masterly touch in that final episode. Maybe he was very tired which would hardly be surprising after such a long shoot. The final scene was tedious, went on far too long and the music didn’t help. Well, it was a wonderful piece of television; beautifully directed, beautifully photographed, beautifully performed – except for that last episode which for the first time produced at least one bad performance. Well, it’s all over so we will have to find an alternative for Monday night viewing. It would be really great if the series was dubbed into English. Maybe an enterprising company will pick it up.

There is still so little worth watching on Greek television, except for the government channel that broadcasts interesting documentaries, ballets, operas, we have been filling our evenings with watching ‘Our Mutual Friend’ again and two episodes of ‘Ugly Betty’ a night. We’re still on the third series so have number four to look forward to.

Smokers around the world are really coming under fire, if I can use that expression. China joins Europe in instigating a ban in enclosed paces and Argentina has now been added to the list, bringing in some quite draconian anti-tobacco measures. I don’t know how the ban is being observed in Greece but evidently the Spaniards are resisting for all they’re worth; and talking of draconian methods New York has now even banned smoking in some open spaces like parks for instance. I’m so glad I am no longer a smoker.

The small Himalayan country of Bhutan has banned smoking and a Buddhist monk is likely to face five years in prison for violating its strict anti-smoking laws. Police have not named the monk but said he is 24 years old and was caught with 72 packets of chewing tobacco. Bhutan says it is determined to become the world's first smoking-free nation. It banned the sale of tobacco in 2005. But authorities admit that booming contraband traffic from neighboring India has largely undermined the ban. Of course, what else could be expected? Think of America in the prohibition years. Critics say the flow of illegal cigarettes is so strong that the ban has failed to make much of an impact. A law passed in 2005 gives police sweeping powers to enter homes and search for tobacco products. In addition it gives them power to jail shopkeepers for selling tobacco and arrest smokers if they fail to provide customs receipts for imported cigarettes - which are only permitted in very small quantities. Smokers can legally import only up to 200 cigarettes or 150 grams of other tobacco products a month. They must provide a customs receipt when challenged by police. The monk maintains he didn’t know about that which is why he couldn’t produce a custom’s receipt. He was charged with smuggling controlled material, which is a fourth degree felony, according to an official of the Bhutanese Narcotic Drug and Law Enforcement. A fourth degree felony carries a sentence of five years.


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