Saturday, June 26, 2004
Because they are Jews, four yeshiva students in an Antwerp suburb, all under 18, were assaulted toward 11 pm Thursday night by a gang of 10 to 15, reports La Libre Belgique. Three ran away but the slowest among them was stabbed in the back. Though hospitalized in critical condition, he is expected to make a full recovery.
Antwerp police have opened an investigation.
French soldier killed in IC
A French soldier in the UN peacekeeping force mobilized in Ivory Coast was mortally wounded on Friday by rebel Ivorian forces. He is the third French soldier serving in opération Licorne to die from hostile fire since the force was put in place last year.
French authorities say the incident occurred north of Yamoussoukro when a soldier in the Ivory Coast National Armed Forces (FANCI) opened fire for no apparent reason on a French military vehicle, wounding one if the vehicle's opponents in the back. Other FANCI soldiers immediately seized the shooter. Authorities describe this as an isolated event.
Both Ivorian and French authorities have opened investigations into the matter. The soldier's identity has not been released pending notification of his family.
|Tough day for Sarcelles' home town favorites||Les supporteurs à Sarcelles sont déçus|
|Pali Psycho Death Cult©® leaders exterminated. Never mind what the BBC or CNN say. Kill faster. Total war.
||Gros bonnets du Culte Psychotique de la Mort palestinien©® exterminés. Ce n'est pas la peine d'écouter la BBC et CNN. Tuer plus vite. Guerre totale.
|Hope the ammo wasn't Jewish or anything. That might be humiliating||J'espère bien que les munitions n'étaient pas de fabrication israélienne. Ce serait humiliant sinon.|
|One more for a pigskin shitsack. Payback time at PHX
||Encore un sac à merde en carcasse de porc par ici. Il l'a pas volé celui-là. Chez PHX
“Enough hypocrisy! Equality now!” With such a combative slogan, the Gay, Lesbian, Bi, and Transsexual Parade on Saturday, June 24, in Paris, will strike a demanding and strident tone. Yet during the past year, faced with homosexual associations’ demands for equality, society has evolved.
First, from Europe and California arose the debate on homosexual marriage, which re-emphasized the Right-Left divide. A Green, Noël Mamère, celebrated on June 5 in Bègles the first gay marriage. With some hesitation and despite the opposition of Lionel Jospin, the Socialist Party—which, at first, merely defended the PACS (Civil Solidarity Pacts) that it had instituted—eventually rallied behind Mamère. But the Right, with Jacques Chirac and Jean-Pierre Raffarin at the helm, adopted a hostile stance, even going so far as to sanction Mr. Mamère.
Since then, the divide has shifted, moving beyond the Right-Left division. Was this the result of the sanctioning-vote expressed in recent elections? Did it arise from a concern of alienating homosexuals in future elections? On the Right, support arose for gay marriage. And Mr. Raffarin—who welcomed homosexual associations on June 24—was not as autistic on this issue as he has been on others.
In a few weeks, Mr. Raffarin has increased his efforts, as if he wants to erase the image of intolerance projected by the Bègles event. A working group is now responsible for improving the PACS. The Cabinet adopted a proposal for a law against homophobia and discrimination. On the day before Gay Pride, the Prime Minister went even further, announcing a commission—like the one on secularism presided over by Bernard Stasi—that will consist of members of Parliament, intellectuals, and activists. This commission will be responsible for discussing and proposing questions on marriage and parenting. Gay associations, which have waited for Mr. Chirac to fulfill his promise of a “national debate,” praised the announcement.
Society is evolving, but slowly. The fight for equality and against discrimination also involves education and prevention. Schools, which too often create an ignorance of homosexuality which, in turn, leads to intolerance, must be the first line in this necessary lesson in tolerance.
Gay Pride will also allow AIDS groups to remind us that homosexuals are the group most affected by this growing epidemic. More than ever, as the French State seems to be distancing itself from this national (and even global) fight, the need for preventative measures at all levels is as much a collective responsibility as it is an individual one.
Gay rights groups are justifiably remaining vigilant. No schedule has been set for the commission announced by Mr. Raffarin. And a national debate requires a calmness on the part of both the Right and the Left. The fight again homophobia and discrimination may yet suffer setbacks in its long march forward.
Jean-Christophe, the 58 year-old son of François Mitterrand, has been arrested reports the Independent.
His arrest is part of an investigation into yet more allegations of sham dealings and weapons trafficking in Africa. Investigators assert that he was involved in money-laundering through a fake Mauritanian fishery. (Though not charged, J.-C. Mitterrand has been also been under investigation since 2000 for suspected sanctions-busting arms sales to Angola). Mitterrand was detained for questioning and then held over night before his release on Friday, again without being charged.
Mitterrand accuses investigating magistrate Philippe Courroye (who could be the one who ordered his arrest but the sloppy Independent doesn't tell us so we're left to ass-u-me that this is the case) of waging a campaign to sully his father's name.
Mitterrand's bank accounts have been frozen while investigators look into allegations that Mitterrand made large cash payments totalling €600,000 to a Mauritianian company called Iwik (named after a small fishing village), a company Mitterrand incorporated in '97 but that authorities was lifeless until after his last arrest in 2000.
