Tag Archives: France

France and multiculturalism: One in Six French People Say They Support Isis Caliphate

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IBTimes: Almost a sixth of the French population (16%) have a favourable disposition towards the terror group Isis (now known as the Islamic State), according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by ICM Research, asked people across the western European countries of Germany, UK and France whether their view of IS was favourable or unfavourable.

The participants were asked: “From what you know, please, tell me if you have a very favourable, somewhat favourable, somewhat unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant otherwise known as Isis?”

A breakdown of the age groups participating in the poll revealed that the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to have a favourable view of IS.

Twenty percent of French people between the ages of 35 and 44 had a favourable opinion of IS while 22% of 25-34 year-olds asked were also favourable to the group.

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The highest opinion of the group came in the youngest age group, the 18-24 year-olds.

France, a country with a population of 66 million, has a Muslim community of 4.7 million (as of 2010) and a large number of this community have emigrated from North Africa.

However, the poll was commissioned on behalf of Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, likely to take a swipe at the western countries in question.

The Islamic State and its march through Syria and Iraq have continued to attract worldwide media attention following the shocking video of US journalist James Foley’s murder.

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The group’s aims are to bring every corner of the world under their radical Islamic ideology and they have already declared a “Caliphate” straddling the Syrian-Iraqi border.

France has witnessed a growing threat of terrorism in recent years as hundreds of young French Muslims are believed to have flocked abroad to fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, with the potential to return home as radicalised members of society.

For the ICM poll’s data collection, the company interviewed 1,006 French nationals by telephone between 11-21 July 2014. The poll had a margin of error of 1.5-3%.  A representative for ICM was unavailable to answer IBTimes UK’s questions about methods of participant and location selection.

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DCG

Red faces as Paris buys too-big metro escalators

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France24: The finger pointing has begun already in Paris, with all sides bickering over who will foot the substantial bill which runs into millions of euros.

The infamous escalators, installed less than ten years ago, feature stairs ten centimetres wider than those normally used on the city’s metro system. The state-owned Paris public transport operator RATP had incorrectly thought that this would help boost capacity.

But it now transpires that the stairs are simply too wide to fit properly into the pre-existing spaces allotted to them, causing regular malfunctions.

This is a problem that has not only become a daily gripe for Paris’s already fractious commuters, but has also forced RATP to spend tens of thousands of euros on repairs.

“We had to put in place additional monitoring (of the new escalators) every four months that generally led to maintenance operations being carried out,” David Courteille, responsible for electromechanical engineering at RATP, told French daily Le Figaro. Such operations are normally carried out every six months on the rest of the operator’s escalators, he said.

These constant repair jobs cost RATP tens of thousands of euros each year for each escalator. In comparison, the operator normally spends 100,000 every ten years on renovations for each of its normal-sized escalators.

Now, the operator has decided to cut its losses and will begin replacing the faulty escalators, located on metro lines 14, 6 and 13, between now and 2015 – a measure set to cost at least six million euros, RATP’s maintenance chief Olivier Saiz told the newspaper..

“We have estimated between 200,000 and 500,000 euros for the price of each new escalator,” he said.

RATP though is hoping not to have to foot the bill. It is seeking compensation from Constructions industrielles de la Méditerranée – the French company from whom it ordered the malfunctioning escalators back in 2006 and 2007 – which it accuses of having made “design flaws”.

The story comes hot on the heels of another transport faux pas in France. The national rail company SNCF said in May that it had ordered 2,000 trains for an expanded regional network that were too wide for many station platforms, entailing costly repairs.

Those choosing to travel to France, remember, you’re paying for their transport network mistakes.

DCG

Socialist Utopia: Proposed law would increase Paris hotel tax by 500%

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Earlier this week I blogged about how France was begging its citizens to lighten up with tourists in order to encourage tourism. This was due to the fact that international surveys repeatedly found that foreign visitors rated the French capital as one of the world’s most hostile places. The tourist board had even gone as far as issuing service industry workers a “politeness manual. Three years earlier, the city paid “smile ambassadors” to be friendly to tourists at the city’s big attractions.

So what’s their next great idea to attract more tourists? Tax them more:

Tourists visiting France may find their hotel bills going up dramatically if a proposed law to impose huge increases in hotel taxes is approved.

The tax on taking a hotel room is currently between one and 1.50 euros. The proposed law would see this charge rising to eight euros, with an extra two euros per person per night in the Paris area. (One euro = $1.36 US dollar.)

The increased charges would apply to the top-end hotels, from one to five euros for three-star establishments, and from 1.50 to eight euros for four and five-star hotels.

