The Bland Juncker Schulz Debate

Bi1udkaIAAATTnLThe much anticipated #EP2014 euro elections are looming nearer, though I have to confess the election so far as been anything but exciting. The debate between the candidates for EU president as been about as thrilling as watching paint dry? The much anticipated duel debate between Juncker and Schulz was not so much a debate, as there was no audience to confront and to ask them some hard questions, but only two journalists to field questions.

Two journo’s and two politicians sitting in a semi circle. The debate was also in French, fine for French speakers in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and part of Switzerland, but what about the rest of Europe. All in all it was a bit of a damp squib, hopefully the next debate will have a real audience, more candidates involved, and hopefully in English if they want to reach a much wider audience across Europe.The debate was posted on Youtube in French, no one bothered to add English subtitles or translate, either would have been helpful.


Schulz is the socialist candidate PES, and as a socialist his idea’s and views are typically  higher taxes, state intervention, protectionist in trade, no real surprises there. Juncker is the centre right candidate EPP, but honestly centre right in Europe (Christian Democrat) is almost liberal from a UK perspective. Juncker is slightly more free trade, but a protectionist and believes in a federal Europe, so not very inspiring for many Conservative voters in the UK. The two of them almost seem to agree on many issues, its like watching two chums sitting side by side chatting on a plane. The Farage Clegg debate at least had vigour and confrontation, the Schulz Juncker debate was bland and monotonous by comparison. 

We can only hope future #EP2014 candidate debates with be much more inspiring? here are some vital ingredients, add a audience to field real questions from real voters? Hopefully next debate will be in English to reach more people on the net, and thirdly don’t have timid journalists that are too timid to ask hard and demanding questions to the candidates? The next #EP2014 debate will field six candidates and will take place on the 14th May and hopefully streamed live on the net as well as major euro TV channels.BiIfDmeCcAAw8JB

Additional update – A few days later after the Schulz Juncker debate in French, France 24 posted a short interview online between Schulz and Juncker in English, posted here to watch - Schulz Juncker Interview in English

Top BBC Fat Cats purr on £50 Million a year…. at Licence fee payers’ expense

Tom Carney:

The BBC gravy train just keeps on rolling, but someone should tell them they are running out of rail tracks, soon it will be the end of the line?

Originally posted on BanTheBBC Blog:


Last week The Guardian published a story that the top 412 BBC managers were paid an astonishing £50.8 Million pounds last year. The litany of expense claims also outlined in the article truly beggars belief. Yet another outrageous and unedifying example of BBC largesse is on display for all to see.

To add insult to serious injury, the BBC recently commissioned a ‘comedy’ series titled “W1A”, which is an apparent reference to the postcode of the new £1 BILLION pound BBC Broadcasting House in Central London. This absurdly ridiculous series attempted to make light of the BBC’s own truly horrendous waste and mismanagement. The joke, if there is one, is firmly on the licence fee payer who is threatened with criminal prosecution for not paying for the whole sorry affair.

The cause of the excess is easy to understand. The BBC is the recipient of £3.6 Billion a year in TV…

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Let’s Abolish The House of Lords, It’s a Dinosaur Waiting To Die

Capture 748House-of-Lords_2253554bLet me start by saying I have never been a big supporter of the UK House of Lords, but something happened that swung my opinion very much away from it. There is this old archaic and well practised UK political game of ping pong between the House of Commons and the House of Lords in Westminster. The House of Lords is the 2nd chamber and is getting larger all the time,its the revising chamber for Bills passing through to hopefully be made into law. Oh! did I forget to mention the small fact that the House of Commons is elected and the House of Lords is unelected. The EU Referendum Bill was passed to the House of Lords from the House of Commons for debate and revision, but then was quite systematically and deviously put to death, in other words blocked, end of the political line, and never to see the light of day.

Now the House of Lords knew that the people of the UK wanted to have this EU referendum, but cared little what the voters wanted, they blocked it, mostly Labour and Liberal Democrat Peers are to blame. These people are unelected and rejected the popular will of the people of the UK? The old House of Lords patronage system is becoming a crowded house of political appointees, fixed term, limited, or life Peers was tolerated as a historical and eccentric quirky part of the UK Westminster political system, ermine robes, wigs and all, like a old uncle at Christmas, but now thats all over, people have finally woken up to an outdated political system, though apparently not this peer below.