The Independent, sloppy again, writes that "in March, Judge Courroye raided the apartment of M. Mitterrand, and his 80-year-old mother, the president's widow, Danièle Mitterrand, to search for incriminating documents." Are we to believe that J-.C. lives with his mother (the famed advocate of Kurdish interests who, strangely, opposed the invasion of Iraq)?
No French Tanks in IC, "not now, not ever"
Iraq isn't the only place that won't be receiving French tanks on its soil. The French Defense ministry has ruled out sending Leclerc tanks to Ivory Coast, even if the replacements for operation Licorne end up coming from the Leclerc tank regiment in Mourmelon, from which French soldiers have been mysteriously disappearing in alarming numbers.
The 56-ton tank has so far been used only in Kosovo and the Defense ministry officials have also ruled out its use in IC despite the fact that high ranking military officers have found that "the presence of a Leclerc squadron and a mechanized company transported in AMX 10-Ps would have an enormous impact."
Another Muslim Cemetery Defaced
The Beeb reported on Thursday that another Alsatian cemetery for Muslims had been defaced (see photo). This time, the graves belonged to France's Muslim soldiers felled during the First and Second World Wars and buried in Hagenau. President Chirac was, of course, trotted out to make rote remarks about some such or other "insult to the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives for our country."
Such events occurring with increasing frequency (search through the blog, you'll find more examples in a given week than I care to count) and the Beeb says that "about a dozen" similar desecrations of Muslim, Jewish and Christian tombs have been reported in "recent weeks."
President of Air France murdered in Haiti
Didier Mortet, 49, president of Air France, was murdered as he returned home toward 6:30 pm Thursday night in Port-au-Prince by three men traveling on motorcycles, according to the French embassy. He was in the presence of his Ukranian wife and their driver who was chauffeuring them home from the airport after Mortet's arrival from France. His house is located in the Musseau neighborhood of the capital, as are the Prime Minister's offices. Two of several bullets fired into the car hit Mortet only, once in the arm and once through the heart, killing him instantly. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination.
Yesterday, a 6,700-man multinational UN force lead by Brazilian general Augusto Heleno was to replace the Interim Multinational Force (comprised of Canadian, Chilean, US and French troops).
Unlike the Franco-Cameroonian comedian Dieudonné, another Franco-Cameroonian, novelist Gaston-Paul Effa (actually born in Yaoundé) has publicly announced his enthusiasm for learning about Judaism. Effa contacted Strasbourg professor of Hebrew and Hebrew civilization Gabriel Attias, a Moroccan Jew, in order to learn Hebrew.
Together, they have now published The Jew and the African, a book arguing in favor of cultural exchange. After seven years of study with Attias, Effa speaks of his own astonishment: "One doesn't learn Hebrew like one learns French. Hebrew is a language in which one learns to be astounded by everyday things because Jews have an urgent need to learn," he says.
Writes Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, "One does not come away unaffected from reading a work of such profound reflections. Beyond the contrast of African orality and Jewish literacy, different means of transmission, different processes for learning, of the place of woman and her dignity in the two societies, of the attitudes of each community toward death and evil, of African magic and Jewish mysticism, of music and exile, of nature and man, collaborations are born, often supported by historical or biblical references derived in particular from the Jewish tradition. Most of all, reading page after page printed with the ink of generosity, the reader feels engaged."
|Ham and cheese||Un sandwich mixte|
|But not on rye bread. That might be considered a bit too Kosher. How's about 'Sour Cheese, Pork Rind, and Salsa' hollow points? Of course, there is no point in needlessly upsetting French rap singers.
||Pas de pain de seigle. Cela fait un peu trop Cacher. Et pourquoi pas des balles trafiquées à 'jambon fromage'? Faut pas faire disjoncter des cinglés comme Akhenaton.
Here is what one American writer (not in any way known to be tender in his criticism of American culture and society, as well as Washington's insiders) had to answer:
And so you are ashamed. I am trying to think out what it can have been that has produced this large attitude of mind and this fine flow of sarcasm. Apparently you are ashamed to look Europe in the face; ashamed of the American name; temporarily ashamed of your nationality. By the light of remarks made to me by an American here in Vienna, I judge that you are ashamed because:"Cuba, Manchuria, Port Arthur, Spanish blood"? Oh, I forgot to tell you: this text was penned in 1898.
1. We are meddling where we have no business and no right; meddling with the private family matters of a sister nation; intruding upon her sacred right to do as she pleases with her own, unquestioned by anybody.
2. We are doing this under a sham humanitarian pretext.
3. Doing it in order to filch Cuba, the formal and distinct disclaimer in the ultimatum being very, very thin humbug, and easily detectable by you and virtuous Europe.
4. And finally you are ashamed of all this because it is new, and base, and brutal, and dishonest; and because Europe, having had no previous experience of such things, is horrified by it and can never respect us nor associate with us any more.
