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About “Fleabag”, Corbin’s government and Kenneth Clark’s tandoori



I FINALLY FOUND TO watch a few episodes of Fleabag to figure out what all the fuss is about. Some good scenes, I thought, and a gorgeously hideous character with a beard, but other than that, not impressive. The transgression of conventions (addressing the camera, graphic sexual innuendos, sleeping with a priest) was tediously commonplace; the sentimentality, especially about the pet hamster, was cloying… “Fleabag” and the hype surrounding “Fleabag” is nevertheless interesting for sociological reasons: it demonstrates the annexation of another area of ​​British life, the self-worship of the upper middle classes.

Comedy used to be a fairly working-class thing. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the upper classes (including Edward VII) went to music halls to listen to the songs and jokes of the working class. Many of the giants of post-war comedy, such as Eric Morecambe and Les Dawson (pictured left), came from northern working class backgrounds and were recognized for their talents in workers’ clubs and local talent competitions. The Carry On films sold a lewd marine postcard while scathingly criticizing the claims of British professionals (Carry On Doctor is a masterpiece of doctoral deflation).

“Fleabag” is to comedy what Coldplay is to music: a demonstration that another redoubt of the working class has been completely conquered by the professional class. Fleabag’s parents live in a huge house with a garden the size of a garden. Her sister is a high-ranking leader. While she’s a little weeded out, she’s weeded out in a way that only highly privileged people can be: she runs a (tediously goofy) coffee shop and comes to work when she wants to. This is how it should be. People should write about what they know, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (pictured right), the author of the series, is a descendant of baronets and a product of St. Augustine’s Priory, a posh Catholic school. But this is yet another example of British social closure as a tiny elite take over more and more areas of British life and then congratulate themselves on how brilliantly they break the rules.

The popular explanation for this great social insularity is that it is stuck in it: a tiny clique of heavily connected metropolitan liberals seize control of the machinery of cultural production and then toss a few trinkets to select minorities to convince everyone (including themselves) that Britain is still is a society of opportunity. But I fear the explanation may be darker: as the working class shrinks and loses its cultural self-confidence, working-class institutions such as workers’ clubs are dying. The modern day equivalents of Les Dawson or the Carry On Team have nowhere to learn their craft, while the Phoebe Waller-Bridges of this world drift from independent schools to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, convinced they are upending social conventions and attitudes. world on the right.


PEOPLE are finally starting to take seriously the possibility of a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party. Mr Corbyn’s impressive performance in the last general election in 2017 was largely written off as a protest vote: Part of the rest of England voted for Mr Corbyn precisely because they thought he had no hope of a real victory. Now that the Conservative Party is determined to destroy itself and the Brexit-related unrest is on the rise, people are seriously concerned.

Companies are calculating exactly what a far-left government will mean and are preparing to act accordingly. Foreign powers are starting to think seriously about what they would do if Britain were led by a man whose basic foreign policy principle is: “Whatever America does, I’m against it.” Israelis are terrified at the prospect of a British prime minister who supported Hamas, a militant Islamist group in Palestine, and pandered to anti-Semites within his party. I suspect that fear of a government led by Corbyn will soon become a major force in British politics – and not just a vague theoretical fear, but a real and living fear. People want to move. Money wants to run. Foreign powers will prepare for the worst.


The BRITISH political system is almost perfectly set up to make leaving the European Union (EU) a mess. The system is hostile: the ruling party confronts the opposition across a yawning chasm, and politicians yell at each other. But leaving the EU requires a series of difficult compromises in the middle. The system is also designed to solve the problem and move on to something else: each side expresses its position, the parliament is divided, and then you move on. But leaving the EU requires, above all, perseverance: you have to deal with the same problem week after week. It’s like cutting down a tree with a hammer. This structural problem will only get worse when (and if) Parliament moves from a withdrawal agreement to the more laborious task of shaping our future trade relationship with the EU.

Kenneth Clarke, who is surprisingly good at balancing his dual roles as Tory grandee and regular guy, recently gave a lengthy interview with The New York Times magazine. guardians in which he said that every Tuesday night he went to the Kennington Tandoori by himself to have a curry and read a copy Economist. My colleague dined in that same Tandoori last Tuesday. Indeed, Mr. Clark was sitting alone on the windowsill, diligently going through his copy of Economist. When he left, his place was taken by Ann Widdecombe, a former colleague of Clark’s who had just left the Tory to join Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. My colleague cannot be entirely sure, but he does not think that Miss Widdecombe read Economist.

