You've got to remember the American audience is the global audience. I once said to an Englishman: "You don't understand America, because you think they are Americans, but they are not. America is full of foreigners. They are all foreigners since 1776." So whatever frightens the Americans frightens the Italians, the Rumanians, the Danes, and everyone else from Europe.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
…the fact that so many press outlets were quick to assume the [al-Qaeda suspect] leak was yet another government blunder indicates that, unlike U.S. intelligence[!], our media is not learning from its mistakes.
In the almost three years since Sept. 11, the White House and U.S. intelligence have come under heavy fire for their errors, while the press has mostly been criticized for not being hard enough on either of them. Certainly, there's a time for the U.S. press to play the adversary—to challenge Washington and itemize its errors—but that's not its only role. The media can also choose to explain the government's actions rather than reflexively criticize—or cheer—them. But in order to explain, we have to assume that the White House is essentially a rational actor that can neither afford to lie out of habit nor to ignore its mistakes because it is too incompetent to correct them; rather, we need to recognize that there are circumstances under which a government is likely to deceive and err. Obviously, war is the No. 1 condition for both.
During every war, the government will sometimes lie to the American people and its allies, and it will almost always attempt to deceive or conceal information from its enemies. The Bush administration gambled that it could invade Iraq without revealing its real reasons for doing so [here, Lee Smith seems to be committing the same mistake that he is (rightly) criticizing his colleagues about] and without losing the support of the people who will ultimately decide whether venturing American lives and money was worth it. After all, we know we are at war, not just because the president told us, but because our enemies have done so in word and deed. So, there are two ways to look at our current predicament: 1) the government lied to get us into the Iraq war, and the inevitable result is a series of mistakes and miscalculations; or 2) Iraq is just a campaign in a war we were already fighting, and both lying and confusion are essential parts of all wars. However, the press seems to be confused because it's not really sure we're at war.
For instance, last week when the Iraqi government decided to close Al Jazeera's Baghdad office for a month to give the station a chance to reconsider its positions and policies, the New York Times ran an editorial condemning the government's action. "Thwarting Al Jazeera's news coverage will not halt the violence that has been tearing Iraq apart for the past 16 months. But it may … give [Allawi's] government a freer hand to abuse human rights and pursue personal political vendettas in the name of restoring law and order." The Times doesn't really think that Al Jazeera's watchful eye prevents Arab regimes from abusing the human and political rights of Arab citizens—or why didn't the network keep Saddam in check? No, this is the U.S. press on auto-pilot. Any decision that keeps someone from articulating their point of view, even if it abets violence and misreports facts, is censorship, and we're against it, even if it's just for 30 days. But does the NYT's editorial staff believe that if Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl had wanted to film George Patton's 3rd Army in its march through France, she should have been allowed to do so?
I happen to enjoy Paris-Plage as much as any other Parisian, but! because this trend has started in Europe, it is nothing to laugh at or raise one's nose at; au contraire! It is lauded as informal, jovial, unifying, sympa, etc, etc, etc…
…the French countryside … still accounts for a lot of France. Half the surface area of the country is farmland. A church spire provides cell-phone service; a computer controls a 16th-century bell; an automated angelus attracts and annoys different couches of the new rural scene.
Change and tradition vie with each other, the old conceals the new, and the French ambivalence over modernity and the fate of its rustic soul is played out in clash and compromise.
To understand France, look at its villages. The country remains more rural than any other in Western Europe, more tied through family and gastronomy and cultural identity to the local sources of its wine and weathered wisdom.
At the same time, it has modernized at a ferocious pace: Only three percent of workers are engaged in farming compared with more than 20 percent four decades ago.
The tension between these two Frances — the shifting and the rooted — is central to what the French might term their existential condition. This helps explain a few things. If the United States equals modernity and the rootless existence, it is natural that it should inspire some unease in a country playing out its own complex internal struggle between metropolitan culture and that mix of soil and hearth and tradition the French call "terroir."
Over the past two decades, the last two French presidents, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, have been particularly attentive to "terroir" or the innermost rural France known as "la France profonde,", because they know what a potent cultural force it remains. They have at the same time been ambivalent at best about America.
