#wakeup

Single use plastic bags- 80% cut to common sense

Queue the virtue signaling. The National Retail Association (NRA) claims there has been an 80% drop in the use of “single use” plastic bags in the past three months since it was introduced across supermarkets in Australia. The irony is that this claim is not backed up by the increased sales of plastic bags from “aisle 7” so consumers can dispose of household rubbish. All they did was substitute bags, not cut down on the total use. Spuriously quiet on that front!

Who cares when one can shout out their empty environmentalism that aren’t backed by facts?

Putting the substitution argument to one side, not one group has told us what the “correct level of plastic use” actually is. Perhaps we should ban takeaway outlets for the obscene short term use of plastic trays and cutlery!

In 2006 the UK Environment Agency did a study on the effectiveness of alternative packaging solutions to HDPE (conventional plastic bags) in terms of lowering environmental impact. It said,

The paper, LDPE, non-woven PP and cotton bags should be reused at least 3, 4, 11 and 131 times respectively to ensure that they have lower [impact] than conventional HDPE carrier bags that are not reused.”

So if conventional biodegradable plastic shopping bags are used to throw out garbage that means 6, 8, 22 and 262 days.

While we’re at it, do people realize that the majority of take away wax-lined coffee cups aren’t recycled even though you can feel good about yourself when disposing of it in the right bin? How many people elect to have their brew poured into a ceramic cup? Look next time – hardly any! The cost to recycle the 500 billion (and rising) coffee cups consumed annually is so astronomical (it is hard to separate the wax that stops the cup disintegrating because of the energy intensity involved to do so) that over 90% end up in landfill. No one talks about that 300 million tons of virgin paper used to make these cups! How many of us give it one thought when we need a shot of caffeine? Right?! Although Starbucks is trialing a 5p latte levy for those that elect to use a paper cup.

All this ban has done has inconvenience people. 60% of mismanaged plastic waste was from East Asia (i.e. China), 11% from South Asia; 9% from sub-Saharan Africa; 8% from MENA; 7% from LatAm; 3% from Europe and 0.9% from North America. Australia doesn’t even get a mention. Our impact is zero.

So much like the “save the planet” renewables movement in Australia with regards to electricity generation. Our efforts to push for less reliable sources of power which will cause higher prices will create zero impact in lowering world temperatures by 2100.

So our cutting of plastic bags will likely have zero impact on plastic waste unless we get the environmental vandals of China, SE Asia and Africa to lift up their socks. Why do we self-flagellate when we’re not the problem? Do we honestly think China cares what Woolies do inside supermarkets?

Why does the mass media not ask simple questions instead of regurgitate incomplete stats?

Racial bias in US school discipline? Some shocking correlations

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The GAO has published a 98 page report on discipline in US schools. In a perhaps somewhat irresponsible manner of formatting, it suggests that teachers seem to pick on particular races and disabilities for those reasons alone. It is as if teachers are pushing kids with wheelchairs uncontrollably down ramps. Yet, ‘disability’ of course includes mental problems which could range from anxiety to depression. 11.7% of students are classified with a disability. Yet delving deeply within the stats, of the 56 million K-12 students, 5.7% have been in detention, only 0.4% of the total have been referred to law enforcement, 0.3% have been expelled, 0.2% received corporal punishment and less than 0.1% have been arrested. In short, 99.6% of students stay out of ‘big’ trouble and 94.3% stay out of detention. Single parent households and poverty levels are highly correlated to discipline. Reporting the headlines of the GAO makes for shock and awe but had they reported the 0.X% stats it would deflate the rhetoric.

The NY Times article implied there must be some sort of unconscious bias as teachers were being bigoted bullies. Doesn’t the mainstream media defend the very same people as the last bastions of educational excellence against the tyranny of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 80% of teachers are white. Although this has been on a long term decline.

If white students (K-12) represent 50.3% of the total is it fair to assume that they should hold an equal % of disciplinary actions? Do crime stats and incarceration rates reflect race based demographics anywhere in the world? In America, 24.7% of students are Hispanic and 15.5% are black. When it comes to higher levels of poverty, Hispanics are way under-represented in the disciplinary stats despite being higher proportions of the students. Whites are punished more or less in line with their population in that bracket.

