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Fri, 06 Dec 2019
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France paralyzed by largest general strike in decades - Hundreds of demonstrations take place against Macron's pension reforms

Comment: Nobody strikes like the French. When they strike, they strike EVERYWHERE!

The last time they went on strike like this, they forced president Chirac to back down from implementing... neo-liberal 'pension reform'.

Will Macron back down this time around though? The unions are threatening to keep it up right through Christmas if they have to...

strikes in France
In what appears to be the biggest disruption to French society since the gilets jaunes demonstrators nearly torched Paris last year, public workers across the country stayed home on Thursday, immobilizing public transit across the country as the first general strike in more than 20 years began.

The walkout was called by unions angry at President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms (not unlike how a planned - then scrapped - gas tax hike sparked the gilets jaunes).

On the fist day of the strike, parts of Paris resembled a ghost town during what are typically busy morning-commute hours. Roads were empty, and train stations were deserted, according to the Times of London.

The biggest industrial action of Macron's tenure is, so far, staggering in scale: 50% of French teachers are off work, nine out of ten trains were cancelled and eleven of the fourteen underground lines in Paris are closed. A total of 245 separate demonstrations have been announced across France as students, firefighters, healthcare workers and others joining in. Strikes at Air France forced a wave of flight cancellations, leaving thousands of travelers scrambling for a workaround. Air France cancelled 30% of its domestic flights and 10% of international short- and medium-haul flights on Thursday, RT reports.

Comment: What a turnout. Here's the workers' march in Toulouse:

The CGT union estimates that 1.5 million people hit the streets nationwide - despite there being no public transport. And French media is reporting that 69% of the country supports the strike.

Things got hot by the day's end however:

The firefighters union's intervention couldn't prevent battles breaking out between police and protesters, or 'casseurs' (vandals), as the French govt refers to both Black Bloc Antifa anarchist types and legitimate protesters...

In the city of Nantes, riot police tear-gassed the workers' march:

But the main action took place in Paris this evening:

It looks like it's going to be another long seething winter in France.


Jeffery Epstein accuser says 'erotic sex in front of everyone was as normal as cup of tea' during bombshell interview

sarah ransome
© BBC One
ONE of Jeffrey Epstein's victims has told how the paedophile started having "full erotic sex" in front of everyone on his private jet that was "like making a cup of tea" in the bombshell Panorama special tonight.

Victim Sarah Ransome, who was abused by the convicted sex offender, also accused "madam" Ghislaine Maxwell of treating the women like "s*** on her shoe".

Epstein's ex-girlfriend Maxwell is accused of procuring girls for sex with Epstein and his friends.

Ms Ransome told how she took a private jet to Epstein's private island in the Caribbean.

Last night's BBC Panorama documentary also revealed: She said: "On the plane he started having full erotic sex in front of the entire plane.

"I thought I was the mad one because everyone else found it completely normal, it was like making a cup of tea."

Comment: If there's one good thing to come out of the Epstein scandal, it's the fact that more and more people are coming to realize that their leaders are liars, they cover up their crimes and debauchery, and generally you can't trust the authorities to do anything about it, because chances are they're involved or 'compromised' in one way or another. At least that's progress!


Paul Joseph Watson: The infantilization of popular culture

The Infantilization of Popular Culture
Why are superhero movies so popular?

Comment: While Watson's critiques of society and temporary culture appear to be largely on point, Dan Sanchez of the Foundation For Economic Freedom has recently had some interesting things to say about the Marvel superhero movies in particular - at least as they may compare to Martin Scorsese's own recent comments about them, and his own new film 'The Irishman'.
Why the Marvel Movies Are Better than Scorsese's "The Irishman"

Stories don't need to be realistic to be great.

After binge-eating Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers, you might be up for some binge-watching this holiday weekend. You have a cornucopia of choices, depending on your streaming service of choice. For example, if you're on the new Disney+, you could feast on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

But would that be the cinematic equivalent of gorging on empty-calorie junk food? According to recent remarks by iconic director Martin Scorsese, the Marvel movies don't even qualify as cinema, which would make them more akin to quasi-food products like SNL's "Almost Pizza."