Brutal, base, dishonest? We? Land Thieves? Shedders of innocent blood? We? Traitors to our official word? We? Are we going to lose Europe's respect because of this new and dreadful conduct? Russia's, for instance? Is she lying stretched out on her back in Manchuria, with her head among her Siberian prisons and her feet in Port Arthur, trying to read over the fairy tales she told Lord Salisbury, and not able to do it for crying because we are maneuvering to treacherously smouch Cuba from feeble Spain, and because we are ungently shedding innocent Spanish blood?
Is it France's respect that we are going to lose? Is our unchivalric conduct troubling a nation which exists to-day because a brave young girl saved it when its poltroons had lost it — a nation which deserted her as one man when her day of peril came? Is our treacherous assault upon a weak people distressing a nation which contributed Bartholomew's Day to human history? Is our ruthless spirit offending the sensibilities of the nation which gave us the Reign of Terror to read about? Is our unmanly intrusion into the private affairs of a sister nation shocking the feelings of the people who sent Maximilian to Mexico? Are our shabby and pusillanimous ways outraging the fastidious people who have sent an innocent man (Dreyfus) to a living hell, taken to their embraces the slimy guilty one, and submitted to indignities Emile Zola — the manliest man in France?
Is it Spain's respect that we are going to lose? Is she sitting sadly conning her great history and contrasting it with our meddling, cruel, perfidious one — our shameful history of foreign robberies, humanitarian shams, and annihilations of weak and unoffending nations? Is she remembering with pride how she sent Columbus home in chains; how she sent half of the harmless West Indians into slavery and the rest to the grave, leaving not one alive; how she robbed and slaughtered the Inca's gentle race, then beguiled the Inca into her power with fair promises and burned him at the stake; how she drenched the New World in blood, and earned and got the name of The Nation With The Bloody Footprint; how she drove all the Jews out of Spain in a day, allowing them to sell their property, but forbidding them to carry any money out of the country; how she roasted heretics by the thousands and thousands in her public squares, generation after generation, her kings and her priests looking on as at a holiday show; how her Holy Inquisition imported hell into the earth; how she was the first to institute it and the last to give it up — and then only under compulsion; how, with a spirit unmodified by time, she still tortures her prisoners to-day; how, with her ancient passion for pain and blood unchanged, she still crowds the arena with ladies and gentlemen and priests to see with delight a bull harried and persecuted and a gored horse dragging his entrails on the ground; and how, with this incredible character surviving all attempts to civilize it, her Duke of Alva rises again in the person of General Weyler — to-day the most idolized personage in Spain — and we see a hundred thousand women and children shut up in pens and pitilessly starved to death?
Are we indeed going to lose Spain's respect? Is there no way to avoid this calamity — or this compliment? Are we going to lose her respect because we have made a promise in our ultimatum which she thinks we shall break? And meantime is she trying to recall some promise of her own which she has kept?
Is the Professional Official Fibber of Europe really troubled with our morals? Dear Parisian friend, are you taking seriously the daily remark of the newspaper and the orater about "this noble nation with an illustrious history"? That is mere kindness, mere charity for a people in temporary hard luck. The newspaper and the orator do not mean it. They wink when they say it.
And so you are ashamed. Do not be ashamed; there is no occasion for it.
— Mark Twain
(Thanks to the Transplanted Texan)
"Lighting up the Eiffel Tower in red was a splendid investment"
Behind the screen of culture, France and China are counting on significant political and economic returns from the Year of China in France, which ends next month, and the Year of France in China, which opens this fall. The idea of using culture to promote less-ethereal interests is something of a French specialty. … Making it easier, both France and China have highly centralized governments that control most of their cultural institutions.Oh, and by the way: how good is France — that epitome in humanitarianism, fraternal relations, tolerance, generosity, openness, the correct view of the world, true values, principles, democracy, blablabla (you know, Abu Ghraib, the Iraq war, Bush's "lies", American capitalism, the "moral cowardice" of fellow Europeans refusing to oppose Uncle Sam, etc) — at voicing "friendly" criticism at Beijing over its record on human rights and such? How good are the French at telling their Chinese "friends" (rather than their American ones) when it thinks the Chinese are wrong (and adding that friends don't always need to agree, but can be open and forthcoming when they think the friends are walking down the wrong path)? Consider the opening of the article…
Unsurprisingly, then, this exchange, which some officials describe as the largest ever between two nations, was born, not of cultural nostalgia, but of a hard-nosed political decision by France's president, Jacques Chirac, and Jiang Zemin, then China's president.
…to mark President Hu Jintao's state visit here in January, it lit the Eiffel Tower in red and organized a noisy Chinese New Year parade down the Champs-Elysées. China, in contrast, is interested in absorbing French technology and considers Paris a useful partner in taming Washington's unilateralist instinct. More concretely, though, image-building through the Year of China in France fits into Beijing's long-term strategy of gaining acceptance as a global power and opening itself up to the world…
"We're talking here of good value for money," said Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, director of the French Association for Artistic Action, the French government's cultural arm abroad. "It's a small, almost derisory amount to pay in order to stimulate political and economic relations, to intensify relations at all levels. The $600,000 spent by Electricité de France on lighting up the Eiffel Tower in red was a splendid investment. It was an image that went round the world."