In the interests of gender equality, why are girls, at 49% of all students punished at half the rate of boys? Unconscious bias or is it through our own experiences, women are far less likely to bring the wrath of teachers in class? A reasonably safe assumption to make.

Nearly half of all public school students went to schools where 50% or more of the students were low-income, and about a quarter went to schools where 75% or more of the students were low-income. Of the 11.5mn students in 75-100% low income backgrounds, 1 million spent time in out of school detention. Of the 9.9 million students in 0-25% low income schools, 217,000 spent time in out of school detention. 128,500 of those were white. Whites make up 78% of 0-25% low income school populations and only 16% of 75-100% low income schools. Therefore it stands to reason statistically that if students in less poverty stricken schools trigger fewer disciplinary issues, then the stats would naturally bear out such differences rather than it being pure racial profiling.

So it would appear that low income would impact the rates of delinquency. Referring to number of kids living with both parents/step-parent (according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study) in America we find:

Asian: 82%

White: 71%

Hispanic: 55%

Black: 31%

The GAO stats make clear that Asian kids get caught up in the least amount of disciplinary action both by absolute and percentage wise. Blacks the most, Hispanics second and whites 3rd. Could it be an inverse correlation? Psychological studies have shown boys seem to be more impacted by the lack of a father in the house than do girls. Children (especially boys) raised by single mothers are more likely to fare worse on a number of dimensions, including their school achievement, their social and emotional development, their health and their success in the labor market. They are at greater risk of parental abuse and neglect (especially from live-in boyfriends who are not their biological fathers), more likely to become teen parents and less likely to graduate from high school or college.

survey taken by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the US back in January of 1993 revealed poverty, alcoholism, student apathy and absenteeism were cited as big problems in secondary public schools. Lack of a parent was also high on the agenda.

The American Psychological Association, “poor (bottom 20 percent of all family incomes) students were five times more likely to drop out of high school than high-income (top 20 percent of all family incomes) students…Family poverty is associated with a number of adverse conditions — high mobility and homelessness; hunger and food insecurity; parents who are in jail or absent; domestic violence; drug abuse and other problems — known as “toxic stressors” because they are severe, sustained and not buffered by supportive relationships…Community poverty also matters. Some neighborhoods, particularly those with high concentrations of African-Americans, are communities of concentrated disadvantage with extremely high levels of joblessness, family instability, poor health, substance abuse, poverty, welfare dependency and crime

Broken homes and poverty are undoubtedly a big issue. The report said, “Besides lack of parent involvement, the school problems viewed as serious by at least 10 percent of public school teachers included student apathy, poverty, student absenteeism, student disrespect for teachers, parental alcoholism and/or drug abuse, and student tardiness. Behaviors and attitudes of students were more likely to be seen as problematic by teachers at the secondary level than by teachers at the elementary level. Parent alcoholism, on the other hand, was described as “serious” as often by elementary teachers as by secondary teachers and poverty was described as “serious” more often by elementary teachers.”

85% of kids likely to go to college or higher levels of education came from stable family backgrounds. 61% of kids likely to drop out before graduating high school are from broken homes. Sixty One Percent!

So before reading into it that teachers must be subconsciously racially profiling students in handing out punishment, perhaps the overwhelming weight of societal evidence points to far bigger problems that need addressing. Poverty, single parent households and a whole raft of issues need dealing before the government watchdog should report back racial bias at a top down level. According to the logic, perhaps teachers should be forced into student discipline quotas. That way (un)conscious bias won’t afflict teachers and whites can be punished in line with their demographically representation.

Let’s not forget that financial institutions have often been targeted for charging black customers higher interest rates on loans than whites. What they always fail to mention is that Asians pay even lower rates than both. That is the problem with selectivity in data without meaningfully looking at the broader picture. Just like the recent Florida school shooting where a look at what is going on in terms of school security over decades paints a different picture to what the mainstream narrative would want us to believe.

What Australia’s authorities can learn from Germany’s extremist boom

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Of course the easiest thing to do is label the Melbourne-based True Blue Crew (TBC) a bunch of racist bigots. It’s members view themselves as patriotic vigilantes. TBC is a group filling the void left wide open by the politically correct who in its mind are glossing over the things that matter to everyday Australians. One can debate their motives til the cows come home but growing numbers suggest that the political class is not responding. Germany is seeing a similar wave of vigilante behavior. Is it any wonder that Merkel is struggling to form a coalition with the surge in the AfD party to 14% of the vote. One Nation is at 10%. Notice a trend?

TBC, according to its Facebook page is planning to meet and then march through the streets of Melbourne to protest a “lack of action by the courts”  They have a point. An opinion piece in The Australian this week highlighted this leniency:

When it comes to sentencing, the courts take a sensitive approach. Ibrahim Kamara, from Sierra Leone, received a suspended sentence of just over one year, with an 18-month good ­behaviour order, after admitting to five counts, including grooming and having sex with a minor. The ACT Supreme Court judge said “(Kamara) has tried to make a good start on his life in Australia”.

In NSW, an Islamic sect leader was the first person in Australia to be imprisoned over the genital mutilation of two sisters aged six and seven. Notwithstanding a 21 years maximum, the leader ­received 11 months’ jail, while his two accessories will serve a minimum of 11 months’ home detention. This sets a derisory bench­mark for future sentencing….Judges have become politicians in robes and, like the police and other unelected authorities, selectively administer the law according to their prejudices.

Ironically, as much as the police and political class downplay the extent of  “African crime gangs”, “radical Islamic terrorism” or “FGM” the hardware suggests otherwise. We have “Public Order & Riot Squad” emblazoned across police cars in NSW and police officers are decked out in full para-military kit including M-4 automatic assault rifles, a superior weapon to that used by the Australian Infantry. These riot cars and machine guns didn’t exist 10 years ago. While we’re told all is well, the preventative materiel speaks volumes of the concerns within. The only problem is that the voting public is not that stupid that it doesn’t notice the hardware.

TBC also plans in the 2nd part [of the meeting] to take a stand on the streets which it claims “isn’t for the PC (politically correct) so keep that in mind. PC is not going to stop people’s houses being invaded, innocent people being attacked etc.”

Why are we surprised at such groups springing up? Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Interior (BfV) updated its factbook on the explosion in left and right wing groups and the rise of Salafists at home. To summarize:

In 2016, the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) registered 41,549 offences in the category of politically motivated crime, an increase of 29% over the 2014 figure.

Right wing extremist party membership has risen from 22,600 in 2015 to 23,100 in 2016.

1,600 (2015: 1,408) registered cases, the number of violent criminal offences with a right-wing extremist background increased by 13.6%. At 1,190, the number of violent crimes directed at foreigners (2015: 918) was the highest since the current definition of politically motivated crime was introduced in 2001. The number of violent crimes against actual or supposed left-wing extremists (250; 2015: 252) remained about the same. The number of violent offences against other political opponents fell significantly (34; 2015: 82).

Left wing extremist party membership has risen from 26,700 in 2015 to 28,500 in 2016.

In 2016, 5,230 criminal offences were classified as left-wing politically motivated crimes with an extremist background (2015: 5,620), of which 1,201 were violent crimes (2015: 1,608). The number of violent criminal offences with a left-wing extremist background that were directed against the police and security authorities significantly decreased to 687 (2015: 1,032) and is gradually returning to the level of 2014. The number of violent criminal offences against actual or supposed right-wing extremists also decreased to 542 (2015: 833). The number of violent crimes in the context of campaigns against restructuring more than tripled in 2016 (2015: 54, 2016: 188).

Islamic Extremists

Salafist movements in Germany have risen from 8,350 in 2015 to 9,700 in 2016 with the BfV noting on the whole, that all Islamist following in 2016 amounted to approximately 24,400 individuals, slightly down over 2015. BfV did note

Although this total number is smaller than in the previous years, the threat situation has not at all eased. On the contrary: the shift towards a violence-oriented/terrorist spectrum has revealed a new dimension of the Islamist scene, which was also illustrated by the attacks carried out in Germany in 2016However, Salafism in Germany enjoys undiminished popularity. Its continuous attractiveness shows the importance of Salafism being subject to a debate in society as a whole and of intelligence collection carried out by the community of the German domestic intelligence services. This is even more significant as adherents of the jihadist tendency of Salafism not only reject the West – symbolised by the free democratic basic order – but also actively fight against it: either by travelling to so-called jihad areas or by mounting attacks in the West.”