Image Credits: REX/Shutterstock/BBC


The “peace dividend” has ended in Europe. Now for the hard compromises.



In the 30 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the trillions of dollars that were directed towards Cold War armies and weapons systems have gradually been directed towards healthcare, housing and schools.

This era of security giving way to trade and economic growth came to an abrupt end with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

“The Dividends of the World Disappeared” Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund recently said, referring to the mountains of cash released by the reduction of military budgets. “Defence spending must rise.”

The urgent need to deal with a brutal and unpredictable Russia forced European leaders to undertake painful budget decisions that will have a huge impact on people’s daily lives. Do they spend more on howitzers or hospitals, tanks or teachers, rockets or roads? And how to pay for it: raise taxes or borrow more? Or both?

The sudden security demands, which will last long after the end of the war in Ukraine, come at a time when huge costs are also required to care for a rapidly aging population, as well as to prevent potentially catastrophic climate change. The European Union’s ambitious goal of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050 alone is estimated at between $175 billion and $250 billion a year over the next 27 years.

“The cost to Europe will be huge, and that doesn’t even include the green transition,” said Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard. “The entire European social safety net is very vulnerable to these big needs.” Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, social spending has skyrocketed, with Denmark doubling its spending on healthcare between 1994 and 2022 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentwhile the UK increased its spending by over 90 percent.

During the same period, Poland more than doubled its funding for culture and recreation programs. Germany has increased investment in the economy. The Czech Republic has increased the budget for education.

Military spending by European members North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Canada bottomed out in 2014 when demand for battle tanks, fighter jets and submarines plummeted. After Russia annexed Crimea that same year, budgets began to rise again, but most countries still fell short of the NATO target of 2 percent of national production.

“End peace dividend is a big gap,” said Daniel Dayanu, chairman fiscal Council in Romania and former finance minister.

Before war broke out in Ukraine, military spending by European NATO members was expected to reach nearly $1.8 trillion by 2026, up 14% over five years. research from McKinsey & Company. Now, spending is estimated to rise from 53 percent to 65 percent.

This means that hundreds of billions of dollars that could otherwise be used to, say, invest in bridge and highway repairs, child care, cancer research, refugee resettlement, or community bands, are expected to be redirected to the military.

Last week, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that military spending in Europe fell last year. largest annual increase for three decades. And the fundraiser is just getting started.

Demand for military spending will be shown on Wednesday when European Union Trade Commissioner Thierry Breton is expected to discuss his study tour to determine whether European countries and arms manufacturers can produce one million 155mm rounds for Ukraine this year. year, and how to increase production.

Poland pledged to spend 4 percent of its national production on defense. The German defense minister has asked for an additional $11 billion next year, which means a 20 percent increase in military spending. French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to increase military spending by more than a third by 2030 and “transform” the French nuclear army.

Some analysts argue that, at times, cuts in the military budget have been so significant as to jeopardize basic readiness. And polls have shown that there is public support for increasing military spending, as evidenced by the dramatic change in Finland and Sweden’s desire to join NATO.

But in most of Europe, the painful budgetary compromises or tax increases that will be required have not yet touched daily life. Much of last year’s belt-tightening that hit households was the result of soaring energy prices and soaring inflation.

Since then, the playing field has changed. “France has entered a war economy, which I am sure we will be in for a long time,” Mr. Macron said in a speech shortly after announcing his spending plan.

But the key question of how to pay for a life-changing change in national priorities remains. For example, in France, government spending as a percentage of the economy is 1.4 trillion euros ($1.54 trillion), the highest in Europe. Of this, almost half was spent on the generous national social safety net, which includes unemployment benefits and pensions. Debt has also risen since the pandemic. Nevertheless, Mr. Macron vowed not to raise one of the highest tax levels in Europe, fearing to scare off investors.

Debates about competing priorities are also playing out in other capitals across the region, even if no trade-offs are explicitly mentioned.

In the UK on the same day in March that the government released a budget that included $6.25 billion increase in military spending, teachers, doctors and transport workers joined the strike over wages and working conditions. It was just one in a series of strikes by civil servants who have complained that underfunding, double-digit inflation and the effects of the pandemic have damaged essential services such as healthcare, transportation and education. The budget included $4.1 billion increase for National Health Center for the same two year period.

