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It’s bad enough being laid off during the coronavirus outbreak.

Imagine how bad it is when the emergency paycheck funding pot is empty and the Democrat-dominated House won’t vote to replenish it. Here is the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky):

So do I.

The following video from James Corden’s show features Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) at home around Easter. It’s a must watch. She has brand new, gleaming stainless steel freezers full of ice cream. I cannot believe she had the nerve to post this herself, yet she did:

That photo was taken at the Pelosi family estate in California.

How nice for them.

President Trump had a go at her over the inaction with regard to emergency paycheck funding:

He reminded people that Pelosi encouraged Californians to go to San Francisco for Chinese New Year celebrations:

There was intense Democrat reaction to Trump’s closing the border with China, where air traffic was concerned:


On the other side of the world, and related to this, an Australian MP points out what China was doing with regard to airspace:

And remember this from the WHO a week before?

Whatever is going on with the WHO, President Trump was right to withhold funds for the time being.

But Pelosi isn’t having any of it.

On April 17, Moonbattery reported:

Confirming yet again that the Democrat Party is not on America’s side, Nancy Pelosi set aside her designer ice cream long enough to rage over Trump sensibly suspending funding to the malign World Health Organization:

“This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Pelosi said. …

Pelosi’s comments come after the president announced Tuesday that the United States would immediately halt funding for the health organization, saying it had put “political correctness over lifesaving measures,” noting that the U.S. would undertake a 60-to-90 day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus spread.

The United States is the world’s largest donor to the WHO, a UN organisation (emphases mine):

The United States is the WHO’s largest single donor, and the State Department had previously planned to provide the agency $893 million in the current two-year funding period. Trump said the United States contributes roughly $400 million to $500 million per year to WHO, while China offers only about $40 million.

Pelosi has her own interests at heart:

Why should Americans pay for a Chinese propaganda platform when we have our own urgent needs? Maybe because Pelosi is heavily invested in China.

Readers might also be interested in this:

The World Health Organization in Europe is asking government officials to restrict access to alcohol as citizens continue widespread lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As Moonbattery points out:

Even Stalin let his slaves drink vodka. The technocrats of the WHO make the communist dictator look like a libertarian.

Enough said.

However, it isn’t only Democrats opposing President Trump’s pandemic policies.

The Bushes are at it, too:

President Trump called it correctly then and he continues to take correct decisions now.

Given the current circumstances, this is probably the right thing to do, especially as an April 13 Ipsos poll found that eight out of ten Americans want a moratorium on immigration:

As for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic:

Even New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo had to give the federal government credit:

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered how CNN and MSNBC know exactly when to pull the plug on the daily coronavirus briefings, a reporter explains all:

Returning to Nancy Pelosi, the Trump campaign team have made a short advert about her and her ice cream:

Excellent work.

In 2011, Jacob Sullum, who writes for the libertarian site Reason, explored the unofficial ban on hiring smokers in the United States.

It’s peculiar that employers choose non-mind-altering nicotine as a target. Tobacco Control refer to smokers as helpless addicts who must be punished, first by ever-escalating taxes (75% to 80% of the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes) then by unemployment or protracted job searches.

Sullum notes the disconnect of Tobacco Control’s arguments:

Anyone who has paid any attention to anti-smoking propaganda over the years could tell you that smokers are the enemy whenever it’s convenient. They are portrayed as victims in product liability suits and pleas for limits on tobacco advertising but villains in campaigns for higher cigarette taxes and ever-more-comprehensive smoking bans. If anti-smoking activists truly believed that smokers are helpless nicotine slaves, why would they support policies that “punish an addiction” through punitive, regressive taxes and restrictions that make it increasingly difficult for these addicts to get their fix (for example, by banning separate smoking rooms in workplaces and smoking near the entrances of office buildings)?

As far as employing smokers is concerned, Sullum says it should be the employer’s right to choose, although this would apply equally to non-smokers.

It is a mystery that, if this is such an overwhelming issue, why more employers just don’t say at the outset that a smoker might have to contribute to his own company-provided health insurance above the premium the employer pays for a non-smoker. If Company XYZ pays $100 per non-smoker and a smoker’s premium were $125, then, the employer could ask that the excess amount be deducted each month from the smoker’s pay, take it or leave it.

As for the oft-mentioned ‘smokers take more sick days’, I have noticed over my working years that most people taking sick days had never touched tobacco in their lives. Smokers showed up nearly every day, many of them starting early. They also seemed to have much more energy throughout the day and applied greater concentration to the work at hand. In the days of smoking lounges, many smokers held work-based discussions or took a report to read.

Unlike non-smokers, my smoking colleagues weren’t running off to the tea room every 20 minutes or sitting down to gossip with a colleague. How much do non-smokers lose a company in productive time?

Sullum’s main complaint is where this prohibition of employment and ‘public health’ campaigns are taking Western society and government:

The real slippery slope threat comes not from increasingly nosy employers but from an increasingly intrusive government that considers promoting “public health” part of its mission and interprets that concept broadly enough to encompass everything people do that might increase their own risk of disease or injury. That totalitarian tendency is reinforced by the government’s ever-expanding role in health care, which transforms a moralistic, pseudo-medical argument into a fiscal imperative by giving every taxpayer a stake in his neighbor’s lifestyle. A smoker or fat guy turned away by one employer can always look for work elsewhere, but citizens subject to the state’s coercive health-oriented interventions cannot easily pick a different government.

He has a point, although that still doesn’t cover the basic problem, which is that smokers — no matter how clean they are or few cigarettes they have — face increasing discrimination in the workplace.

The most egregious aspect of hiring policy is the complete prohibition of tobacco for employees, not just at work but at home, too. Even worse, there have also been reports of non-smoking employees’ spouses being targeted by a wife or husband’s employer! One example is Weyco Inc., located in Michigan (emphases mine below):

Weyco Inc., now part of health-benefits manager Meritain Health, had not only a no-smoking policy that included mandatory tobacco testing of workers, but a no-smoking policy for spouses as well. No Michigan statute prohibits that kind of action, [attorney Lewis] Maltby says.

Talk about an employer owning family life. It’s lifestyle slavery.

Ex-smokers on nicotine substitutes also face problems. In 2012, USA Today carried an article on the subject stating that even someone who wants to kick the habit might find getting a job difficult:

More job-seekers are facing an added requirement: no smoking — at work or anytime.

As bans on smoking sweep the USA, an increasing number of employers — primarily hospitals — are also imposing bans on smokers. They won’t hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use, whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches.

Such tobacco-free hiring policies, designed to promote health and reduce insurance premiums, took effect this month at the Baylor Health Care System in Texas and will apply at the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, when it opens this year.

Fascism at work.

In a recent interview with the Australian Broadcasting Network, trends analyst and financial forecaster Gerald Celente said (emphases mine):

I would say, since I’ve been doing this work, over 30 years ago, I’ve never been more concerned than I am right now.

According to Dominique de Kevelioc de Bailleul of Beacon Equity, who summarises the interview:

Twenty-two months of hysteria of an impending European financial collapse, starting with Greece in March of 2010, will finally come to an end in 2012, according to the founder of Trends Research Institute, Gerald Celente.

Celente’s latest forecast, ‘The First Great War of the 21st Century—Prepare, Survive, Prevail’, predicts more turmoil for the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

And — things are set to become even worse in the United States, to be covered in a moment.

Meanwhile, Celente voices his concerns about Europe:

“If you live in Greece, you’re in a depression; if you live in Spain, you’re in a depression; if you live in Portugal or Ireland, you’re in a depression,” Celente said. “If you live in Lithuania, you’re running to the bank to get your money out of the bank as the bank runs go on. It’s a depression. Hungary, there’s a depression, and much of Eastern Europe, Romania, Bulgaria. And there are a lot of depressions going on [already].”

Celente advises us not to expect China to come to the rescue (quite rightly):

China will then likely slow its imports of materials from countries which have been supplying mined product during the commodities boom, leading to a vicious spiral of increased unemployment and declining economic activity—a scenario strongly intimated by Dow Theory Letters author Richard Russell in his latest letter to investors (excerpts posted on King World News). Russell, too, expects a steepening U.S. depression, with 25 percent unemployment in the America as his target at the bottom of the depression.

“This whole thing is connected,” Celente explained. “China isn’t going to have the money to throw around to losers anymore than loan shark would give a gambler who can’t pay his old debts back and has a bad gambling habit another loan to gamble . . . They [Chinese] have their own problems to deal with.”