In the area of politically motivated crime by foreigners, 2,566 offences with an extremist background were registered (2015: 1,524), including 427 violent offences (2015: 235). The total number of criminal offences in this category thus increased by 68.4%, the number of violent crimes even by 81.7%. In 2016, there were two homicides and 13 attempted homicides by foreigners with an extremist background (2015: three).

Limp wristed rhetoric and responses (this town hall meeting in Germany is a good example) by officials is a large part of the problem for the rise of such groups. When people feel marginalized and ignored for long enough they will take matters into their own hands. It is not a question of whether groups like TBC are right or wrong in their approach to street justice but law enforcement risks having the problem blow up in their face because few in the political class are willing to tell it how it is.

A letter from the owner to Steelers fans – yeah, that’ll fix it

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How stupid does the owner take his fans for? Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II sent a letter to fans (below) which sought to explain the team’s actions. Anyone fan with half a brain would look at this letter, the actions of the coach pillorying the war veteran Alejandro Villanueva for standing alone and the forced apology as nothing short of another slap in the face. None of the message is consistent. If there was a pre-meditated plan to stay in the locker room for the anthem they could have blissfully tweeted the action on social media beforehand if indeed they thought their fans would buy it. That they didn’t smacks of the contempt they have and this insincere apology only proves it. What a joke. No wonder the ratings keep plummeting and the fans keep burning their memorabilia. Never come between an American and their patriotism.

To Steelers Nation:

I want to reach out to you, the members of Steelers Nation, based on what I believe is a misperception about our players’ intentions in not taking the field for the National Anthem in Chicago. The intentions of Steelers players were to stay out of the business of making political statements by not taking the field. Unfortunately, that was interpreted as a boycott of the anthem – which was never our players’ intention.

Our players come from many different backgrounds and are united by what it means to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are active in their communities and participate regularly in events designed to give back to those communities. And they appreciate the support they get from Steelers fans around the country and here at home.

I also know that our players have tremendous respect for the members of our military services, including their teammate Alejandro Villanueva. There was never any desire on the part of our players to show disrespect for our service members.

Yesterday, I received an email from a Steelers fan who said tell the players to just play football. That is exactly what they wanted to do. They wanted their sole focus to be on playing the game, while also coming together as a unified team.

The main thing we can do is learn from this and strive to come together remaining unified as a football team. I believe we are capable of accomplishing this with the support of our fans.

Steelers Nation is made up of the best fans in the National Football League. We appreciate your continued support of our players, coaches and staff.

Sincerely,

Art Rooney, II

 

Merkel presides over worst outcome since 1949

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Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU looks to have sealed the largest support but it is her party’s worst showing since 1949. While much of the press is hailing her 4th term one can’t dismiss the rise of the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) which looks to cement in the third spot with around 14% (c. 6 million votes). In the 2013 election AfD only managed 4.7% (c. 2mn votes) which was below the 5% threshold required to take seats in the Bundestag. Zero seats then, Now looking at 95+.

As CM wrote on Nov 21, 2016,

Think of the coming German elections in 2017 as more like Australia’s recent federal election where Liberal Party PM Malcolm Turnbull scraped home with the protest vote going to smaller parties such as Pauline Hanson’s ultra conservative One Nation Party…Merkel’s power will be greatly cut back as she is forced to pander to the reduced majority and harder line elements the results of recent state elections have borne out clearly.”

While we are already hearing the major parties refusing to form a coalition with it (much like those Dutch parties refusing to team up with Wilders’ Party for Freedom) the message is clear. More voters are sick of the political hand wringing that glosses over issues that concern them. It was the same for Le Pen. Yes, she lost to Macron but she doubled the share of the vote of her Front National party to a record – more than twice as many cared for her platform. Trump’s win. Brexit. The Italian 5 Star Movement. The Italian referendum. The Hungarian referendum. The Dutch election. All showing large shifts toward ‘national’ interests. Why?

