A datapoint on France.

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NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, all translations to English are the work of this site's contributors.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002  
Attacks on Islam in France: First, on December 26, a flammable liquid was thrown through the window of a prayer hall in Rilleux-la-Pape and burned several square meters of the room's carpeting. Then, on December 27, the colors of the French flag were sprayed on the walls of a mosque in Lyon. Wonders Kamel Kabtane, the head of the targeted Lyon mosque: "Today, it's paint, but what's it going to be tomorrow?"

Monday, December 30, 2002  
Under the wide and starry sky/ Dig the grave and let me lie: "[F]amilies across Spain have begun digging up the remains of relatives who were murdered and dumped in ditches, fields, and unmarked mass graves." More here.

Winston Churchill, Hero or Criminal?: So wonders Jorg Friedrich in The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment, 1940-1945. Friedrich argues that Churchill decided to target German civilians even before Hitler sent the Luftwaffe over Warsaw, Rotterdam, and London. The Royal Air Force's area-bombing (in contrast to precision bombing) of cities including Dresden, Hamburg and Cologne resulted in the deaths of (according to Friedrich) 635,000 civilians (others put the number at 500,000). In the German resort city of Swinemuende, 45 minutes of Allied bombing in 1945 resulted in the deaths of 1,500 German soldiers...and over 20,000 civilians who were fleeing the advancing Russian army. The RAF adopted this widespread bombing due, in part, to their inability to pinpoint and strike with precision Nazi airfields and military targets. However, in large part, the bombing was also a campaign of terror. Churchill, himself, seems to have expressed reservations about the policy, writing in a memo to his Chiefs of Staff: "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land."

Wednesday, December 25, 2002  
Reactionary Left: "From the time of the Revolution, the French left has always imagined itself to be on the side of internationalism, openness, modernity and 'progress.' [However] [b]oth the nouveaux réactionnaires (ex-left) and the anti-globalisers (repackaged-left) share an inward-looking obsession with a narrowly defined Frenchness and a contempt for many aspects of the modern world."

--John Lichfield in The Independent


France's Double Jeopardy in Action:

(for background, see archived "France's Social Death Penalty" under October 29, 2002)

Fouad Gouaima, a Moroccan who has lived in France for the past 23 years, was recently expelled to Morocco after serving 3 years in a French prison for a rape. He leaves his parents and siblings in France. Although the French Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, has indicated that double jeopardy cases (where the defendant is subject to expulsion from France in addition to a French prison term) will be examined on a case by case basis, there is little sign that this policy is being implemented.


Tuesday, December 24, 2002  
Belgian Speechwriter: Godfried Danneels, the Primate of Belgium, has expressed his outrage that Bush uses the phrase "God Bless America" to conclude his speeches. The Belgian Primate screeched, "When one uses this phrase at the end of a military speech, this may signify, 'May God bless us, but not others.'...This is not the first time in history that someone has tried to monopolize God for his own cause... "

Hmmm....Maybe the EU should look into antitrust charges.


Le Monde Gives Lesson in Democracy to US: You can find the article here, but here are some brief excerpts and responses:

--The article begins, "In a democracy, the war against terrorism does not justify every course of action."

Thanks for the insight. Rejecting an extreme position is a safe way to start an argument. The problem is that no one has advocated the position that Le Monde is rejecting. Le Monde sets up a straw man and then knocks it down.

--"Old European nations, who have erred much in their past, can offer several lessons to the United States..."

Gather around children...It's story time with Grandaddy Europe! If you want to appeal to logic, go ahead. But spare us the trite argument that Europeans have ancient wisdom flowing their veins. You don't get any points for your ethnicity. And while the notion that your sanguinary past has turned you into a political oracle is an interesting effort to turn a black mark into a badge of erudition, it is, ultimately, nothing more than an interesting effort to turn a black mark into a badge of erudition.

--The category of enemy combatants is "a judicial category completely unknown to the common law of a democracy."