Time for this political cronyism to come to an end. It was recently well publicised in the media that half of all Lords clock in just to claim expenses for a £300 daily attendance allowance. It seems for many Lords, the House of Lords is just a cash cow for collecting money?The House of Lords ignore’s the will of the people at its own peril, this old dinosaur as out lived its existence. Lots of people are angry about the blocking of the EU referendum Bill which the country really wanted to have. So who killed the EU referendum Bill, here is the murder weapon with certain people’s fingerprints all over it? All hiding behind the long winded procedural and convoluted sittings of the House.


No other western democracy as a unelected 2nd chamber of law making. All politicians have to live with the uncomfortable fact that every 4 to 5 years they have to go out and face the voters and get re-elected for their political office, not so the House of Lords. The House of Lords as always been the elephants graveyard for political careers. Departing and resident UK Prime Ministers shower peerages on loyal followers as reward for their service when in office. Well its time for the old farts in the House of Lords to face up to voter reality, temporal, spiritual or otherwise, If you want to sit on the red benches then I suggest you all get off your arse’s and get elected like everyone else as too.

Not saying this big change is going to happen overnight, but slowly there is a changing ground swell of UK public opinion that an un-elected 2nd chamber is no longer defensible in a modern democratic age. Watch out dinosaurs the ice age is coming? Meanwhile it seems the Peers are more interested in their stomachs than scrutinizing legislation? It seems seared scallops, foie gras and champagne is not quite what it used to be, oh dear., and the installation of a new coffee machine attracted a series of complaints, about the “inferior” cappuccino’s. Anyone would think they were there just to eat and drink all day, and do no actual work?

Meanwhile PM Cameron is strongly aware people are unhappy about the blocking of the EU Referendum Bill in the House of Lords, and so as promised to use the Parliament Act to push through the EU referendum Bill by totally by passing the House of Lords and its blocking tactics, but only if he is re-elected back into Downing Street. Its a sort of sly tactic of holding a gun to the head of the voters, if you don’t re-elect me you don’t get your EU Referendum? Mmm well we all  remember your “cast iron pledge” Mr. Cameron?


Is The French Social Model Now Bust?

french-flagEurope is in crisis and with the looming euro elections #EP2014 political minds are being forced to confront ugly truths, no more than in France. Frances economy is stagnating at best, and declining at worst with an anemic growth rate and the stubborn unemployment figures that will not budge and with a ever growing public debt the size of a mountain which no one knows how to solve.

President Hollande is the man at the helm, and at times he seems to be a political contortionist. When he first come to power he lurch very much to the left blaming France’s problems on the Anglo Saxon capitalist model, he would go the 3rd way and adopted a sort of Tony Blair type of thinking. Well that was only going to take Hollande so far before he was rumbled and found out. The harsh truth is Hollande talked a great deal but did very little in the way of tackling France’s chronic lack of competitiveness and unhealthy state finances.

Any French politician left or right who really wants to reform France’s economic problems as to confront Frances powerful unions, and Hollande did what all French politicians have done before him, he backed down and ate a big plate of humble pie. To be fair Sarkozy was no better at tackling the thorny issue of the French unions. Compromising is a healthy thing but too much compromise gets you absolutely nothing in the end, and thats how the French economy as got itself in a deep hole, constantly backing down from hard decisions that no one wants to make. Hollande promised another 50bn-euros (£41.5bn; $68bn) of spending cuts, but always kicking the can a long way down the road?

The French have always done things the French way, but now with the euro crisis the game as changed, now even the Germans are beginning to question the French model of generous state pensions, jobs for life, and long holidays. French public spending is around 57 percent of national output – some 12 points more than in neighbouring Germany. Merkel wants some movement in reforming Frances bloated public sector, and recently Hollande promised more jobs but the extra jobs never appeared so he swung to the right alittle, declaring to be now more business friendly, cut state spending and simplify paperwork for companies? Problem is not many people believe him, making promises is the usual French trick, acting upon them comes the delay, excuses, and the political fudge the French have grown accustomed to.