But deepest France is changing. After the exodus from the French countryside in the 1960s and 1970s, a reflux has begun. People are returning to villages, particularly those within 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, of towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants. They are drawn by a calmer lifestyle, the possibilities of the Internet and by emergent business opportunities in rural tourism. A new class has emerged: the "Neo-rurals" or the "Rurbains" (a conflation of the French words for "rural" and "urban"). Sociologists speak of the "the new countrysides" of France. …
On-line commerce is spreading, although high-speed Internet is still scarce in rural areas. In 2002, the last year for which figures are available, high-speed services were available to 74 percent of the population but on only 21 percent of French territory. As that changes, the number of "Rurbains" is likely to grow faster, helping to mold the character of contemporary France.
What is that character? As seen from a neo-rural French village, it is subtle and stubborn, restless and rooted, proud and prickly, at once open to the world and cautious about the loss of truths contained in old stones and old cellars. A place where a church spire is not what it seems and a bell a bellwether of change. It is the Americanizing anti-America. It is not easy to grasp and so easily maddening. …
Friday, August 13, 2004
|The French are tossing Sadr's salad||Les franchouilles goûtent au pétale de rose de Sadr|
|Boys will be boys||Il faut que jeunesse se passe|
|Two punks who gave regular beatings to a Jewish classmate over a period of several weeks and called him 'Dirty Jew' are being allowed back to school after the decision to expel them was overturned on appeal. Sylvain at the Chicago Boyz has a few thoughts about anti-Semitism in the Old Country.
||Deux cailleras qui administraient des passages à tabac réguliers à un camarade juif sur une période de plusieurs semaines tout en le traitant de 'sale juif' ont été réintégrés à leur école suite à une décision en appel qui annule leur expulsion. Sylvain chez les Chicago Boyz nous fait part de ses sentiments au sujet de l'antisémitisme au Pays.
|Near sighted 1968 worldview||Optique myope de soixante-huitard|
|Zeropa, pushed by an obsessively anti-American France, is misreading the upcoming US election.
||La Zéropa, poussée par une Fwance qui est anti-américaine de façon obsessionnelle, se trompe lourdement dans ses intérpretations au sujet de l'élection présidentielle américaine à venir.
A New Pekinnink: Ve Dry Akain, Only Dis Dime Ve Are Tedermined Do — VOT?! VOT DER TEFIL IST NOW HABBENINK!?!?!
EIGHDY-TSIX PERZENT VOR TOPYOU! VOT DER VUCK IST DAS SCHWEINEREI! FRITZ! HELMUT! WOLFGANG! KOMMEN SIE HIER! KET TO VORK ON DER @\#%@#>(^#%@ KOMBUTER! VOR KOT'S TSAKE, KET DIS @|\^#%@#(^#%@ BOLL VORKINK!! KET DIS @^%/@#(}#%@ BOLL VORKINK DER VAY ID IST TSUPPOSED TO @^#%@#(^#%@ VORK!!!
The New York Times' Norimitsu Onishi has an article in the IHT on the close relationship between Japan's authorities and Japan's nominally independent press. Although the Asia Letter speaks of a country far removed (geographically speaking) from France — and Europe — the article nevertheless provides insight into how a society functions — and malfunctions — when the press is (too) closely linked to a country's authorities.
Although in the case of Japan, it turns out that — unlike France and Germany, say — the close relationship happens to be beneficial to the alliance with Washington, it nevertheless shows the deeper setbacks to freedom in a democracy… The alleged benefits thereof to Uncle Sam, I feel, are far outweighed by the setbacks provided by non-allied countries' leaders, citizens, and media outlets (from "Old Europe" to the Arab world) trained to run amock every time the subject of "perfidious America" is brought up…
There may be differences between Japan's press clubs and Europe's media outlets, but in the long run I find them to be subtle while I find the similarities akin to what happens when the press pounces on things like Abu Ghraib while ignoring beheadings of American citizens and their allies, not to mention the wilfull ignorance of Saddam Hussein's killing fields (all cases of emphasis below are mine), both in the past and in the present.