The bill’s authors say the measure would raise 140 million euros a year, with the cash earmarked for much-needed investment in public transport used by tourists, particularly in the Paris region.

The bill, in the form of an amendment to existing legislation, was approved by the National Assembly this week. It would need to be voted in by the Senate before going into law.

The hotel trade, already up in arms over the growth of online short-term rental sites such as Airbnb, is not amused.

“If this were approved it would signify a complete breakdown of relations between the government and business,” France’s UMIH hotel union said in a statement.

“This has been proposed without any consultation with the hotel industry and goes against everything the government has promised in terms of boosting competitiveness.” “It’s totally irresponsible,” added UMIH president Roland Heguy.

The amendments were put forward by Socialist National Assembly member Olivier Faure in response to an urgent call from transport chiefs for tourists to contribute to the six-billion-euro cost of overhauling Paris’s public transport network.

“It makes sense,” said Jean-Paul Huchon, the head of the capital’s transport authority. “The 40 million tourists who visit Paris every year are big users of the public transport system, and their contribution will increase the competitiveness of Paris as a whole.”

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With a debt level that was the equivalent of 91% of French GDP, I guess they need to find money somewhere.

Bonjour!

DCG

Socialist Utopia: France begs its citizens to lighten up with tourists

 

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France24: Speaking at the launch of a new master-plan for tourism at a national conference, Commerce Minister Fleur Pellerin said France needed to “recover a sense of hospitality”, as “too often we mistake service for servility”.

Accompanying her was Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who said the government now aimed to attract 100 million tourists a year compared to 83 million in 2012.

Fabius, however, warned that the famed French surliness was a pothole on the road to tourism victory: “The logic is simple. An unhappy tourist is a tourist who never comes back.”

No doubt there are many Parisians, in particular, who would not find that a matter for regret. Every summer they must endure an invasion of big bottoms in bad shorts, booming foreign voices and boors who fail to realise that under the French code of courtesy, any approach from a stranger should begin with a polite “Bonjour” – and be followed by at least a minimal effort to start the conversation in French.

But the fact remains that international surveys have repeatedly found that foreign visitors rate the French capital as one of the world’s most hostile places - although France is currently also the world’s most visited country.

The TripAdvisor website found foreigners voted it the rudest city in Europe, and other researchers have reported that visitors thought it had the least friendly locals, the most unpleasant taxi drivers and the most aggressive waiters.

On the other hand, Parisians themselves reportedly do not enjoy Parisian manners either. A survey two years ago by Paris transport operator RATP found that 97 per cent of Parisians believed their fellow citizens “were ill-mannered and lacked civility” – statistics which do not bear too much looking into, as they suggest that those complaining must be rude themselves.

In desperation, last year the Paris Tourist Board issued service industry workers a “politeness manual. Three years earlier, the city paid “smile ambassadors” to be friendly to tourists at the city’s big attractions.

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Pellerin told the conference that the situation was no joke: “Tourism is not an amusing or a secondary matter … the stakes are the same as exports.”

The issue has become more pressing as the French economy languishes with high unemployment. It is further highlighted by the fact that bitter rival London now claims it has unseated Paris as the world’s top destination for foreign tourists. While French authorities insist the City of Light still holds the crown, in 2012 London was closing in; there were 29 million visitors to central Paris, which does not include the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau, and 27.6 million to Greater London, a much larger geographic area.

Fabius announced other measures to help boost Parisian appeal. The government aims to classify more areas as tourist zones, which would allow them to open on Sundays, particularly the area around the popular department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

The move is strongly opposed by shop assistants’ unions, which are striking this week over the issue. But Fabius says, “A tourist who finds the shop closed on Sundays will not wait until Thursday.”

He also announced a three-year redevelopment of the shabby Gare du Nord railway station, beginning with the cramped Eurostar terminal whose trains take passengers to and from Britain and Belgium.

“It’s the biggest train station in Europe. It must be able to stand the comparison with St Pancras in London,” he said. St Pancras, the arrival point for the Eurostar trains in the UK, reopened in 2007 after a glossy €10 million facelift.

Fabius said that from next year, special lanes would be reserved for taxis and buses on the route from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris, and taxis would charge a flat rate for the trip. Work would also begin in 2017 on the long-planned Paris-Charles de Gaulle express rail line, which will connect with Gare de l’Est.

Underlining the importance of the initiatives, Fabius said, “Tourism is an industry that provides tens and tens of thousands of additional jobs in France… Let me give you just three figures. There were 25 million tourists [worldwide] in 1950; today there is one billion. In 2030 there will be two billion. We must capture a big share of those tourists and at the same time, more French people must be allowed to benefit from tourism.”

And he called for tourists to be welcomed more warmly at French railway stations and airports, saying, “The first contact is often the determining factor.”

Who knew socialism would make people so cranky? /sarc

DCG

Todays Fun Facts.

 

Don’t know if true, but these “facts” are interesting

Q: Why do men’s clothes have buttons on the right while women’s clothes have buttons on the left?
A: When buttons were invented they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids dressmakers put the buttons on the maid’s right!  And that’s where women’s buttons have remained since.

Q: Why do ships and aircraft use ‘mayday’ as their call for help?
A: This comes from the French word m’aidez – meaning ‘help me’ — and is pronounced, approximately, ‘mayday.’

Q: Why are zero scores in tennis called ‘love’?
A: In France, where tennis became popular, the round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called ‘l’oeuf,’ which is French for ‘the egg.’  When tennis was introduced in the US Americans (mis)pronounced it ‘love.’


Q. Why do Xs at the end of a letter signify kisses?
A: In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.


Q: Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called ‘passing the buck’?
A: In card games it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal.  If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing he would ‘pass the buck’ to the next player.


Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?
A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously.  When a guest trusted his host he would only touch or clink the host’s glass with his own.

Q: Why are people in the public eye said to be ‘in the limelight’?
A: Invented in 1825 limelight was used in lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer ‘in the limelight’ was the centre of attention. 

Q: Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?

A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud.  If someone is said to be on cloud nine that person is floating well above worldly cares.

Q: In golf, where did the term ‘Caddie’ come from?
A. When Mary Queen of Scots went to France as a young girl Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scots game ‘golf.’  He had the first course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while she played Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her.  Mary liked this a lot and when returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the long run) she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced ‘ca-day’ and the Scots changed it into ‘caddie.’

Q: Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?
A: Long ago dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called ‘pygg’.  When people saved coins in jars made of this clay the jars became known as ‘pygg banks.’  When an English potter misunderstood the word he made a container that resembled a pig.  And it caught on.
                   

Now you know! 

~Steve~                                       H/T    I_Man

 

 

St. Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc2Today, May 30th, is the Feast Day of St. Joan of Arc, my favorite saint.

St. Jeanne La Pucelle was born in Domremy, a small village of Champagne, on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1412, to Jacques d’Arc, her father, a peasant farmer who was a leader in his community, and to Isabelle, her devout mother.  Isabelle taught Joan her Catholic Faith and her prayers.  Joan was a pious young person, who loved to pray and receive the Sacraments, Penance and the Holy Eucharist.  She was very kind, having cared for individuals who were sick and helping people who were wanderers, offering them her bed so that they might rest.  She enjoyed her childhood and was most proficient with the household chores, wherein she loved to sew and spin.  Joan said, “I fear no woman in Rouen at sewing and spinning.”

Joan lived in the throes of the Hundred Years War.  King Henry V of England invaded France, took over Normandy and claimed the crown of Charles VI of France.  To make matters worse, there was also a civil war between the Duke of Burgundy and his allies and Orleans.  The Duke was murdered and thereafter, the Burgundians allied themselves with the English.  France was literally falling apart, with town after town falling to the English and/or the Burgundians.  In the meantime, the new individual who should be king, was Charles VII, known as the Dauphin; he did little to help France’s dire situation.

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When Joan was 13 years of age, Joan saw St. Michael the Archangel, who comforted her and told her not to be afraid.  She then saw Sts. Catherine and Margaret, telling her about her mission from the King of Heaven, to save France advising her that she must lead the army of France.  Joan stated in testimony:

“When I was thirteen, I had a voice from God to help me to govern myself. The first time, I was terrified. The voice came to me about noon: it was summer, and I was in my father’s garden. I had not fasted the day before. I heard the voice on my right hand, towards the church. There was a great light all about.

I vowed then to keep my virginity for as long as it should please God.

I saw it many times before I knew that it was Saint Michael. Afterwards, he taught me and showed me such things that I knew that it was he.

He was not alone, but duly attended by heavenly angels. I saw them with the eyes of my body as well as I see you. And when they left me, I wept,and I wished that they might have taken me with them. And I kissed the ground where they had stood, to do them reverence.

Above all, St. Michael told me that I must be a good child, and that God would help me.  He taught me to behave rightly and to go often to church.  He said that I would have to go into France.

He told me that St. Catherine and St. Margaret would come to me, and that I must follow their counsel; that they were appointed to guide and counsel me in what I had to do, and that I must believe what they would tell me, for it was at Our Lord’s command.

