“Across Romania, fear is growing of a looming porcine genocide as the country prepares to negotiate its way into the EU. For the fact is that most pigs are bred and slaughtered here in a way that fails to meet EU standards, and no one is prepared to invest the money needed to get our piggeries up to Union levels. But will our beloved pig be permitted to put the supreme national interest in jeopardy?
The problem is that, in Romania, we have a hard enough time comprehending and protecting human rights, let alone animal rights. Veterinarians are few, but our human health services are in ruin as well.
Indeed, most people cannot afford proper medication, and hospitals suffer from gross under-funding. So it seems to most Romanians not only preposterous, but immoral, for the EU to care so much for a pig’s last moments of life when it seems to care so little for the everyday life of ordinary Romanians.
Moreover, how is our government supposed to get millions of farmers to give up their barbaric ancestral habit? By trying to coerce them with fines? In America, I am told, a slang word for the police is “pigs.” Are we to have pig police here?
Our ruling social democratic party has its stronghold in Romania’s rural areas. If Romania’s peasants come to believe that the EU insists that they hug their pigs, not butcher them with knives, their fidelity towards the social democrats will wither.
Those lost votes, however, won’t go to responsible center-right parties, but to the fiercely nationalistic, anti-European, Greater Romania Party, perhaps the closest thing Europe now has to a fascist party. This is a nightmare that both European and mainstream Romanian politicians want to avoid.”
“Fortunately, there seems to be a way to conciliate both EU bureaucrats and even our most diehard peasants. Our ugly pre-Christmas ritual butchery can be christened a “traditional, folk custom,” a sacred rite deeply embedded in the fabric of Romanian nationhood. The proximity of Christmas will provide the ritual with a religious patina.”
Also see this story from the Moscow Times
“A few days before 25 European Presidents and Prime Ministers met in Brussels to try to ratify a constitution, former French President Val?ry Giscard d’Estaing had dire words of warning. Failure to approve the 265-page text, of which he had been the principal author, would be a disaster for the cause of a united Europe: ‘We would see the gradual falling apart of the European Union.'”
This article in Prospect is a must read. It expalins you of the role of corruption in the political system, look at its causes, the role of the press, the judiciary, and French culture, gives you the history and whrere things stand at the moment I’d quote the key parts, but then I would have to quote the whole article. Go and read it instead.
In short it says corruption is systemic and all-pervasive, that Chirac and most of the political elite are deeply corrupt, and that it doesn’t look like things are going to get better anytime soon. It paints a pretty belak picture.
Via the invaluble Matt Welch
The front page of today’s Washington Post has a none-too-flattering analysis of Gov. Howard Dean, the man most likely to challenge GW Bush for the White House in 2004. It starts:
“Former Vermont governor Howard Dean stands on the brink of a remarkable achievement in American politics, having transformed himself from rank obscurity to clear favorite for his party’s presidential nomination. But rarely has a front-runner begun an election year with as many questions swirling around him as the man who rewrote the rules in presidential politics the past 12 months.”
Coming from someone whose profession is supposed to be reporting on American politics, the second sentence is rankest stupidity.
Just to say, sorry I haven’t been around too much recently. That will change in the New Year. I hope people in Italy aren’t going to be stuck for food. I also note that the US has one more problem to add to the list. This latter should come as no shock, for reasons you can find explained here and in particular here. Apart from anything else, the virtual inevitability of this is connected with something called the Gibbs Principle. The Mad Cow site used, in it’s day, to be one of the best on the net as far as I was concerned, and it is a pity that more have not followed the model. Ok that is enough of this gruesome topic, or you’ll all be vegetarians by tomorrow. So what about xmas?