Ed Miliband was the leader of the opposition in the UK and theoretically could have been Prime Minister until he resigned after losing the general election in 2015. This week, he was on BBC Radio 2, covering for Jeremy Vine and being a light entertainer on his phone-in show. During the week, many topics were covered, but the Evening Standard reports that on Tuesday his topic was toilets. He chatted to listeners about dual flush toilets and even had one caller flush her Victorian toilet live on air. That’s what the man who could have prevented Brexit was doing with his Tuesday.
The next story is one I have read at least ten times and still don’t understand. It’s about a village in India, which Time reports is informally changing its name to Trump Sulabh Village in honour of President Donald. The move is being led by a toilet charity, which is campaigning for access to sanitation and toilets in India, including in this village. Apparently, the publicity stunt is causing the village to get free toilets for each of the 60 mud houses there. Many of the villagers are said not to know who Trump is, but are delighted to be getting the new toilets. Nothing about this story makes any sense.
Trump Sulabh Village – photo from Time.com
The Jamaican Star reports from the neighbourhood of Trenchtown in the capital city Kingston, where the lack of toilet facilities has left residents frustrated. They are complaining to local politicians that many people are using plastic shopping bags (known as “scandal bags” in Jamaica) to defecate in and are then throwing that into the bin, which is causing quite a lot of unpleasantness. Local residents also complain of plastic bags of faeces being used as missiles, which does sound singularly unpleasant.
Finally, to Denmark, where an archaeologist has found a pile of medieval Viking poo and got herself into some controversy as a result. Ars Technica reports that Anna Beck believes she has found the oldest toilet in Denmark, but that many other archaeologists don’t believe this is possible as there were no toilets in rural Denmark until the 18th century according to current research, and that rural people would have mixed their poo with that of their animals and used it as manure. Beck’s poo pit would seem to claim otherwise.
The Collegiate Times carries the case against installing automatic flushes in toilets as planned across campus at Virginia Tech. The arguments include that automatic flushes waste water as toilets are flushed unnecessarily. The argument given for automatic flushes is that they are more sanitary. However, this is disputed as they flush more often and thus release fecal matter into the air more often. The automatic flush is also said to be racist, as the sensor only registers the reflectiveness of light skin. But the issue that the piece spends most time on is that children are terrorised by sudden unexpected flushes, which their small bodies are more likely to provoke, to the extent that one father has invented a flush preventing device. The debate, it appears, rages on.
Cambodian lake villages are the focus of a Guardian story, where houses, shops and communal buildings float on raft-like structures. The residents are completely dependent on water from the lake as a source of food and drink, but they also use the lake as a toilet. The residents typically defecate off the edge of their house-raft. This has led to the spread of diseases such as chronic diarrhoea. Children have been known to fall into the lake while defecating and have drowned. WaterAid Cambodia is helping Wetlands Work to roll out the HandyPod, a cheap toilet that will allow villagers to sanitise their waste, along with an education programme to develop understanding around sanitation issues.
A Cambodian floating village – pic from the Guardian, credited to David Wall/Alamy
Donald Trump is on his way to a win in Chinese courts against a variety of brands who have been using the Trump name without his permission. That includes Trump condoms, Trump pacemakers and a Trump International Hotel. NJ.com leads with the top end toilets being sold as Trump Toilets.
The toilets still known as Trump – pic from NJ.com, credited to Mark Schiefelbein
The flooded toilets in Cape Town – by Ashraf Hendricks on GroundUp
English authorities also struggle with people flushing things they shouldn’t. The Sun is reporting on Anglia Water’s problems removing a 21-tonne “fatberg” from the sewers in Lincoln, which has also been christened a “Johnnyberg” because one of the items (along with wet wipes, tampons and fat) that blocks up the sewers is condoms. Stop flushing condoms, you guys.
The Lincoln Johnnyberg that took a week to clear – from The Sun
Finally today, a charity event in Idaho that I don’t really understand, where students will be sponsored to sit on toilets for poor and homeless families.