French truck drivers became the latest group to join protests against pension reform.  They staged protest overnight through “go-slows” on highways, with more planned throughout the rest of the day. Workers at oil refineries are on strike for the seventh day.  Gas station associations say that more than 1,500 stations have run out of fuel, despite government pronouncements that they had enough fuel in reserve to stop any shortages.  Students have also joined in the protests, with 261 schools affected.  Public transport in some cities was blocked, with rail traffic delayed and flights canceled.  Government officials say that they are in control and that there will be no blockades, despite reports of blockades.  Unions have called for new strikes on Tuesday.  The Senate will vote on the act on Wednesday.


See  “Truck drivers join French pension protests”, at, BBC News Online, Oct 18, 2010. (SD)


New Zealand Labour Leader Phil Goff on Afghanistan


The US faces some critical decisions on Afghanistan, and is considering a range of options.

I pointed out Labour’s position to senior State Dept officials – we believe we were right to send our SAS in December 2001 to help drive Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 and we are committed to winning hearts and minds through our Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Such development assistance is vital, though we face challenges when Afghanistan’s government is widely regarded as being corrupt. Our goal of a stable Afghanistan remains and we will continue to do all we can to help. The challenge is how best to add lasting value to that country without alienating the very people we are trying to assist.

Ignatieff will Support Tory Budget

@thecbc – “Ignatieff puts Tories ‘on probation’ with budget demand”

New coalition is Harper & Ignatieff. NDP and Bloc Q. are left standing at altar by new Liberal leader.

Torys Fate in Hands of Ignatieff

@torontostar – “Government’s fate now rests with Ignatieff who says he is concerned the Harper government has underestimated the economic crisis”

NY Times (Carter Dougherty): Sweden’s Fix for Banks: Nationalize Them

NY Times (Carter Dougherty): Sweden’s Fix for Banks: Nationalize Them

The Swedes have a simple message to the Americans: Bite the bullet and nationalize. Officials in Washington are trying to figure out how to shore up American banks that once ruled the financial world but now seem to weaken by the day, despite receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in government aid. With Sweden’s banks effectively bankrupt in the early 1990s, a center-right government pulled off a rapid recovery that led to taxpayers making money in the long run. Former government officials in Sweden, many of whom come from the market-oriented end of the political spectrum, say the only way to solve the crisis in the United States is for the government to be prepared to temporarily take full ownership of the banks. Sweden placed its banks with troubled assets into a so-called bad bank, where they could be held and then sold over time when market and economic conditions improved. In the meantime, it used taxpayer money to provide enough capital to allow banks to resume normal lending. In the process, Sweden wiped out existing shareholders.

Harper Morphs into Bush

The Canadian P.M., Stephen Harper. seems to think that following Karl Rove’s roadmap of division, fear, and personal destruction is the only way to save his job. Harper not only mirrors Bush’s disastrous policies, he seems to think Canada has a President, not a prime minister.

Facing a certain loss in a vote of confidence, Harper has suspended parliament, suggesting those who would form a coalition government are engaged in treason. Sound familiar?

There were many times in the last eight years, I wished the USA had a parliamentary system, so we could put Bush out with a vote of “no confidence”. I guess the Canadians must also wish they had a …ooops…they do have a parliamentary system.

The NDP was looking for six posts in the cabinet under the new coalition.

The National has it all covered.

Labour Turned Out in New Zealand

After nine years in government, the NZ Labour party has been swept out of office by the Center-Right National Party.

Full coverage is available from the BBC.

It seems so sad that those who have set a good example while we have been suffering through 8 years of hell should be turned out. With the re-election of S. Harper and his Conservatives in Canada and the impending defeat of Labour in Great Britain, the leaders of the English-peaking world are out of synch.