As for the United States, Celente’s home country:

The Panic of ’08; you have the Great Recessions—Great Depressions going on. Oh, by the way, real estate prices in the United States, they’re at a steeper decline than they were during the Great Depression. Foreclosures continue to mount. It’s taking people over 40 weeks, who lose jobs to find another job, and then finding one at a fraction of what they lost the old one at.

He hasn’t changed his mind about imminent war, either, which, as students of history know, is the established answer to a prolonged economic downturn:

“So then you look at the trade wars that they’re now talking about,” Celente said. “And, as I said, when you add them up, you have the beginnings of a great war going on already. Oh, and now, and now, they’re talking about, hey, we did such a great job in Iraq and Afghanistan, why don’t we bomb Iran? Have you heard the presidential candidates of the United States, with the exception of Ron Paul, that all want to go to war against Iran? So you can see where it’s going.

Celente said the kickoff to a global meltdown and a call to war could “spiral out of control” some time “by the first quarter of 2012” as the European crisis worsens to the point of a crack up. “There’s no way to bail out the European nations,” Celente said forcefully.

And the build up to social unrest, calamity and possible civil war can be seen a mile away, said Celente, who segued into another one of the trends he sees for 2012: Safe Havens (escaping the United States).

Celente also mentioned the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) in the interview, which allows for American citizens to be unconstitutionally held with no charge and without trial.  Although he offers no clear solutions for Americans wishing to escape this possibility:

enacted … expansion plans suggest the U.S. may enter a crisis on par with the lead up to the U.S. Civil War of 1861-5.

To find out how Celente’s 2011 predictions worked — very well, by the way — continue reading here.

Whilst I do not wish to alarm anyone unnecessarily, Celente is often, shall we say, on the money.

When Britain’s coalition government came to power in May 2010, it promised to cut back on the number of laws.  This included implementing sunset clauses on various employment laws.  Businessmen and women around the country were relieved — no more red tape.

In September 2010, Business Secretary Vince Cable pledged that for every new business law coming in, an older one would be relegated to the scrapheap.

Yet, only a few months later in January 2011, the Government reneged.  The Telegraph reported that:

the Treasury has said it will not introduce sunset clauses for tax legislation but instead evaluate the effectiveness of new tax law “on a case-by-case basis”. “The case has not yet been made for their regular use in relation to tax policy,” it stated in its response to a consultation on tax policy-making.

Business leaders, particularly those in small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) particularly object to laws such as these:

new regulations and tax changes taking effect in April [2011] … the abolition of the default retirement age, rights for fathers to claim up to six months of a mother’s maternity leave, the extension of the right to request flexible working to parents with children under 18, and an increase in National Insurance contributions.

And there are more laws which make hiring and job creation a legislative and litigious minefield. The smaller the company, the greater the reluctance to hire.  The Cynical Tendency had this to say at the end of August (emphases mine):

Here is my listing, make of it what you will:

Employment Act 2008, in force April 2009.

This built on and extended a range of past laws, regulations, case law and EU Directives from the past. It increased the rights of employees and added new responsibilities and requirements on employers.

It has meant stringent control over how employees must be dealt with. To this is added the new Social Security Regulations of 2011. One feature is that now maternity leave can run to a year and paternity leave for up to six months.

There is also added items for sick leave, time off, variation of hours, overtime etc. It is now very difficult to dismiss an employee without substantial reasons despite any “probation”. Also, the Conditions of Service will limit an employee’s work schedule within strictly defined limits which cannot be exceeded.

Equality Act 2010, in force October 2010

This Act imposes a wide range of conditions on employment in terms of gender, race, diversity and other aspects of relationships. Also, it limits greatly the conditions that can be applied to appointing people to jobs or to their treatment in work.

The full impact of this Act and the regulations that will be issued will be seen in the coming months and years. What it does mean that employing people cannot be subject to a wide range of requirements common in the past.

Health and Safety Act, 1974 and EU Directive 89/331EEC 1989

Under these laws there have been a large number of Directives and Regulations issued each year by the Health and Safety Executive which have the force of law. Old ones can be amended at any time as well as new ones issued.

All these, which have been increasing in number, directly affect what an employee can do in a number of areas of work and how they do it. Failure to understand those in the past has been a serious cause of misunderstandings and difficulty.

Disability Discrimination Act 2010

This brings together earlier law and EU Directives together with regulations and has a major impact on employment. Both in appointing and providing for staff there are now substantial requirements on employers.

Should an employee become disabled, either physically or mentally, whether in the course of their work or for other reasons the employer will be expected to make proper provision for them to do the job.

Also, as some disabilities may lead to occasional periods of treatment or sickness the employer will have to allow for this in the conditions of service and employment.

Human Rights Act 2010

This follows the Human Rights Act of 1998, enforced in October 2000 with the added law of 2004. It puts into effect a wider range of requirements and treatment of persons that directly affect employment issues. The full scale of this will take some time to emerge.

Therefore, what many employers used to do on an individual level — including departmental managers in large organisations — is now mandated by law no doubt because of a few landmark cases.  Yes, there are great employers — I’ve known several — and there are bad ones, whom people should avoid.

The end result, however, is that either employers will refuse to hire or will subcontract employment specialists to handle their HR work.

I read a couple of years ago that one of the strategems of the elites is to wipe small mom-and-pop businesses off the high street, not just in the UK but also in other Western countries.  Only large chain stores would be able to afford operating.  Only they would be able to pay the exhorbitant rents and potential litigation costs whilst making huge profits.

Whether by accident or design, that is coming true.  I have noticed it here in Greater London over the past 20 years.  Self-employed businessmen offering a speciality service give up the High Street shop because they can no longer afford to pay for premises; a number of them take early retirement.  So, a chain store moves in.  The same is true in Europe; Cannes now has only one family-owned shop left in Rue d’Antibes, their main shopping thorofare.  The owner is getting on a bit, so when he retires, that will be it.  Barcelona’s shopping district is also one major chain after another.

If you doubt what I say, watch the next time you see old newsreel or documentary footage on television.  Most shops 50 years ago — even 30 years ago — were family-owned concerns.  No longer.

Sadly, many unemployed who could have put their expertise to use or to learn a new trade are out of luck.  As the blogger noted, this also has an effect on the consumer’s choice of services and merchandise:

The town where I live has many ordinary shops that have gone out of business, incidentally depriving us of any locally sourced produce. They have become agencies for part time or temporary employment or contracted jobs with clear limits …

The costs of all this are now beginning to impact not only on recruitment but on almost all the costs that fall on consumers and taxpayers. What part it plays in inflation, reducing real incomes and creating obstacles to progress is not known but has certainly made life far more difficult for those at the bottom of the heap.

Unfortunately, a reader’s response confirms the problems of owning one’s own business:

As the former owner of a small business, I can say with benefit of hindsight that acquiring my own premises, setting up a production facility and employing people was probably the biggest mistake I made. It took up endless time to comply with all the regulations and the many personal problems of employees which impinged on the business …

Building up a team from scratch is much more difficult than you think and, as an employer “Everything in your favour is against you”.

Consequently, more people — willing, able and qualified to work — are deprived of the opportunity of earning a living.

Small businesses in the United States are also under pressure. Treasury Secretary Tim ‘Turbo Tax Timmy’ Geithner, so called because he owed a substantial sum in back taxes when he was first considered for his post, said in June that taxes on small businesses must increase ‘so Government doesn’t shrink’.  Huh?

Karl Denninger’s readers discussed the article on his Market Ticker forum.  One commenter made a similar remark to the British reader earlier:

This attitude coupled with how they express this attitude in regulations (both at federal level and local level) is why I wouldn’t own/start a business in the US in the current environment. Instead of doing another micro business that employees 3 or 4 people (like I did in 2000) I’ll just do contract work and not accept new clients when I reach capacity (instead of hiring workers). Those other 3 or 4 people can stay on unemployment or welfare or whatever.

A sad state of affairs for both employer and employee, thanks to special-interest groups and legal decisions which have contributed to this plethora of laws which plays into the hands of the elite.

Economic growth in this climate?  Not likely at this stage.

Sue from Muffled Vociferation (in the UK links at the bottom of my blogroll) has been giving her readers regular updates on the state of the European Union, our modern-day Tower of Babel.

