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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Sunday, 6 November 2005

Topic: Chasing the Zeitgeist

Anticipation: The National Conversation Is Now Open

Does the week begin on Sunday, as the calendar on your desk shows, or does it begin on Monday when everyone gets back to work, or at least those who still have jobs and are not at home wondering how his or her replacement in Bangalore is faring with the systems code? Here in Hollywood, three in the afternoon on Sunday is when Monday begins in Paris. It's always the next day somewhere.

It doesn't matter. The issues for the coming week were being set up on Sunday, November 6th - one could see what will be discussed in the following days.

One: Look to France - What is Happening There Justifies the Iraq War and Conservative Policies

Sunday the riots that started in the Paris suburbs were in their tenth day, or eleventh, depending on the time zone you find yourself in. As distressing as these are in France, and for France, they are fodder for the American right, proof that we have some sort of worldwide war with Islam on out hands, and, as the right likes to claim, that the French are always wrong.

In France? Le Monde here: "A country which prides itself as the fatherland of the humans right and the sanctuary of a generous social model shows, in the eyes of all, that it is incapable of ensuring dignified living conditions for young French people." Well, that seems to be what they say. It's in French. And despair from the English-language Euronews - "Nothing has deterred the gangs from running rampage. Not calls for calm, not marches for peace. Not even thousands of extra police." As for Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, Socialist Party leader François Hollande tells Libération she had "zero tolerance" for Sarkozy and his "simplistic polemics." This and more in a Washington Post's survey of such comments, including links Le Monde saying to nothing much is working - the continuing burning of cars and sacking of public buildings is proof that the conservative government's "zero-tolerance" policies have failed just as much as the liberal policies of the previous left-wing government. They say the state is "impotent." The Post's own view on this? The rioting "underscores the chasm between the fastest growing segment of France's population and the staid political hierarchy that has been inept at responding to societal shifts. The youths rampaging through France's poorest neighborhoods are the French-born children of African and Arab immigrants, the most neglected of the country's citizens."

Here in the United States?

Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun Times had the American conservative right buzzing with Wake Up, Europe, You've a War on Your Hands, generating many commentators riffing on his ideas, as in 'It's like Baghdad here! It's the Apocalypse!' - "After how many days does rioting become civil war? At what point do the French people say 'enough is enough' and either demand action from the government in the form of reactive violence, or simply take to the streets themselves in search of justice?" And too you find things like this - "The current intifada in France has stripped the American Left of its second Utopia in a generation. The Left lost its earlier worldly utopia when the Soviet Union fell apart."

Yeah, yeah, this all proves this global war, and its subset in Iraq, is a wonderful thing - they're all out get us - and that the French are wimps and fools, socialism doesn't work, universal healthcare is evil, and the French should pasteurize their cheese like normal people. Whatever. Use the beta version of the new Google "blog search" and chuck in "France Riots" and you'll get about two thousand of such things to scan, if you wish. But you get the general idea.

What is happening in France may be a bit more complex than what is said on the right - yes, my conservative friends get really angry at those words, "more complex" - but if you look at the complied accounts of the events and all the background and maps here, you see there's much that has to do with the history of France and North Africa, with immigration and socialization policies, with the usual odd and theory personalities of various leaders, and with some cultural issues.

But the talking point now is that "the French model" for anything at all just doesn't work, and they should be more like us, vengeful and severe and willing to go to war anywhere at any time - and every Monoprix should be a Wal-Mart (there's not that much difference), and they need free-market healthcare not that socialized stuff. And they talk funny.

Two: We Was Had

The current New York Times is demonstrating what it does when does when Judy Miller is not in charge, shilling for the administration with her single-source insider stories of what Chalabi and Cheney say are grave threats that will kill us all and justify wars here and there. There are rumors she will return to the newsroom any day now and resume telling editor Bill Keller and publisher Arthur Sulzberger what they should and should not print each day, but until then, others are doing the reporting.

One of them is Douglas Jehl, and Sunday, November 6 he gets his column-inches to give us this, a story about one Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda prisoner we captured just after the 9/11 business. Jehl reports that according to a newly declassified memo, not only did this al-Libi provide us with false information suggesting that Iraq had trained al-Qaeda to use al kinds of very nasty weapons of mass destruction of all sorts, but a whole lot of our intelligence agencies pretty much knew the information was bogus as early as 2002 - and Colin Powell presented this crap to the UN in February 2003 anyway, as "credible evidence of Iraqi WMD programs" - just before we told the rest of the world to buzz off and invaded Iraq. We knew the threat. Yep.

The summary from Editor and Publisher -
A newly declassified memo... shows that an al-Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to this Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002.

