Rights, but more often wrongs

Our Editor is still whereabouts unknown, but our activity hasn’t stopped. Trigger warning! Readers embarrassed by honesty may prefer to avoid the following paragraph.

            We have to accept that honesty is a rare policy today, widely mocked even outside business circles, but we think these quaint old customs deserve an effort to save them from total extinction.  So here goes.  We thought Simon might now appear in the office from time to time, and we were right.  He came as usual with his adopted mother, and we find we owe her an apology.  It turns out she is much the richer of the two of them, which disposes pretty thoroughly of the theory (from Manos and the Editor) that she got herself adopted as his mother for financial reasons.  Second, we were wrong in taking her conversation-free presence when here to be the normal French superiority complex when confronted with other Europeans.  Main reason is that she doesn’t speak much English (or Croat).  But a typical callous member of the one percent she is not.  She brought in a copy of an open letter published in Le Monde on the 8th of June, and asked us to post it.  It was signed by dozens of prominent French personalities from many backgrounds strongly denouncing their government’s ruthless attempts to make life more comfortable and prosperous for the middle and upper classes by reducing the quality of life for those who do the work, in particular by making it easier for members (or heads) of the latter type of household to be thrown out of work.  This is called ‘Labour market reform’.  We got the letter translated by the retired busker in Dead Cat Lane Mews who used to plague the streets of Montréal and an extract appears as section 3 below.

Dr Karela and Maud



From Notes in the Bulletin of the Toynbee Historical Foundation (Vol.xciv p.418)

It is curious yet perhaps not surprising that one of the most prolific areas for finding skeletons and other evidence of violent battles and brutal group conflicts, dating back more than 6,000 years, is in the Alsatian border area between France and Germany.  However, there is no plausible record of football being played in this region earlier than about 500 years before the present

Linguistic corner : International humanitarian relief is the term describing the feeling of governments when they find a way to avoid having to fulfil their promises of aid after a natural or man-made disaster.  Fegans’ Criminal Dictionary: Political Supplement

Verb sap : It is a mistake to believe that it is only in business that nepotism and cronyism are vital forces helping the fortunate and privileged to get further ahead (or as they would mostly put it, to help society to make progress).  Look at the succession of great Italian artists 14th to 17th centuries.

Oceanic news : Researchers at the Cabo Verde Institute for Mid-Ocean Ecology claim that in a dramatic break-through they have been able to understand the language of dolphins, but they are refusing to reveal what dolphins say to one another on the grounds that they are things which humans would rather not know.


  1. From a letter from Dr Philipp von Hollenberg

Is our Editor still absent from his duties?  I must say I am very surprised that he should have given no word as to what he is up to.  Has our lady protectress not heard from him?  It seems unlikely he would be writing for Newsworth International but we should not judge before we know the facts.

   I am off soon to that beautiful spot on the coast of Cape Province where the railway runs along the beach (and where one of Kipling’s strangest stories begins), but before leaving South America I made one more trip to Bariloche, my favourite place for snow.  Much still as it has long been and still not spoiled by too many visitors.  Had a long conversation one evening, in German of course, with an impressive old fellow who must have been able to give me three decades at least.  He insisted on raising the obvious issue, and assured me he had been regular Wehrmacht, and had photos to back it up, including one of him, must have been around 1940, in a group around Kesselring no less.  Startlingly well-informed about current European politics, and told me about this trick your Teresa May has pulled off (I know she is not your Home Secretary constitutionally speaking, but you must admit you are de facto subject to London) over the ‘privacy clause’ in the mass surveillance powers the government is granting to itself, to fight crime, and to resist insubordination on the part of difficult elements in the population, and of course to help the Tory party win the next election.  Calling the whole package a ‘snoopers’ charter’ was a brilliant move on the part of its promoters, making it sound about as trifling an issue as twitching aside the net curtains to watch neighbours unloading shopping from their car.  But the best is presenting a ‘concession’  – when they realised that even the Tory party had profound misgivings over the proposals (but then maybe the Tory members have more secrets they want to hide than the jobsworths of the Labour party).  This ‘concession’ is in fact no more than an undertaking that the heavy Stasi-like powers are only to be used when less intrusive traditional spying (e.g. getting a warrant from a helpful pillar of the judicial system to let you listen to the phone calls of the criminal, or victim – are we still permitted to remember the maxim not guilty till proven guilty?) could be used instead.  With the greatest clarity this concession means that the special heavy powers will not be used when the government does not need them!  It is hard to know which should be causing the greater emotion – hilarity at the barefaced manipulations to which a government can descend, or despair at the ease with which they can get these past the enfeebled perceptions of the public and even political observers….


  1. Mme Marie-Louise de Belpech-Chauny draws your attention to the letter about the moves towards aligning workers’ rights more closely with serfdom in France, signed by Christophe Bonneuil, Geneviève Azam and many others, published by Le Monde 8-6-2016, from which the following is an extract :

The proposed reform is one of a long sequence of ‘structural reforms’ advocated by the business lobby and the European bureaucracy.  This sequence has undermined the rights of ordinary workers without resulting in the appearance of the increased employment promised, and has increased inequality and fear of what the future will bring for those who do not have substantial wealth at their disposal.  Different opinion polls all agree that public opinion is very strongly of the view that the current ‘reform’ promotes the interest of business, or more exactly of business owners, at the expense of ordinary workers, and that the government should withdraw this unjust project.  Hence the virulence of the news media, largely controlled by the richest in the nation.  When the privileged classes continue to accumulate wealth without ceasing and without shame (outrageous dividends and salaries for business bosses, tax evasion organised by the banks, and so on), connived at by the state, when ordinary people see a future for themselves and their children filled only with social insecurity in an environment where natural resources have been pillaged, this framework of deliberately planned  injustice produces violence and violations in the form of campaign promises flouted and government policies designed by the employers’ federation or taken direct from the extreme right wing.  Cynical violations sponsored by the state!

Editors’ footnote.  The proposed ‘reform’ of the labour market is said (by those proposing it) to be ‘necessary’ for ‘economic prosperity’, but it is not clear how the latter term is to be understood.  There are no figures available for the ratio between working class, and middle and upper social classes, for those who might lose employment for two months or longer if these reforms were carried through.  However one estimate puts that ratio at greater than 103 to 1.