The recent protests in Spain have spilled into other countries, including the UK, where an international protest took place on May 29, 2011.  On Monday, May 30, Sue wrote:

.. things are not looking so good. Dear Jean-Claude [Trichet — President of the European Central Bank] is obviously hoping that some sort of divine intervention is going to save the Euro and EU. The bickering over bailouts has begun to take its toll and the love affair between Germany and France is way past the mediation stage. They’ve tried just about everything with Greece from handing over millions of Euros to bullying tactics which would make the ECHR’s hair stand on end!

European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn is adamant that Greece will not default and return to the Drachma. The sheer audacity of the man is enough to take any normal person’s breath away ” I do not see a withdrawal from the monetary union as a serious option. It would harm the Greek economy and be a setback for European integration. The euro is more than a currency; it’s the central political project of our community. For this reason, too, we would not accept a Greek withdrawal”.  NOT ACCEPT?

This non-acceptance reminds me of a conversation I had a year ago with someone who, like me, loves Europe but loathes the idea of the European Union He said, ‘Surely, we just withdraw, keeping all our trade agreements in place’I said that if the UK withdrew, the EU would not ‘accept’ our withdrawal and would make an example of us by refusing our products and denying us free trade with our European partners, which has been in place long before there was a bloated EU HQ in Brussels.

What began as freer trade in the latter part of the 20th century has now turned into a bewildering bureaucracy staffed with dozens of people who are unknown — and those are just the ministers and members of the European Parliament!  We are told what size and shape of fruit and vegetables we can buy, just to cite one well-known example.  This helps no one.  Farmers are throwing out loads of produce every year because they cannot bring it to market.  In the UK, our hard-pressed fishermen are forced to dump tonnes of fish a year because they can only catch certain fish at certain times of year.  Yes, it’s a policy intended to conserve fish stocks, yet it results in thousands (at least) of discarded fish per year which could be feeding the British public, the poorest of whom are always being hectored by our Government to improve their diets.  Earlier this year Channel 4 carried a documentary on this subject, fronted by foodie and farmer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall — a shocking exposé.  But, I digress.

Back to Sue, who says the EU officials have underestimated the current and growing discontent among members of the public:

Now led by the Spanish and Greeks, spontaneous demonstrations of dissatisfied citizens are showing their distaste for having to pay with their livelihoods and homes for the incompetence of those who have forcibly thrust them into a club that benefits no-one but themselves.

On May 31, she added (emphases mine):

The people who have gathered in Trafalgar Square, Syntagma Square, Bastille Square and Puerta del Sol Square are not just a young mob of students, social workers and civil servants and UK Uncut troublemakers. They are ordinary people, yes there are socialists, communists, civil servants and students,  but more importantly there are people who have lost their jobs and homes too.

Just remember, even though the PIIGS were recipients of all that EU funding, their citizens were not given a referendum on the EU either. They too, trusted their politicians just as we did, hoping that what they did, would enable them to create better futures for themselves and their children. They may have taken advantage of low interest loans but they were encouraged to do so and if they had been warned of the risks, they would probably have thought twice.

It’s all very well for those of us not caught up in the debt trap to say, ah well, it’s their fault but whether you like it or not, some greedy, corrupt people did very well out of their misery. Even now, the powers that be, are being paid extortionate salaries with solid gold pensions while Europe crumbles under their feet …

And — Sue’s news from June 1 points to a possible return of the Greek drachma.  Are they going ahead with a withdrawal from the euro??  As you can see, the exchange rates from Reuters has no information — yet.

I am cautiously optimistic and hope that this could be the beginning of the end of this rather unhappy experience which has served only to benefit a privileged few bureaucrats.  I’d love to have put ‘public servants’, but they know nothing about service, just lining their pockets with our taxes, more and more of which go towards their salaries and pensions.

A number of Europeans — British included — believed that the EU would represent a model for freedom of travel and employment, linked to a stable common currency.  Some of us here in the UK — myself included — were disappointed when we didn’t adopt the euro.  Now, most of us are relieved.  As my mother always said, ‘Things happen for a reason’.  Thank goodness!

I hope that Greece — and the other euro countries — will be able to do the right thing and wish them the very best in extricating themselves from the current economic turmoil.

Or brioche, as Marie Antoinette actually phrased it.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) story gets more interesting as it reveals the engrenages — wheels within wheels — of his personal, political and professional network.  Socialists represent the little guy?  Hmm — don’t be too sure.

I’ve written before that a general election will take place in France in 2012 and that DSK was the hope of the Parti Socialiste (PS).  Now, unless something incredible happens, he’s out of the frame and the PS are back to square one with the usual ho-hum selection of possible candidates for the upcoming primaries: Martine Aubry, Ségolène Royal and her ex, François Hollande.

But this will be no ordinary presidential campaign.  Already, the fabric of the PS and their media water-carriers is starting to unravel.  I share the following with you in order that you can see how a variety of people sharing the same political point of view — even if they are unknown to you — are closely linked together.  It’s something we don’t see unfold every day.  Certainly, someone in the US could perform the same public service for their own presidential elections next year in revealing the true connections between the Democrats and the mainstream media.

The beginning of the end for the French Left?

Late last week, two media stories surfaced.  One concerned veteran newsreader and broadcaster Christine Ockrent, who resigned under a cloud from France 24. The other story was that the founder and weekly contributor to Marianne, Jean-Francois Kahn (no relation to DSK), announced his retirement from the journalistic sphere.  (I’ll believe it when I see it.)  The reason is that he dismissed the DSK debacle on television as un troussage de domestiqueTroussage means ‘getting one’s kit off’ and domestique is, as you would imagine, a domestic servant, a housemaid.  The offices of the left-leaning magazine were buzzing with questions to such as an extent that the newsmagazine’s co-founder and publisher, Maurice Szafran, sent around an email to say that JFK, as he is known in France, would be retiring with the next edition of the magazine (so, by the time you read this).

When the staff on the magazine you founded start wondering about your phraseology, it’s probably time to put your pen and paper down.  Female staff in particular, reports say, found the remark not only sexist but demeaning.  They also thought it flippant and condescending, as if what allegedly happened at the Sofitel was a farcical romp.

French people generally found it a poor turn of phrase, saying that JFK should have thought a bit more before speaking in a television interview.  One woman wrote in to one of the newspapers to say (paraphrased), ‘The word domestique has very real — and negative — connotations for me.  My mother worked in service when I was a little girl.  The family that employed her always referred to her dismissively as “la domestique”.  I was never known by name but as the “daughter of la domestique“.’

PS and French media connections

But there may be a reason he expressed himself in such a manner.  JFK’s wife, Rachel Kahn, a television producer for France2, is a longtime friend of DSK’s wife, career journalist Anne Sinclair.  They got to know each other when Ms Sinclair and JFK were both working for Europe1. Another longtime close friend of Ms Sinclair’s is feminist philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, wife of Robert Badinter, PS senator for Hauts-de-Seine (near Paris) and former Minister of Justice under the late François Mitterand.  Mme Badinter’s father, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, founded the global advertising and communications company Publicis Groupe in 1926.  Mme Badinter has featured regularly in JFK’s Marianne, most recently in a profile of France’s greatest contemporary intellectuals (2011).

Rachel Kahn and Elisabeth Badinter were both witnesses at the marriage of Anne Sinclair and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Robert Badinter is part of the World Justice Project, working globally with other Honorary Chairs, such as President Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bishop Desmond Tutu, among others from around the world concerned with ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ for ‘opportunity and equity’According to French Wikipedia, he supports the worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Jean-François Kahn, founder of the now defunct newsweekly l’Evenement de Jeudi, was a member of the French Communist Party for two years in his youth.  Since then, although left-of-centre, he has adopted a variety of socio-political positions which defies putting him into any one category.  As a case in point, he endorsed centrist candidate François Bayrou in the 2007 elections instead of the Socialist self-styled madonna Ségolène Royal.  One thing is certain: he vehemently opposes Nicolas Sarkozy and has done so since he founded Marianne in 1997.

Maurice Szafran was a director of JFK’s l’Evenement de Jeudi before co-founding Marianne with him. JFK appointed him editor-in-chief, a position he held until 2008, when JFK put him in charge of the magazine as a whole.  Marianne‘s positions are very much pro-immigration, anti-UMP (Conservative party) and supportive of French agriculture — Périco Légasse‘s food columns are always worthwhile. In all fairness, they do feature a number of articles on discrimination against Christians, particularly in North Africa. The magazine supports left-wing politics, although they do not hesitate to criticise the PS. This year, they have been shouting out against the party’s ‘lack of vision for 2012’.  They also quote frequently from online sites such as Rue89 and former Le Monde editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel’s Mediapart.