... "The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility," Jehl writes. "Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as 'credible' evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons."
The Times was given the report by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the leading Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and from the article itself:
At the time of Mr. Powell's speech, an unclassified statement by the CIA described the reporting, now known to have been from Mr. Libi, as "credible." But Mr. Levin said he had learned that a classified CIA assessment at the time went on to state that "the source was not in a position to know if any training had taken place."
Yep, another Democrat making trouble. And now we learn the CIA appears to have pretty much believed that Saddam Hussein maybe was pursuing those evil WMD programs before the war started, but that there were also real substantial doubts and dissents about a lot of the actual evidence - from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Department of Energy, from Air Force intelligence, and from various parts of the CIA itself.

What's the phrase? Close enough for government work?

Oh heck, Judy Miller got the Times to publish that stuff about those nasty aluminum tubes for the production of nuclear bombs from a single source, and the scoop on the guy who was actually working on "the Iraq atom bomb" just a few months before the war. Did she have to check secondary sources? People are so picky. The old Times said it was so. What's the problem?

Well, neither was true. The new Times has this radical idea that you verify what you're told. And the new Times has this new item on what happens when you don't.

When Judy returns Doug Jehl will be shown the door. It'll be back to business as usual - print the insider scoop from the administration, and don't ask questions.

Be that as it may, just how did Colin Powell end up at the UN explaining some things we heard from pretty much one guy, who had been tagged as a lying loser, as reasons to defy the world and overthrow another government?

Ah, there's a "back story," as we say out here in Hollywood.

Duncan Black here points to a year-old Newsweek article here. Say what? It seems this al-Libi dude was one of the first "test cases" for our new campaign to introduce torture as a standard interrogation technique overseas. The old FBI methods were just too time-consuming, with all that stuff about "winning trust" and clever thinking.

From Newsweek -
Al-Libi's capture, some sources say, was an early turning point in the government's internal debates over interrogation methods... "They duct-taped his mouth, cinched him up and sent him to Cairo" for more-fearsome Egyptian interrogations, says the ex-FBI official. "At the airport the CIA case officer goes up to him and says, 'You're going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to f--- her.' So we lost that fight."
Comment?

Kevin Drum here: "No wonder DIA was skeptical of al-Libi's information. Not only did the details of his testimony seem inconsistent with known facts, but DIA knew perfectly well he had given up this information only under torture and was probably just saying anything that came to mind in order to get it to stop."

And Drum links to others:
As Mark Kleiman points out, this is the pragmatic case against torture: not only is it wrong, but it doesn't even provide reliable information anyway - and it makes Cheney's relentless moral cretinism on the subject all the worse. Larry Wilkerson, who investigated this back when he was Colin Powell's chief of staff, confirms that "there was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office" that authorized the practices that led to the abuse of detainees, and Cheney continues to vigorously support the use of torture to this day, pressuring Congress behind closed doors not to pass John McCain's anti-torture legislation.
So there is something very odd here, generating a lot of discussion.

Cheney wants this amendment to forbid torture dropped, even though the senate voted 90-8 to add it to the next spending bill. Cheney argues that the CIA at the very least should be exempt and be allowed to torture anyone they'd like. He says the administration will use its first veto in all these years to stop it, not matter what bill to which this amendment is attached. Senator McCain, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese, says fine - he'll attach it to every bill the senate passes. Hey, Dick, you want to veto them all?

Friday, November 4, Cheney met privately with Republican senators to press the matter.

Andrew Sullivan on that -
A man who avoided service in Vietnam is lecturing John McCain on the legitimacy of torturing military detainees. But notice he won't even make his argument before Senate aides, let alone the public. Why not? If he really believes that the U.S. has not condoned torture but wants to reserve it for exceptional cases, why not make his argument in the full light of day? You know: where democratically elected politicians operate.
Yeah. Good question.

And maybe this will be a topic this week.

Three: Be Careful Out There

See this - a discussion of the Sunday, November 6 item from the Washington Post reporting that the FBI has been obtaining and reviewing records of ordinary Americans in the name of the war on terror through the use of national security letters that gag the recipients.
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters - one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people - are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.
No more should be said here.

Note this from the Post:
































Have a nice day - too bad you read this post.

Posted by Alan at 18:30 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 6 November 2005 18:35 PST home


Topic: Announcements

Redirection: The Mother Ship Has Landed

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, the weekly parent site to this daily web log, is now online. This is Volume 3, Number 45 for the week of Sunday, November 6, 2005 - with much you will not find here.

In this issue, reviewing events last week, the challenge was the battle for control of what the "big story" actually was. In "Chasing the Zeitgeist" you'll find five items - extended versions of what first appeared here - where one side says "this is important" and the other side counters with "no, this is more important" - and the bombshells dropped are in order, starting with lousy poll results followed by a big nomination, the avian flu plan, the shutdown of the senate, the revelation of our chain of secret prisons where bad things happen, more polls, and ending with a the "secret plot" claim and the sad business of our president in Argentina. It was quite a week.