Romania, which has been increasing its national debt for years, has pledged to increase military spending by 0.5 percent of national production this year. And this month, he agreed to buy an undisclosed amount Fighter F-35, with a list price of $80 million apiece. While this increase will enable the country to meet NATO’s budget target, it will undermine efforts to meet debt limits established by the European Union.

The shift in public spending is perhaps most striking in Germany, where defense spending fell sharply after the reunification of the former East and West German nations in 1990.

“Defence has always been a place to save money because it wasn’t very popular,” said Hubertus Bardt, managing director of the Institute for German Economics.

Germany, the largest and most powerful economy in Europe, consistently allocated less money to the army as a percentage of gross domestic product than either France or Britain.

Thishistorical turning point,German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said when he announced a $112 billion special defense fund last year. However, this pot of money did not include any expenses for ammunition. And when the fund is depleted, Germany will need to find an additional $38 billion to match its NATO partners.

Mr. Rogoff, a Harvard economist, said most Europeans have not yet realized how big the long-term consequences of the vanishing peace dividend will be. This is a new reality, he said, “and governments will have to figure out how to balance the situation.”

Melissa Eddy another Lara Jakes made a report.

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Middle Ages accused of illegal destruction of trade unions



The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board applied complaint On Tuesday, Medieval Times management is accused of an illegal scheme to undermine union support at a castle in Buena Park, California.

Last year, workers at the castle launched a union campaign to improve pay and working conditions by collecting signed union tickets from showrunners, knight riders and grooms. A petition was later circulated in which some of the workers who had signed the union cards requested that they be withdrawn.

The complaint alleges that the theater chain’s training and development director played a direct role in these efforts to torpedo the union by offering guidance on the petition and encouraging workers to withdraw their support.

Workers can ask to have their union cards revoked if they change their mind, but it is illegal for management to be involved in such actions because it could lead to coercion.

“We’ve had to deal with months of near-constant union busting from the Medieval Times.”

– Erin Zapcic, Queen of Buena Park Castle

The union, the Entertainers Guild of America (AGVA), filed a lawsuit with the NLRB accusing the Medieval Times of violating the law through the petition. The complaint, released on Tuesday, means that NLRB officials have looked into the union’s claims and found them to be valid. If Medieval Times refuses to reach an agreement on a case, it will go to court.

The AGVA won the election anyway, 27 to 18, making the supposedly illegal petition campaign moot. But regional director Nathan M. Seidman said the Medieval Times should admit it had broken the law and post a workers’ rights notice in Buena Park Castle, as well as read it aloud to the workers.

Erin Zapcic, a cast queen and union member, said in a statement that the workers were “delighted” that the board had filed a complaint against the company.

“During our organizing campaign, we had to face months of near-constant union busting from the Medieval Times,” Zapcic said. “The most egregious thing is that the company orchestrated an attempt to completely cancel our elections through deceit, manipulation and illegal means.”

Medieval knight Brandon Sanchez at the picket line in Buena Park, California.

Orange County Registry via Getty Images

Zapcic called Tuesday’s filing “the first of many complaints against the company,” noting that the union has blamed Medieval Times for other unfair labor practices that are under investigation.

Medieval Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California Castle was the company’s second to form a union, after an earlier campaign at a castle in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Workers at both factories are now trying to secure their first contract. Trade unions include locksmiths and grooms, but not food and retail workers.

The cast of the show Buena Park and the Knights have gone on an unfair strike since February, accusing the Medieval Times of trying to silence them on social media. The company brought in workers to replace them – strikebreakers, in the language of the union – from other castles. According to the union, some of the new knights from the company’s castle in Toronto were turned down by US immigration because they did not have work visas.

Last year, the company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against AGVA over the name the workers chose for their union, Medieval Times Performers United, and the Medieval-style image of their logo. The company said the name and images of the union created confusion among customers and compromised its brand.

The company later filed intellectual property complaints on Facebook and TikTok and secured the shutdown of the California Castle union’s TikTok account. In response, the union filed new allegations of unfair labor practices against the company, saying the trademark lawsuit and social media complaints are illegal attempts to silence them.

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Disney may have the upper hand in the fight against DeSantis – Bloomberg’s law



Leslie Kendrick, director of the University of Virginia Law School’s First Amendment Center, discusses Disney’s lawsuit against Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, alleging that DeSantis retaliated against Disney for exercising its free speech rights. Electoral law expert Richard Briffo, professor at Columbia Law School, discusses how the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision to reverse its decision could derail a major U.S. Supreme Court election case. Host June Grasso.

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