Indonesia’s desperate housewives chase selfies on election trail

Sragen (Indonesia): Tears stream down Lilis Hastirini’s mascara-smudged face after she waited hours to snap a selfie with Indonesia’s president, only to be thwarted by a crush of other female fans with the same idea. It is a take-no-prisoners battle on the election trail in this selfie-mad nation, where few shots count more than a close up with “everyman” leader Joko Widodo, a former furniture salesman who rose from a riverside slum to high office.

Hastirini was among some 10,000 other desperate housewives, mostly aged between 20 and 50, who braved searing heat as they screamed and jostled, pushing past security guards to reach Widodo at an event in Sragen on Java island this week. “I’m  sad, I couldn’t get a picture with him,” the 37-year-old told AFP as she sobbed and wailed. “He seems like such a nice person, kind of fatherly.”  The lanky, heavy-metal music-loving 57-year-old, best known as Jokowi, seems happy to oblige housewives and other key voters – including millenials who account for about one-third of electorate – as he fights to keep a wide lead in the race for the presidency on April 17.

Some 192 million Indonesians are set to cast a ballot in the world’s third-biggest democracy, with a record 245,000 candidates vying for positions from the presidency and parliamentary seats all the way down to local council jobs.  And garnering support on social media is essential. Indonesia is one of Instagram and Facebook’s biggest markets globally, with some 62 million and 130 million users, respectively. Jokowi’s sole rival is Prabowo Subianto, a retired military general and son-in-law of the late dictator Suharto, who has ditched his trademark suit and tie for a campaign-casual khaki safari suit with sunglasses.  Anchor Brussels boy to pee-cycle after landmark leak inquiry Brussels

Brussels’ famous landmark, the Manneken-Pis, is an insouciant celebration of going with the flow but even carefree little boys can go too far. City authorities recently discovered that a fault in the 400-year-old statue’s plumbing was causing him to pee away 2.5 tonnes of water a day.  In 2019, such waste is an environmental no-no. A missing part in the guttering under the diminutive statue’s fountain sent his public urination directly down the drain. It may not be the most overwhelming torrent, but it was building up over time to the equivalent daily water use of five Belgian households.

No one is quite sure how long Brussels’ celebrity has been suffering the leak. “We prefer to look to the future,” says city engineer Regis Callens. And the future is recycling. Henceforth, the Manneken’s pee will loop through a recuperation tank to be pumped back through his bronze bladder. “So it’s really a closed circuit. There’s no more waste,” says Callens, giving journalists a tour of the hidden pipework. Brussels was able to detect the anomalous overflow thanks to new electronic monitors dotted around the municipal system. “We want to develop a real policy of limiting waste,” said the city’s new mayor, Benoit Hellings, from the green Ecolo party.

“We want to say to Brussels folk, to Belgians and to all Europeans: ‘If the Manneken-Pis is able to stop wasting drinking water, you can too.’ “The Manneken-Pis has become a responsible eco-consumer.” Some accounts date the incontinent cherub’s origin to the 14th century, but the best records suggest the 55-centimetre (22-inch) bronze nude was cast in 1619. The boy seen today at a street corner in Brussel’s tourist-thronged old city is a copy, with the original now in the city museum, safe from theft or vandalism.

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