(This, in turn, is far from dissimilar to the fact that the "wailing industry" [as The Economist calls Japan's incessant commemorating of the Hiroshima bombing] seldom, if ever, reports on the atrocities committed by the imperial army during the Pacific War, notably at Nanjing.)
In May, an immigrant from Bangladesh, Mohamed Himu Islam, was arrested, along with four other Muslim foreigners living [in Tokyo], for allegedly having ties to Al Qaeda.Incidentally, Norimitsu Onishi has already reported on Japan's press clubs in the past.
Most of the charges amounted to nothing more than illegally staying in Japan, and none of the men … came from countries famous for being factory mills for Al Qaeda membership.
Still, maybe the police knew something more, because they were clearly playing the arrests up to the Japanese media.
Accordingly, the arrests flew onto the front pages of all national newspapers and made the top news on television.
Magazines placed photos of some of the men next to those of Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda was here, or so it seemed.
Less than three months later, no one has been indicted on any Al Qaeda-related charge. Four of the men, sentenced for being in Japan without proper papers, appear to be facing deportation.
Meanwhile, Islam, also cleared of being a terrorist, is back living in his home in suburban Tokyo with his Japanese wife and their two children. With "Al Qaeda" stamped on his forehead, he is finding it impossible to rebuild his business and admits that he has even come close to committing suicide.
"I'm not Al Qaeda," Islam said. "I want to clear my name."
So far he has been unable to do so for the simple reason that the mainstream media here have almost completely ignored what happened after those arrests in May.
In the West, the media would have pounced on a similar story, especially one that the police had so hyped, with sober broadsheets dissecting the failures of the investigation and tabloids cutting to the chase with words like "botch-up" or "fiasco."
Here, there has been almost complete silence — so much so that average Japanese, while recalling the big headlines in May, are unaware that the arrested men, in fact, had nothing to do with Al Qaeda.
In a true sense, Islam found himself the victim of the collusion that exists in Japan between the authorities and the mainstream media.
A structure designed to protect the powerful while ignoring the powerless, it has allowed those who led this investigation to remain unaccountable while it nearly pushed Islam to jump off a bridge, and end what until recently had been a very happy life in Japan.
…At a mosque where he prayed and also looked for prepaid [telephone] card customers, Islam met the man who would lead him to his present predicament: Lionel Dumont, or Samir, as he was known in the Muslim community in Japan.
Dumont, a French citizen of Algerian descent, had been convicted of attacks and robberies as part of an Islamic militant gang in France and had been sentenced, in absentia, to life in prison.
Dumont, with suspected ties to Al Qaeda, had been living in Japan for several years, until at least September 2003.
As Samir, he became an on-and-off buyer of prepaid cards, just one in Islam's growing list of clients. Islam said he had not thought of him at all until last May when the man appeared suddenly on Japanese television.
Dumont, who had been arrested in Germany last December, was extradited to France in May. It was then revealed that he had been living for several years in Japan.
The revelation embarrassed the Japanese government, which had committed itself 100 percent to President George W. Bush's war on terror. It was particularly humiliating for the police authorities, who had set up antiterrorism task forces after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In the blinding media spotlight following the arrests, Islam was portrayed as the ringleader. The daily Yomiuri newspaper wrote, "behind the face of a businessman, did he also have another face as a supporter of terrorism?"
It also speculated that Islam had sent money to his country to support Islamic radicals.
In none of the newspapers was any police official quoted by name as making the accusations. All the information was clearly handed out in cozy press clubs, where the rules are mostly no name, no attribution — and no accountability.
After 43 days in jail, Islam was finally freed. His only sentence was to pay a $3,000 fine for employing two illegal foreign residents at his business … But because his release and the lack of Al Qaeda-related convictions in the other four cases were all but ignored here, Islam was still branded as an Al Qaeda member.
He could not rebuild his business, which had collapsed during his imprisonment. …Eventually, through the help of a Bangladeshi journalist here, Islam held a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan to clear his name. …
The newspapers ran tiny articles on Islam's news conference, burying them in the back pages.
He was particularly angry at one television network that ignored his conference but ran a segment on a monkey that, after suffering from an accident, had begun walking upright just like a human being.