Its like a political game of musical chairs, France always managed to grab a big euro seat, but now may be caught standing with no where to sit. In many ways France as always been more in tune with the big state cultures of southern Europe, addiction to complexity and lots of government jobs with a struggling private sector. Then something happened, the euro crisis come along and as shone a light in all the dark corners of cosy government, the bad practises and all the hidden old habits. I believe France is going to have to face real hard choices, will the French model expand or contract, adapt or die. Is Hollande really ready to face these tough challenges? but them are the French themselves?

France desperately believes in the whole euro dream, but Germany cannot carry all the burden by itself, France must share its load, and that means economic reforms, taking on the unions and cutting the French public sector, some say even big drastic reforms to get France back in the competitive world. There are the all important #EP2014 euro elections in May, so its fast becoming a make or break time for the whole euro project dream. Question is will the cherished French model survive?  I very much doubt it.


Europe’s Copyright Maze


Europe’s copyright maze is a reality, each country as its own labyrinth of copyright laws relating to everything from media, like films and TV to publishing, plus music etc. Problem is all these European copyright laws were made 50, 60 years ago and seem to be stuck in some kind of a time bubble? For example why is it not possible to watch the BBC or Sky channels online in Portugal? Choice is what many Europeans want, normal national terrestrial TV does not meet their needs anymore. The whole of South America can get access to Netflix online, but the vast majority of Europeans cannot? why, because of outdated and antiquated European copyright laws.

Many examples, in Portugal access online to popular sites like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, are blocked, plus many more online choices of entertainment. Some European countries are more enlightened in the digital age like the UK, Ireland, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Even the large countries like Germany and France seem to be dragging their heels when it comes to reforming their out outdated and antiquated copyright legislation, but the worst offenders by far are the southern European countries of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece.

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So what is the solution to Europe’s maze of antiquated and outdated national copyright laws, because there lies the main problem. Building a wall around your country to stop the flow of free access to restricted copyright either be it online TV, music, books etc is really like sticking your fingers in your ears and pretending the digital world does not exist outside?

Well there are efforts to try to change the labyrinth of European copyright laws for a kind of pan European wide copyright agreement. The EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes @NeelieKroesEU is trying to push for change, but it is an upward struggle against deeply rooted European national self interest?

The EU is at long last trying to change the maze of European copyright and there is at the moment a consultation period where we the actual European plebs get a say in the matter, whether anyone listens to our input is another matter. The clock is ticking so if you want to have your say before 5th of Feb EU copyright consultation deadline then do it ASAP.

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Then maybe whether you live in Germany, Belgium, Italy, or Portugal you can watch and listen to what you want online, and not have to read something like ‘this content is not available in your country? Is copyright working? well for many Europeans online, no it is obviously not, it is failing them badly. Though I confess I am not a big fan of the EU, but I admire Neelie Kroes efforts to shake things up, and reform European outdated copyright laws.

The digital age is here, but seems many European governments still think its the 1960′s. Maybe things will change and maybe one day Portugal will offer Netflix, HBO, Sky, or BBC drama online, but as the saying goes don’t hold your breath?

Uber, LeCab And Others Now Have To Wait 15 Minutes Before Picking You Up In France

Tom Carney:

Interesting insight into the French state dislike of any real free and open competition within its taxi cab services.


Originally posted on TechCrunch:

At first, it was just an idea, but this bill is now very real — urban transportation services like Uber and LeCab will now have to wait 15 minutes in France before letting a customer in the car. Back in October, the French government mentioned this piece of legislation as these new services would hurt traditional cab drivers. But nothing was set in stone until the AFP spotted the new bill today — and this news comes as a surprise.

In France, you have to pay a hefty price to get your taxi license. As a payback, the taxi industry is very regulated in this country, and drivers can expect to get a healthy influx of clients.