Edwy Plenel features frequently as a guest editorial writer for Marianne.  Overseas readers of his work might not know that his father was deputy administrator for Martinique and a fierce anti-colonialist.  The young Plenel arrived in Paris in 1970 and joined the Communist Revolutionary League (LCR).  He began his journalistic career by writing for their weekly publication, Rouge [Red]. After completing his obligatory military service, he distanced himself from the LCR and took up mainstream journalism at Le Monde.  In 2003, he would preside over record sales for the newspaper, which went from strength to strength for the next few years. He left the paper in 2007 and began Mediapart the following year.

In late 2010, Maurice Szafran welcomed left-leaning journalist Jacques Julliard to Marianne. Szafran praised him as being an admirable man of the Left.  Julliard had just left Le Nouvel Observateur over editorial differences. Back in his university days, Julliard had actively participated in France’s May 1968 student demonstrations.  He still admires the work of Antonio Gramsci, among others.  However, a point in Julliard’s favour is a condemnation of Christian persecution:

If fundamentalist Christians had bombed a mosque or a synagogue, we would all be in the streets talking about it for years. Right now, there is actually an underestimate of persecution — there is no other word — of Christians around the world who are victims.

A new Left — and a new electorate

While Julliard was a regular editorial writer at Le Nouvel Obs, he also pursued independent projects.  One of these was the now-defunct magazine Intervention — leftists do love that word — in 1982.  Julliard was one of the intellectuals associated with what is known in France as la deuxième gauche, ‘the second [read ‘new’] Left’. This movement germinated in the late 1950s but only began picking up steam after the May 1968 demonstrations. Michel Rocard was one of the emerging PS stars who championed la deuxième gauche, which de-emphasises Marxism in favour of more communitarian solutions to socio-political issues.

Julliard’s Intervention magazine supported la deuxième gauche and Rocard’s perspectives. Remember also that Julliard founded the publication shortly after François Mitterand — PS — became PresidentRocard was beginning one of three ministerial positions in Mitterand’s government, which would culminate with his serving as Prime Minister from 1988 to 1991.

A young lecturer at a teachers training college (Ecole normale d’instituteurs) and United Socialist Party (PSU) militant by the name of Joël Roman was a regular contributor to Julliard’s Intervention.  Roman became increasingly interested in the role of media, the French principle of laïcité (secularism) and immigration.  He is a co-founder of the think tank / movement Sauvons l’Europe (Let’s Save Europe).  Sauvons l’Europe, created in 2005, is part of the 21st century phase of the deuxième gaucheIt involves Greens, Muslims and Socialists working together for ‘human development’.

Therefore, gone are the days when Socialists represented the working man.  For the past few years, the new Socialists have courted young immigrants and have created a meme around disenchantment, disenfranchisement and discrimination.  A May 25, 2011 broadcast of a programme on France Culture featured a debate between Roman and author Malika Sorel who is strongly opposed to the leftist approach to immigration.  Roman says some very strange things in the debate, e.g. ‘Immigration stopped in the mid-1970s’.  (I studied in France between 1977 and 1978 — I can tell you it was just starting in earnest then with young men from North Africa, already evident in most of France’s cities. They were all quite friendly — it was work and an adventure for the ones I met.  The benefits culture hadn’t started yet nor had bringing over one’s family.)  Roman wants more immigration, as much as possible: ‘It’s good for development’.  Never mind the working stiff Socialist voter who’s looking for a job when factories and businesses are closing or laying off hundreds of people.  Where are they going to go?  Where are their children going to work? How are any of them going to live?  What will they live on? But, Roman’s through with them — he’s after the new arrivals.  Never mind the French or immigrants who arrived in the 1970s.

Terra Nova think tank, DSK and the PS

Carrying on this theme is another influential think tank, Terra Nova. Although founded recently — in 2008 — it, too, is an offshoot of Michel Rocard’s deuxième gauche. In fact, Rocard has a key position in Terra Nova, as one of its co-presidents, along with founder Olivier Ferrand.  Olivier Ferrand is a civil servant, born in 1960.  Too young to enjoy May 1968 and radical leftist organisations, his generation opted for more conventional routes.  Ferrand went for Establishment education and credentials.  He is a former student at the well-renowned Sciences Po (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris) and one of the most famous grandes écoles, ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration), whose graduates are referred to as énarques.

Ferrand has had a career one can only wish for. He began his career in the French Treasury where he participated in international negotiations involving the G7, the OECD and the IMF.  After this time, he was a general delegate to another think tank, one founded by DSK and Michel Rocard, called ‘A Gauche, en Europe’ (To the Left, in Europe’).  Therefore, Ferrand is (very) far removed from a working-class, grass roots ethic which used to be part and parcel of the PS.

But, that’s not a problem.  A number of cutting-edge companies have donated money to Terra Nova, among them are Microsoft, Total, SAP, RTE, Euro RSCG and Capgemini.

I left Capgemini — one of the world’s top 10 management consulting groups — until the end of that list, because we have yet another connection to explore here.  Paul Hermelin heads Capgemini. Years before that he served as a Cabinet Director for DSK under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS) Hermelin is also a local Socialist councillor for Avignon! The wonderful world of connections!  We’ll come to Euro RSCG in a little while.

Bye bye, workers — take care!

Ferrand’s education and career are not even remotely linked with France as an historic, European nation.  He has been steeped in globalism and a worldview which encompasses sophisticated, financial and economic considerations.  He is concerned, no doubt, with the flow of money, markets and people.  As far as he is concerned, we’re no doubt just atoms or warm bodies.  Meanwhile, French people and immigrants who have been in France for a number of years are apoplectic: their future is ruined by a tanking economy and job losses. But Terra Nova has nothing — nothing at all — to offer them.

As evidence, see this interview from May 13, 2011, in Le Point (emphases mine):

Le Point: Your [Terra Nova] report suggests that the Left must modify its electoral strategy for 2012 by no longer depending on the working and middle classes for support.  Is this a wind-up?

Olivier Ferrand: No! We’re basing it on factual studies in France and in nine other countries (Germany, the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Australia, Canada, the US) … The electoral base has changed …  Under Mitterand, the working classes were united by values, they no longer are. The left’s electoral base — its heart — was the working class.  It no longer is.

Le Point: What happened?

Ferrand: … The Left evolved with the impact of May ’68 and progressively adopted open values on sexual mores, the family, immigration, national identity and diversity On the other hand, the working class retreated and became insular, having been worked over by the [economic] crisis and the fear of [losing their position as a social class], which has sent the FN [Front National] into hysteria. But a new electoral base has emerged, linked to open cultural values, [those which are] positive, tolerant, about solidarity, optimism, a hopeful future and comprised of young people, poorer working class areas, minorities and women.  This is the France of tomorrow.  They are outside of society … 

Wow — if that isn’t straight out of the Marxist / Fabian / Gramscian combined playbook!  Jackpot!  Banco!

At the end of the interview, the paper asks about DSK:

Le Point: In any event, we know you support Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Ferrand: Terra Nova is a collective structure which works together with Socialist leaders and the Left, with Europe Ecologie and the PS … Terra Nova supports no candidate, we’re not a political party and I’m not a spokesperson for DSK. 

Nonetheless, it is thought that Terra Nova and DSK were working together with a view toward his candidacy.

Worringly, Terra Nova not only want to court a new electorate, they plan on changing a free, democratic and fair way of selecting candidates and voting!  The following appeared on their site on April 21, 2011:

‘Our electoral system is ageing badly. Its faults are becoming more and more visible’, Olivier Ferrand assures us.

Among these faults are ‘baroque candidacy rules’, ‘archaic’ … campaigns and ‘debatable’ financing.

Instead of France’s two-round voting — which I actually wish more countries would adopt — Ferrand proposes not a FPTP vote exactly, but a result based on what he calls

majority judgment

This appears to mean that the candidates winning the highest numbers of votes would be scrutinised by a panel which would then ‘grade’ or ‘mark’ each one in terms of overall ‘suitability’.  This would mean that someone like Marine Le Pen of the Front National would be prevented from winning, even if she had a majority of votes (and, this is highly doubtful and, no, she does not have my support).  A Le Pen victory, in Ferrand’s estimation, would be

a major democratic accident.