Should you dine on something more nutritious instead? If you have a Netflix password, you could stream Scorsese's latest work. The Irishman is, according to Wikipedia, an "epic crime film" that, at three and a half hours, would qualify as a standalone binge-watch. Presumably it should have the essential cinematic ingredients that Scorsese finds missing in Marvel's fare.

Which is the better choice?

Superheroes or Mobsters?

I recently rewatched all 23 interconnected movies of the MCU, which Marvel calls "the Infinity Saga." I also watched The Irishman on the day of its release, right before Thanksgiving. Pound-for-pound, for my palette, Marvel's epic is vastly better than Scorsese's. I would also argue that it not only tastes better, but it is better for you.

Admittedly, I'm biased. I read superhero comics growing up. If you didn't, or if Francis Ford Coppola's wonderful film The Godfather was deeply formative for you, but not Richard Donner's Superman (a childhood favorite of mine), than The Irishman may suit your taste better.

I would simply insist that if you choose to enjoy Marvel's megafranchise, you shouldn't feel ashamed or "low-brow." The MCU is not a guilty indulgence, but its own kind of culinary masterpiece.

Moreover, The Irishman is not necessarily high cuisine. For me it was more like a pretentious microwave dinner, like Healthy Choice's Beef Merlot, containing reheated mafia tropes that miss the flavors and nutrients of earlier classics.


The Irishman isn't all bad. It has things to say about friendship, fatherhood, loyalty, and morality that are of some value. But ultimately it fails by Scorsese's own standards. In his critique of Marvel in The New York Times, he wrote:
For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves.
Cinema, then, is about revelation and character depth. I'm no movie expert, but I can go along with that. Yet try as I might, I could find little of either in The Irishman.

Take the protagonist Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro. This is his character arc, such as it is (mild spoilers below):
  • As a young man, he is a truck driver who eagerly becomes a petty thief for a mob family.
  • He develops lifelong gratitude and loyalty to the mob boss who brings him and acts as his benefactor (Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci).
  • We learn that he fought in World War II and came out of it a dedicated moral nihilist. As such, he graduates smoothly from thief to hitman.
  • His eldest daughter becomes distant over the brutality of his occupation. That bothers him, but not enough to influence his conduct whatsoever.
  • Frank is briefly torn between loyalties, yet murders one of his dearest friends without too much fuss anyway.
  • At the end of his long life, he is melancholy and alone, having alienated his family, and yet he expresses vanishingly little grief or remorse for anything he's done.
Not once did the character experience any profound revelation or come "face to face" with himself. At most, he mumbles a grudging expression of regret. Far from being "complex," "contradictory," or "paradoxical," Frank proves himself to be a consistent lifelong sociopath who only rarely manifests the faintest flicker of human decency.

With such a dreary character study grinding on for three and a half hours, it is no wonder I often found myself bored. Worse, I found it unenlightening. Stories of tragic heroes or antiheroes, if done well, can be unrelentingly bleak and yet fascinating and edifying at the same time. Not so with The Irishman. With such a stunted character arc, there was very little to behold or learn from in the life and times of Frank Sheeran.

Iron Man & Irishman

Contrast that with the character arc of Tony Stark, the foremost protagonist of Marvel's Infinity Saga, as electrically portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. Even if you take only the first MCU movie, 2008's Iron Man directed by Jon Favreau, the character exhibits far more complexity and undergoes far more revelation than Irishman's Frank Sheeran.

We first meet Tony as a devil-may-care playboy and cynical war-profiteer. Even his best friend rebukes him for being "constitutionally incapable of being responsible."

While traversing a war zone, he banters with starstruck soldiers in his military escort. But then the convoy is attacked and the young troops he befriended are all slaughtered. Just before a shell detonates in his face, he sees his company's brand — his own namesake — emblazoned on it.