Really? According to Griffin Bell, a former US Attorney General, it has not been "our [American] practice, at any time during the history of this country, to attempt to provide trials for captured combatants in our civilian courts...Military tribunals, such as those authorized by the President's recent Executive Order, are the traditional means by which foreign combatants, including terrorists, have, historically, been brought to justice...During and after the Civil War, military commissions were used to try war criminals, including the individuals who participated in the assassination of President Lincoln.

Military tribunals were used to try war criminals during the Mexican-American War, various wars against the American Indians, and the American Revolution.

The Supreme Court has consistently approved of military tribunals, explaining in one case, 'Since our nation's earliest days, such commissions have been constitutionally recognized agencies for meeting many urgent governmental responsibilities related to war.' [Madsen v. Kinsella, 343 U.S. 341, 346-47 (1952)]

Congress has expressly authorized the use of such tribunals in Title 10 of the United States Code [10 U.S.C. § 821], and has provided that the President shall have the power to prescribe the procedures to be used [10 U.S.C. § 836]."

You get the point. If you want to argue that these military tribunals are not justified on moral grounds or slightly more nuanced legal grounds, go ahead. But Le Monde's blanket dismissal indicates a not too surprising ignorance of American history and law.

--"On behalf of the values of a nation dedicated to counterbalancing the powers of the government, many Americans are raising the alert...This is the true voice of American democracy."

This is a revealing statement. American democracy is defined as those viewpoints that are in sync with Le Monde's deranged world vision. Funny, I thought that democracy consisted of a multiplicity of viewpoints, including those of the legislative and executive branches that are elected by the American people and that enacted the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts. Also, isn't it slightly odd that a leftist newspaper in France--where 30% of the active, employed population works for the government--would complain that a central government is usurping too many powers?

Incidentally, Xu Wenli, a prominent Chinese democracy activist has just been released from a Chinese prison and is flying to....France. Just kidding. Wenli will soon be in the US.


Monday, December 23, 2002  
France & the International Criminal Court: "Although trumpeting its support for the International Criminal Court and although its counts itself among the Court's staunchest defenders against the unrelenting assaults of the US on the Court's international jurisdiction, France, in fact, has singled itself out by its efforts to escape the Court's jurisdiction in one of the three categories of crimes that fall within its jurisdiction: crimes of war. In addition, France has not transferred the entirety of the International Criminal Court's statutes into its internal law. Nor has France made the changes to its penal code that are necessary to integrate the definitions of the crimes that are enumerated in the Court's statute."

--Claire Tréan in Le Monde


Name: Saïd
Profile: 27 year old, French Muslim of North African ancestry.
Former profession: System engineer for security at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Reason for removal from post: "You're an Arab and a practicing Muslim."

Read the story (in French) of Saïd here.


Sunday, December 22, 2002  
Swiss Christmas Greeting to Asylum Seekers: Get the Hell Out of Our Town! The town council of Meilen, near Zurich, had adopted regulations forbidding asylum seekers from public areas such as schools and sports grounds. In addition, asylum seekers were not to be allowed to use the public swimming pool unless accompanied by a local resident or official. The local politicians had even drawn up a color-coded map of the town: asylum seekers were forbidden in red areas and were not allowed to congregate in green areas. According to The Guardian, "The map's explanatory key depicted four black men with a line through them to indicate no-go areas." Public uproar has caused the Meilen town council to withdraw the regulations, although The Guardian reports that the town will attempt to enforce the regulations through "informal measures" (what, like tars, feathers, and nooses?).

FYI, Switzerland received 20,000 applications for asylum last year and has a population of 7 million.


French Christmas Greeting to Immigrants: Get the Hell Out of Our Churches! Police removed over one hundred immigrants with irregular legal status in France (sans-papiers) who had taken their protest to the Sainte-Marguerite Church in Paris. Earlier in the week, the sans-papiers had tried to protest at the Madeleine Church but were prevented by police. At the end of November, the French government promised to take up the issue of immigration; however that debate is still pending.

According to Aminata Diame, a Senegalese who has been in France for a number of years, "There are people who have been here for 12 or 20 years, who work on the black market, and who've had enough. We've made the decision to fight until everyone can have their papers."