Earlier this year, as part of a cultural extravaganza called the Year of China in France, a score of Chinese writers were invited as special guests of the annual Paris book fair. Gao Xingjian, the China-born, Paris-based novelist who won the 2000 Nobel literature prize, was pointedly not among them. The official explanation was that Gao is now a French citizen. The real reason was simpler: As an exile from the Beijing regime, he might have spoiled the party …too much was at stake to risk embarrassing Chinese officials.
"Friends Should Be Expected to Voice Their Differences Openly and Without Fear of Retaliation." Yeah, Right!
The main quarrel … quickly degenerated into a power struggle between a Franco-German camp and a rival group led by Britain and Italy … Jacques Chirac … has been increasingly dismayed by the inability of the Franco-German duo to continue getting its way in an enlarged EU of 25 countries. Instead of reconsidering his tactics, the French president became more and more indignant, accusing smaller countries who were sitting on the fence of moral cowardice, and threatening the Italians with a serious deterioration in bilateral relations. …Remember what the French are always saying to Americans? We French are your friends, and friends don't always need to be in agreement. Friends shouldn't expect other friends to just follow along, but should allow them to voice their differences honestly. In fact, you should expect them to tell you openly and forthrightly when they think you are wrong, and that without fear of retaliation.
This flexing of Franco-German muscle only stiffened the others' resistance. [Chirac's] deep resentment of the British role in rallying opposition to Franco-German dominance was … crucial.
You know what this is, don't you? This opinion, I mean — this "moral" viewpoint we are always hearing from France. As I've always said, it's nothing but double standards, through and through. As the evidence proves over and over again, it is nothing else than self-serving prattle. Use principles when they benefit us, discard them when they don't.
Friday, June 25, 2004
Thursday, June 24, 2004
|Personally, I prefer to say 'take a trip up that ol' dirt road'||J'ai préfère dire 'pénétrer par l'entrée des artistes'|
|I believe this post can be prosecuted in France under that new fag law. Call the cops!
||Je crois bien que ce poste tombe sous le coup de cette nouvelle législation pédaloïde. Appelez les keufs!
It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. So to love a man that you cannot bear to see a stain upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words, that is friendship.And that, in some way, is what this blog is all about… N'est-ce pas?
|France's problem is not enough McJobs||Le problème de la Fwance est qu'il n'y a pas assez de McBoulots|
|McJobs? Dhimmicrapper Kerry talks like the French. Flipping burgers is high tech in France, a country that only creates welfare recipients.
||Des McJobs? Kerry le dhimmicrotte cause comme les franchouilles. Faire des burgers est considéré comme un boulot de haute technologie en Fwance, un pays qui ne sait que créer des RMIstes.
|What kind of verbal re-education camp is this?||Quel genre de 'camp de rééducation' verbal nous prépare-t-on?|
|Faggot French politicians get ready for some kind of law to suppress 'homophobic hate speech' and sexist commentary.
||Ces pédés de politicards franchouilles prépare une espèce de loi en vue de proscrire 'les injures homophobes' et les propos sexistes.
|Feet in gutter, head up ass||Pieds dans le caniveau, tête dans le cul|
|France is Halfway between the gutter and the stars? No, the French are firmly in the gutter. A huge increase in welfare for lazy good-for-nothing bloodsucking leeches was announced today. On the other side of the Atlantic, it was announced that American private enterprise is heading to the stars.
||La France se trouve-elle à mi-chemin entre le caniveau et les étoiles? Pas du tout, les franchouilles sont bel et bien avec les deux pieds fermement plantés dans le caniveau. Aujourd'hui, nous avons eu droit à l'annonce d'une forte hausse du nombre de sangsues parasseux et vauriens. De l'autre côté de l'Atlantique, on a annoncé que le secteur privé visait desormais les étoiles.
|Game over for Intifada vermin||Fin de match pour la vermine de l'Intifada|
|What's the recipe for winning? Ignore the whining critics (for the most part they are spineless whining Zeropeans), give no quarter, hit hard and protect your own by all means necessary. In short, stick it in and break it off.
||La recette pour gagner? Ne prêtez aucune attention aux gémissements des détracteurs (dans l'ensemble, il s'agit de zéropéens lâches qui n'arrêtent pas de gémir), ne donnez aucun quartier, frappez fort et user de tous les moyens requis pour se protéger, Bref, enfoncez-le bien profondément, et cassez-le net.
|They have that same dirty weasel look||Même face, même race|
|Michael Moore, like the French, appeases terrorists. The French do it to 'save their asses' and to pre-emptively appease (pre-emptive appeasement, now there's a French concept if ever there was one) their suburban thug youth, Moore does it to rake in the cash.
||Michael Moore, tout comme les franchouilles, fait preuve de sa compromission avec les terroristes du monde entier (voire au-delà). Les fwançais agissent ainsi pour pas se faire botter le cul et pour faire des accomodements préventifs à sa populace de caillera banlieusarde (la compromission préventive, voilà un concept bien franchouille), Moore le fait pour gagner un max de thunes.