He told me the pitiful state of the Kingdom of France.  And he told me that I must go to succour the King of France.

St. Catherine and St. Margaret had rich crowns on their heads.  They spoke well and fairly, and their voices are beautiful-sweet and soft.

The name by which they often named me was Jehanne the Maid, child of God.

They told me that my King would be restored to his Kingdom, despite his enemies.  They promised to lead me to Paradise, for that was what I asked of them.

Twice and thrice a week the voice told met hat I must depart and go into France.

And the voice said that I would raise the siege before Orleans.  And it told me to go to Vaucouleurs, to Robert de Baudricourt, captain of the town, who would give me men to go with me.

And I answered the voice that I was a poor girl who knew nothing of riding and warfare.”

Joan went three times to speak to Robert de Baudricourt about the instructions she received from the King of Heaven.  On the third occasion, Baudricourt listened to Joan, as a previous prediction she had made to him regarding a defeat for the French army came true.  Accordingly, Baudricourt gave Joan an escort of three soldiers to protect her, to present herself to Charles VII.  Joan travelled wearing the clothing of men and reached Chinon on March 6, 1429.  The Dauphin disguised himself to see if Joan would be able to point him out amongst the other individuals in his Court.  Of course, Joan identified the real Dauphin.  She spoke with him in private and gave him a secret message told to her by her heavenly messengers, which convinced Chales that what Joan said was true.  He gave her soldiers so that she could lead them towards the relief of Orleans.  However, this decision came with opposition from some of the members of Charle’s court.  Therefore, she was sent to Poitiers to be examined by a learned body of theologians.  After extensive questions and a thorough investigation, these theologians found Joan to be pure and true, finding no fault with her.  Indeed, they advised Charles to use this pure human being for the good of France.

After Joan returned to Chinon from Poitiers, she was equipped with an expeditionary force, and she was provided with white armor and other supplies, with a banner or standard which was Joan’s favorite possession.  Upon the banner was a representation of God the Father to whom two kneeling angels were presenting a fleur-de-lis, with the writing upon it, “Jesus:Maria”.

Joan of Arc3On April 27, the army left Blois with Joan in her white armor and banner, leading the French army.  They entered Orleans on April 29th, and Joan’s presence in the city gave hope to the people.  And by May 8th, the English forts which surrounded Orleans were captured and the siege raised.

Joan the Maid was then allowed to lead the French army in yet another campaign on the Loire with the Duc d’ Alencon, one of her dearest friends.  This campaign was successful, and she ended with another victory at Patay in which the English forces suffered yet another defeat.

On July 17, 1429, Charles VII, the Dauphin, was crowned with Joan beside him holding her treasured banner.  Joan was successful in this important campaign.  Nevertheless, troubles ensued and she went to the relief of Compiegne which was holding out against the Burgundians.  On May 23, 1430, because of some miscalculation, the drawbridge over which her company was retiring was raised too soon, leaving Joan and some of her men outside at the mercy of the Burgundians.  She was taken by the enemy and remained the prisoner of the Duke of Burgundy.  Charles, the Dauphin, did not come to Joan’s aid during the entire time of her imprisonment.  Clearly, he betrayed her.  On  November 21st she was sold to the English.  They knew that they could not condemn her for her defeat of them in war, but contrived that they could harm her if she was tried as a sorceress and a heretic.

Joan was in prison in the castle of Rouen.  On February 21, 1431, she appeared before Peter Cauchon, who was Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that through English influence he could become the Archbishop of Rouen. This Tribunal consisted of Cauchon, dignitaries and doctors carefully selected by Cauchon, as well as of the ordinary officials of an ecclesiastical court.  During the course of her sessions, Joan was examined and cross-examined as to her visions and her voices, her assumption of male attire, her faith and her willingness to submit to the Church.  Joan answered their questions boldly.  Her answers were not only cogent, but logical and embarrassing for her inquisitors.  For example, when Joan was asked whether she would refer herself to the determination of the Church, she stated:

“I refer myself to Our Lord who sent me, to Our Lady, and to all the blessed saints in Paradise.  It seems to me that Our Lord and the Church are one and the same, and that no one shold make difficulties about that.  Why do you make difficulties about its not being one and the same?”   

Joan further reiterated this comment stating her allegiance to the Church and also stating, “Our Lord first served!”

This alleged unfair tribunal summed up her answers as revelations from the devil wherein these misrepresentations were submitted to the judges and then to the University of Paris.  Joan was denounced.