So, in order to combat such a scenario, he proposes something entirely undemocratic which goes against a one man-one vote democratic process done around the world.  Talk about moving backwards to feudal society.  And this is where immigrants from developing countries come in.  We see in Britain where ‘community leaders’ instruct families — especially women — how to vote and for whom to vote.  This is why Labour brought in postal ballots en masse.  I used to see these men outside my polling station when I lived in London.  They’re really intimidating, targeting certain immigrant women walking into the polling station.  Wow — if this is the type of society Ferrand envisages for France, he will have an electoral replacement before you can say ‘Sacre bleu!’

There is much more I can write on other personalities known not only in France but worldwide.  I’m afraid this will have to wait for the next instalment.

Meanwhile, who’s cleaning up after DSK?

In closing, here are a few more quick connections involving DSK.

The week of his arrest drove France crazy.  Not only are famous French people not handcuffed when arrested (it seems) but they are not allowed to be photographed in the ‘humiliating’ way that DSK was — what Americans refer to as the ‘perp walk’.  And, even if they were photographed like that, the papers would not be able to print the photos — if any of this had happened in France.  ‘After all, DSK is not a common criminal — he’s internationally famous!’  Hmm, you betcha.

So, communications firm Euro RSCG — donors to Terra Novahave been busy with damage limitation for DSK over the past week.  They apparently have sent or discussed talking points with major French media outlets, advising them as to what is off limits.  It seemed to work well early on, but the papers seem to have picked up steam again with DSK’s new digs.  Before we get to that, however, it’s worth noting that Euro RSCG do a lot of work for CAC 40 companies.  One of their clients is another Terra Nova donor, Capgemini (not a secret, you can see the firm’s name in fine print on their adverts). Furthermore, Euro RSCG also do PR work for Laurent Fabius, former Prime Minister (PS) between 1984 and 1986 under François Mitterand (PS).

Yet, in the US, DSK might use a CIA-related public relations firm, TD InternationalReuters reports:

A person familiar with the work TD International did for Strauss-Kahn in 2007 said his representatives consulted the firm informally after his arrest last Saturday and asked for advice related to his predicament.

If the firm at some point becomes formally involved in his defense, the source said, its role will be in helping other Strauss-Kahn advisors, including Paris-based public relations experts, engage in “crisis management.”

But the source, who asked for anonymity, said the firm had not been formally engaged. A lawyer for Strauss-Kahn did not respond to a request for comment …

A contract between TD International and Strauss-Kahn, dated July 18, 2007, shows he hired the firm to “conduct a specific public relations campaign” and “work is to begin immediately and continue until ascendancy of client to head of IMF” …

According to the source, TD International helped advise Strauss-Kahn on U.S. and international political maneuvering related to the choice of a new IMF chief …

The website describes the firm’s founder, William Green, as a former diplomat who is fluent in French and “participated in the management of the Anglo-American and U.S.-Canadian intelligence relationships when posted to Washington.”

The website identifies two other partners in the firm as former CIA officers.

Now, about the new digs. Faithful wife Anne Sinclair (why?) has found yet another property for him.  This one is even better than the place she wanted to rent before they ended up staying at the police ‘safe house’ near Wall Street.  Well, now they are in Tribeca (Lower Manhattan) — gentrified some 30 years ago — and property prices have gone up, up, up ever since.  You can see pictures below in an excellent French montage. The rent for this loft property is … $50,000 a month!

Hey, unemployed workers of France — eat cake! 

The centre slogan in the satirical mock-up of DSK’s new house (below) says, ‘Diversity for you, peace and quiet for us.’  Note ‘Journalists in the pocket’.

Let this be a lesson to all of us not to accept honeyed words at face value or to place too much faith in our elected officials and appointed ‘experts’. All is not what it seems.  And, yes, this does need exposure, especially for voters who are still sentimentally tied to left-wing parties.

Are the French angry?  Yes, many are.  Can you blame them?

On May 24, 2011, David Cameron — yet again — relaunched his Big Society.  He outlined more ‘nudging’ initiatives to get middle-class England to fork out more cash and spare time, as if we weren’t hard enough done by already.

He couched this in words about the importance of family values, as the Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Relaunching his Big Society initiative yesterday, Mr Cameron insisted that marriage remains the bedrock of strong communities

Yesterday the Prime Minister said families were at the heart of his vision for a Big Society

The Prime Minister’s comments came as he made a fourth attempt to relaunch his Big Society initiative, which critics say has struggled to catch the public imagination.

The initiative has previously focused on a drive to encourage more charitable and voluntary work. Yesterday Mr Cameron said charities would receive an extra £40million in support. New initiatives to encourage public giving, such as prompting people to donate every time they use a cashpoint, were also unveiled, while it was announced that ministers will lead by example – committing themselves to undertake a day of voluntary service over the course of the year with a charity of their choice.

Other measures in the White Paper include establishing a new honours committee to ensure people are recognised for ‘exceptional and sustained philanthropy’; opening up government buildings to charities and voluntary groups; and holding a ‘giving’ summit to bring charities together with philanthropists, businesses and financiers.

Returning to the pro-family agenda he championed in Opposition, Mr Cameron stressed that marriage also has a crucial role to play in building a stronger society.

The Prime Minister underlined his commitment to make Britain the most ‘family-friendly’ place in Europe.

And he insisted his vision of a Big Society was ‘not some fluffy add-on to more gritty and more important subjects’.

Hello, Mr Cameron and No. 10 advisers — news flash — this is why the people of Britain object to your Big Society:

1/ We are now in a third consecutive year of high unemployment and, for those still working, precarity with regard to employment.  In the case of the latter group, how are people supposed to spend more time with their families when they could easily lose their jobs if they don’t work longer hours?  Although employment contracts state a 37.5 or 40-hour week and one can opt out of contractually working longer hours, the reality is that even with those two factors, most people in an office work between 10 and 12 hours a dayAdd travel time on top of that.  So, under those circumstances, families will suffer and so will marriages.  We are bound to American-style presenteeism.  Nothing really gets done during that time that couldn’t be done in an 7.5 hour day.  However, the pressure is on to arrive as early as possible and leave as late as possible.  If you want to tackle marriage and family issues, presenteeism in the office is a great place to start.  Go after employers and their warped work ethos.

2/ For unemployed young people finishing secondary school or university graduates starting a career, life is grim right now.  Yahoo! Lifestyle reports on another job possibility lost for school leavers.  Anyone with two synapses to rub together could have seen it coming, however:

McDonald’s has just announced it is going to introduce state-of-the-art touch-screen terminals to order food and the swipe card payment method in its 7000 restaurants in Europe.

According to McDonald’s UK President, Steve Easterbrook, this marks the first major change in the way food is ordered in restaurants in 30 or 40 years …

The proposed technological changes have divided customers though. Some like the idea that their meals will be even quicker; but others will miss service with a smile and are worried that there won’t be enough terminals in the restaurants, leading to long queues. Others are unhappy about using cards to make payments for the small amount of money that McDonald’s meals usually cost. Many are also anxious about staff being replaced by computers at a time when jobs are already hard to come by.

What about those pursuing higher education and aspiring to a career in education?  In January 2011, the Telegraph reported that

the number of students training to work in secondary schools will fall by more than 2,000 from September, a decrease of 14 per cent …

It is a time of record unemployment for graduates, many of whom would consider taking up teaching. Last week figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that one in five graduates is jobless, twice as many as before the recession.

On May 17, 2011, the Department for Education defended the plan:

a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Training more teachers than the country needs is a waste of money …

The spokesman added that when numbers of trainee teachers were included who came into the profession via other routes, such as being trained abroad, or on class-based programmes such as Teach First, the overall decline would be only 1,200.

Naturally, one wonders what those highlighted words mean in reality.  Fret not, because all was made clear a week later on May 23:

Rules forcing teachers to retrain before being able to take-up jobs in state primaries and secondaries will be axed next year, it was disclosed.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the move would initially apply to teachers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Research shows teaching qualifications offered in these countries are already equivalent to those in England, he said.

The reforms will then be extended to staff from other countries such as South Africa, Jamaica and Singapore.

It will give these teachers the same working rights that currently apply to those from the European Union, who can permanently work in England despite not being trained in this country.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Mr Gove said: “One of the aims of my department is to make sure that the most talented people possible are teaching our children and it is already the case that teachers from the European Economic Area can teach in our schools …

So, the British can basically forget teaching as a career? We’re not ‘talented’ enough? This is a parlous state of affairs.  Wow, thanks. (Don’t anyone come here to comment — even in jest — saying that the British don’t want to teach!)

