Current Affairs

Buying into Communism


“People are prepared to obtain order and tranquility by giving up other values such as democracy and freedom. This dangerous temptation has not disappeared, even today.”  — Mikhail Gorbachev, 1993

June 4, 2009. I opened the day in Shanghai, meeting with one of America’s largest brands to discuss their expansion plans in China’s 2nd tier cities. On the flight back to Beijing, the entertainment included a program on preparing your dog for the arrival of a new baby to the family. The headlines of the local newspaper spoke of Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the possible sale of Hummer, an American luxury brand, to an automaker from Sichuan.

The air hostess handed me a copy of the Global Times, the official English-language propaganda vessel of China’s Communist Party. On the bottom of the front page, an article titled “Prosperity tangible along Chang’an avenue” spoke of China’s progress since the ‘June 4 Tian’anmen incident’. Apart from a short mention of ‘pitch-black charred bodies of soldiers’, there was no reference to what actually happened that day or why.

The article continued on page two, headlined, “20 years later, China is now called a world power”. The author quoted various local experts carrying messages about the country’s development over the last two decades and summarized the article’s main point: ‘The Chinese people, especially the young, have become much more apathetic about politics than they were decades ago. Education, medical insurance, and employment are among their top priorities.’

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back to work……

Long working hours are killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, WHO says

London (CNN Business)Working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year through stroke and heart disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a global analysis of the link between loss of life and health and working long hours, WHO and the International Labour Organization estimated that in 2016, some 745,000 people died as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week.
Most of the deaths were recorded among people aged 60 to 79, who had worked at least 55 hours between the ages of 45 and 74.
Men were the worst affected, accounting for 72% of deaths, the analysis found. People living in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia, and middle-aged or older workers took on a particularly significant share of the disease burden, the report said.

US and EU Suspend Steel Tariffs

The European Union and the United States on Monday decided to temporarily suspend measures at the heart of a steel tariff dispute that is seen as one of the major trade issues dividing the two sides.

With the decision, “we are walking the talk in our efforts to reboot the trans-Atlantic relationship,” EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said. It will affect anything from steel production to Kentucky bourbon sales.

On top of suspending the measures, both sides also said they are committed to talks “to address global steel and aluminum excess capacity.

“We are creating the space to resolve these issues before the end of the year,” Dombrovskis said.

It was the second palpable step to get back to better trade relations under President Joe Biden after both sides in March decided on a four-month suspension of tariffs used in the longstanding Airbus-Boeing dispute… CLICK for the complete article

Would you like an entire luxury car or a purse? The price points are the same.


Birkin bags hit record prices even as the world ground to a halt.


New York (CNN)The desirability of an Hermès Birkin handbag — a symbol of rarefied wealth — is such that not even a global pandemic can dull demand for it. Instead, it has helped fire it up even more.

The bags are getting scooped up at record premiums in the pandemic era, according to Birkin resellers. Auction house Christie’s says that one of its two highest selling handbags in history is a Birkin made of crocodile skin that went for nearly $390,000 in November (The other was a Kelly bag, also from Hermès, that sold for close to $450,000).
At reseller Privé Porter, premiums are currently 50 to 100% of the retail price, said the company’s managing director Jeffrey Berk, “except for some collector versions, which can go as high as 10 times the retail price.”

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Sorry, we guess?


The group that hacked into the 5.5k mile Colonial Pipeline issued an apology saying that its goal is to “make money and not [create] problems for society.” Parts of the pipeline are slowly coming back online.

Colonial Pipeline hackers apologize, promise to ransom less controversial targets in future

‘We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics’