Archive for April, 2016

Beethoven, Tell Tchaikovsky The News

April 11, 2016

There’s more than one election campaign underway in New York these days, and curiously, Donald Trump has had absolutely nothing to say about it.  But maybe that’s because he doesn’t want to offend current and future tenants of his luxury Manhattan condo towers. The United Nations General Assembly will elect a new secretary-general later this year, and many of the voters (UN ambassadors from around the world) from wealthier nations are livin’ large on the public payroll in The City That Never Sleeps.

In choosing a successor to Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon, Africans and Asians need not apply: apparently, the fix is in and  the whole world knows that it’s Europe’s turn to be next upon the global throne.  All but one of the declared candidates are European.  The black sheep of the flock?  A Kiwi … but not Maori.

More than half of the candidates are from the Balkans  –four of them hail from nations that didn’t even exist as sovereign states a quarter-century ago (because their homeland was formerly known as Yugoslavia).  These are folks who could be said to have a definite vested interest in UN-sponsored “harmonization” of Europe’s migration policies.

Who’s left?  A Portuguese socialist engineer fresh from a ten-year stint as former UN high commissioner for refugees … and a Moldovan diplomat.

  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia

Balkans
Let’s quickly review some candidate traits that might not be well received among the electorate:

The Bulgarian (Irina Bokova) is assumed to be more or less in Putin’s pocket, and has annoyed the Israel lobby by her gentle treatment of Palestinians while head of UNESCO.  The United States will twist arms to suppress potential swing voters.

The Croatian (Vesna Pusic) has had five years’ experience as foreign minister, but “has been outspoken about gender equality and LGBT rights.”  Big turnoff for Russia, Asia, Africa and Islamic cultures.

The Macedonian (Srgjan Kerim) hasn’t personally tear-gassed any Syrian refugees, but probably won’t win too many votes from Islamic nations.

The Moldovan (Natalia Gherman) may be viewed as less-experienced compared to the rest of the field, and some delegates might suspect she’s Putin’s Plan B candidate if the Bulgarian can’t attract votes.  But that could be a mistake: many Moldovans have no love lost for their erstwhile Russian overlords.

The Montenegran (Igor Luksic) is a technocrat … and poet.  Even if he doesn’t own any Panamanian shell companies, that poetry thing may deter delegates from Asian and African nations.

The Kiwi (Helen Clark) served three terms as prime minister of New Zealand, but is or will be viewed as a stalking horse for the Anglo-American hegemonic powers.

The Portuguese (Antonio Guterres) may have ruffled a few feathers in Africa and Southeast Asia during his 10 years at the helm of UNHCR. On the plus side, he could receive considerable support from Latin American delegates.

The Slovenian (Danilo Turk) is a lawyer with years of prior experience as UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs, and as president of Slovenia.  Slavoj Žižek might be willing to vote for him, but only in a Slovenian election.  Turk may have many old friends among the General Assembly delegates, and on the surface seems a strong candidate.  We’ll see.

Lunghu’s analysis:

OK, so it’s Europe’s turn as UN secretary-general, but half the planet’s population also thinks that it’s long past time to be a woman’s turn as well.  That attitude may narrow the field from eight to four, and potentially open a gap for the dark horse mare.

  1. United States, allies and vassal states block Bulgaria’s Bokova.
  2. Russia, China and “non-aligned” nations in Africa, Middle East and Asia block Kiwi Clark.
  3. Russia, Asia, Africa, Islamic nations (and perhaps Poland!) block Croatia’s Pusic.
  4. Moldova’s Gherman emerges as the compromise female candidate. Or the Slovenian guy wins.

What does Paddy Power say? Their punter clientele favor Clark, currently priced at 3 to 1.  Irina Bokova is second-best, carrying 9 to 2 odds.  But what do these Irish lager louts know about international diplomacy and geopolitics, anyway?  Bugger-all, I say!

 

Sancerre

April 8, 2016

Emmanuel Macron –the gift that keeps on giving.  Not content with being the most powerful man in China, M. le Ministre has decided to conquer all tripartite Gaul as well.

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has set up his own political movement, saying he wants to find “new ideas” for France. Macron, 38, announced the creation of “En Marche” (“On the Move”) in Amiens, portraying the movement as a think-tank that would listen to ideas from other parties of the right and left — providing they held “republican” ideals, a euphemism often used to exclude the far-right National Front (FN).

“I’m in a left-wing government, unashamedly, … but I also want to work with people from the right, who commit to the same values.  This ambition, it’s radical, it’s a bit crazy, but there is such an energy in the country.  I see all the things I don’t manage to get done, all the things that are blocked, and this movement is [intended] to get beyond these [obstacles].”

demi-fenetre-elysee

You may be especially interested to learn that …

A macron is a diacritical mark, a straight bar ( ¯ ) placed above a letter, usually a vowel.  Its name derives from the Greek μακρόν (makrón), meaning “long”, and it [usually] marks a long vowel.

Of course, when dealing with the French language, it’s always important to remember the significance of diacritical marks –those little typographic addenda which ornament various vowels and consonants.  The ones most commonly used in French are the accent grave, the accent aigu, the circumflex, and the cédille (which itself contains an accent aigu).  The cédille transforms pronunciation of the letter ‘c’ into an ‘s’ sound (as in François), while the accent aigu changes pronunciation of the letter ‘e’ into an ‘ay’ sound (hay is for horses).

So what happens when we add un petit accent aigu to the final letter of M. Macron’s movement En Marche?  We get the phrase En Marché.  And although a strictly literal translation of en marché into English would be rendered as “in the market,” a more colloquial formulation might instead be “up for sale” or perhaps “looking to deal.”

Former RPR prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said this week he could even imagine Macron as premier under a center-right president such as Alain Juppé, who is currently leading opinion polls ahead of the 2017 presidential election. “The best prime minister for a president from the moderate right would be Emmanuel Macron,” Raffarin said.

Bearing this in mind, what happens when we playfully pivot the letter ‘r’ in M. Macron’s surname clockwise 180 degrees?  It becomes une cédille positioned below the preceding letter ‘c’ –thus giving us … un maçon.

Macron_1

Hence the primary question remaining open:  is Macron affiliated with GLF, GLNF, or GOF?