Now, if we really are suffering a shortage of teachers, fine.  However, this has not been made clear, particularly in light of so-called Government cuts.  What about Our Island Story? Aren’t the incoming teachers going to learn about England’s history? In all honesty, a growing number of people in Britain believe we are being replaced by people from elsewhere in the world, Europe included.  Our culture has been rapidly being diluted over the past 15 years. Seeing that Government actively encourage that dilution by not even training foreign teachers — and do we really need them when money could have been channelled more efficiently? — it is not unreasonable for the British to question what they are paying for where state schools are concerned.

3/ Now to the unemployed.  How does one qualify for unemployment benefit?  One pays for it out of each pay cheque — it’s automatically deducted.  In turn, one is entitled to reclaim part of this contribution when one is between jobs.  That’s how JSA — Job Seeker’s Allowance — works.  I’ve been on JSA in the past: once in the 1990s and a second time a few years ago.  The standard JSA payment is around £55 a week, which is paid in fortnightly. I know because I received it on two different occasions, and I paid into the fund whilst working. It is not like the dole, as your JSA advisor will spend an hour or two filling out a booklet with you discussing your financial situation and taking into account dependents, if you have them. They assess your needs.  (Yes, if you have children, you’ll get income support.) So, it strikes me as a bit rich for some people to think that the temporarily unemployed should work for a benefit which they have already paid for and barely covers groceries and a few incidentals! And, let me add that the price of groceries increased noticeably between the two occasions when I received JSAThe Daily Mail tells us:

More than three-quarters of voters (77 per cent) think long-term benefit claimants should have to do community work in return for the dole, according to a survey.

And more than two-thirds (69 per cent) think claimants should lose their benefits if they turn down the offer of a job – even if it pays the same or less than welfare payouts …

The Mori survey was conducted for thinktank Policy Exchange, which published a report calling for jobseekers to be required to put in a full 35-hour week in their work-search.

Note the confusion here — perhaps deliberate — between the unemployed between jobs, the long-term unemployed, those who might be on ‘disability’ payments unnecessarily and welfare recipientsThis article — and perhaps this survey — is conflating all four groups.  Please, let’s be clear on what we’re talking about.  We have four groups of people, each of whom is in a different situation.  However, spending a full 35-hour week on searching for work, umm, is, frankly, so last century Everything is online now, even at the Job Centre.  So, why not let people spend the amount of time they need every day?  Yes, 30 years ago, I did spend full days going door to door in search of a job.  Now, however, all sorts of internet-based job sites are available to save people money on transport and petrol.  Frankly, most office-based employers would consider it rather weird if one just poled up and asked to fill out an application or submit a CV (resumé, for my American readers).

4/ However, the Government is trying to rectify the conundrum in point 3 above, although it does not appear to be succeeding:

The Coalition plans to replace existing benefits with a new Universal Credit, which ministers claim will help encourage families to use work as a route out of poverty

For the first time, the Universal Credit will provide help with childcare fees to parents working fewer than 16 hours per week. But many parents working longer hours are expected to receive less support towards nursery fees than under the current system as the overall pot of state funding would not increase.

The research, written by social policy specialist Donald Hirsch, warned that working extra hours would not be financially worthwhile for many single parents and second earners.

The reforms would “put a tighter lid on aspirations than the present system” for a single parent on a modest wage equivalent to a full-time salary of £20,000, such as a midwife, the report said …

A second earner in a couple with two children, who was earning a “living wage” of £7.20 per hour, would keep only 9p of every pound earned over 20 hours per week. The same person would take home no extra cash at all from working beyond 30 hours a week and would be los[ing] 24p per hour to work beyond this level.

Gavin Kelly, chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation, said the reforms risked driving parents – especially mothers – on low-to-middle incomes out of full time work. “Living standards are already severely squeezed and this would be a further hammer-blow to working families,” he said.

5/ Yet, we’re all paying more for everything, one way or another: petrol, food, clothing, taxes various (e.g. VAT is 20%), public transportation.  The list is endless.  The tax issue is particularly galling as more Britons are trying to find out where it goes and how it is spent.  A proportion of our taxes goes to charities, some of which are called ‘fake’, as they do not actively fund-raise themselves and are heavily subsidised by the Government. And who finances the Government? We do.  It took me many years to get this through my head. I used to think, ‘Government spending — so what?’ Finally, it sunk in — ‘Those are my taxes you’re wasting!’ So, it comes as a bit of a cheek to see Government ‘nudging’ us towards giving more.  What the heck?  The Daily Mail takes up the story:

The Cabinet Office, in a White Paper on giving, will say there is evidence that the poorest donors give more as a percentage of their income than middle-income households and the wealthiest.

Ministers will also say that companies should play a greater role, with more corporate donations from wealthy business leaders in the mould of U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates.

Other plans include encouraging shops and restaurants to adopt ‘round the pound’ schemes, in which customers are encouraged to agree to round up their bills and donate the pennies of their change to charity.

The Government will also launch a ‘major campaign’ to promote payroll giving, where employees are encouraged to commit a slice of their monthly pay cheque to charity … 

But some are likely to argue that with household incomes facing an unprecedented squeeze, the drive to urge people to give more is ill-timed.

The Government has struck a deal with LINK, Britain’s cash machine network, to prompt users to donate every time they withdraw money.

The programme, which will start next year, will enable donations from all 100million LINK-enabled cards – almost every debit card issued by major banks – through ATMs …

And the Government is to fund websites matching people willing to offer time or resources with local charities and groups. Those who give up time to help their communities will be given discounts on shopping, cheap swimming sessions and free theatre tickets in schemes modelled on supermarket loyalty cards.

Wow — unbelievable — this is ‘nudge’ writ large.  A few points here.  First, the United States has a long history of big-name philanthropy (e.g. Andrew Carnegie) which goes back to the 19th centurySecond, people like to give to charities which resonate with them personally.  Camelot, which manages National Lottery donations, was roundly criticised a few years ago for giving money — from ordinary Britons — to all and sundry causes, some of which were not edifying either to localities or to the nation as a whole.  Third, the ’employer’ donations (as happens in the US now) are largely funded by employee pay cheque deductions which only make the employer look good on the back of his employee.  There is also, where it occurs in the US, much pressure at work to donate via deduction to charities, some of which support eugenicist policies, like the United Way does in partnership with Planned Parenthood.  I have read of cases where people objected and suddenly found themselves in the crosshairs for redundancy or unrelated disciplinary warnings.  That’s hardly voluntary.  As for the ATM ‘nudge’ — I shall be refusing, full stop.

6/ Then, of course, we have the European Union, which never stops demanding more of our money — that’s ‘Government spending’The latest wheeze is the new, Politburo-sounding European External Action Service (EEAS).  This appears to be an EU-wide Foreign Office of sorts, but we really don’t understand its remit.  This, too, will take more out of EU member states’ budgets.  The Telegraph explains:

For those who have no desire to be a part of a European superstate, it is fortunate that the EEAS is headed by Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. She has proved singularly ineffectual in the role, which is presumably why David Cameron has been happy to see her stay in post …

This week, Lady Ashton has requested a 5.8 per cent increase in her budget, which would take it to £427 million, at a time when governments across the EU are slashing spending. She says that she is asking for more only because she did not get enough last year. Pleading poverty rings a little hollow given that her own salary is £230,702 a year – making her one of the world’s highest-paid politicians – while her team includes more than 50 diplomats who take home bigger pay cheques than the British Prime Minister.

Such a lavishly funded operation will be intent on one thing in the years ahead – asserting itself. That this has not happened under Lady Ashton’s leadership is simply fortuitous. William Hague is alarmed enough to have ordered Britain’s ambassadors to be vigilant about “competence creep” by the EEAS …

Just a few words about Baroness Ashton, who was virtually unknown to most of us until she was appointed as deputy to EU President Herman van Rompuy, another unelected inconnu.  Who are these people?  Of Ashton, Wikipedia states:

Between 1977 and 1983 Ashton worked for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) as an administrator and in 1982 was elected as its National Treasurer and subsequently as one of its Vice-Chairmen

She was created a Labour Life Peer in 1999, and took the title of The Baroness Ashton of Upholland. In June 2001 she was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Education and Skills. In 2002 she was appointed Minister responsible for Sure Start in the same Department … 

On 19 November 2009, Ashton was appointed the EU’s first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Her appointment was ratified at a Summit meeting of 27 European Union leaders in Brussels …

In February 2011 Baroness Ashton has come bottom of the class in a survey rating the performance of European Commissioners

Lady Ashton lives in St Albans with her husband, Peter Kellner (whom she married in 1988 in Westminster, London), the President of online polling organisation YouGov.[40]

Ashton faced questions in the European Parliament over her role as National Treasurer in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s, amid claims that it may have had financial links to the Soviet Union.