Saturday, December 21, 2002  
Update on Côte d'Ivoire: Now, there are 2,500 French soldiers protecting 3 billion Euros in French investments. Clashes have been reported between the French and Côte d'Ivoire rebels around the city of Daloa, which is the center of the Côte d'Ivoire's coco producing region. Not incidentally, Côte d'Ivoire is the world's largest producer of coco, and it's interesting that the French would choose to engage the rebels in this economic nerve center. According to one of the rebel groups, the Popular Ivorian Movement of the West (Mouvement populaire ivoirien du grand ouest), French troops have "decided to wage war on Ivorians who are fighting for the liberation of their country."

Says Renaud Muselier, France's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: France "must organize itself in order to demonstrate the full extent of its military power, capable of intervening throughout the world within the framework of the United Nations...France has major interests [in the Côte d'Ivoire] on both an economic level as well as with regards to the people that are there." Muselier went on to cite the importance of the African country's "coco, coffee, and the entire Côte d'Ivoire economy which plays a major role in western Africa."

Meanwhile, the UN is finally stepping up its involvement.


Friday, December 20, 2002  
Transatlantic Dialogue?: Not with this lunacy (check out the Friday December, 20, 2002 cover).

" 'We had hoped that the London visit would provide an opportunity for Bashar to hear a few facts of life,' says a senior Syrian politician on condition of anonymity. 'We had hoped that Blair would tell Bashar that the time has come for Syria to end one-party rule, to release political prisoners and to develop a peace strategy. None of that happened. If anything, Bashar gained the impression that he can bury his early promises of reform and liberalisation.' "

--Amir Taheri on Blair's gentility towards Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. al-Assad is now off to France, where he is certain to be wined and dined by adulating Gauls.


French Target Immigrants' Health: Two measures passed by the French parliament make health care more expensive for immigrants with irregular status in France. The first measure forces illegal immigrant adults (including pregnant women) who already receive government funding (l'Aide médicale Etat) to pay a portion of their consultation and hospital fees. Prior to the new law, the services were provided free of charge for illegal immigrants who had been in France for at least 3 years. Sounds fair? Well, let's look at some numbers. In order for the immigrants to qualify for the government funding, they have to earn less than 560 Euros per month. That's less than 20 Euros a day. According to Françoise Debadts of Médecins sans Frontières, it costs 20 Euros to diagnose and treat a simple case of bronchitis. Now what would happen in the event of a slightly more serious illness?

The second measure takes aim at the timing of France's "universal" health care coverage. It used to be the case that, once the French technocrats decided that an individual was eligible for healthcare, the coverage began on the date of the decision. Now, individuals too poor to afford healthcare will have to wait for the first day of the month following the decision in order for their health care to begin. Anything to save a euro...


Thursday, December 19, 2002  
"Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers:" An estimated 12,000 children in Norway were born to Norwegian mothers and German soldiers during or shortly after WWII. Although the relationships were voluntary, they were designed to further the Aryan prototype, and the offspring benefited from privileges from the Third Reich. However, after the war, many of the mothers were deported as collaborators and their children were ostracized by the Norwegian community. Says one of the unfortunate offspring: "I learned very soon that there was something very wrong with me, basically wrong with my blood. I was the child of the hated."

Tuesday, December 17, 2002  

--"It was unimaginable that these kinds of things could be going on and that they were being done ... in a deliberate way, not some accident of a drunken soldier marauding, but part of some kind of plan to eradicate various groups of people."

--"We saw pictures of people being taken into what could only be labeled as concentration camps...People were being driven from their homes only because of who they were."

Former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright testifying at the U.N. war crimes tribunal sentencing of former Bosnian Serb leader Biljana Plavsic.