He wakes up in a cave, a captive of terrorists armed with his own weapons, one of which riddled his chest with shrapnel that, upon reaching his heart, will kill him.

Faced with the prospect of imminent death followed by a bloodstained legacy, Tony rallies. He cobbles together a miniature reactor that holds the shrapnel at bay and a reactor-powered super-suit that he uses to vanquish his captors and escape.

After returning to civilization, he renounces the military industrial complex and, as Iron Man, dedicates his genius to saving the world, starting with cleaning up the messes his own weapons have made.

In Iron Man, Tony faced a profound moral reckoning. His past choices dropped a literal bomb on his life, and he could no longer mentally shrug off responsibility, because that bomb literally had his name on it. This plunged him into the underworld. But he emerged from his personal hell transformed. The irresponsible cynic had died and was reborn a super-responsible hero.

Now that is revelation. That is a character coming face-to-face with himself.

In Defense of Fantasy

Yes, it's unrealistic in a sense, especially compared to gritty crime dramas like The Irishman. Nobody could build a working miniature reactor in a cave. And the lessons of life don't come so neatly packaged and clearly labeled as a bomb with your name on it.

But what anti-fantasy snobs miss is that stories don't need to be realistic to be great: to not only be entertaining, but profoundly edifying.

As in the ancient myths of gods, monsters, and legendary heroes, fantasy can free a story to be symbolic, archetypal, and more real in a deeper sense, in that it grandly conveys universal truths about the human condition.

No, you will never need to build your own superhero suit to escape a terrorist's cave and to right your past wrongs. But you will probably have a "dark night of the soul" at some point in your life: maybe several. And the only way you will be able to dig yourself out of it is by taking up responsibility: by reckoning with your own past contributions to your present predicament and changing your future life direction accordingly.

That is the moral truth that Iron Man's origin story speaks to. It's a message that audiences pick up on some level, even if they can't articulate it. And it's a message that rings true, because it jibes with human nature, and therefore with human experience. That's why so many find Tony's heroic journey so thrilling, while other superhero movies (ahem, DC) with comparable pyrotechnics leave them flat.

A True Saga

Astoundingly, Tony Stark's character arc continued to be fascinating and edifying throughout several films (with different creative teams) across the whole "Infinity Saga."

Each film added new layers to Tony's complexity. He didn't attain perfection in that cave. Following the events in The Avengers (2012), his newfound sense of responsibility became overgrown and distorted, contributing to a debilitating case of post-traumatic stress disorder in Iron Man 3 (2013) and even disastrously warping him into a semi-tyrannical control freak in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Captain America: Civil War (2016).

But by Avengers: Endgame (2019), the climax of the Infinity Saga, his most heroic traits triumphantly returned to the fore. In that film, several character arc threads (relating to such grand themes as guilt, redemption, family, and sacrifice) that began 11 years earlier in Iron Man are tied up beautifully. It is no wonder that, as my colleague Sean Malone posted on Facebook:
...every time I went to see that film in the theaters... People cried.

They also laughed, and cheered, and booed, and gasped, and did *all* the things good art should compel an audience to do.
And for the record, as much as I love the character, Tony Stark isn't even my favorite Avenger. I found the story of Steve Rogers (Captain America) even more emotionally and morally impactful (but that's for another article).

Mythic Cinema

Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors of Endgame as well as other MCU movies, responded trenchantly to Scorsese's critiques in an interview with Hollywood Reporter:
"When we look at the box office [of] Avengers: Endgame, we don't see that as a signifier of financial success, we see it as a signifier of emotional success," says Joe of the film, which earned $2.78 billion globally. "It's a movie that had an unprecedented impact on audiences around the world in the way that they shared that narrative and the way that they experienced it. And the emotions they felt watching it."
Scorsese has noted that he has tried to watch a few Marvel films, but quickly abandoned them. The Russos note it's challenging to have a dialogue about cinema if the acclaimed director hasn't seen the films he is talking about.
The creative and commercial minds behind Marvel's Infinity Saga have weaved a 23-film mega-story that over 11 years has brought joy, inspiration, and catharsis to millions. That is a staggering feat of cinema.

