Thursday, July 3, 2008

Overtime Hours Up 40 Percent

Overtime was up 40 percent in the first quarter of 2008 compared with the same period a year ago. Whether or not this increase can be imputed to the detaxation of overtime is a question that will have to be sorted out by econometricians, but the news is certainly good for the government, which is trumpeting it as such.

Miliband Backs Sarkozy

Judah Grunstein calls attention to UK foreign minister David Miliband's announcement of support for Sarko's common EU defense policy. Does it have anything to do with the award of the contract to dismantle the asbestos-laden carrier Clemenceau to a British firm? Grunstein merely notes the coincidence.

In any case, "Mr Miliband said it would avoid the danger of Europe waiting 'impotently' until America and Nato were ready to intervene in trouble-spots." Another convenient coincidence. Indeed, with Gordon Brown sinking rapidly--"he is toast," a recent visitor to England with close Labour Party ties reported to me--Miliband is a top contender for the leadership, but owing to his past association with the Blairites he needs to shed the "Bush's poodle" identification. What better way than to hype EU defense as a means to independence from America, even if it means throwing in one's lot with the man whom some regard (wrongly in my view) as the new hyperpower lapdog? Miliband and Sarkozy can serve each other's interests--and mutual interests are of course the best bond in any alliance. Here we have the basis of a new Entente Cordiale.

To See Ourselves as Others See Us

Hat tip to Boz for calling my attention to Der Spiegel's take on the Betancourt release:

There's a second loser in this drama: Nicolas Sarkozy. The French appeared to have been just as surprised as Chavez to hear about Betancourt's release on Wednesday. Paris had only just managed to establish fresh contact with the new FARC leader Alfonso Cano. Sarkozy had hoped that the French could score a coup by negotiating Betancourt's release and flying her directly to Paris. Colombian government officials had spoken reproachingly about what they often deemed to be politically motivated attempts at intervention on the part of the French.


At Marianne, no surprise, Nicolas Domenach is not inclined to cut Sarko any slack:

Nicolas Sarkozy croit à la contagion du bonheur pour faire face aux mauvaises ondes et à la tyrannie du malheur. Le moral se vitamine d'un rien. Les Dieux se retournent d'un souffle. A condition de savoir prendre le vent, d'être capable de démultiplier la force et l'impact du positif dans les têtes comme dans les cœurs. Et ça, le «médiacteur» Sarkozy, sait faire - mieux que personne. Il a donné, feuilletonné, une nouvelle preuve de son talent, dans une mise en scène faite non pas d'hystérie auto-promotionnelle cette fois, mais toute d'émotion, d'amour, de joie, de larmes retenues. Pas de triomphalisme, surtout pas, même si certains conseillers y poussaient. Genre, Vive Sarko le libérateur des infirmières bulgares à Ingrid Betancourt. Gloire à notre Zorro national. C'était risqué et pouvait passer pour obscène. Il valait mieux jouer le familial fusionnel. C'était à la télé hier soir…


But the harshest comment of all comes from Marc Cohen at Causeur:

L’abominable calvaire qu’a vécu Ingrid Betancourt lui a été imposé par son statut de micro-vedette des médias, pas par ses idéaux. Certes il est possible que son exfiltration ait un impact sur les affaires intérieures colombiennes (mais, en vrai, qu’est-ce qu’on s’en fiche ?) ; en revanche, il est certain qu’à l’échelle planétaire, cet heureux dénouement c’est peanuts. Pardonnez-moi de gâcher la fête, mais cette libération-là n’est pas celle de Sakharov ou de Mandela. Il est vrai que, dans ces deux cas, TF1 n’avait pas jugé impératif d’interrompre ses programmes.


Me? I'm glad she's out. I'm equally glad that her suffering will no longer be exploited.