French companies have been increasing their presence here in the past few years. New Peugeots and Citroëns flood crowded highways and streets. French business people dine in the capital's restaurants and work on Gulf oil platforms. Air France resumed flights to Tehran this month after a seven-year hiatus. And the carmaker Renault is about to make the first large-scale, long-term direct investment in the country by a French company since the 1979 revolution that toppled the pro-American Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.This represents quite a change as, since the Iran Iraq war, France had, for long periods, been unwelcome in Iran because of its support for Saddam. But back then this did not prevent France from at least trying to establish relations.
One of my oldest friends in France was born in Iran and those among his family who could escape fled the Khuzestan province and came to Paris, after the revolution. (Those who could not escape were imprisoned or...) They told me last summer how upset they were with the overtures French authorities were then making in Tehran's direction only because the old ally Saddam was now gone.
However, such overtures have a much longer history. The book Notre allié Saddam contains an interesting account of them. During the negotiations that led to France's loan of 5 Super-Etendard fighters to Saddam in 1982, organized mobs in Tehran could be heard to shout "Death to France!" Things were not going well. As the delivery of the planes grew nearer, the Iranian foreign minister hauled French attaché to Tehran Jean Perrin on the carpet, summoning him to the ministry and saying:
Another contract. You used to say, "We're only fulfilling the contracts signed before 1981." That's no longer the case. We think this constitutes a hostile act. If you'd given us the same sort of matériel that you're supplying to Iraq, we would have won the war long ago.Vice-president of the Iranian parliament Mehdi Karubi later told a group of French businessmen, "You are now at war with us."
From the moment he was elected prime minister in 1986, Chirac tried to pursue the normalization of relations with Iran that had been begun by Mitterrand and Foreign Minister Roland Dumas. In addition to the economic and strategic benefits of relations with Iran, in a region where France did not have great influence, there was also the possibility of obtaining the release of French hostages captured in 1985 by groups close to Iran as well as the the end of a series of terrorist attacks (*) then occurring in France that some attributed to Iran, though they were claimed by a group known as the Committee on solidarity with the Arab political prisoners of the Middle East, ("Comité de solidarité avec les prisonniers politiques arabes du Proche-Orient," CSPPA).
On April 9, with the new government barely formed, Chirac sent a "good will" delegation to Tehran , consisting of Foreign Ministry Secretary General André Ross and North-Africa and Middle-East chief of staff Marc Bonnefous. Yet on April 16, he authorized a billion franc weapons contract with Iraq, against the counsel of his advisors. In May, however, he began secret negotiations with Iran, sending emissaries hand-picked by Charles Pasqua. The same month, he told the diplomatic press corps: "France can consider itself the friend and ally of Iraq."
For the new PM, things had gotten off to a flying start!
When Ross and Bonnefous returned from Iran, they provided the following précis of the views of parliamentary president Hashemi-Rafsanjani:
We do not understand France's attitude. Yet Ayatollah Khomeini harbors fond memories of your country! Why have you wasted this capital of sympathy? You are wrong in this war and we cannot accept that the United Nations and France have never recognized Iraq's responsibility in launching it. You are banking on a country that will soon cause you the greatest woes.As for the matter of French hostages captured in 1985, "it's got nothing to do with us," Rafsanjani told them.
Two men had similar meetings with other Iranian officials. At one point, Ross was picked up in a car that circled Tehran several times before pulling over outside a building that was still under construction. Inside, Ross met Mohsen Rafighdoust, head of the Revolutionary Gard (Pasdaran), a small, nervous man. Rafighdoust asked Ross for the release of Anis Naccache (a Lebanese terrorist planner, involved in the kidnapping of Opec functionaries and held in France for the attempted assassination of former Iranian prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar) as a token of good will but made no formal promise to facilitate the release of the French hostages.
Iran's final conditions for improving relations with France were (1) the settlement of the Eurodif matter (#), (2) the expulsion from France of anti-Mullah terror gang/cult leader Massud Rajavi (%) and (3) the cessation of weapons sales to Iraq. On that point, Chirac would not budge. Therfore, no dice. Again
Indeed, support for Iraq operations required mollifying more than one interested party, Israel among them. In 1981, Foreign minister Claude Cheysson met with Israeli FM Yitzhak Shamir and tried to explain France's support for Iraq. Shamir replied, "Have you read the bible? Do you know who freed the Jews from Babylon? The Persians!"
It can have come as no surprise to Cheysson and Mitterrand to learn in 1983 that Israel had been selling arms to Iran for over a year...
(*) On 17 March, an explosion on a TGV wounded 11. Another bomb was defused on the same day at the RER station at Châtelet. Three days later, Chirac's inauguration was greeted by a bomb at the Point Show shopping center on the Champs Elysées that killed two and wounded 28 others. The attack was claimed by the CSPPA, who demanded the release of hostages then held in French prisons.
(#) Iran sought repayment of a $1 billion loan to France's Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique for Iran's participation in the multinational uranium enrichment facility known as Eurodif, while France wanted compensation for the enrichment services allotted to Iran.
