Friday, February 15, 2013

It's a horse race!

In a month where an enormous enabler of international terrorism was reported to be "too big to jail", and in a week where North Korea showed the world it loves nukes, comes news of a different sort worthy of our close attention.

But first, let's check in with the World Gangsters, shall we?

la descente aux enfers

When I was young and oh so naive I used to believe that governments were created to protect the citizens of their country while enabling the doing of Good Things.  Waking up to reality is one of the reasons we left the US.  The dream had been burst and reality was just too much to take.

Where else in the world would HSBC, a rather large international bank, be allowed to avoid jail, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it broke nearly every banking and terrorists money laundering law on the books?  This "walk" has been granted by that guardian of US law, the Department of Justice, thank you very much.

What about money laundering for an enemy of the US (do you remember al Qaeda and M.bin Laden)?  What about channeling money for the Russian Mob?  What about being the bankers to the Drug Lords of Mexico (the guys who contribute to Mexico's homicide rate being twice the US rate, and, oh, about ten times higher than Europe)?  Apparently these are not infractions of supposedly well written law worth jailing anyone for.  The only thing HSBC received was a slap on the wrist fine of about 5 weeks of profit.  That's it.  So, where's the justice?

la descente aux enfers

News of the North Korean nuke test came and went with the speed of a speeding dove of peace.  In free-fall.  After being shot out of the sky by a rouge nation.  What?  ICBMs capable of hitting places around the world isn't news enough to push the latest gossip scandal off the headlines page?  Tipped with nukes a rouge nation is actively testing?  Nah.  That's so 1950's, isn't it?

What has become of the US?

Meanwhile, in Europe, things are a bit different.

Watching Telematin on France2 TV revealed something very interesting.  The smiling laughing reporters and TV program hosts had me at the first giggle and snort.  There's something very infectious about a good laugh.  Add to this that the story involves men in dresses, lots of smelly incense, colorful robes, and tall pointy hats and I just had to sit up and take notice.

la descente aux enfers

It turns out that enterprising Canadians, standing in the middle of Saint Pete's Square in the Vatican, are making book on who will be the next Pappa.  People there were excited about having a true Race for Glory and a declaration of Possible Sainthood.  I didn't see any money change hands.  That had to be taking place off-camera somewhere.  Conveniently, an authority on Vatican politics wandered by and offered his opinion of the Canadian odds.  It seems the Kanucks have it just about right.  Sweet.  This is serious business.

Now this is simple cause and effect news I can appreciate and understand.

It was certainly better than listening to how Gangster International Bankers, Gangster Russian Mobs, Gangster Mexican Drug Lords, and the top 1 percent Gangsters of the US get a pass on facing any even a menial form of justice for their continued arrogant and highly profitable misdeeds.

la descente aux enfers

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cost of Living...

Something caught my eye this morning while browsing CNN Money today.  It a banner article about the most expensive cities in the world.  CNN believes Paris, France is the 8th most expensive city to live in.

Portions of Being

I looked at their prices and wondered where they shopped.  For instance, CNN says bread here costs $8.95.  Even assuming a healthy conversion from the Euro into USD, there's no way I would ever pay nearly $9 for a loaf of bread.  I doubt I could find such a thing, unless, that is, we shopped at le Bon Marche, on a particularly costly day.  Come to think of it, I don't know of one place in Paris where you can spend that much money.  I wonder where CNN came up with such a thing?  Perhaps they ordered bread at a bar in a very pricey hotel?

The next item on CNN's list is something I don't know anything about.  Milk.  It's listed at $2.55 a litre.  To my way of thinking, would you rather have a litre of milk or wine?  Full organic biodymanically grown vin can be found for less than 6Euro for 75cl.  We're grown ups, ferkripesake!  So let's just get down to talking about the real stuff.  The good stuff.

Portions of Being

Which is where CNN trots out an expensive three course meal for four priced at over $2100.  Gee, isn't that a lot more than the typical one months rent here?  If you're that much of a sucker for pricey food, I'm sure you can find a chef in any city in the world who would be happy to take your money.

Before we moved here, we checked to see that on many lists Paris was ranked number 19 in the world for expenses and was expected to drop further.  That was back in 2011.  In the summer of 2012 (just last year), Mercer published a survey of the most expensive cities around the world.  I was not particularly surprised to read that Paris has indeed dropped it's placing to being number 37 on the list.  This is well behind Tel Aviv at number 31 and just ahead of Milan which is taking up the number 38 position.

Make no mistake, it's expensive living here.  The officially reported (and by official, I mean French state published studies) price per square meter for living space remains over 8,000Euros.  The next five largest cities in France cost just above 2,000Euros per square meter.

Portions of Being

So what gives?

Well, I suppose CNN needed a splashy headline.  Or it could be that different criteria were used to judge the relative expenses between cities. Or the CNN "news" could be the product of wishful thinking.  Whichever excuse CNN might give, I find it interesting to read how US media reports on the world outside it's borders.  I wonder if the American mindset is, yet again, being controlled through propaganda and lies.

What if the real "message" is that you have it good there and that the rest of the world is too too expensive to live in, so don't you dare think about moving away, because we, the Corporate States of America, know we deserve the money you are so privileged to give us.

Yes, this is a rather dim, narrow, anti-capitalist view, but what other way is there to understand such statements like CNN publishes?