Who Helped Iraq?: A leaked copy of Iraq's report to the UN indicates that French, British, and American companies helped Iraq with its arms programs as far back as 1975. It's no secret that the countries cited above assisted Iraq in its war against Iran. What is shocking is the extent of Germany's involvement in assisting Iraq in the development of weapons. According to the Independent (which is basing its story on an article from the Die Tageszeitung newspaper): "German involvement outstripped that of all the other countries put together... During the period to 1991, the German authorities permitted weapons co-operation with Iraq and in some cases 'actively encouraged' it, according to the newspaper which cited German assistance allegedly given to Iraq for the development of poison gas used in the 1988 massacre of Kurds in northern Iraq. It said that after the massacre America reduced its military co-operation with Iraq but German firms continued their activities until the Gulf War." (emphasis added)

Kudos to Blair for abandoning the typical European attitude towards the Middle East--why won't someone else just do something!--and inviting Palestinians to discuss reform at a conference in the UK.

Has France Lost Faith in the UN?: French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, huddled with representatives from The Economic Community Of West African States (a fair number of whose members once comprised France's colonial stomping ground) in order to discuss solutions to the crisis in the Côte d'Ivoire. According to the Quai d'Orsay (France's foreign ministry), France's "primary concern today, our message, is to reaffirm our support for and our dedication to all that is being done, or that can be done, to arrive at a political solution reached through dialogue..." Well then how about using France's power in the UN, demonstrated so clearly only a few weeks ago, to address the solution in a more international fashion? And as for the argument that this is a regional problem that is more effectively dealt with by neighbors, frankly I don't see where France fits into the picture. If Turkey isn't to be considered part of the European community, then you'll have a hard time convincing me that the Côte d'Ivoire and France are part of the same neighborhood and that France is simply lending a hand to a neighbor in need.

Monday, December 16, 2002  
Fill in the Blank: "Warned about an imminent genocide, she remained in the background in Rwanda. We know what happened next...Mass graves have just been discovered in the Côte d'Ivoire. We can also go through all of the conflicts that have degenerated, from Liberia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, without the international community lifting a finger..._________ is right to break with this cowardly attitude that will not prevent chaos."

--Are the French exhibiting a little bit of impatience with the international community's reaction to crises? Are they ready to take matters into their own hands? What ever happened to coalition building and the reputed European genetic propensity for non-violence? I guess those arguments fly out the window when France's economic interests are at stake.


Saturday, December 14, 2002  
French Neo-Colonialists: Demonstrators marched in Bouaké today against the growing French military presence in the Côte d'Ivoire's civil war. According to the protest's demonstrators, French soldiers fired into the crowd and injured 4 people. What began as a French military intervention to protect foreign citizens grew into military monitoring of a cease fire and has now become an effort to prevent further destabilization in the Côte d'Ivoire using around 1,200 French soldiers.

"Throughout the British and French empires in Africa, the protection of nationals and national interests was the most frequent cause of the assumption of direct imperial control by Europeans...French Africa has a long tradition of seeing beleaguered presidents bailed out by France itself - and even in the recent Madagascar crisis, President Didier Ratsiraka was granted asylum in France -before the French came to a better deal with the de facto president Marc Ravalomanana." (see Donald Stark)

The poor French have had some trouble finding a Côte d'Ivoire government as loyal as that of the late dictator, Houphouët-Boigny, who left the country's profitable public sector in the hands of French expatriates. In the 1980s, fifty thousand "French 'technical assistants'...filled jobs from the banal to the most sophisticated, from secretaries to a powerful shadow government [of] officials who oversaw and often trumped the decisions of Mr Boigny's own nominal ministers." Economic ties between France and the Côte d'Ivoire remain strong, as suggested by the facts that the latter's currency is guaranteed by the French treasury and that Clemessy, the French electricity and transport company, was awarded a contract to electrify 100 villages in the Cote d'Ivoire.

For more on the trouble in this former "showpiece of France's 'African empire,'" go here.

N.B. that as France strengthens its military position in its former colony, there is little, if any, criticism from the French media and public. Meanwhile, demonstrations continue in France and elsewhere against a so-far non-existent invasion of Iraq. The moral of the story: As long as the victims are Africans and as long as the US isn't the intervening Occidental power, who really cares what happens?