It doesn’t matter how far-fetched some might feel the views of people who are voting for ‘nationalist’ platforms may be, the reality is that the counter arguments and actions taken by the current crop of the apologist political class isn’t cutting through. The only way many can express their frustration is at the ballot box. Hence we get Merkel’s worst showing. Yet when political parties say they ‘refuse’ to partner with it, how can they realistically alienate a party that represents 14% of the country? The mainstream media pillorying the supporters of right wing parties are part of the problem. They are made to feel ashamed for holding legitimate  concerns so all that happens is they get pushed underground and resurface at election time. This is why opinion polls have become largely meaningless.

In Merkel’s case what did she expect when she tried to gag the media and police in Cologne on New Year’s Day to cover her gross misguided altruism? To then support the Mayor of Cologne’s suggestion that German women dress more appropriately so they won’t be pestered spoke to many as such a limp wristed response to common decency. Germans are fair minded people but they cannot be expected to sacrifice hard earned freedoms for some who treat their generosity with utter contempt. Hearts and minds can’t be one by political correctness which seeks to segregate swimming pools and encourage citizens to keep an arms distance from certain groups to avoid unsolicited contact. No wonder the hard talking AfD has taken advantage of this weakness.

Before the trolls scream “racist, Nazi or bigot” we must ask ourselves why these large shifts? Put simply, more people are wanting action over problems they are not being addressed by the political class.

In Germany, political violence has been at record highs. The domestic intelligence agency, the Verfassungsschutz (BfV), reported  in Germany’s 2016 Report on the Protection of the Constitution, the number of left-wing extremists climbed last year, rising to 28,500 — the highest figure since 2012. It said the number of right-wing extremists was 22,471, about one-quarter of whom were neo-Nazis.

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Surely such demonstrations pointed squarely at politicians failing to be open and frank about issues. Talking about truck drivers ramming Christmas markets or shooting up Munich shopping malls as isolated events doesn’t fool anyone. Perhaps the most disgraceful cover up was the camera footage of three Bulgarian migrant thugs who kicked an innocent German female down some subway stairs where she broke limbs. The man who released the video as evidence of the lack of action taken by authorities was arrested for breaching privacy laws. It is like charging a home owner for knocking out a thief trying to break and enter.

Chalk this up as another loss for the political establishment.

 

 

Try being an agent of change not a victim of it

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It is hard to feel sympathy for these news organizations that forget the golden rules of commerce – if you stop adding value your audience will consume elsewhere, Someone told me the other week that NYT subscriptions had soared. If indeed that was the case then why is the paper looking to junk half its editorial staff? Running the idea that free media is hurting advertising revenues and that shame on the paper for having to make rational business decisions. Free media might be part of the equation but had the NY Times stopped congratulating its self appraised excellence in bus shelters and billboards  realized that its journalism was the problem perhaps they might be expanding the kind of readership its advertisers would pay up for. Has the NYT not realized that the exposure of media outlets like CNN droning endlessly on about Russia-gate being a total fabrication for ratings is why trust in mainstream media is lower that the President?

The actions of the NY Times staff smacks of the same stupidity of the Sydney Morning Herald which has had to take two massive rounds of lay-offs inside a year because the product isn’t reaching. The SMH staff took a vote to strike at their evil overlords who put profit ahead of people. Welcome to the free market. When one journalist at the SMH became a scab (because he admitted the problem) he was vilified by his fellow workers. Biased in and biased out. Think of Channel 10 in Australia which is now under administration. Could it be the product that is not reaching? Could it be a lack of creativity or diversity in content (as opposed to diversity of background).

The NY Times does deserve credit though for trying to introduce balance to its columns with the introduction of a ‘climate sceptic’ (Bret Stevens) whose first article created such ructions that social media lit up like a Christmas tree – calling for his sacking and how the NY Times betrayed its loyal readers. Instead of praising the NY Times for trying to bring balance and diversity of thought into the mix, the group thinkers could only try to shut him down. It is exactly that type of reaction that will precipitate the demise of the paper. To be honest, when you read articles, journals, books or watch TV don’t you wish to learn other perspectives. Or do you want to listen to the same noise reverberating inside your own echo chamber?

It is natural to feel fear in the face of difficult times but staging protests only has the reverse effect. It is doubtful that management relishes having to retrench so many. However these people should live in the knowledge that management’s failure to turn around this wayward ship will result in their bosses’ necks. Instead of solutions, proposals and most importantly recognition of a failing product, they’ve chosen to be victims not agents.  Ironically at the moment NYT’s shareholders are behind management with the stock price up 50% YTD.

“You stink!” How the EU could learn from the same denial as musicians and journalists.

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“We miss you already.” Those words spoken by President of the European Council Donald Tusk ring deeper than mere sentiment. As much as the almost year long debate of preventing the triggering of Article 50, PM Theresa May has respected democracy. Whether the musings of Sir Bob Geldof, the legal challenges led by Gina Miller or paying attention to polls that showed some wanted to change their original Brexit decision, the UK is doing the right thing. If it is any consolation one can only hope that the EU understands that it is the problem. Was the EU such a no brainer club to be a part of the UK would happily stayed by the campfire singing kumbaya. Did the EU forget the Swiss recently handed back their decades long free pass to enter the EU?

I’ve worked in several organizations where management was in denial. I’m sure many of you have too. When faced with crisis, some managers choose to point to external factors rather than a lousy product offering that no longer matches the needs of the firm’s clients. It is no different in the world of music or journalism.

Musicians used to make a killing on selling albums but Napster opened people up to the idea that you could buy the one song you liked rather than splurge on a whole album which you didn’t. Customers were offered a service which enabled them to choose and they fell in love with the concept. Yet many artists howled at the injustice of no longer being able to live the life of self entitlement. Look at music today and how many artists end up doing stupid stunts to hog the limelight. As the CEO of Avex in Japan said, “Music has changed. Pikotaro’s Pineapple-Apple-Pen has been viewed 100s of millions of times. Ask yourself why?” It is hardly a reflection of musical talent of the likes of Mozart or The Beatles

Journalism is also guilty of denial. The internet has allowed readers to discriminate what they read. Is it any wonder that NYTimes “60% off limited time offer” continues on and that The Guardian has passed around the Guide Dog collection box to keep its product alive, ignoring the fact that it is the ‘poor content’ which attracts users unwilling to pay. Yes, The Guardian is now a charity. To turn the argument on its head, for all of the hatred hurled at Fox News, more people pay for it’s content than CNN and MSNBC combined. Put simply, if people value content they will pay for it.

So to the EU, it is time to realize your product stinks. You can’t forever snub your member states with the same old mentality and expect to thrive. Europe has had a checkered history, Cross a border and the language, culture, cuisine and way of life are vastly different, To try to tell these same people they are “one” is utter insanity. To preach ‘diversity’ is irrelevant. Diversity is about respecting difference yet the ideology essentially preaches there Should be none. Yet the EU is the very antithesis of equality. The EU is happy to sit by and bury Greece’s chance of recovery by imposing hardships until they cede their democracy to Brussels and accept a protectorate status, The founder of ‘democracy’ is forced at gunpoint to hand it over when it was indeed the EU that used Goldman Sachs to fiddle its finances to create cooked books that would allow entry. To threaten Austria that if it democratically elected a right wing President that the EU would remove voting rights. That Italians voted on a referendum as a way to oust a pro-EU prime minister rather than the actual question on the ballot paper. That for all the celebrations and clinking of crystal champagne flutes from the German Foreign Ministry at the Dutch election result failed to realize conservative parties trounced the left. The idea that Wilders was going to PM was never going to happen. Yet he won more seats. Rutte only managed to stem his losses by adopting Wilders-lite.

The reality of Brexit is now formal. It finally seals a promise. It is a message from Brits who have saved Europe countless times that they cannot be part of a group that won’t listen. That individual mistakes like Merkel’s open borders should be a German problem. Why should Hungarians, Brits or French be forced to take a share of the burden of a mistake made by one individual member state? If the EU had voted to do it in a democratic fashion one might have had some sympathy but this was a mistake and it is unfathomable that the EU seeks to appease Merkel for imposing misguided altruism on countries that don’t share her view. It is this type of action that seals the EU’s fate. The idea of one Europe is fantastic. The practical realities are anything but. President Tusk perhaps said more about the introspection that is well overdue in the hallways of Brussels.

Let’s be clear President Tusk, the British do not miss you.