#yellowvests

Paris still in flames post Notre Dame

23 weekends straight now. While the world focused on the tragedy that was Notre Dame, the yellow vest protests continue. Many cars and motorcycles around Paris were set alight.

The yellow vests see Macron’s (unsurprising) immediate call to rebuild the historic landmark yet another slap in the face. The French president continues to ignore their grievances. The yellow vests feel that unemployment, the rise in the cost of living and higher taxation are burying them. They want the same priority shown to them as the 850yo cathedral.

A recap of the grounds of protest:

Economy/Work

  • A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%
  • Increase of 40% in the basic pension and social welfare
  • Increase hiring in public sector to re-establish public services
  • Massive construction projects to house 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors/prefectures that leave people on the streets
  • Break up the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, re-separate regular banking from investment banking
  • Cancel debts accrued through usurious rates of interest

Politics

  • Constitutional amendments to protect the people’s interests, including binding referenda
  • The barring of lobby groups and vested interests from political decision-making
  • Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty (In other words, respect the 2005 referendum result, when France voted against the EU Constitution Treaty, which was then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and the French people ignored)
  • Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich
  • The immediate cessation of privatization, and the re-nationalization of public goods like motorways, airports, rail, etc
  • Remove all ideology from the ministry of education, ending all destructive education techniques
  • Quadruple the budget for law and order and put time-limits on judicial procedures. Make access to the justice system available for all
  • Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda
  • Guarantee citizens’ liberty by including in the constitution a complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters

Health/Environment

  • No more ‘planned obsolescence’ – Mandate guarantee from producers that their products will last 10 years, and that spare parts will be available during that period
  • Ban plastic bottles and other polluting packaging
  • Weaken the influence of big pharma on health in general and hospitals in particular
  • Ban on GMO crops, carcinogenic pesticides, endocrine disruptors and monocrops
  • Re-industrialize France (thereby reducing imports and thus pollution)

Foreign Affairs

  • End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
  • Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
  • Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing
  • Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed.

Regardless of the need to restore a national monument, Macron has had no impact on restoring order.

Macron’s poll numbers got a bounce from 29% approval to 32% on the back of Notre Dame. He has merely moved from catastrophic to diabolical. Notre Dame is a one off event for Macron. The question is whether they buy his proposed tax cuts for the poor or boosts for small pensions. The yellow vests don’t want platitudes.

Why?

What often surprises CM is the need to openly show one’s abhorrence to the now 50 people senselessly murdered in Christchurch. On the contrary, if one didn’t find the events appalling that would say something in itself. There is nothing ‘woke’ about publicly showing one is against what happened. Of course the overwhelming majority of us are. Yet moral preening does nothing to help stem the flow of such terror. Neither does capitalizing on tragedies such as this to pit division via unhinged political activism.

Social media has been whipped into a frenzy since the cold blooded crime. Ad hominem attacks against the usual culprits for being complicit does little to help the grieving process. There must be no words to understand their pain. So why resort to cheap shots and big noting on Twitter? Survivors and families of the dead will hardly find solace by reading the bile of ignorant apparatchiks making a bad situation palpably worse.

CM has often questioned the purpose of lighting up monuments and splashing avatars with national flags of where those atrocities occurred. Does anyone in their right mind think that would-be-perpetrators pay the slightest mind to such appeals? Might as well keep the lights on. Because unless proper action is taken, nothing will change. Instead of stifling debate, we need to engage in it. Tackle the issues burning the fabric of our society.  Social and mainstream media continue to push false narratives, making people even more afraid to speak their minds. Some countries like Canada have laws that jail those that dare to.

If we accept the vast majority of people in the world are decent no matter what their background, why is it activists expect certain groups to self-flagellate when such events occur? The background of the victims or the villains should be irrelevant. It is despicable beyond belief to murder innocent unarmed people whatever their race, skin colour, religious beliefs or sexual proclivity. No one should question this. Yet tougher and tougher legislation restricting freedoms ends up being the by-product. Unfortunately newly introduced laws end up causing the opposite of intended effect. It only emboldens these extremists to go deeper underground. It exacerbates resentment.