"That monkey had the right to be on TV, but not me," Islam said. "I don't think I'm considered human here, because if I were human, I'd have human rights." …
With regards to Abu Ghraib and Iraq, Davids Medienkritik recently gave a specific example of the biased reporting in the German media, a type of "abuse" that the latter has "developed into an art form". David follows that by an example of what the European media would never report on (unless it were to bury them in the back pages, of course)…
And concerning "All the information was clearly handed out [by the authorities] in cozy press clubs", do you remember this?…
Historians call the Provence landings the Forgotten D-Day.
But John Shirley and a handful of aging veterans vividly recall that day, Aug. 15, 1944, when they stepped onto the French Riviera and delivered an uppercut to Hitler's diminishing army. "We didn't hit any mines, but we did run into German machine guns and rifles," said Shirley, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army who lost 5 of his 12 men storming ashore near Saint-Tropez. "Maybe it was a sideline to the big fights up north, but it was a very important invasion."
"The Normandy landings were a spectacular operation that everyone knows about, and we commemorate it with enormous fanfare," said André Kaspi, director of the North American History Center at the Sorbonne in Paris. "Then, there are the Provence landings that are more or less forgotten, but nonetheless essential." In all, an estimated 300,000 Allied soldiers, half of them French, stormed the Mediterranean shores from Toulon to Cannes, part of an Allied strategy for a two-front offensive. Winston Churchill had resisted Operation Dragoon to the last, preferring to focus Allied strength in the north. The Americans prevailed, arguing that a pincer movement would overwhelm Hitler's defenses. Charles de Gaulle also pushed for Operation Dragoon, eager for French troops to play a major role in liberating Toulon and Marseille after having been all but absent from the Normandy invasion.
"The landing was not only important from a strategic point of view, but also from the French point of view," Kaspi said.
As part of 60th-anniversary celebrations that started in June, and to let veterans know that they are no mere historical footnote, France is paying official thanks to the southern invasion with a weekend of ceremonies. President Jacques Chirac caps the tributes on Sunday aboard an aircraft carrier with 16 leaders from participating African nations and a few hundred veterans.
France relied heavily on its African colonies for its part of the invasion force. The 16 leaders joining Chirac for the ceremony Sunday are from France's former colonial empire, including Algeria, Morocco, Senegal and Madagascar.…
Thousands of paratroopers, mostly American and British, preceded the amphibious operation, in drops north of the coast. Under heavy fog the night of Aug. 14, 1944, many fell miles off target into the sea and drowned.
Unlike the rain, fog and choppy waters that complicated the Normandy invasion, the weather down south that August morning was perfect. The sea was calm and the sky bright blue as U.S. rockets thundered overhead and Burks's landing craft delivered him to dry land on a beach near Saint-Tropez.
"The Germans started resisting in the Vosges Mountains," recalled Shirley, whose 3rd Infantry Division fought at Anzio in Italy and helped liberate Rome. "It was very intense fighting."
Burks has similar memories. "For the first month, it was amazing how fast we moved, but then we got into October and the rains," he said, pausing. "I can still walk out onto my back porch when it rains, and I can smell the Vosges. It all comes back."
Thursday, August 12, 2004
France built on an exceptional first-quarter performance, outstripping expectations with another 0.8 percent rise in GDP as consumers filled the shops again.
The 3.2 percent annualized growth rate in France outstripped the United States during the quarter and was a point ahead of the expected euro zone aggregate. First-half French growth also matched Britain -- where the Bank of England has raised interest rates five times since November to keep inflation in check.
Germany met forecasts with an acceleration to 0.5 percent -- its fastest in three years. But, in stark contrast to France, it continued to be driven almost entirely by exports as consumption was described by the Federal Statistics Office as stagnant.
While France, Germany and Italy - together accounting for almost 70 percent of total euro zone output - suggest a 0.6 percent forecast for Q2 is now comfortable, the surprise Dutch data has led many to tilt toward a 0.5 percent outcome.
The Netherlands accounts for just six percent of euro zone output however and Spain, which accounts for about 10 percent of the bloc, repeated its 0.6 percent from the first quarter.
"The rapid French expansion remains the surprise element for us, but it is hard to see that sort of consumption growth being sustained without more job creation or wage growth."