Elsewhere, France is in its second week of riots, and we cover that, and Ric Erickson sends two "on the scene" columns (and pictures), while Mike McCahill sends word from London. There one of Blair's key players was forced to resign after a scandal. There's something going around? Read "Our Man in London."

But then there's all the photography. Bob Patterson gives us one last Halloween item - photos from last weekend's "World's Longest Hearse Procession." Really. And Don Smith sends one simple, stunning shot from Paris. Locally? An array of new sculpture in Beverly Hills - something between whimsy and satire - along with five new botanicals, as readers have requested more of those.

Bob Patterson's regular columns are unusual too. The WLJ item tries out the "platonic dialog" format, to argue for a change in what these sites are all about, and the Book Wrangler look into some odd coincidences.

This week's quotes? We return to Cynics Corner. It seemed appropriate.

Direct links to specific pages -

Chasing the Zeitgeist ________________________

Long Ago: A Shift in the Wind, Maybe
Changing the Subject: The 'Wise Guy' from Trenton - Sam 'Scalito' Gets Nominated
Changing Subjects Back: Rule 21 from Outer Space
Next Issue, Please: Prisons That Don't Exist for Those Who Don't Exist
Our Richelieu: Who's Minding the Store While the Boss is in Argentina?

Troubles Elsewhere ________________________

Warning Signs: The Word from the Banlieues
Our Man in Paris: Riots Continue - Politicians Wrangle While Suburbs Burn
Paris Follow-Up: All Quiet in Paris
Our Man in London: The Blind and the Drunk

Bob Patterson ________________________

WLJ Weekly: from the desk of the World's Laziest Journalist - A War That Was Started For No Reason Can't Have An Ending
Book Wrangler: Playing the Name Game with Authors

Guest Photography ________________________

On the Scene: The World's Longest Hearse Procession
Our Eye on Paris: One Simple Shot

Local Photography ________________________

Sculpture: Gentle Joking with the Rich - Otterness in Beverly Hills
Botanicals: November Blooms

Quotes for the week of November 6, 2005 - Return to Cynics Corner

Note: If you attempted to logon to Just Above Sunset early Sunday morning, Pacific Time, the site was unavailable. Sorry. The hosting service, Earthlink, was having problems. A call to their Atlanta control center resulted in an apology for the outage, and assurances that they had a crack team of technical wizards working on the problem. Things seem to be fine now. So I pass along their apology.

Posted by Alan at 08:46 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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Saturday, 5 November 2005

Topic: Announcements

No Comment Today

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, the weekly parent site to this daily web log, will be posted shortly. Putting it together took most of the day, so what happened in the world?

You will find much fresh material in the new issue of the weekly, including new columns from London, extended columns from Paris, and columns from Bob Patterson as usual - and pages and pages of snazzy photos like this one. Click on the link and check it out, sometime after midnight, Pacific Time.



Posted by Alan at 21:16 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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Friday, 4 November 2005
Who's Minding the Store While the Boss is in Argentina?
Topic: Couldn't be so...

Our Richelieu: Who's Minding the Store While the Boss is in Argentina?

If you follow national politics - who is doing what with policies, actions, appointments and all that sort of thing that eventually, and sometime immediately, changes our lives in some rather dramatic ways - the week just past was a series of tussles over who controlled the "big story."

Last weekend it was terrible polling numbers for the administration, and calls for apologies and resignations (Karl Rove would do). Monday the counter was to nominate a well-qualified by controversial fellow to the Supreme Court, followed Tuesday by a proposal to spend more than seven billion dollars we don't actually have at the moment to protect us all from the avian flu that may be coming to kill us all but may not get here any time soon. That was countered Tuesday afternoon by the Democrats in the senate shutting down the place, demanding some action on a promise to look into who was messing with us all with all that talk of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, hyping forged documents and ignoring the actually facts at the time, to get us into a war that might not have been necessary. And then Wednesday we learned our government runs a series of secret prisons where some people just disappear without a trace, there no record of anything, and where we practice "enhanced interrogation" - and we seem to be using the old soviet prisons to make the story even more bizarre. Add that the Office of the Vice President is working hard to make sure we don't have to follow any of that Geneva Conventions stuff.

Thursday the new polling was worse than ever, and that Libby fellow, former Chief of Staff to the Vice President, was arraigned on assorted felonies.

How bad is the new polling?

