In Spain, new austerity measures mean higher sales tax on everything from beer and wine to clothing and movie tickets. But in Bescanó, a small town in the country’s northeast, the local theater director has come up with a rather creative way to get around a new 21 percent tax on tickets for plays at his theater –- by selling carrots instead.
When the Spanish government hiked sales tax on theater tickets this past summer, Quim Marcé thought his theater was doomed. With one in four local residents unemployed, Marcé knew that even a modest hike in ticket prices might leave the 300-seat Bescanó municipal theater empty.
“We said, ‘This is the end of our theater, and many others.’ But then the next morning, I thought, we’ve got to do something, so that we don’t pay this 21 percent, and we pay something more fair,” says Marcé in Spanish.
Source: NPR. Read full article. (link)
France is next in line to legalize same-sex marriage, according to a disputed bill pushed by President Francois Hollande on Wednesday, which would defy opposition from the country’s Roman Catholic and conservative leadership.
Currently, less than a dozen countries in the world have legalized gay marriage, although most of them are in Europe. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Iceland and Belgium have all moved away from the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman, and with Hollande’s bill, France is set to join them early next year.
The top ministers in France have already approved the measure, marking another successful agenda for Hollande’s liberal campaign, The New York Times reported. The president has called the bill “progress for all society.” The new law will redefine marriage as “contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex,” while the words for “father” and “mother” in French will be replaced by “parents” – allowing them also to start adopting children.
Christiane Taubira, France’s justice minister, has also described the bill as “marriage for all” and has said that it comes as response to a “demand for equality.”
While supported by the majority of the French population, it stands in stark contrast to the wishes of the conservative opposition in France, who have warned that such a breakaway from traditional values will signal the end of the traditional family unit.
“It’s the end of the family, the end of children’s development, the end of education. It’s an enormous danger to the nation,” said UMP Senator Serge Dassault on the radio show “France Culture.”
Under a scheme organised by the local authorities in the town of Soderhamn and by Sweden’s national employment office, anyone aged between 18 and 28 can volunteer to take a “Job Journey” to Oslo and attempt track down gainful employment.
Those who sign up get a ticket to the Norwegian capital and are put up in an Oslo youth hostel for a month, with Soderhamn council picking up the £20 a night bill. The package also includes on-the-spot guidance on how to get a job in Sweden’s northern neighbour.
“We had an unemployment rate of over 25 per cent, so we had to find solutions,” Magus Nilsen, the man in charge of the project at Soderhamn council, told the Daily Telegraph. “Going to Norway to find work has always been quite popular with young people, but sometimes they want to go but don’t know how to find a job or accommodation so we thought we’d give them a bit of help with both.”
So far around 100 people have decided to leave Soderhamn, a town of 12,000, 250 kilometres due north of Stockholm, to try their luck in the bright lights of Oslo, and some, at least, have struck gold.
After two years on the dole in his hometown Andreas Larsson opted for a “Job Journey” to Norway and now works as a lorry driver in Oslo.
“I came here on a Thursday and on Monday morning I had a job, so it was fast,” he told Swedish Radio. “It almost felt a bit unreal, as if you have come to the promised land.”
Livin’ the dream…
Dick Cowan called it: The new Dutch government has abandoned plans to create a national “weed pass,” available only to citizens and residents, for admission to cannabis cafés. Instead cities will decide whether foreigners may patronize “coffee shops” that sell marijuana, which is still technically illegal in the Netherlands but tolerated at the retail level. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan, who opposed the previous government’s efforts to exclude tourists from one of his city’s best-known attractions, sayspeople from other countries will remain welcome at establishments such as the Bulldog, Abraxas, and the Grasshopper, because barring them would create more problems than it would solve:
The 1.5 million tourists will not say “then no more marijuana.” They will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market. Everything we have worked towards would be lost to misery.
The BBC notes that Amsterdam “relies heavily on tourism, and cannabis users make up about a third of its total visitors.”
Take a close look at this promotional poster. Notice anything? Alongside the symbols of Christianity, Judaism, Jainism and so on is one of the wickedest emblems humanity has conceived: the hammer and sickle.
For three generations, the badge of the Soviet revolution meant poverty, slavery, torture and death. It adorned the caps of the chekas who came in the night. It opened and closed the propaganda films which hid the famines. It advertised the people’s courts where victims of purges and show-trials were condemned. It fluttered over the re-education camps and the gulags. For hundreds of millions of Europeans, it was a symbol of foreign occupation. Hungary, Lithuania and Moldova have banned its use, and various former communist countries want it to be treated in the same way as Nazi insignia.
Yet here it sits on a poster in the European Commission, advertising the moral deafness of its author (I hope that’s what it is, rather than lingering nostalgia). The Bolshevist sigil celebrates the ideology which, in strict numerical terms, must be reckoned the most murderous ever devised by our species. That it can be passed unremarked day after day in the corridors of Brussels is nauseating.
Related: those stupid original ‘Coexist’ bumper stickers, deconstructed here.