So don't be ashamed if a superhero movie succeeds with you: if it wins over some of your time and money, if it moves you emotionally, if it inspires you to become a better person. Fantasy stories about larger-than-life heroes and adventures have been nourishing souls since the dawn of civilization.

Loving modern myths doesn't mean you're low-brow. It just means you're human.

Dan Sanchez is the Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and the editor of FEE.org.


'Mr. Men' children's characters in WOKE firing line, publisher stands ground against manufactured outrage

Mr Man
© Egmont UK
It seems a week doesn't pass without someone digging up culture from the past and throwing in onto the pyre of politically incorrect things. Called 'Mr. Men', one famous British book and TV series is just asking for trouble.

The books were written by English author Roger Hargreaves in 1971, with the Little Miss series following 10 years later. The books have sold more than 100 million copies across 28 countries, featuring the popular characters Mr. Tickle, Little Miss Chatterbox, Mr. Rude, and many others.

Fast forward to 'everything is offensive 2019', and a student of feminist issues from Glasgow, Shelby Judge, shared a picture of the book on social media with the over-the-top heading "Mr Mansplain."

People 2

Is it misogynistic to buy your wife a $2k exercise bike? Just ask the BBC

© Youtube / Peloton
The latest Twitter storm to strike involves the maker of an exercise bike who dared to target women customers in online ad campaign.

Thank St Nicholas for the mainstream media and the army of Twitter feminists for saving men across the world from yet more accusations of being sexist pigs this Christmas.

Anyone thinking of wrapping an exercise bike in a ribbon and giving it to their female partner, family member or friend has been safely warned away from that unforgivable blunder.

Imagine Peloton trying to sell its exercise bicycles and online spin classes to women! What were they thinking? It's like shouting "you're fat and you're ugly" into the face of anyone who is lucky enough to be gifted one of their $2,000 exercise machines along with on-demand cycling programs.

The online advert featured a grateful owner of a Peloton bike making a video for her husband which shows how her health and fitness has changed over the course of one year, and saying: "A year ago, I didn't realise how much this would change me."

Tired of finding real people for whom they can take offense, some Twitter users are looking for fictional beings, actors, and actresses on YouTube adverts who will give them a reason to pump out guff on social media.

Eye 2

India: Woman's charred body found in West Bengal's Malda; rape suspected

Demonstrators hold placards to protest against sexual assaults
Demonstrators hold placards to protest against sexual assaults women in Kolkata on December 4.
In a rerun of the Hyderabad veterinary doctor's murder, a young woman's charred body was found in a mango orchard in West Bengal's Malda district on Thursday, raising suspicion that she was raped and killed, a senior police officer said.

The body has suffered severe burns, making it difficult to ascertain the woman's identity, deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Prasanta Debnath said.

Local farmers spotted the body in English Bazar Police Station area in the morning, following which they raised an alarm, the DCP, who visited the site along with Superintendent of Police Alok Rajoria, said.

"Prima facie it seems that the victim is in her early 20s. Her body has several injury marks. We have sent it for post-mortem to Malda medical college," he said, adding that a probe has been initiated in the case.

Sources in the police department said that initial investigations indicated she was raped and strangulated to death and her body set on fire.

Comment: What the hell is going on in India that so many of these stories of kidnapping, rape and murder of women is occurring with such frequency?!

And only too seldom to do we here of one of these horrific attempts being prevented:
A dramatic car chase in Kolkata, India ended with the arrest of a man who had abducted a woman and tied her up in the back of his truck. The suspect has been charged with kidnapping and attempted rape.

Police were tipped off about the suspicious truck by a civic volunteer, who reportedly heard groans of a woman coming from the vehicle's cabin while patrolling on his motorcycle. The truck sped away when the volunteer patrolman tried to confront its driver.