(%) After Saddam's ouster, MEK leader Maryam Rajavi was finally arrested last summer, prompting followers to immolate themselves in the streets of Paris.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Libé reports that racist graffiti has been discovered on a house in Alsace belonging to a family with two adopted Congolese children.
Two swastikas, racist and homophobic inscriptions drawn in chalk on a wall of her house: this is what Christian Mertz, a 48 year-old nurse, found on returning to her home in Breitenback (Bas Rhin), a town of 600 inhabitants. Then again, the following morning: "House of Faggots," "Nigger in Afric" (sic), "France for the French," scrawled in a hurry. According to Christiane Mertz, it is her two adopted children, originally from the Congo, who were targeted. 'When we saw what was written, our 7 year-old son immediately felt guilty, saying, "it's all because of us, because of our color.'"Last Friday, the association's sign glued to their mail box was ripped off. Then the mail box itself was daubed with the words, "France for the French." Christiane Mertz points out that four kilometers away, "anti-Semitic documents were discovered during a junior high school history class" and that "one of the windows of the town synagogue was smashed."
Settled in the village since 1998, Christiane and Christophe Mertz — who is also president of the Child of the Congo-Bethanie association — say their son "received a good welcome when he arrived in 1999." Two years alter, their daughter did not have such "luck." "We were told: 'is she yours? Will she stay? How many are going to bring from over there?'" says Christiane Mertz. "As if there were a feeling of being invaded."
Recently dubbed "the land of the right," by Le Monde, Alsace, the far-eastern region bordering Germany, was the only region of the twenty-two in France not to have voted in an opposition majority to its regional council — a fact perhaps unrelated to these events. Recent months have seen a considerable rise in racist and anti-Semitic behavior in Alsace. On June 13, 50 graves in a Muslim cemetery were defiled with neo-Nazi graffiti and the local Muslim community has been subjected to a series of threats: swastikas and the words "Death to Arabs" scrawled on a grocery store owned by a Muslim. Nazi graffiti was sprayed on a mosque. The offices of a Muslim funeral service were vandalized. And in April, 127 headstones in the Israelite cemetery of Hattstatt-Herrlisheim were defaced. The cemetery is all that remains of the town's Jewish population.
French and Indian War Simulacrum
Hundreds of war re-enactors will stage a key battle of the French and Indian War this week-end in Fort Ticonderoga, the first of several such reenactments (including others in Western PA and Old Fort Niagara) to take place this summer and marking the 250th anniversary of the war.
The Ticonderoga reenactment commemorates the British attack on a French garrison that was outnumbered five-to-one. The French defeated the redcoats in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on American soil.
Dislexic Man Walks into a Bra...
Expatica reports that a poll taken by "International Reader’s Digest" found that 22% of Belgians wish they were French (while 16% of Dutch want to be Belgian). The results come from a survey conducted among 4,000 people in 19 countries. Fifty-three percent of Flemish said they preferred French cooking but 64% of Walloons, who speak a dialect of French, preferred Italian cooking.
Twenty-two percent of all respondents disliked Germans, the highest level of antipathy expressed toward any nationality in the survey, with 32% of Belgians saying Germans should adopt a "more decent behavior."
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
--A translation of a statement by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Pope is on a visit to Washington, and President Bush takes his guest out for an afternoon on the Potomac, sailing on the Presidential yacht, the Sequoia.
They're admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Holy Father's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water. Secret Service guys start to launch a boat, but President Bush waves them off, saying, "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry."
Bush silently bows his head for a moment, mutters a few inaudible words, takes a final look towards the heavens, steps over the yacht's railing, sets his feet on the surface of the water, walks out to the floating zucchetto, bends over, picks the wet hat up, turns around, walks back to the yacht, and climbs back aboard.
Amid stunned silence and wide-eyed frozen faces, he hands the dripping hat to the Pope.
The next morning, editorials asking roughly the same rhetorical question appear in the New York Times, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Buffalo News, the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, the Minneapolis Tribune, the Denver Post, the Albuquerque Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, BBC Online, Le Monde, Libération, Le Figaro, Der Spiegel, and Stern: "How could Americans vote for a man who can't even swim?!"
(Thanks to Dick Thompson)
The Europe Puissance of French Dreams (Identity Located in Bumping Heads with Uncle Sam) Takes Another Blow
With the help of NATO loyalists like Britain, Denmark and Portugal, plus the weight of Chirac's clumsy bullying of new EU and NATO members from the former Soviet bloc, the French-German [anti-war] plan unraveled within less than a month.In the meantime, Le Monde's article on the latest news in the search for an Executive Commission president is written in a totally partisan tone of voice (the journalist hailing Verhofstadt appears to be Belgian), describing Belgium's prime minister as a hapless victim — "tired, bitter, and shocked by the attitude [and intransigeance] of certain states" — whereas the attitude of Tony Blair is described, in so many words, as gratuitious.
The circumstances around the effort's collapse not only confirmed the instincts of Schröder and Chirac and their concern that American influence was going to be the big winner in the EU's expansion to 25 members. More, it profoundly marked those new members from the East, who regarded the French and Germans as willing to undermine the U.S. presence in Europe — the single credible guarantee of their sovereignty, in the view of the old Warsaw Pact group.