The United Kingdom Independence Party has written to Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, asking him to investigate whether Ashton was party to payments that he alleged were made to CND from the Soviet régime in Moscow. UKIP claims that it has obtained documents that show that the first audited accounts of CND, for 1982–83, found that 38 per cent of its income for that year, or £176,197, could not be traced back to the original donors. The person responsible for this part of CND fund-raising, from anonymous donors, UKIP allege, was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The letter, based on allegations made by Vladimir Bukovsky, a former Soviet dissident, claimed that it is “very likely” that CND received “unidentified income” from Moscow in the 1980s.[46][47]

7/ And, finally, we will soon have unknown numbers of migrants of unknown character coming in (via Italy to France) from Tunisia and Libya, post-‘revolution’ (I use the term advisedly).  Yet, not all of these chaps look North African.  In fact, they come from Sudan and Chad.  Hmm.  First, let us look at a story which appeared in the Telegraph recently concerning a Tunisian convicted of terrorism a few years ago.  We’re paying (in more ways than one) for guys like this:

The Muslim man, who cannot be named, was found guilty of terrorism in Tunisia and has already been extradited once to Italy, where he was accused of being involved in helping to send Islamists to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered that he be kept out of Britain because his presence would not be “conducive to the public good for reasons of national security”, adding that there was evidence he had been involved in “extremist radicalisation”.

However, after he was acquitted in Italy, he returned to Britain and has been allowed to stay by the Court of Appeal while he fights Mrs May’s ruling. The court’s decision has exposed what experts said was a “loophole” in immigration law which would allow “dangerous” people to stay here.

Experts said the case would have serious implications for the Home Office’s ability to exclude terrorists and those suspected of terrorist offences, effectively creating an open border for terrorists while they pursue legal challenges.

Although only a small number of people would be affected, they could pose serious risks to national security …

As for more recent arrivals, which I’ll explore in more detail in another post, it is unclear why they did not stay in the first country they arrived in, which is what genuine refugees are expected to do under law.  Anyway, this will be a new example of more of our taxes, charity, Government spending or whatever you wish to call it at work:

In a filthy squat two miles from the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, Mohammed Yosif and his friends are hoping for a new life in Britain.

The 21-year-old is one of at least 40,000 to have fled to Europe as a result of the Arab Spring that has seen political unrest sweep north Africa.

Many are migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa who now believe their lives are at risk, especially in Libya where the regime used black mercenaries to attack rebel forces.

A growing number have now arrived in France and are sleeping rough near ports in a bid to sneak into the UK or at the Gare du Nord Eurostar station in Paris.

“It is very difficult to get on the train, but I dream of England,” said Mohammed, who arrived in Calais on Tuesday after fleeing the war in Libya, where he was a migrant worker from Chad …

Yes, well, I’m sure he’ll find a way.  The article indicates, as do the reader comments, that lorries have been pulling over in Dover and then zooming off, leaving those dreaming of England to further explore our Sceptred Isle (and its many benefits) in more detail.  In any event, why do we need to subsidise others’ mistakes?  You sign on as a mercenary in Libya or another country, and you accept the consequences.  It’s a calculated risk, even though it pays — not recommended.  A few years ago, an Englishman served a prison sentence in Africa for being a mercenary — cautionary tale.

8/ In closing, do note the Telegraph reader’s comment from liberation at the bottom of the page of the Chad – Libya – UK story.  This explains why people feel completely hung out to dry where money is concerned:

Britain can no longer afford to pay its welfare, pensions, health and education programs which account for 65% of the total state expenditures, this is being just one of the ignored elephants in the room. Europe and immigration are the other similarly ignored pachydermata, which in their own manner place additional demands on welfare expenditure, by the abuse of welfare and increased demands on education and health by those who have never contributed

Charity begins at home.  Let’s help our own people first — we are in a crisis.

On that note, it remains for me to wish you a wonderful Whitsun (Pentecost) Bank Holiday Monday!

Speaking of Spain, in the week running up to their local elections, tensions ran high as tens of thousands of people protested around the country over the state of the economy.

The Telegraph reported:

Spain’s unemployment level has hit 21 per cent, more than twice the EU average.

Large groups have staged sit-ins in plazas across Spain all week, in the run-up to election day, with the biggest gathering in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol …

An estimated 30,000 people gathered there on Saturday night and smaller crowds were seen in Barcelona, Seville and other cities across Spain.

They defied a ban by the election commission that ruled against holding political gatherings on the day before an election, and on Sunday, as polling stations opened in 13 of Spain’s 17 regions and 8,000 municipalities, organisers in Sol voted to continue their protest for another week.

The demonstrators, who call themselves “Los indignados” – the indignant ones – began gathering May 15 in a swelling movement known variously as “M-15”, “Spanish Revolution” and “Real Democracy Now”.

Inspired by the Arab Spring movement in north Africa, protests swelled as word spread on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The majority are young people whose patience has run out as they face a bleak future in a country where youth unemployment stands at 45 per cent …

The protests have been peaceful, with police on standby but unwilling to break up the demonstrations. Demonstrations came as a surprise to the main political parties whose last week of campaigning was overshadowed …

As with the North African uprisings — it’s too early for me to call them a ‘revolution’ — I’m sceptical as to whether this was genuine or engineered from behind the scenes.  I don’t doubt that the Spaniards are upset — the same economic situation is occurring in varying degrees throughout Europe — I’m just wondering if someone or something outside of Spain set the wheels in motion.

In any event, immigration is also bound up with this, as can be seen from this 30-second election advert for the Catalonian nationalist party, Plataforma per Catalunya.  This video encapsulates what many, including younger, Spanish residents in and around Socialist-controlled Barcelona see as a vision of the future.  You won’t need the sound to watch it:

As I write on May 23, 2011, 80% of the votes had been countedThe Telegraph takes up the story:

The Socialists lost municipal strongholds Barcelona and Seville as well as the Castilla-La Mancha region where they have ruled for 28 years, and could end up with clear control of only two or three of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.

The centre-right opposition Popular Party, or PP, had a 10 point lead in the aggregate nationwide vote, the worst defeat for the Socialists in municipal polls since Spain returned to democracy in 1978 after the Francisco Franco dictatorship.

“These results have a clear relation to the economic crisis we’ve suffered for three years… I know that many Spaniards are going through great difficulties and fear for their jobs and future well being,” Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the socialist prime minister, said in a brief news conference …

Spain’s economy has barely emerged from recession and tepid growth has been aggravated by austerity measures. Almost half of Spaniards aged 18-25 are out of work, more than double the European Union average.

Another Telegraph article explains:

The left leaning daily El Pais described the defeat as “a tsunami drowning the socialists”.

The run-up to elections had seen mass protesting by a mainly youth crowd who took over city squares across the nation. On Sunday they pledged to continue their demonstrations for at least another week …

Overall participation was up two points from the last elections four years ago with more than 66 per cent of the 34 million eligible voters casting ballots. The Socialists captured just 27.79 per cent of the total compared to 37.53 per cent for the PP.

Speculation grows as to whether Zapatero will be asked to stand down and/or call an early general election.  He has already stated he would not seek a third term in office.

Europeans are unhappy campers at the moment and, as we shall see in future posts, who can blame them?

Have you ever wondered if our elites have thought about where their grand plan of a new world order (for lack of a better expression) will end?

Recently, in the Telegraph, lifelong journalist and quasi-conservative Charles Moore asked, ‘Will there always be an England, whatever the origin of its people?’

Mr Moore attended an early St George’s Day dinner, hosted by the Honourable Artillery Company, which is now part of the Territorial Army:

Its St George’s Day dinner (held early this year so as not to clash with Easter) is always a feast of patriotism of the sort which reached its apogee in the last years of Queen Victoria. After dinner, a band tootling under their busbies marches in, and everyone sings Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory until their lungs burst. Men in red bum-freezer military evening dress stand on their chairs, some swaying precariously. Then the proposer of the toast (in this case, myself) speaks, inducing post-prandial somnolence.