*Update: Based on the new E.U. poster, a friend of mine designed a more appropriate flag (than the existing one) for the E.U., since notwithstanding all the other symbols, they’re really just dhimmi socialists. Here it is:
23 pics at this link; the first, a composite of some contestants, is shown below:
All girls in Europe should be immunised against the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer and current vaccine coverage rates are far too low, European Union health officials said on Wednesday.
In new advice about tackling the virus, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that while 19 out of 29 countries in the region had introduced HPV vaccine programmes, vaccination rates were as low as 17 percent in some.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide, with about 500,000 new cases and 250,000 deaths each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Virtually all cases are linked to genital infection with HPV, the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract.
“Fucking is an entitlement”, a Clinton Democrat official once said, and the E.U. has the same mindset, no doubt…
The call to Vincent Grandil’s Paris law firm began like many others that have rolled in recently. On the line was the well-paid chief executive of one of France’s most profitable companies, and he was feeling nervous.
President François Hollande is vowing to impose a 75 percent tax on the portion of anyone’s income above a million euros ($1.24 million) a year. “Should I be preparing to leave the country?” the executive asked Mr. Grandil.
The lawyer’s counsel: Wait and see. For now, at least.
“We’re getting a lot of calls from high earners who are asking whether they should get out of France,” said Mr. Grandil, a partner at Altexis, which specializes in tax matters for corporations and the wealthy. “Even young, dynamic people pulling in 200,000 euros are wondering whether to remain in a country where making money is not considered a good thing.”
A chill is wafting over France’s business class as Mr. Hollande, the country’s first Socialist president since François Mitterrand in the 1980s, presses a manifesto of patriotism to “pay extra tax to get the country back on its feet again.” The 75 percent tax proposal, which Parliament plans to take up in September, is ostensibly aimed at bolstering French finances as Europe’s long-running debt crisis intensifies.
But because there are relatively few people in France whose income would incur such a tax — an estimated 7,000 to 30,000 in a country of 65 million — the gains might contribute but a small fraction of the 33 billion euros in new revenue the government wants to raise next year to help balance the budget.
A gang of thieves dressed as knights and armed with a sword and axe robbed the organisers of a medieval festival in France.
The medieval thieves made off with 20,000 euros (£15,600), according to police.
The theft took place in the early hours of Monday as organisers were counting revenues from the festival in Bitche, near France’s border with Germany, a spokesman for regional police in Lorraine said.
“According to witnesses, there were three or four individuals, masked and wearing medieval attire,” the spokesman said.
They struck one of the organisers with the handle of the axe and escaped with the cash. Police have opened an investigation and interviewed several witnesses, he said.
The “Medievales Europeennes de Bitche” is one of France’s largest festivals of medieval culture and last year was attended by more than 11,000 people.
Hundreds of youngsters took part in a quirky style competition in Berlin on Saturday in which they competed to hurl pairs of horn-rimmed spectacles the furthest and to design the best vintage moustache.
“The Hipster Olympics” – held in Berlin for the second time – both celebrate and mock a trendy subculture that has developed in Germany’s capital, along with other cities such as London or New York, as a counterweight to gentrification.
In one contest, brightly clad teams of three to five tried their luck at tug-of-war, substituting skinny jeans for a rope, while another offbeat task entailed bobbing for bubble tea pearls.
Athletic disciplines tapped into current fads, with one contest forcing youngsters to race across a course on top of crates of a popular carbonated drink.
According to Daniel Zoll, a 28-year-old radio station employee whose team won points for being the fastest racers in canvas bag sacks, hipsters are identifiable by their affinity for consumerism and fashion.
“But a true hipster is someone who doesn’t admit that he’s a hipster,” Zoll quipped, as he adjusted a red headband.
Oh, shut up already…
A 700 year-old skeleton on display at the National History Museum in Bulgaria is thought to be that of a person feared to be a potential vampire.
According to pagan customs at the time, people considered to be bad were stabbed through the heart with an iron rod after death so they could not return as vampires.
Two such skeletons were found at a monastery in the Black Sea city of Sozopol.
But everyone knows it takes a wooden stake to kill vampires…
Future story: “People killed mysteriously at the National History Museum in Bulgaria; no suspects at this time.”
A Toronto computer engineering professor known for augmenting his body with various cyborg-like computing devices has been attracting media attention after he reported on his blog that staff at a McDonald’s restaurant in Paris tried to pull his digital glasses off his head.
The employee was initially satisfied with the doctor’s note Mann showed him explaining why he wears the technology (Mann does not specify what the explanation is), but three other employees who approached him later did not accept the letter and one tried to remove the glasses from his head.
“He angrily grabbed my eyeglass and tried to pull it off my head,” Mann wrote on his blog when describing the actions of one employee. “The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.”
Perhaps the employee was worried that this freak was the vanguard of a Borg invasion.
