Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

That’s what French unions are demanding with their strikes against French President Emmanuel Macron’s and French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s plans to streamline, standardize, and otherwise reduce the cost to French taxpayers of France’s byzantine pension system.

Never mind that the pension system consists of 42 different pension plans or that French civil servants insist that they are, somehow, special and so should have special perquisites unavailable to petty private sector workers.

Trains, subways, and buses were still severely curtailed on Friday, and hundreds of domestic and regional flights were canceled. There were no demonstrations on Friday, but unions have warned the strike could last days and become one of the biggest in France in over two decades.

Short and Sweet

I watched the Nadler burlesque show that’s masquerading as the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing yesterday so you didn’t have to.  Here is the short and sweet of it.

The three Progressive-Democrat law professor witnesses each opened their opening statements by saying President Donald Trump was guilty and should be impeached even before they knew the impeachment charges being preferred.  They couldn’t know the charges because the Judiciary Committee has not written the articles of impeachment. Indeed, the committee chairman, Jerry Nadler (D, NY) has refused—and he refused repeatedly during yesterday’s show—even to say when the next hearing would be held or what witnesses would be called.

Surveillance

It turns out the People’s Republic of China government is a collection of pikers compared to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a pair of bills Monday, one of which will require all consumer electronic devices sold in the country to be pre-installed with Russian software, while the other will register individual journalists as foreign agents.

Government spyware pre-installed on Russian citizens’ devices, so Russia’s modern-day KGB successor can track where Russian citizens are, with whom they’re communicating, what they’re doing, down to the last detail.

Expanding Surveillance State

Want a new phone in the People’s Republic of China? You have to give up an image of your face to the government.

The requirement, which came into effect Sunday, is aimed at minimizing telephone fraud and preventing the reselling and illegal transfer of mobile phone cards, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice in September.

Right. That’s believable.  Never mind that

…facial recognition becomes more and more prevalent in [the PRC], with authorities applying artificial intelligence to sift through reams of data collected in a bid to boost the economy and centralize oversight of the population.

Medicare for All

Simon Johnson, of the MIT Sloan School of Management and an “informal” advisor to Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D, MA) presidential campaign, thinks her Medicare for All scheme is the cat’s meow.  It would, he claims

cut costs by reducing inefficiency, eliminating predatory pricing (for example, for prescription drugs) and using the purchasing power of a single-payer system. Her plan would also constrain the growth rate of underlying medical costs.

Score One for Facebook

Facebook had a post up, recently, that the government of Singapore didn’t like and of which that government disputed the truthfulness.

As a result, By Order Of the Singapore government, Facebook added a notice—a “label”—to the post:

Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.

For a wonder, Facebook didn’t take the post down, nor did it make any effort to “correct” its content.  Instead, it posted the notice, letting readers decide for themselves…whether they should take seriously the post or the notice required by a mendacious government.

Smart Move

Although, had it been me, I would have ignored it, not dignifying the thing with a response.

“It” is House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s (D, NY) pro forma invitation to President Donald Trump to send along his lawyer to be present at the Nadler Impeachment Inquisition, so long as Trump responded by Nadler’s deadline with the lawyer’s name and impeachment areas of interest.

The smart move was Trump’s refusal to accede to Nadler’s demand.

Head in the Sand?

Volkswagen is building cars in Xinjiang, People’s Republic of China.  You know Xinjiang, the “semi-autonomous” region of the PRC that’s home to tens millions of Muslims and to President Xi Jinping’s “reeducation” camps, Mao-ist internment camps for millions of those Muslims, a people of whom Xi disapproves.

VW thinks all of that is jake.

Speaking with DW on Tuesday, the company said its 2012 decision to open the Urumqi facility was “based purely on economics.” VW says it expects “further economic growth in the region over the coming years.”

Checks and Balances

Editors at The Wall Street Journal correctly decry a Federal district judge’s ruling that ex-White House counsel Don McGahn must testify before the House of Representatives in response to a House subpoena.  As the editors put it,

the sweeping ruling essentially eliminates a right to confidentiality between a President and his most senior advisers.

Thus:

A federal judge says White House aides must answer to Capitol Hill.

Not just any Federal judge: an Obama judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The Jackson’s ruling, though, goes far beyond that.  The judge has asserted absolute supremacy of the Legislative over the Executive.

Nuclear Disarmament

Pope Francis wants it—completely, totally, for any purpose, even deterrence (assuming, for now, that this can be done verifiably and verifiably maintained).  The Pope thinks an arms race involving nuclear weapons adds to the danger of their existence, never minding the race, at least on the US’ part, is for self-defense and the defense of our friends and allies—the very purpose of NATO stationing nuclear weapons in Europe, for instance.

The Pope, though, avoided addressing how a non-nuclear nation with a small conventional military establishment would defend itself against an aggressively acquisitive non-nuclear nation with a large military establishment.  Like, say, the Soviet Union against the nations of Europe, individually or collectively. Or like, perhaps, the People’s Republic of China against the Republic of Korea or Japan—or us.