Yet, when the young and fearless startups appeared, many taxi drivers protested against LeCab, Chauffeur-privé, SnapCar, Allocab, Voitures Jaunes and Uber. While the French law calls these companies “VTC” services (car services), taxi…

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The Hypocrisy of the BBC License Fee

Bbc-logoIts common knowledge in the UK that the BBC exists financially through its legally and compulsory enforced payment of the License Fee within the UK, its like a TV Tax as some people like to call it. Every household in the UK as to pay just for the pleasure of just switching on their TV or listening to the radio. This does not just apply to BBC channels or BBC radio stations, this applies to all BBC and commercial channels in the UK. The License Fee is the cash cow of the BBC, and they milk it for everything its worth, to the very last drop. UK commercial TV and radio stations on the other hand have to manage advertising to raise their money, but the BBC does not need to run advertising as it as its golden cash cow to milk its money. Oh, I may have forgot to mention if you refuse to pay your BBC License Fee (TV Tax) in the UK you will be prosecution by the law and summoned to the courts, heavily fined, and some cases given a prison sentence

We all now live in the digital age, internet, downloads, streaming, and the BBC was caught off guard some years ago as some people with broadband where watching TV media content and entertainment online but not via a normal TV or radio, but by their PC or laptop so then they where not legally obliged to pay the BBC License Fee. The BBC rushed ahead and got the License Fee law amended to get around this loop hole. Now all forms of electronic and digital items are included in the BBC License Fee, from TV, PCs, laptops, handheld etc, within any UK  household. Any media content viewed via normal transmission, or broadband and internet is considered fair game by the BBC in the UK.


I emailed the BBC Trust to answer these obvious commercial conflicts which they responded with a classic BBC response, they ignore the problem and hopefully it will go away? This was the BBC’s response -

 “BBC America is not funded by the UK licence fee but is reliant on advertising sales. BBC America is owned and run by BBC Worldwide, which is the commercial arm of the BBC. BBC Worldwide exists to support the BBC and exists to maximise profits on behalf of the BBC and return profits to the BBC to be reinvested in programmes and services to help keep the UK licence fee as low as possible. It does this through investing in, commercialising and showcasing content from the BBC around the world, in a way that is consistent with BBC standards and value”.</span

Updated on the BBC skilled talent on wasting other peoples money? Patton tops up the BBC pension scheme with 740m pounds, don’t worry its just License Fee money, they will never know?

That's the best explanation the BBC can come up with? BBC Worldwide exists to support the BBC and exists to maximise profits on behalf of the BBC and return profits to the BBC” It makes a mockery of the whole BBC Charter. The BBC is free to make money through advertising around the world outside the UK, but some how the UK is sacred soil where the same market strategy cannot be applied?

The BBC argument as it tries to defend its outmoded and archaic special status is it is not a commercial media organisation, but a state funded one and does not, and cannot run adverts as stated within its BBC Charter, bla bla bla? so it must rely on its enforced BBC License Fee to stay afloat financially. All other UK media organisations must swim in commercial waters, but the BBC likes to lie on the beach, nice and safe on dry land, so to speak, free of any such troublesome problems? Even though the BBC wastes truckloads on License Fee payers money, but hey! its only other people’s money right?

The BBC is so well funded now with lots of cash in its coffers that it did not know what to do with all this extra money, so the BBC decided to leap across the pond and the BBC America channel was born. I do not doubt there may well be a BBC Asia in the future, or a BBC Africa. In the digital age the BBC wants to be a world wide brand, fine I have got no problem with that, but stop hiding behind the special status bullsh*t of the UK BBC License Fee. Get in the commercial waters and swim with other the other media organisations out there, run adverts and stop leaching of UK viewers for your funding and money?

I was unaware until recently that BBC America runs adverts on its channel to help fund itself? Interesting BBC America can run adverts on its TV channel in the USA, but some how BBC channels in the UK can not? The hypocrisy of the BBC trying to defend its archaic special status in a digital age is astounding. I think the BBC America running adverts in the USA exposes the BBC in the UK to all its double standards and hypocrisy. To the BBC, stop leaching off UK taxpayers and stand on your own two feet, run adverts and end the legally compulsory UK BBC License Fee. In this age of digital media news and drama on the internet I think the BBC is on very thin ice in keeping its License Fee special status. The BBC America comparison exposes the double standards of this gaping hole that the BBC and the BBC Trust just refuses to acknowledge this glaring problem even exists? Popular opinion in the UK is now turning against the BBC, and its culture of hey! we are the BBC and untouchable?