UPDATE: French forces now authorized to fire on "any person manifestly preventing the accomplishment" of their mission in the Côte d'Ivoire.


Chirac, the Crook: Although protected by his presidential immunity, Chirac is the target of a judicial investigation that has begun in a court in Nanterre. The French President's alleged crimes--focusing on financial misdealings--date back to his reign as Paris mayor from 1977-1995 and to his leadership of the RPR party from 1976-1994. If Chirac serves his presidency to completion and does not seek another term, he will be called to answer for his misconduct in 2007 (when he will be 75) and may face a penalty of 5 years in prison.

Thursday, December 12, 2002  
Choice Excerpts from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia's 2001 Annual Report:

--"Exclusion from the labor market and discrimination in employment are rife across Europe. Ethnic minorities and immigrants are more likely to be unemployed, hold less secure jobs, receive lower pay, are less likely to be promoted, suffer worse working conditions and are less upwardly mobile compared to the majority population. Barriers seem to prevail over openness and access."

--"...the norm in the EU Member States is for migrants to have double the national rate of unemployment, but for this to be exceeded in the case of migrants from countries with a dominant Muslim population."

--"In the Netherlands, the 40 "Anti Discrimination Bureaux" registered a total of about 1,300 complains on racial/ethnic discrimination in 2001, which was an increase of 11% overt the previous year."


"If the 'Europeans' or the United Nations had been left with the task, the European provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo would now be howling wildernesses, Kuwait would be the 19th province of a Greater Iraq, and Afghanistan might still be under Taliban rule."

--Christopher Hitchens in Slate.


Friday, December 06, 2002  
Liberty for 44 Romas arrested during a sweep in the Val-de-Marne region of France (see archived posting from 3/12/02). The judge found a host of procedural errors in their detentions.

Thursday, December 05, 2002  
Good Riddance Eton & Oxbrdige:

"There has now been a big drop—probably the first since the upper classes took up going to school and university—in the proportion of top-job-holders who were educated at the old elite institutions. The public schools and Oxbridge are losing their hold on power."

--The Economist


Same Old France: "Vandals broke into a synagogue in southwestern France, ransacking the sanctuary and destroying holy books..."

--The Guardian


Wednesday, December 04, 2002  
Offensive: The Welsh are "irritating and annoying...[I've] never taken to the Welsh."

--The Weakest Link host, Anne Robinson.

More Offensive: Government authorities contemplating charges under the UK Race Relations Act against BBC Director General Greg Dyke because Robinson's comments were repeatedly aired.


A "patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people:"

Pyotr Kislyi, 81, Viktor Martson, 81, Heino Laus, 75, Stephan Nikeyev, 78, Rudolf Sasask, 76, August Kol, 77, and Albert Kolga, 78.

Who are they? Former Soviet agents accused of taking part in the deportation of 20,000 Estonians to gulags in 1949. Their trial finally began today in Estonia.

Says one Estonian: "This is not about punishment, but the people who did this must be labelled as guilty. They have shown no remorse and that makes me very angry. The Germans committed crimes and they have paid for them. But with the Russians, it's as if we can't even raise the subject."


Austrian Flashback: "[F]rom 1938 to 1945, 724 Austrian priests served time in prison, and seven of them died there. Another 110 were sent to concentration camps, where 90 of them perished. Fifteen were sentenced to death and executed. Almost 300 priests were expelled from their parishes, and more than 1,500 were banned from preaching or teaching."

--An Austrian Embassy in this letter, citing figures from "Austria in the Twentieth Century."


Terrorism's European Roots: In light of Hezballoh's recent call for world-wide suicide attacks, here's an interesting thought: "The first thing that we fail to recognize is that neither [rational nor apocalyptic terrorism] is caused by frustration, disenfranchisement or poverty. That is the big lie of terrorism. That may help explain how terrorist leaders can recruit people to blow themselves up, but it doesn't explain why the terrorist leaders who are wealthy, well-educated and calculating opt for the tactic of terrorism. And the reason they opt for the tactic of terrorism is because it has a proven track record of success, particularly certain kinds of terrorism, and particularly [because of the reaction of] the European community..."