Many see housing trends as a potential explanation for euro zone divergence - with France and Spain having double-digit house price rises and related consumption effects.
Germany and the Netherlands, on the other side of the coin, continue to experience housing recessions and this -- among many other concerns -- is crimping consumption.
With the United States and China showing signs of slowdown and both oil prices and interest rates rising, the world trade outlook is ebbing before the euro zone has started to create enough new jobs to sustain nascent domestic demand growth.
|Pass the buck||Faire porter le chapeau|
|The French are just about at the end of their rope with regards to anti-Semitism in their precious Ripoublika Franska. In the face of ever rising levels of anti-Semitic violence they are doing the only thing they can do: blame America. French ||Les franchouilles sont au bout du rouleau en ce qui concerne l'antisémitisme dans leur Ripoublika Franska chérie. Devant les actes de violences antisémites qui vont en se multipliant, ils ont décidé de faire la seule chose qu'ils arrivent à faire bien: faire porter le chapeau aux américains. La |
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Kaspar, du bist eine grosse sauerkraut!! Straf! Kaspar, dein Straf! Und du, Ray, you traurige wienershnitzel, ko home do Amerika vhere you pelong! #$#%^&*() *&%^#@#!! sbudder sbudder koff koff ich! ach! uch!…
|France parties hearty ...||La Fwance fait la mégateuf ...|
|... because 'Al-Qaeda: the reinforcements have arrived'. ||... car 'Al-Qaeda: la relève est là'. |
|What Zeropa thinks is important||Comme quoi, c'est important ce que pensent les zéropéens|
|If a Pali Psycho Death Cult©® scum breaks a fingernail while trying to set off his bomb belt, Zeropa screams that he's a hero unjustly martyred by that fascist Busharon. If jihadi militias kill tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur, Zeropa finds nothing to say about it.
||Si une vermine palestinienne du Culte Psychotique de la Mort palestinien©® se brise un ongle en essayant d'actionner sa ceinture d'explosifs, la Zéropa l'érige immédiatement en héro martyrisé par le fasciste Busharon. Si des milices djihadistes charcutent des dizaines de milliers de civils au Darfour, la Zéropa déclare qu'il n'y a rien à signaler.
|Cheering and honking in Paris||Cris de joie et klaxons à Paris|
|It's good to see that the blogosphere is not suckered into buying ||Ça fait du bien de voir que la blogosphère n'est pas dupe en ce qui concerne les condoléances bidons étalées par |
The French write and talk obsessively about Anglo-American adventurism in Iraq. Yet with an easy two-day drive an American can visit more than 50,000 British and American dead soldiers, resting at places like Hamm, St. Avold, Epinal, Omaha Beach, Ranville and Bayeux. The irony seems lost that the recently much-maligned Anglo-Saxon muscularity that ended Baathist Iraq is the logical successor to the same unapologetic partnership of Churchill and Roosevelt that once interfered in continental Europe to save it from its own indigenous fascism.
In this regard, blinkered European Union utopianism is thematic in its post-1960s World War II museums. Guides, videos and brochures remonstrate, often in self-righteous indignation, about the follies of war, violence and racism. Only at American and British cemeteries, in contrast, does one receive a different view of what the SS Panzers were really up to — and how they were stopped. Words like courage, sacrifice and duty are chiseled on the architraves of granite pavilions. Like mute stone totems, they look out over thousands of white crosses. In this context, the well-meaning, but entirely impotent European efforts at curbing genocide in the Sudan or the nuclearization of Iran make one doubt the vaunted new efficacy of "soft power" — triangulation always predicated on the threat of real American hard force in the shadows.
(Gracias para el Barcepundito)
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
|The bravest woman in Zeropa||La femme la plus courageuse en Zéropa|
|You go girl.
||Vas-y ma belle.
|UPDATE: Allah notes that Oriana sold half a million copies in just a few hours in Italy. Pantywaist brown shirts have already tried to censure her in France.
||DERNIERES INFOS: Allah remarque qu'Oriana a vendu en Italie un demi-million d'exemplaires de son livre en seulement quelques heures. Les pédaloïdes chemises brunes (tiens, tiens, encore eux) ont déjà tenté de la censurer en Fwance.