Now, just a year later, an EU summit meeting has produced approval of a draft constitution that in no way turns the Europeans into a united world player, pressed eye-to-eye against the Americans. Alongside this nonconfrontational text came the rejection of a French- and German-backed candidate for the job of president of the EU's Executive Commission. …
The EU constitution that will be submitted to the member states for ratification over the next two years gives individual countries the power to veto decisions on foreign affairs and defense, which means no EU security policy constructed in opposition to America has much chance of success. At the same time, the Executive Commission's president, who communicates much of the community's day-to-day attitudes, will not be someone with the ideological baggage of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, the French-German choice, who described Europe's "emancipation" from the United States on security matters as both "inevitable and desirable."
In their own minds, Schröder and Chirac, who led the German chancellor but was less frank in referring to his motives, may have correctly identified their European stakes in relation to the Americans. But the reverberations of their joint Iraq policy concerning Europe's future have gone demonstrably against them. …
In an analysis and an editorial, [Libération] said that, for lack of any common political will, the constitution was largely empty of new integrating force and that the Europe it reflected would not be a political power. Although Libération did not describe this power further, it is the Europe Puissance of French dreams (and possibly some of Schröder's) that locates the EU's identity in bumping heads with the United States. …
Verhofstadt embodied the will of France and Germany to find a victory that would deflect the obviousness of a constitution that mandates no great new European power role. … According to a European cabinet minister, Blair told Chirac at the G-8 summit meeting at Sea Island, Georgia, barely a week earlier that the Belgian was out of the question. But Chirac remained so fixed on his nomination, the cabinet minister said, that France privately proposed to Poland inserting a reference to Christianity in the EU constitution in exchange for its support of Verhofstadt.
Something on the order of proposing to trade Corsica for Gdansk, the offer went nowhere, the minister said.
Schröder also remained adamant on Verhofstadt. Since Verhofstadt was described among Atlanticists as having a view strongly opposing what is now the European mainstream's notion of getting along with America, this raised the question among Germany's neighbors of Schröder's sincerity in saying recently that he does not want a European counterweight to the United States. To make sure no one could miss his take on what the battle had been all about, Verhofstadt coupled an announcement that he was giving up on his candidacy … with a suggestion that it was the fault of the Americans and their European toadies. …
None of this suggested that efforts wouldn't be made to find a Verhofstadt-like substitute for the next round of bartering on the commission presidency, or that a small, new EU military planning cell won't try to puff itself up with French urging to rival NATO over the long haul.
But a Europe defined in contradiction to the United States has found no new life in what is now the EU's draft constitution. …
Read about Le Monde's partisan take
on the EU controversy (in French)
|Late former president François Mitterrand was once a noted supporter of Israel but his prime minister Michel Rocard has reportedly announced to an audience in Egypt that Israel was an "historical mistake."
Citing a complete repoduction of Rocard's remarks by London-based Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat and claiming to have obtained a copy themselves, of which they provide a facsimile (which could be anything, for all I know), Proche-Orient.info quotes the former PM as having told a June 17 gathering at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina that "the origin of the Palestinian problem is in the promise given by the British to the Jews to establish a nationalist state on the basis of the religious conviction that the Jews have a right to this land, though it has accepted all religions. It is very dangerous to involve religions in politics. It was an historic error on the part of the British to make such a promise, but this now belongs to history."
Reached by telephone in Luxor Saturday morning, Rocard denied ever making such remarks: "My views on this matter have been well known for forty years and I have never wavered. All you have to do is review all my statements and all I have written. Israel is obviously not an historic error. What I said at the address I was invited to deliver at the Grand Francophone library in Alexandria was that the historic error of the British after the Balfour declaration was in not understanding all the consequences that this would have and therfore in having badly handled the consequences in dealing with the Muslim authorities. This explains why Israel was born into circumstances of conflict and the fundamental reasons why the conflict persists.
"As for having said that Israel is a racial or racist state," added Rocard, "I could never have said that. I deny it absolutely, formally and I'll say that the journalist who wrote that harbors ill will toward me."
But to-day UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed the opposing view. Speaking at a UN seminar on anti-Seminism, which was attended by Edgar Bronfman, Anne Bayefski and Elie Wiesel, among others, Annan acknowleged UN failures in combating anti-Semitism and said that "the General Assembly resolution of 1975, equating Zionism with racism, was an especially unfortunate decision. I am glad that it has since been rescinded." He also said, "the fight against anti-Semitism must be our fight. And Jews everywhere must feel that the United Nations is their home too."
Annan noted that UNHCR had asked Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on contemporary racism, to examine Muslim and Arab societies. "Are not Jews entitled to the same degree of concern and protection?" Annan asked.
UPDATE: The Asharq al-Awsat article is now unavailble. I confess that earlier I simply pasted the link into my post without viewing it, presuming it would be unreadable to me. So it may even have been unavailable then, too. Perhaps they are no longer standing by the story?
|Meanwhile, proche-orient.info also published the following account of an incidence of anti-Semitic violence that occured the very same day as Rocard's denial:|
Versailles, in a public park near the château de Versailles, Saturday June 19, 9:30 pm:
Monday, June 21, 2004
Jean-Marie Messier, former chief executive of French media giant Vivendi Universal, has been taken into custody.