We have to ask ourselves why? It seems most of the political class is asleep at the wheel given the trend of rising nationalism, especially throughout Europe. Instead of having deep transparent discussion addressing the problems and issues driving these movements, our leaders think it prudent to bury their heads in the sand. Hiding behind the spineless guise of political correctness, they legislate against certain groups with ever harsher penalties in ways which seem only to underpin the popularity of those that seek to defend them. If the political elite think believe they understand the will of the people they are woefully out of their depth at selling messages of unity. For if they understood the layman, populist parties would remain on the outer.

Think about it. Alternative for Deutschland, Sweden Democrats, The Dutch Freedom Party, Lega in Italy, the Freedom Party in Austria, Vlaams-Belang in Belgium, Order & Justice in Lithuania, Law & Justice Party in Poland, Fidesz in Hungary, True Finns, Front National in France…the list goes on. From fringe parties (or not even in existence) a decade ago to Top 3 in many cases. Have more Europeans become racist bigots in the last decade by chance or do they feel their lot changing for the worse?

Take a look at the poverty statistics across Europe. There were 78mn living below the poverty line in 2007. At last count, Eurostat noted that number was 118mn  (23.5% of the European population). In the Europe 2020 strategy, the plan is to reduce that by 20 million. Fat chance.  37.5mn (7.5%) are living in severe material deprivation (SMD) , up from 32mn in 2007. 40 million extra Europeans are suffering in poverty in a little over a decade. No wonder these nationalist parties have gained traction. It is easy to whip up a disaffected mob by claiming their futures are being undercut by mass migration. Whether the arguments are sound or not is frankly irrelevant. People want their lives back. Seeing the inaction among incumbent parties, many are willing to chance those that supposedly feel their pain. Macron still faces yellow vest protests for four consecutive months. Is it any wonder nationalist Marine Le Pen polls higher than the young President?

Perhaps we should question the authorities in playing their part in firing up the discontented. After reading 200+ pages of the Rotherham Inquiry into grooming gangs, it was revealed that the police and local council turned a blind eye to the systematic rape of 1,000 minors over two decades because they feared being thought of as racist were they to target the perpetrators based on their ethnicity. It was political correctness gone mad. Now the scandal has broken out across the country, the courts are finally throwing the book at these criminals. Read the above link at your peril. It is utterly distressing. 1,000s of lives senselessly ruined because leaders were too gutless to stand up for principle. One does not have to be an extremist to be outraged at such cruelty going unpunished for so long.

Politically correct law makers or activist judges do not justify murdering 50 innocent men, women and children. Let us be perfectly clear on this point. However it is not hard to see how those on the fringes use such incidents to fuel their resentment.  Social media allows for such obscene behaviour to be normalised because of the echo chamber dynamic.

What do the statistics of extremism say?

According to the Australian Crime Institute, “understanding the precise nature and scale of the far-right in Australia is made difficult by a lack of empirical information and research. Gaining reliable data on the far-right is firstly complicated by debate over exactly what constitutes violence motivated by far-right ideology…Moreover, Australia does not have any formal monitoring systems for this form of violence, such as that of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ‘Hate Crime Statistics’ (something CM did earlier this month)

In America, Anti-Semitic hate crimes are around 5x the level of Anti-Islamic hate crimes which are around 1.5x Anti-Christian hate crimes. Overall hate crime is lower than two decades ago.

Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Interior (BfV) updated its fact book on the size of left and right wing groups and the rise of Salafists at home. To summarize:

In 2017, the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) registered 39,505 offences in the category of politically motivated crime, an increase of 20.4% over the 2014 figure, but 4.9% down on the 2016 number.

Right wing extremist party membership has risen from 22,600 in 2015 to 24,000 in 2017.

There were 1,054 (2016: 1,600) registered cases of violent criminal offences with a right-wing extremist background, a fall of 34.1%. The number of violent crimes directed at foreigners came in at 774 (2016: 1,190, the highest level since the current definition of politically motivated crime was introduced in 2001) down 34.9%. The number of violent crimes against actual or supposed left-wing extremists dropped by half 98 (2016: 250) remained about the same. Attempted homicides fell from 18 in 2016 to only four in 2017.

Left wing extremist party membership has risen from 26,700 in 2015 to 29,500 in 2017, +10.5%.

In 2017,  6,393 criminal offences were classified as left-wing politically motivated crimes with an extremist background (2016: 5,230), +22.2%, of which 1,648 were violent crimes (2016: 1,201), +37%. The number of violent criminal offences with a left-wing extremist background that were directed against the police and security authorities significantly increased 65.2% to 1,135 (2016: 687) exceeding even the level of 2015. The number of violent criminal offences against actual or supposed right-wing extremists halved to 264 (2016: 542).