Sixty Jewish tombs at a cemetery in Lyon were covered in swastikas and Celtic crosses, Monday evening, the Rhône police department disclosed in the night of Monday to Tuesday. The cemetery guard found the head stones daubed with black paint shortly after 11 pm on Monday, deputy chief of police François Lalanne told the AFP. The defaced graves are in part of a cemetery row that comprises several hundred sepulchers, all of them Jewish, in Lyon's 7th arrondissement, according to Lalanne. The perpetrator(s) painted one to two crosses or swastikas on each grave, he added. Regional police have been assigned to an investigation at the request of the Lyon prosecutor's office. The prefect, police commissioner, Republic prosecutor, the rabbi of Lyon and the president of the local Jewish consistory arrived on the scene toward 11 pm, sources said.
A further three French citizens are currently being held at Guantánamo.
France has given €300,000 ($368,183) to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), earmarked to help the four Sahelian nations (Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Niger) cope with a plague of locusts that threatens to provoke a famine affecting up to a million people.
The situation is very grave, indeed. The last such plague in 1987 caused $300 million worth of damage to food production but, according to the FAO, this time it will be worse. Locusts engulfed Nouakchott capital last week and the Mauritanian government claims that the locusts have gotten to a million hectares (2.47 million acres) of its land. The Gao region in Mali has been overrun and Gambia has declared a national emergency as 70% of its population farms for subsistence.
The infestation coincides with the beginning of the planting season and will deprive affected areas not only of staple foods but also of feed for livestock. Each locust can eat its own bodyweight in 24 hours, meaning in a day a ton of them consume as much as 2,500 people.
Some fear the locusts could spread as far east as Darfur. In fact, the last plague began in western Sudan and ultimately spread to 28 countries, including places as far away as India.
France's Lieutenant General Jean-Louis Py has taken command of Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
The MFA announced to-day that Djiboutian president Ismail Omar Guelleh will enjoy diplomatic immunity while in France for the August 14 and 15 ceremonies celebrating the 1944 Provence landings and the liberation of France. Twenty-two heads of state were invited to participate but only 16 have accepted. Among those absent will be Tony Blair, Dick Cheney and Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.
President Guelleh is currently under investigation for the murder of the French magistrate Bernard Borrel, whose half-carbonized body was found alongside a cliff overlooking the sea of Oman in 1995. Borrel had been working as an advisor to the Djiboutian Justice minister and his mysterious death has aroused a great deal of suspicion. As yet, the investigation hasn't turned up anything solid.
Monday, August 09, 2004
The perfect moment, then, for NPR to air an in-depth analysis of the Chirac-Sarkozy show-down. "The whole country seems to be on the edge of its seat," said Liane Hansen. Sure about that one, Liane? Before midday on Saturday, Bison Futé had recorded a total of 334 km of traffic jams on French highways.
It was interesting to hear from Nicholas Domenach, who said, "we live in a republican monarchy in France and Sarkozy is committing regicide."
However, it was disappointing to hear NPR's Eleanor Beardsley repeat the trite half-truth about the initial 1995 dust-up between Sarkozy and Chirac which so many people suppose started it all: Chirac wasn't angry because Sarko supported Balladur... or at any rate, not just because he supported Balladur. Sarkozy supported Balladur because the two were angry: Sarkozy had abruptly broken off his wedding engagement to Claude Chirac. Guy Birenbaum writes (p. 98) about this widespread misunderstanding, lamenting the
political disputes and other internal frictions that are experienced by all parties and which most of the time are 'sold' to the public as so many battles among men and women, mechanical clashes, conflicts of trends, if not of ideology when, at the outset, they cover over banal personal matters. [...] In February 2003, when the tensions between the Elysée Palace, Bernadette Chirac and the minster of the Interior seemed to be rising again, only Eric Mandonnet of the magazine L'Express would describe the real cause of the dust-up: 'I will never forgive him because he has penetrated my privacy,' he quotes Chirac as saying crudely [... Eric Mandonnet, "Chirac-Sarkozy: la guerre froide," L'Express, 30 janvier 2003]