The tribunal decided that she must be handed over to the secular arm as a heretic if she refused to retract.    In a final attempt  to obtain her admission and retraction, Joan was threatened with torture.  She, out of extreme fear, made a retraction of her testimony.  She was taken back to prison.  Joan knew that her retraction was wrong, and again put on the male attire that she wore as a soldier for France even though she was expected to discard this dress.  Cauchon and his assistants visited Joan in her cell and saw what she had done, noticing that she had recovered from her previous weakness.  Therefore, Joan again declared that she was sent by the King of Heaven and that the voices of the saints she heard came from Heaven also.

On May 29, 1431, the judges heard Cauchon’s report, condemning Joan as a relapsed heretic to be delivered over to the secular arm.

On May 30, 1431, the 19-year-0ld Joan was fastened to a stake being prepared to be burned upon it.  A Dominican friar at her request held up a cross in front of her eyes, and as the flames lept upon her, she cried, “Jesus, Jesus”.  Some of the people cried that they had burned a saint.  Her ashes were hurled into the Seine.

Twenty-three years later, Joan’s mother and her two brothers appealed to Pope Callistus II to have her case reviewed.  The Pope granted this request and appointed a commission to review what happened, to examine the witnesses and review the written testimony.  On July 7, 1456, the trial was declared biased and unfair, quashing the trial and its verdict, completely exonerating dear Joan.

Four-hundred and fifty years later, on May 16, 1920, Joan was canonized as a saint with all solemnity, by the Catholic Church.  She is the Patron Saint of France, soldiers, military personnel and prisoners.  And finally, St. Joan is also the Patron Saint of individuals who are ridiculed for their Faith.

St. Joan is very dear to me as she has helped me so much in my life.  It is my hope that I will also live my life with kindness, courage, bravery and loyalty, and putting my Faith first above all things, loving Our Triune God with great passion and zeal.  She is an example of a pure young lady, full of love for God, for His Church and for his people.  Yes, dear brave Joan, may Our Lord always be first served! 

With love, reverence and respect for St. Joan,

Joan

Sources:

Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Edited by Michael Walsh

One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press AOL Time Warner Book Group

Joan of Arc In Her Own Words, Compiled and Translated by Willard Trask; Afterword by Sir Edward S. Creasy

St. Joan of Arc:  Maid for God, EWTN, May 30, 2013

How’d you like to be taxed at 100%?

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Thousands of French Households Taxed 100%

Yahoo Finance: More than 8,000 French households’ tax bills topped 100 percent of their income in 2012, according to a French newspaper report.

Citing data from France’s finance ministry, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Friday that in addition to those taxed at over 100 percent last year, almost 12,000 households paid taxes worth more than 75 percent of their 2011 income and that a further 9,910 households were taxed at more than 85 percent of their income.

The paper said this was due to a one-off levy imposed on the 2011 incomes of households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million). The surcharge was introduced by socialist President Francois Hollande in an attempt to offset the cost of a rebate scheme and taxation cap introduced by former President Nikolas Sarkozy, the paper added.

“In 2011, 5,221 households had a tax rate of more than 100 percent on their revenues, Some 6,203 households had a rate of more than 85 percent and 6,343 house holds a rate of more than 75 percent,” the newspaper said but households could take advantage of a “tax shield” introduced by Sarkozy to cap an individual’s overall taxation at 50 percent of their income.

Last year, for the first time in 25 years, Les Echos reported, that cap was removed which “substantially increased [the tax rates'] impact.”

President Francois Hollande’s government back-tracked in 2012 over a proposed 75 percent tax rate on earnings over 1 million euros that he had pledged to introduce when he came to power.

The country’s Constitutional Council said such a high income rate was unfair and could be viewed as confiscatory, suggesting that the government should deflect it onto companies instead, in turn causing uproar in the business world.

Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics told CNBC that the surcharge highlighted the fact that Hollande was not ready to ease his stance towards the country’s wealthiest. “I think it emphasizes that, despite the fact that the controversial “millionaires’ tax” has been watered down, Hollande’s policies are still targeting wealthy households,” McKeown told CNBC on Monday.

“The impact on consumer spending should be reduced by the fact that these households’ propensity to spend out of their income tends to be relatively low. But with unemployment very high and rising, average income households also have little reason to spend. And there is a risk that France’s ‘tax the rich’ policies cause it to lose some high earners and even entire successful businesses to overseas, which it really needs to boost its productivity,” she added.

France last week reported an economic contraction of 0.4 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year-ago.

Good grief, a tax rate of 100%? Every democrats dream!

h/t Anon

DCG