Islamic Extremists

Salafist movements in Germany have risen from 8,350 in 2015 to 10,800 in 2017 with the BfV noting on the whole, that all Islamist following in 2017 amounted to approximately 25,810 individuals, up 1,400 on 2016. BfV did note

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, 1,617 offences with an extremist background were registered in 2017 (2015: 1,524), including 233 violent offences (2015: 235).  In 2016, there were two homicides and 13 attempted homicides by foreigners with an extremist background (2015: three).

A fall of 4.9% in total politically motivated crime is hardly something to celebrate when the number is 40,000 on an annualised. There are 6x as many politically motivated crimes in Germany than America with only 1/5th the population.

———-

If we take a step back, were suspect Tarrant’s atrocities any more reprehensible than Anders Breivik in Norway gunning down 69 unarmed teenagers on Uttoya island? Stephen Paddock murdering 58 concert goers in Las Vegas? Adam Lanza slaying dozens of small kids at Sandy Hook elementary? The gunmen inside the offices of Charlie Hebdo or the barbaric eviscerations inside the Bataclan? The truck drivers in Berlin, Nice, Stockholm or Barcelona mowing down 100s of innocent pedestrians? Where was the outrage in 2018 when a church was bombed by extremists in Indonesia killing 13 people? What about the Jonestown massacre in 1978 which claimed 908 souls? All of them are deeply sickening not only in total loss of life but the grotesque manner in which these heinous acts were carried out. 

No-one with a pulse can look at recent events without utter disbelief. When the suspect tells us the motivations behind the attack, we will see social media get uglier still. If we truly want to put an end to this type of disaster, we must open ourselves up to debate. Going on recent trends, we will continue to light up statues and point fingers instead of actively seeking to find solutions through reasoned discussion. When will we wake up from this nightmare of our own making and communicate?

In the meantime spare a thought for the victims and their families and allow them to grieve their losses in peace.

What do the Yellow Vests want? Frexit is one demand

No automatic alt text available.

Here is the Gilets Jaunes’ (yellow vests) List of Demands. Note Frexit is one of them! CM wholeheartedly agrees on the stance on education and barring lobby groups from political circles. Note the demands with respect to banning migratory flows of those who cannot integrate with French values. Where have we heard this before?

President Macron should hope he has an invisible cloak in his wardrobe. So much for more globalism. Yet another sign of a European member state demanding nationalist interests be put before federal EU rule.

Will the mainstream media objectively report on the growing number of nations wanting to put themselves first? Or will they spin the story that the demands from nations like France are somehow different to that of the abhorrent views held by the monster in the Oval Office?

Economy/Work

  • A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%
  • Increase of 40% in the basic pension and social welfare
  • Increase hiring in public sector to re-establish public services
  • Massive construction projects to house 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors/prefectures that leave people on the streets
  • Break up the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, re-separate regular banking from investment banking
  • Cancel debts accrued through usurious rates of interest

Politics

  • Constitutional amendments to protect the people’s interests, including binding referenda
  • The barring of lobby groups and vested interests from political decision-making
  • Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty (In other words, respect the 2005 referendum result, when France voted against the EU Constitution Treaty, which was then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and the French people ignored)
  • Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich
  • The immediate cessation of privatization, and the re-nationalization of public goods like motorways, airports, rail, etc
  • Remove all ideology from the ministry of education, ending all destructive education techniques
  • Quadruple the budget for law and order and put time-limits on judicial procedures. Make access to the justice system available for all
  • Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda
  • Guarantee citizens’ liberty by including in the constitution a complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters

Health/Environment

  • No more ‘planned obsolescence’ – Mandate guarantee from producers that their products will last 10 years, and that spare parts will be available during that period
  • Ban plastic bottles and other polluting packaging
  • Weaken the influence of big pharma on health in general and hospitals in particular
  • Ban on GMO crops, carcinogenic pesticides, endocrine disruptors and monocrops
  • Re-industrialize France (thereby reducing imports and thus pollution)

Foreign Affairs

  • End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
  • Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
  • Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing
  • Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed.