Mr Messier is being questioned as part of an investigation into "financial misappropriation", Paris police said.
The arrest follows a probe into Vivendi ex-finance chief Guillaume Hannezo launched earlier this month.
Under Mr Messier, Vivendi ran up huge debts to fuel acquisitions, before the corresponding losses persuaded shareholders to oust him in July 2002.
[...J]udges [...] have been looking at sales of Vivendi stock in December 2001, shortly before a sharp fall in the company's share price.
During that period, Vivendi was struggling to contain the debts run up as a result of Mr Messier's strategy to turn the utilities-focused group into a media powerhouse.
The shares had been bought back by the company in late September and early October, amid the worldwide slide in share prices which followed the 11 September attacks on the US.
That, investigators believe, could violate French stock market rules banning share buybacks in the 15 days before companies report their results.
Mr Messier, whose detention gives the Paris financial police up to 48 hours to question him, is now likely also to be placed under judicial investigation.
A French convert to Islam with al-Qaeda links has been jailed for planning an attack on the US embassy in Paris.
Jerome Courtailler was given six years by the Dutch appeal court. Another man, Algerian Abdelghani Rabia, was given four years on similar charges.
The men were convicted of running a support network for the group, funded by credit card fraud and dealing in false documents.
Courtailler's brother David was jailed on terrorism charges in France in May.
The appeal court ruling overturns the 2002 acquittal of Courtailler and Rabia through lack of evidence.
The appeal court ruled, for the first time, that confidential information gathered by the Dutch secret service, could be used in court.
The men were found guilty of involvement in a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda, which had been planning an attack on the US embassy in Paris.
The attack was never carried out.
The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan, in The Hague, says it is the first time Islamic militants have been found guilty of involvement in terrorism in the Netherlands.
Two other men, both Algerian, were acquitted of being part of a terrorist group but convicted of membership in a criminal organisation.
A Dutch man of Ethiopian origin was acquitted.
What the gun tells us about the president, the war and the relationship of the Bush family to Saddam is another story entirely. It is in many ways better, or at least more interesting, than the first [i.e., the straightforward story of how the soldiers who captured Saddam presented the mounted sidearm as a gift to the president]. …
In [Stanley] Renshon's view, Bush went to war for geo-strategic reasons, but there was a powerful personal element as well. In short, Saddam's gun is a trophy that symbolizes victories both military and psychic. … Michael Sherry, a military historian at Northwestern University, noted that there was a long record of soldiers seizing the weapons of vanquished enemies as the ultimate symbols of defeat.
…Saddam's pistol is a bookend of sorts, the prize of a president who viewed the badge as reason for waging two wars. To the Delta Force that brought it back, the gun is a piece of history representing nothing less than mission complete.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
The agreement on a European Constitution by the twenty-five heads of state and by the government of the Union is good news for Europe. Those who have called this event “historic” are not wrong to emphasize that the rules which the Union has just agreed upon will reinforce—as Jacques Chirac has pointed out—the Union’s ties and its weight on the world stage.
Europe had to give itself the means to function with twenty-five (and soon twenty-seven and, later, perhaps more) members. If there had been no changes to its leadership structure and decision-making mechanisms, Europe would have been paralyzed. It is therefore a matter for celebration that Europe has finally reached an agreement, even if the process was not flawless.
Nonetheless, this positive result does not erase the Twenty-Five’s failure to appoint a new president for the European Commission—a president who will succeed Romano Prodi in a few months. Not only does this set-back tarnish the success of the agreement on a Constitution, but it emphasizes the profound division that was already illustrated by the Constitutional debate. The Union with twenty-five members is extremely disunited, and its capacity for action is severely compromised.
Can the future Constitution give back to the Union some of its lost vigor? Nothing is less certain for at least three reasons. First, this document, in order to become binding, must be ratified by the national parliaments or, in the case of referenda, by the voters. Given the recent results of the European elections, this will not be an easy sell. Second, the agreement on the Constitution was reached only with difficulty and as the result of conflicts between member states. These disagreements have left scars. Third, in numerous areas and particularly as a result of the British, the Constitution backed away from some of its more community-focused tenets, requiring a re-thinking of the Constitution’s purpose.
Of course, the reforms introduced by the agreement—the new posts of a president of the European Council and an EU Foreign Minister, a reduced number of commissioners in the EU Commission by 2014, a new equilibrium of voices in the Council of Ministers, the broadening of the vote to a qualified majority—are significant. They may contribute to a more efficient Union. But without a strong will to overcome the differences between States in the interest of the greater good, the Constitution—regardless of its virtues—will not be enough. The fruitless search for a new president of the Commission demonstrates that this will does not exist or that, if such a will does exist, it is too weak to infuse into Europe the vigor that she needs.
The gulf that appeared during the Iraq war was still apparent in the confrontation between the French-German couple, to which Belgium aligned itself, and Great Britain and her allies. These fractures are the principal cause of Europe’s weakness today.