A high speed chase ensued. Police struggled to keep up with the truck, which was zigzagging across lanes on a state highway. The suspect reportedly even tried to ram several police cars. But the police managed to overtake the truck at an intersection.

A woman in her mid-30s - reportedly deaf and mute - was found behind the driver's seat, with her hands and legs tied. She was taken to a local hospital for medical examination. Police believe the truck driver spotted her on the street and forced her into his vehicle.


Israeli police thwart ISIS terror attack in Jerusalem

police thwart ISIS
© Police Spokesperson's Unit
Israel Police arrest two ISIS members in east Jerusalem.
Ahmed Jabbis, 21, and Basel Abidat, 19, were arrested based on concrete intelligence about their planned attacks.

Israel Police released footage on Wednesday of the arrests of two residents of the southeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber who were indicted on terrorism charges in a Jerusalem court on Sunday after they allegedly planned terrorist attacks on military and civilian targets on behalf of Islamic State in Jerusalem on Independence Day.

"On the night of October 28, 2019, dozens of Border Police officers raided two houses simultaneously in the village of Jebl Mukaber," said an undercover Border Police officer who oversaw the operation. "This was a planned operation. We had information about the location of the accused, and as soon as conditions allowed, we detained them.

"According to the indictment, Jabbis and Abidat were active on ISIS-affiliated websites beginning in 2016, which spread the group's religious and political messages as well as provide instructions on how to assemble bombs to carry out attacks.

Comment: Considering the large amount of material and logistical support that groups like ISIS have received in Syria and Iraq from Israel, and considering that ISIS tends to apologize to Israel when their bombs mistakenly hit known Israeli positions inside of Syria, one wonders whether or not this whole story has been concocted, FBI-style, to further "legitimize" Israel's incarceration of its Arab/Palestinian population in the name of self defense.

See also:

Brick Wall

'Shadow banning' written into Twitter's new terms of service, may 'limit visibility' of some users

twitter logo
© Reuters / Dado Ruvic
Twitter's new terms of service will allow the platform to "shadow ban" users - secretly suppressing their content. While critics have long suspected the company of doing it, the new rules appear to make the practice official.

Taking effect in January 2020, Twitter's new terms initially don't look like much to write home about, but some tweaks to the language could have larger repercussions for users, limiting their reach behind the scenes without their knowledge.

"We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you," the new terms state (emphasis added).

Comment: See also:

Shopping Bag

Is race-based pricing a Canadian value?

VIA rail Canada
© The Canadian Press
Via Rail Canada offers discounts on train tickets to Indigenous people.
Via Rail's Indigenous ticketing policy is unprecedented, socially divisive and plainly unfair

Everyone loves a bargain. Senior discounts. Children discounts. Family rates. Special promotions of this sort are so common we barely notice them.

But what if instead of age or family situation, a company started offering discounts based on race? Would that seem fair or proper? It's not a hypothetical question.

Cloud Lightning

Why climate alarmism hurts us all

climate alarmist celebrities
© Getty Images
Climate alarmism may be contributing to rising anxiety and depression among teenagers. (From left to right: Girl from Extinction Rebellion ad, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lauren Jeffrey, Emma Thompson, Ellie Goulding).
In July of this year, one of Lauren Jeffrey's science teachers made an off-hand comment about how climate change could be apocalyptic. Jeffrey is 17 years old and attends high school in Milton Keynes, a city of 230,000 people about 50 miles northwest of London.

"I did research on it and spent two months feeling quite anxious," she told me. "I would hear young people around me talk about it and they were convinced that the world was going to end and they were going to die."

In September, British psychologists warned of the impact on children of apocalyptic discussions of climate change. "There is no doubt in my mind that they are being emotionally impacted," one expert said.

Comment: You know the climate alarmists have gone too far when the IPCC is the voice of reason. Despite the fact that the entire anthropogenic global warming narrative is a complete scam, it's good to see that at least some within the movement, like the above author, are calling for cooler heads (pun intended).

See also: