A Living Wage

A man owned a small ranch in Montana.

The Montana Work Force Department claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to interview him.

“I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them,” demanded the agent.

“Well,” replied the farmer, “there’s my farm hand who’s been with me for 3 years. I pay him $200 a week plus he gets free room and board.” 

“The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $150 per week plus free room and board.

“Then there’s the half-wit. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here.

“He makes about $10 per week

, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night.

“He also sleeps with my wife occasionally.”

“That’s the guy I want to talk to…the half-wit,” said the agent.

“That would be me,” replied the rancher.

Yellow Vest Riots Spread: Week Five

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Paris has now seen its fifth weekend of street demonstrations by the so-called gilets jaunes, or “yellow vests,” although reports suggest that things may be finally winding down. Meanwhile, the protests — which in many instances rise to the level of riots, with innumerable examples of looting, vandalism, and arson – have spread. The last couple of weekends have seen disturbances in other major French cities, such as Toulouse, Bordeaux and Lyon, as well as in cities in the Low Countries, including Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Nijmegen and Maastricht. This weekend, in London, as the tension, confusion, and frustration surrounding Brexit have intensified and the possibility of a second referendum seemed to increase, yellow-vested protesters, most of them apparently supporters of Brexit, blocked major bridges and shut down streets in the city center.

As these displays of lawlessness have spread, ideas about the participants’ motives have evolved. At first, it was reported that the protesters in France, far from being political extremists of the left or right, were ordinary citizens angered by new hikes in gas taxes. But even when President Emmanuel Macron yanked the tax increase, the turmoil continued. Why? Writing at Gatestone, David Brown noted that “[l]ower-middle class families are not poor enough to receive welfare benefits but have seen their income flat-line whilst cost-of-living and taxes have risen….. The French people feel screwed.” Amir Taheri suggested that “the French, like most other people in rich countries, are simply bored, with a lot of time on their hands and little exciting to do.” At PJ Media, Rick Moran opined that “the ordinary people who are paying for the grandiose schemes of the social planners in Brussels have had enough. And they are finally rising up to demand an end to it.” For my part, I wondered whether this dramatic sign of popular discontent marked “the start of the Western European public’s pushback against the elites’ disastrous multicultural and globalist project.”

via Yellow Vest Riots Spread: Week Five

In Syria, Iran Sees a New Opportunity to Build a War Machine

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If it goes ahead, Iran likely will view President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from eastern Syria as a green light to build a new war machine in the region.

But Iran also received a red light recently, apparently reminding it that Israel is standing guard against Tehran’s takeover plans.

That red light came Dec. 25 in the form of an alleged Israeli air strike on an Iranian weapons depot in Syria. The strike looks like the latest signal of Israel’s determination to block Iran’s path into Syria, with or without an American ground presence.

According to media reports, including a report by the Israeli satellite image company ISI, the strike destroyed a warehouse that contained Iranian Fajr-5 rockets. The warehouse was just 40 kilometers – about 25 miles – away from Israel.

Israel’s military says Fajr 5 rockets are produced in Iranian weapons factories and have a range of 75 kilometers, or just under 50 miles. In past years, Iran smuggled these types of rockets to terrorist organizations that are ideologically committed to attacking Israel, including Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Now, Iran is trying to flood Syria with them.

via In Syria, Iran Sees a New Opportunity to Build a War Machine

Too Big to Fail? How UNRWA Fails the Palestinians — and the World

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To the consternation of many, the US government will no longer provide $350 million a year to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the Trump administration says that it may cut more money for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some analysts and pundits claim that this decision will cause more hardship and violence in Gaza and the West Bank, and plunge other areas of the Middle East into unrest. This is unlikely to occur.

The prophets of UNRWA’s impending doom underestimate its political usefulness. UNRWA, which was founded in 1949, is simply too valuable a political asset to fail. Its existence guarantees that Palestinian refugees and the contested right of return remain a generational and prioritized political fixture in international fora. Consequently, Arab and other states use the demise of the Palestinians to generate political capital by lambasting Israel for its subjugation of the Palestinians, and for instigating a “humanitarian disaster” in the Gaza Strip.

These states have a vested political interest in UNRWA, and there are already early indications that the EU, Ireland, Jordan, and Germany will pledge further support to make up for the current budgetary pitfall.

Much of UNRWA’s and its backers’ achievement in generating this political capital derives from their strategic interest to maintain the Palestinian right of return, and the Palestinian refugee, on the international political agenda. Former Commissioner-General to UNRWA Karen Abu-Zayed has stated that “Palestine refugees are the focus of the Agency’s thinking, planning and activities. Promoting their interests as individuals with rights and entitlements under international law and ensuring their well-being and long-term human development are the engines that will continue to drive all aspects of UNRWA’s activities.”

via Too Big to Fail? How UNRWA Fails the Palestinians — and the World

The BBC’s Gaza framing evolves with Jon Donnison

BBC Watch

The December 17th afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included a thirteen-minute item which made use of part of Mishal Husain’s broadcast from the Gaza Strip that listeners to BBC Radio 4 had heard earlier in the day.

Presenter Jon Donnison introduced that item (from 30:06 here) using framing identical to that previously heard in the Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Donnison: “Gaza’s economic statistics make for grim reading. According to the World Bank 54% of the labour force in the tiny Palestinian territory is unemployed. The figure goes up to 70% for youth unemployment. Around eight out of every ten Gazans are dependent on food aid and around half of Gaza’s population of around 2 million people are registered refugees. Well today the UN is launching an appeal to raise $350 million

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