The town of Angers in France is petitioning Queen Elizabeth II to turn over the Crown Jewels of England because they say that crowns were basically stolen from them about 500 years ago. Angers is the ancestral home of the Plantagenet family that rule England during the War of the Roses back in the 1400s. After that war ended with Richard III’s death, the only one legitimate male that remained in the line of succession was his nephew, Edward. The new Tudor King, Henry VII, would later have Edward executed, solidifying his own claim to the throne and ending the Plantagenet line forever.
Naturally, the people of Angers are still a little ticked about that and started an online campaign for justice. They say in their petition (started on Facebook, of course) that the Crown Jewels should have reverted to them all those years ago, after the “state crime” that robbed the world of the “only one who can legitimately claim to the British throne.” Being reasonable people, they aren’t demanding that the current monarch be paraded through the streets in chains — they just want her stuff. To make up for 513 years worth of pain and suffering.
Spaces in a new car park in the Black Forest town of Triberg now come with male and female symbols. The spaces for women are wider and well lit, while those for men are close to concrete pillars and can only be reversed into.
Explaining the policy, Mayor Gallus Strobel said it was a natural decision because men are better at parking than women.
“In the new car park we found that two place were not rectangular, at an angle to the road and placed between walls and pillars; that makes parking difficult so we decided to allocate them to men,” the 58 year-old mayor told Germany’s Spiegel magazine.
But, he added, that there were great women drivers, and all women were welcome to try and park in the men-only spaces. Mr Strobel, who denies accusations of sexism, also pointed out that 10 spaces were reserved for women as opposed to just two for men.
In an attempt to deflect any charges of sexism Mr Strobel also indicated that the whole affair may be a marketing ploy aimed at drumming up business for the small town of 5,000, more famed for its waterfalls and natural beauty than being a bastion of male chauvinism.
“I never expected this reaction,” he said. “I’ve been on the phone all day, the TV will come. I am happy, and it looks like we’ve hit a raw nerve in society. It’s been a great marketing gimmick.
“Women can come here and prove me wrong, and while they’re at it they can see the town’s attractions,” he added.
Attaboy! Who says Germans lack a sense of humour?
European Jewish and Muslim groups have joined forces to defend circumcision for young boys on religious grounds after a German regional court ruled it amounted to bodily harm.
A joint statement says the practice is fundamental to their faiths and calls for it to be awarded legal protection.
The ruling by the Cologne court – also criticised by the Israeli parliament – does not apply to the whole of Germany.
But Germany’s Medical Association told doctors not to perform circumcisions.
Liberal democracy will always eventually choke on its own internal contradictions; in this case freedom of religion bumps up against popular prejudice against a practice increasingly held to violate the human rights of those to whom it is done; minority cultural values bump up against those of the majority. So it goes…
The politico-cultural foundation of the constitution, as enshrined in its preamble, can be summarized by three words: God, homeland, and family.
The preamble starts with a reference to the first line of Hungary’s old national anthem, which asks God to bless the Hungarian people. Although the constitution itself clearly embodies the principle of separation of church and state, it also refers to their cooperation. And despite recognizing the country’s various religious traditions, it explicitly mentions the Christian roots of Europe, as well as the role of Christianity in the history of the Hungarian nation.
The new constitution says that a marriage is solely a union of a man and a woman, and furthermore, that Hungary protects the family as the basis of the nation.
The last controversial element in the constitution is the issue of nationhood. A foreign observer should know that Hungarian political life is rather historically conditioned. This means that despite the prevalence of familiar pragmatic or ideological issues in the country’s political debates—such as the role of the market and state, questions of human rights, and so forth—the main dividing lines are not those that are well-known in Western Europe. Rather, Hungarian political life is seen only in relation to religious tradition and in the context of an interpretation of Hungary’s past—mainly that of the 20th century.
The constitution, for example, proudly mentions Saint Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state and the first King of Hungary (1000-1038). It also makes explicit reference to other great forebears of the country, and makes note of the intellectual and spiritual unity of the nation, which is the patrimony of every Hungarian citizen, and which was torn apart by the ideological movements and international conflicts of the 20th century.
(See also Svar’s previous post at Patriactionary.)
Prostitutes in Sweden who pay taxes should have the right to sick pay, according to new guidelines being drawn up by the National Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).
In Sweden, while it’s illegal to buy sex, it is not illegal to sell it.
But the social insurance agency has previously lacked clear rules outlining what social benefits are available to prostitutes who are registered as sole proprietors and pay taxes in Sweden.
BTW, how can it be legal to sell a good or service, if the purchase of such a good or service, is deemed illegal? That makes no rational sense; aren’t the moneys obtained from such sales, the proceeds of a criminal activity, i.e. the buying of it? Then why isn’t such counted as aiding and abetting a crime / living off the proceeds of a crime? What a bizarre, irrational law. Crazy fricking Swedes…
If the euro zone gets caught in a deflationary spiral, real European interest rates will rise and the euro will tend to appreciate.
Under this scenario, Eurozone exports become increasingly less competitive against American exports. At the same time, the struggling European economy will likely reduce it oil imports.
This creates dual positive pressure for the United States which would see cheaper energy at the same time as more robust demand for manufactured goods.