Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What a piece of work is that M. Sarkozy! Only a week after claiming that France (i. e. himself) had singlehandedly saved the eurozone, he's now making threats to breach several EU policies in order to impress far-right voters and save his domestic scalp. Little wonder that one German paper yesterday declared that "France is as baffling as ever".

In contrast, Sr. Rajoy is coming in for more plaudits, not only for securing Spain some breathing space as regards the 2012 deficit challenge, but also for "pointing out the elephant in the room: the eurozone is a monetary union, not a political one, and if members want to run their own affairs, neither Brussels nor Berlin can stop them." In doing so, "Madrid has stirred a radical retaliation of 'sinner states' against the northern putsch for austerity and central control."

Ironically, the country which may be first to follow this Spanish precedent might not be from the 'garlic belt' but from the group of northern countries who pushed hard for the fiscal pact. Would you believe Holland? There, the government is talking about a 2012 deficit of 4.5% of GDP, which contrasts with the forecast of 2.5% and the EU ceiling of 3.0%. Go above this and you get automatically fined. "Most analysts agree that the Dutch economy is fundamentally sound and that a dogmatic application of the new eurozone rules next year would do much more damage than good." So, why have them? Are they only applicable to economies judged to be fundamentally unsound? And will there be one (non)rule for northern states and another for southern states? I think we should be told.

Anyway . . . It'll come as no surprise to anyone living in Spain that noise is - by a long chalk - the most common cause of disputes between neighbours, followed by non-payment of community charges. Japan is usually said to take the global number one slot but I have doubts about this and see it as a function of densely-packed living. I, of course, have Nice-but-Noisy Toni on the other side of our shared wall. But, in truth, I find him quite tolerable. Especially when he goes away to sea for six weeks.

As I predicted - it wasn't exactly difficult - neither Mourinho nor Guardiola has any interest at all in the Chelsea job. And I don't suppose tonight's surprise victory will make any difference at all.

John Makepeace is said to be the father of British furniture design. I can't help feeling it would've been better if his surname had been Makepiece. You can see his (rather interesting) stuff here.

PC News: A group of academics advising the UN, has said that Dante's Divine Comedy is 'offensive and discriminatory' in the way it portrays punishments for Jews, Muslims and homosexuals. So it shouldn't be offered for undiluted consumption in schools. I wonder what they'd say about the Qur'an.

Finally . . . Manos Limpias (Clean Hands) is an 'independent right wing union' in Spain. It was the organisation which brought two of the three cases against the celebrated judge, Báltasar Garzón. In a development full of irony, its leader has been indicted for fraud.

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