Poverty, poverty on the wall, the French aren’t even the worst of all

PovEU

Why are we surprised at the yellow vest uprising across France? Poverty/risk of social exclusion across Europe has continued to spiral upwards since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). There were 78mn living below the poverty line in 2007. At last count, Eurostat notes that number was 118mn  (23.5% of the European population). In the Europe 2020 strategy, the plan is to reduce that by 20 million.  37.5mn (7.5%) are living in severe material deprivation (SMD) , up from 32mn in 2007.

The SMD rate represents the proportion of people who cannot afford at least four of the nine following items:

  • having arrears on mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, hire purchase installments or other loan payments;
  • being able to afford one week’s annual holiday away from home;
  • being able to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day;
  • being able to face unexpected financial expenses;
  • being able to buy a telephone (including mobile phone);
  • being able to buy a colour television;
  • being able to buy a washing machine;
  • being able to buy a car;
  • being able to afford heating to keep the house warm.

The French are merely venting what is happening across the EU. The EU could argue that at 18% poverty, the French should be happy compared to other nation states. Europeans aren’t racist to want a halt to mass economic migration when they are the ones financially struggling as it is. Making economic or compassionate arguments aren’t resonating as they feel the problems first hand.

Is it a surprise that the UK, at 22.2% poverty, wanted out of the EU project to take back sovereign control? Project Fear might be forecasting Armageddon for a No Deal Brexit but being inside the EU has hardly helped lift Brits from under a rock. Why would anyone wish to push for a worse deal that turns the UK into a colony?

Why is anyone surprised that there has been a sustainable shift toward populist political parties across Europe? Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Germany…the list goes on. Even France should not forget that Front National’s Marine LePen got 35% of the vote, twice the level ever achieved. Is is a shock to see her polling above Macron?

The success and growth of EU-skeptic parties across Europe will only get bigger. The mob is unhappy. Macron may have won on a wave of euphoria as a fresh face but he has failed to deliver. He may have suspended the fuel tax hikes, but the people are still on the street in greater numbers. He has merely stirred the hornet’s nest. Perhaps UK PM Theresa May should take a look at the table above and realise that her deal will only cause the UK to rise up. At the moment sanity prevails, and when it comes in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn that is perhaps a sign in itself.

Sir David’s 22,000 disciples won’t be able to sustain frequent flyer mile status

Yes Sir David Attenborough, we’re doomed if we look at history of the very people in place to save us. Not withstanding the 22,000 climate change disciples who have flown to Katowice, Poland to pay homage at the altar of the UNIPCC to cling on to each other hearing about their inevitable extinction. What a shame that instead of embracing technology and live-streaming COP24 to help us mitigate impending disaster, government funded frequent flyer mile status of climate apparatchiks takes precedence to saving us from all of these dangerous CO2 emissions.

Apart from the 100% certainty of me being screened for explosives at Sydney Airport (yet again today), the other is that the growth in air travel suggests that more and more people are happy to save the planet, provided that someone else offsets on their behalf. CM has long argued this position. Our consumption patterns dictate the “true” state of care of the environment. It hasn’t stopped SUV sales dead in their tracks and last year the IATA forecast that the number of airline passengers is set to DOUBLE by 2030.  Hardly the actions of those frightened by climate change.

Oh but you can offset your carbon footprint! In its 2017 Annual Report, Qantas boasts,

We have the world’s largest airline offset program and have now been carbon offsetting for over 10 years. In 2016/17, we reached three million tonnes offset.”

Carbon calculators tend to work on the assumption of 0.158kg CO2/passenger kilometre.

In the last 10 years Qantas has flown around 1 trillion revenue passenger kilometres. While the literature in the annual report denotes one passenger offsets every 53 seconds, the mathematical reality is simple – 2% of miles are carbon offset. So that means that 98% of people couldn’t care less. Would dispensing with frequent flyer programs cut emissions? These loyalty programs by their very nature encourage more travel. The more you fly the more you can fly for free!  Surely the IPCC should scream for a ban here. Dispense with first, business and premium economy to maximise passenger loads each flight. Apologies for the preamble.

While the US is not a signatory to Paris, 19 of the G20 are. The irony is that the non-signatory nation has seen its total emissions fall while many of the others have not. What value the ink on a pledge? No sooner had President Macron thrown stones at America, that he’s backed down and postponed a fuel tax hike for 6 months to save his city from burning down. There it is in a nutshell. We’re told if we don’t act now we’re doomed. So 6 months is a long time in “immediate” speak. What we do know this is classic smoke and mirrors by Macron. In 6 months the fuel tax will be all but forgotten. Virtue signaling Exhibit A scrapped. Why doesn’t anyone in the media pick on China? It has promised to increase emissions out to 2030 and is a signatory.

Sir David should get cold chills lifting a rock on the recent saga surrounding the NATO signatories where we can learn how worthless pen strokes can be. In 2006, NATO Defence Ministers agreed to commit a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defence spending. This guideline, according to NATO,  “principally serves as an indicator of a country’s political will to contribute to the Alliance’s common defence efforts.” In 2017, only 5 of the 28 members outside the US have met the 2% threshold – Greece, Estonia, UK, Romania & Poland in that order. Despite Greece’s economic problems elsewhere, it manages to honour the deal. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “the majority [not all] of allies now have plans to do so by 2024.” 3 more are expected to hit the target in 2018. So for all the good will in the world, is POTUS wrong to call the other 19 members slackers that ride off the US taxpayer when so many of them are only likely to hit the target 18 years after ‘committing’ to it?

Alas, who doesn’t want to breathe clean air? The question is once all of the hysteria of 100m sea rises, forest fires (sharply down from 70 years ago & 90% caused by arson or accidents), hurricanes (nothing extraordinary in the data to show increases in ferocity) or sinking islands (sorry 80% of Pacific atolls/islands are stable or rising) are properly analysed what is the most efficient way to get there? Even Turkey wants to be downgraded to a developing nation in order to benefit from wealth redistribution on climate.

What a masterstroke if signatories to Paris are prepared to take on America’s share of saving the planet. American taxpayers can feel happy in the knowledge that other nations are paying for their NATO commitments by rebating them with tax credits on climate, all the while ruining their domestic competitiveness along the way.  Why does Trump need to Make America Great Again, when the majority of nations are prepared to do it for him? Economist Paul Krugman shouldn’t be calling climate skeptics “sinners” but “saints”

Flames-Elysées

Oh the irony. The mainstream media’s pin-up poster boy of globalization and its merits has slumped to a 26% popularity rating and rules a capitol in flames. Yet another dud prediction from those know-it-all scribes!

While journalists rarely miss a chance to embrace French President Macron for eviscerating Trump (47% popularity rating (NB Obama was 46% at the same point in his presidency)) for his refusal to sign the Paris Climate Accord, where is the admission that large swathes of French natives seem to agree with the elder statesman?

Let’s not kid ourselves. Setting fire to priceless art galleries, torching police cars and destroying national monuments like the Arc de Triomphe are hardly petty crime issues to be left to a moustache twiddling local police officer on a stroll though the neighborhood twirling a baton.

The press gladly slams Trump as a fool for his stance on global warming. Yet doesn’t Macron look the stupid one if his constituents are lashing out like this over his poorly thought out green schemes?

The irony is that total US emissions fell in 2017 and expected to be broadly flat for 2018. This despite not being tied to a global compact engineered by the biggest pack of self- serving, unelected demagogues on the planet – the U.N. Why are we listening to its environmental body, the IPCC, when it has been exposed numerous times for fraudulent misrepresentation of data and facts such that it has been forced to publicly retract such hysteria. Better to ask for forgiveness or hope the faithful will forget those hiccups, eh?

Why smash the US when those willing to be part of the Paris agreement – China and India – will crank up emissions to 2030 and beyond at much higher levels? The media stays deathly silent. Who are the real villains? Where is the outrage?

Embarrassing for Macron, even several of his first responders are also showing gross displeasure. A group of firefighters being honoured by a Macron official walked off parade in protest to the embarrassment of their captain. Some police removed riot helmets and lowered shields in front of the yellow vests. When a president loses control of state run security forces that is pretty grim.

When will the press admit they got Macron completely wrong? Popularity can only get one so far. Trudeau of Canada shows the same flaws. Utterly out of his depth. Virtue signaling works wonders for the press gallery but less for those that must bear the brunt of what bad policies ultimately create.

In summary, if the most hated political figure on the planet garners 90%+ negative news feeds, how is it a media darling can’t nudge much more than half his popularity? Who is the imbecile?