Mr Moore’s driver, a gentleman of Bangladeshi parentage who has lived in England all his life, asked him where he was headed after dinner:

I said Sussex. He had never heard of it …

… what is “England’s green and pleasant land” to a man who lives 50 miles from Sussex but has never heard of it? …

Mr Moore goes on to opine on immigration, which, as those who read often about the UK and other Western European countries (e.g. France) will realise, is at incredibly high levels. Meanwhile, we are undergoing a severe contraction in economic growth.  Many people have lost their jobs in the past few years.  Non-managerial employees might have to change their line of work altogether.  Others find that their positions are headed overseas.  The point is that there are many fewer jobs to be had in many fields.

Mr Moore, who lives in the countryside, has an unusual view of things:

You and I want someone to serve us in a bar and clean the hospitals and make cheap clothes. I want someone to drive me across town so that I can make my Colonel Blimp remarks to a friendly audience. Above all, we show, in our obsession with birth control, that we do not want to provide a big enough next generation of people like ourselves. Demographic projections now show Britain overtaking Germany as the largest EU country in 30 years or so …

Yet, cheap clothes are made in the developing world or China for export to our shores.  Also,  British people historically waited tables, chauffeured cars and cleaned hospitals.  That was certainly the case here 20 years ago and only started to disappear over the past decade or so.  Existing wages are stagnating or, in the case of wait staff and cleaners, being cut drastically.  Employment agencies tell working-class Britons that employers only wish to recruit cheaper labour — from Eastern Europe.

He concludes:

Perhaps when I am very old, my grandchildren will ask me what England was. It will be a hard question to answer, but I think I shall tell them that it seemed like a good idea while it lasted, and that it lasted for about 1,000 years.

As one might expect, the post garnered nearly 2,000 comments in a heated debate.  Yet, the same conversation is going on in France, where one intellectual on RMC (Radio Monte Carlo — as broadcast from Paris) recently explained that the French are angry because the elites had ‘never explained or taught’ them why immigration was necessary.  Certainly, when it started ramping up in the late 1990s it seemed appropriate, as socio-political thinkers predicted that more young people would go to university.  Now, years later, we have droves of university graduates chasing fewer jobs.  And one cannot wait with work, which is why graduates have no problem throwing themselves into unpaid internships.  You cannot be on the bottom rung of the career ladder with a huge time gap of no activity.  Furthermore, many young adults see their parents being made redundant with monotonous (and depressing) regularity.

Yet, in many countries in the Western world, the same situation is occuring, including the United States.  And, it’s not just on the job front, but with other irritations as well — recycling and  consumerism, to name two. Before I go back to Mr Moore’s combox, The Slog discusses these in  ‘Recycling: My part in its downfall’ (emphases in bold mine after the introductory paragraph):

Most of the sustainability propaganda doesn’t stack up. Most of your recycling is a waste of time. More could be achieved more quickly and more cheaply by handing the problem back to business – and getting the State out of the equation …

I’m sorry, but if anyone thinks, in such a global environment, that anally putting glass here and plastic there and food in the auto-collapsing recyclable bag every week is truly what the problem is about, then….I give up

Once again, governments and international symposia around the globe have funked the required approach. Just as Helsinki ignored the water shortage time-bomb completely, so too the G20 nations refuse to address the twin causes of our disposal dilemma: blind pursuit of repeat purchase and – closely allied to this – manufacturing quality so poor that everything stops working too quickly – and then has no spares available. Instead – entirely predictably – the spineless folks in charge leave the producers and distributors to get on with their lunacy…and plump instead for yet more anonymous bureaucrats walking up and down with cameras to spy on bin-crime …

However … we could throw less away. Most households don’t recycle – or rather, extend the life – of their possessions – they just chuck them out. Here in our European summer spot, we don’t do that – we don’t use anything wastefully, and we use the bare minimum of recycling services

But you see, we’re not holy at all: I don’t do much of this for ‘ecological reasons’. The aims of all this are (1) to reduce dependence on the State to a bare minimum, (2) to conserve things that really aren’t being sustained – especially water, and (2) to reuse where possible rather than consume. I think a number of State services will shortly disappear – and inflation is coming …

I would like to ensure that those who make, distribute and display could cut their packaging by two-thirds. I would like more people to recycle instead of the State doing it, because the State is run by people on a planet even further away than that occupied by investment bankers. I would like Britain to import less, and I would like electronics manufacturers to make things to last – not be replaced by a newer version within nine months.

Back to Mr Moore’s readers.  A comment from an American, Shoshanna (April 16, 2011, 02:04 AM — page 30), really sums it up and truly encapsulates the situation far better than career journalist Mr Moore did:

When I look at the horrifying devolution and accelerating downward spiral of the United States — which is well along the same ruinous road being taken by Britain, and for many of the same reasons– I am glad of a number of things.

I am glad my parents are dead and didn’t live to see this.

I am glad I’m 53 years old and probably won’t live quite long enough to witness the final destruction of western civilization …

I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow up in a time when people weren’t obsessed with potential risk every time their children when out to play or left the house, and that as a child I was free to ride horses through the hills, or bicycle with friends to go exploring anywhere we liked in the world around us, or go to the movies, or ice skating, or anything else for that matter without having to worry about being kidnapped, molested, or murdered.

I’m glad I traveled the world while the travel experience itself was still a fun adventure rather than a bureaucratically controlled nightmare of intrusive rudeness, physical invasion, and electronic strip search.

I’m glad that I had years in which to hold a positive view of the world as a hopeful place in which anything was possible, rather than a darkening one of increasing limitations and narrowing possibilities as freedom is supplanted by fear, threat, and regulation.

I’m glad my values were formed in a time when it still wasn’t considered a bad thing to have standards and expect people to live up to them, and to be taught that actions had consequences, manners counted, and that one was known by the company he kept.

I’m glad I remember a time when people still came to America because they wanted to become a part of its tapestry, rather than to decry everything it represented and gleefully destroy its fabric, insisting that it be rewoven to their particular demands, in the patterns of whatever they’d left behind …

The United States is imploding, and the England immortalized by Blake and Shakespeare is gone for good– both nations recklessly sold out by those we entrusted with the responsibility of honoring the past, safeguarding the present, and building the future.

I feel for those who are coming of age in this unspeakable mess, and those just finishing their university education, for whom the world should be opening in all sorts of exciting ways. The younger children, and those not yet born, will be so well indoctrinated from an early age they’ll never be aware that there had once been something else. But the older ones, who’ll remember just enough of what came before to be able to make comparisons, will see and experience the worst of what’s ahead, and they’ll have every reason imaginable to be bitter toward those who condemned them to it

Quite frankly, when this unhappy communitarian experiment is nearing its completion, we will have a world full of angry, hungry, jobless people all mixed together in an atmosphere of distrust, violence and cynicism.  The elites will have engineered their own destruction.  People will want to have the families their grandparents did, but that won’t be allowed.  (Jacque Fresco of the Venus Project predicted, ‘Those people won’t want children’.  I wonder.) It is Man’s natural instinct to procreate, to work at something he loves, to own his own property and to worship as he sees fit.  And there will be not only a very human resistance by future generations to a cookie-cutter population but also to the upcoming denial of faith, which I believe is being engineered for those who succeed us.

I cannot see that, in future — even if the United Kingdom, France and the United States are no more — people will put up with such a society.  And there will always be more slaves than masters.

Overall, I believe Mr Moore missed the boat on this subject.  It goes far deeper than cheap clothes, English geography and immigration.

There’s an emergency ahead for the elites, just not yet, and not from Christians.

Happy Mayday.

These videos blew me away last week.  Stefan Molyneux seems a decent cove, although I only stumbled across him via a chance visit to The UK Libertarian.  I’ve since watched a few more of his videos, and whilst I don’t always agree with him, he does help explain why the Western world, particularly the United States, is the way it is.

I shall include three out of the four videos here from his series, ‘Why you are unemployed’. 

Part 1 explains why high taxes and government regulations are to blame:  

Part 2 runs through an amazing set of US statistics about how much less disposable income people have.  Even if you don’t live in America, if you’re in the West, you’re probably experiencing the same phenomenon.  Here’s why:

Part 3 explains what happens every time you purchase something.  Products and services cost more because more taxes need to be factored into the price.  More taxes mean higher salaries but less disposable income:

In the UK, a man in the 1950s spent 10% of his income sending his son to a public school (an elite private school).  In the 1990s that percentage rose to 25%. 

Why is all this happening?  Mr Molyneux explains that it is because of higher taxes for a greater redistribution of wealth.

Isn’t that theft of honest labour, as prohibited by the 10 Commandments?

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