--From this Salon.com interview with Alan Dershowitz.


Tuesday, December 03, 2002  
Swiss prefer $$$ to European cooperation by continuing to emphasize bank secrecy over prosecution of tax evasion. According to NY Times, "while the [European] union's member states can agree on lofty principles of cooperation and transparency, they are unwilling to put them into practice in a way that would harm their national interests."


Antwerp Twerps: Belgian shoots Muslim schoolteacher. Race riots in Antwerp. Molotov cocktail hurled at Belgian synagogue.

More on the Serbian Love Affair with Saddam Hussein: "The democratic government elected in Belgrade in 2000 did not end the extensive busting of arms sanctions engaged in for many years by its predecessor, the Milosevic dictatorship...From ICG’s own investigations, as well as from those initial revelations and stories that have appeared subsequently in the Serbian press, it appears that arms deals of considerable monetary value continued with Iraq and Liberia despite the change of administrations."

--From this report by the International Crisis Group.


Is it merely coincidental that, as the European Union begins to take an increasingly well-defined political shape and the French, Germans, Spanish, etc. begin to wonder what it means to be "European," foreigners are driven from the European terra sancta and extreme politicians are in the ascendant? It's possible that all this talk about a "new Europe," rising phoenix-like out of the murderous wars of its past is nonsense. It's possible that talk of a post-Hobbesian European Union where the French lamb and the German lion lie next to one another is a hallucinogenic myth that enables the sons and daughters of blood-stained politicians, generals, and collaborators to sleep well at night because they have deluded themselves that they are different from their ancestors...that a few cosmetic changes to their country--a common currency, a powerless EU president--have somehow changed them. It's the 5-minute European makeover with a brand new, bleached conscience! For all the talk of European skepticism and cynicism, it's a ridiculously optimistic and self-flattering look in the mirror. The continent that gave us the murderous ideological bases for the Nazis and Soviets as well as technocrats that were gods in their own minds and ran around brutally "civilizing" others is still around--just a little weaker (and being obliged, to its leaders' constant chagrin, to listen to someone else for a change). The cult of the state--which was embarrassingly obvious during Alexandre Dumas' burial in the Pantheon a few days ago--places a narrow definition of nationality at the center of peoples' identities and steeps them in history that blinds them to possibilities of a different future. There is no "old" Europe and no "new" Europe. It is as it has been and will always be: a continent filled to bursting with its vintage hatreds, ever in search of an "other" at which to lash out and to destroy.

French Crackdown on Romas: 350 French police have conducted a raid on three immigrant camps in the Val-de-Marne region that contain, in total, 150-200 Romas. The goal? Eliminate the shanty-towns and find the illegal immigrants. And then? According to Nicolas Sarkozy, Minister of the Interior, "...those that have no business to stay in France will be sent back to their countries."

Europe's Apartheid System: "Governments need to develop more constructive policies than broad-brush crackdowns on asylum seekers. In any case, sealing borders will not solve the problems of existing immigrants and their European-born children and grandchildren....Americans have long lived, though not always comfortably, with large-scale immigration. In Europe, it dates only to the past few decades...[T]he polite, politically correct silences of Dutch multiculturalism risk creating a new apartheid, condemning second- and third-generation immigrants to second-class schools and inferior employment opportunities."

--David Unger offers his take on European intolerance towards immigrants in the NY Times.


A More Tolerant Greece:

(1) Dora Bakoyanni has become Athen's first female mayor in 3000 years.

(2) Fofi Gennimata is the first woman to become governor of the greater Athens-Piraeus area.

(3) Yvette Jarvis, an American immigrant, was recently elected to be an Athenian city councilwoman. She is the first black person to have obtained this post.


Monday, December 02, 2002  
More Drowned Immigrants: So far the tally is 12 dead and 56 missing. They were Libyan immigrants seeking Italian shores. And the Italians just don't seem to get why immigrants keep on coming despite Italy's stringent new anti-immigrant legislation (effective August 2002). Under Italy's Bossi-Fini law, non-EU foreigners can only live in Italy if they have work contracts before entering, all immigrant workers will be fingerprinted, and immigrants will only be allowed to bring their children to join them if these children are under 18 years of age. There is, of course, no limit on the number of "highly-skilled" immigrants.

Was Winston Churchill a war criminal?

BBC Under Attack: "The BBC, as a public service broadcaster with a royal charter, is required to report across the spectrum of ideas...[I]t is not meeting the terms of its charter."

--Vladimir Bukovsky, a former Soviet dissident, who is leading a campaign against the annual television license fee demanded of English households to support the BBC. Bukovsky claims that the BBC is biased in favor of the EU and Prime Minister Blair.


English Madness: "If I were young enough for military service and was compelled to fight either for Iraq or America, I would fight for Iraq, on the simple grounds that the Iraqis and their surrounding countries should be allowed to work out their own destinies without Western bullying."

--A.N. Wilson in the Evening Standard


French Factoid: "The total circulation of the five general news, national dailies published in Paris is about 1.4 million. The circulation of the nine London-based general news dailies is about 11.5 million – eight times as many...70 per cent of Parisians never read a newspaper."

Sunday, December 01, 2002  
There is "a certain kind of anti-American style—the kind that expresses contempt for mongrelization and cosmopolitanism. This, which is mixed with both snobbery and racism, is quite commonly found on the European right, which always regarded America as a mobbish and vulgar and indiscriminate enterprise. With some adjustments—resentment at materialism and brashness—it also overlaps with some tropes that can be encountered on the European left."

--Christopher Hitchens in Slate


Italian Kangaroo Courts: What do you get for heading a newspaper critical of judicial officials' efforts to fight the Italian mafia? Two and a half years in prison for libel. Raffaele Jannuzzi, the 74 year-old former head of Il Giornale di Napoli, is currently staying in Paris in order to escape the Italian judgement.

Robert Menard, the Secretary-General of Reporters sans frontières, has called for a reform of Italian press laws, stating that "[s]entencing journalists to prison terms for press law violations is contrary to United Nations standards and is unworthy of a democracy."


Radovan Karadzic, Serb Hero: Why isn't a $5 million reward for the capture of the UN indicted war criminal an adequate incentive for Serbs to comply with international justice? In a region southeast of Sarajevo where Nazi collaborators once hid after World War II, Karadzic may have benefited from the kindness expressed by Serbs such as Slavko Brkovic, the head of a 600 person farming community. In Brkovic's eyes, "There is no Serb who would give information that could lead to his [Karadzic's] arrest...If Radovan appeared at my door tomorrow we would have coffee. I would save him and follow him to the fight." Which "fight" do you want to continue, Brkovic? The one that left 200,000 people dead and around 40,000 missing?

The Greek Government is Tone Deaf: The only government-recognized minority language in the country is Turkish. The consequence is that those who speak other languages are not allowed to use them in schools, media, or public functions.

Some of the languages which do not officially exist according to the Greek government include:

(1) Aromanian, a surviving form of provincial Latin spoken by tens of thousands of people.
(2) Macedonian
(3) Arvanitika, an Albanian dialect
(4) Pomak, which is similar to Bulgarian.

According to Bojan Brezigar, president of the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages, "in some areas where the Macedonian language is spoken, that language is not allowed at all in public. I'm not talking about only the official use of the language in public -- also the public use of the language by private individuals."


Stop the Agricultural Subsidies: "A healthy, export-oriented farm sector, based on the cheap land and labor that many poor countries have in abundance, ought to be the first step on the ladder of economic development. But across Africa, South Asia and Latin America, that path out of poverty has been perversely blocked by the subsidies the United States, Europe, Japan and other rich countries pay their most affluent farmers and agricultural businesses. The developed world pays out more than $300 billion a year in farm subsidies, seven times what it gives in development aid...But in the one area where most developed countries enjoy the advantages of cheaper production costs, the West is unwilling to practice free trade itself.

The United States is not the worst offender — Europe is."

--From this NY Times editorial


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