Washington Post (with ABC): Sixty percent disapprove of the president's performance, and fifty-five percent think the administration deliberately mislead country over Iraq. CBS: Fifty-seven percent disapprove of the president's performance, thirty-five percent approve (lowest ever), and only thirty-two percent think the administration is telling what they knew about the WMD facts. AP-Ipsos: Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the president's performance.

Read all about it here, here and here - or don't.

You get the idea.

What's a guy to do with all this bad news?

Leave town, fly down to Argentina for a summit to chat with other leaders. Yeah, Fidel Castro will be there, and Hugo Chavez from Venezuela, but you can look like a world leader. Castro is old and Chavez is nutty. This will play great on Fox News. Don't think about Nixon in Caracas in 1960 and his car getting stoned. This will look presidential.

Well, that didn't work out, as in Bush faces Latin fury as popularity sinks at home (Independent, UK) - your typical "you cannot run away from your problems" story - and as in Far from home, Bush can't escape political headaches (USA Today) - five questions from the press, and only one on the summit - and as in Summit protests turn violent in Argentina (AP) - pretty serious riots in the streets.

Scanning the media one sees this anti-Americanism in our own hemisphere (our "backyard" as James Monroe and his doctrine would have it) is seen with some pride on the right ("ungrateful wretches"), and some dismay on left ("we've made everyone hate us"), and general depression in the middle ("this is a mess"). One can find comment all over. Go to Technorati or Memeoradum and stomp around. You'll see.

Okay, things are not going well. And it only gets worse.

Remember Lawrence Wilkerson, the fellow who, on Wednesday, October 19, addressed the New America Foundation and said there was a cabal that was running this country - Cheney, Rumsfeld and so on - and implied the president was just out of the loop and generally clueless? (This was discussed last weekend in these pages here.) Okay, he is the former Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, so he's grumpy. His "faction" in the first term lost out to the war-now plans-are-for-sissies idealists. He has an axe to grind. And he's grinding it, making it real sharp.

He's at it again. Thursday, November 3rd he was at it again. And Friday people were realizing just what it was he had said the day before - he said he had uncovered a "visible audit trail" tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by US soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office - you know, actual documents.

He said this in an interview on NPR with Steve Inskeep (the audio is here) and since there is no transcript yet, this has been hard to quote. No one sits and tapes news shows on National Public Radio and then carefully transcribes what was said - but someone at the Washington Post seems to be paid to do that. And Dan Froomkin offers some of what was said in Another Thunderbolt from Wilkerson, posted just after noon, Eastern Time, on Friday, November 4 -
INSKEEP: While in the government, he says he was assigned to gather documents. He traced just how Americans came to be accused of abusing prisoners. In 2002, a presidential memo had ordered that detainees be treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions that forbid torture. Wilkerson says the vice president's office pushed for a more expansive policy.

Mr. WILKERSON: What happened was that the secretary of Defense, under the cover of the vice president's office, began to create an environment -- and this started from the very beginning when David Addington, the vice president's lawyer, was a staunch advocate of allowing the president in his capacity as commander in chief to deviate from the Geneva Conventions. Regardless of the president having put out this memo, they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to, in my view, what we've seen.

INSKEEP: We have to get more detail about that because the military will say, the Pentagon will say they've investigated this repeatedly and that all the investigations have found that the abuses were committed by a relatively small number of people at relatively low levels. What hard evidence takes those abuses up the chain of command and lands them in the vice president's office, which is where you're placing it?

Mr. WILKERSON: I'm privy to the paperwork, both classified and unclassified, that the secretary of State asked me to assemble on how this all got started, what the audit trail was, and when I began to assemble this paperwork, which I no longer have access to, it was clear to me that there was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of Defense down to the commanders in the field that in carefully couched terms - I'll give you that - that to a soldier in the field meant two things: We're not getting enough good intelligence and you need to get that evidence, and, oh, by the way, here's some ways you probably can get it. And even some of the ways that they detailed were not in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war.

You just - if you're a military man, you know that you just don't do these sorts of things because once you give just the slightest bit of leeway, there are those in the armed forces who will take advantage of that. There are those in the leadership who will feel so pressured that they have to produce intelligence that it doesn't matter whether it's actionable or not as long as they can get the volume in. They have to do what they have to do to get it, and so you've just given in essence, though you may not know it, carte blanche for a lot of problems to occur.
Is this a big deal? The Secretary of Defense under cover of the Vice President's office, "regardless of the President having put out this memo," began to authorize procedures that were undoubtedly illegal and created a mess for us around the world, one it will take generations to clean up, if it can be cleaned up. These directives flat-out contradicted the 2002 order from the president for the military to abide by the Geneva Conventions against torture. Or so the man says.

Who is running the country?

So far only AFP (l'Agence France-Presse has run with the story (here). The Post item was in a general media round up, not a feature.

AFP adds this detail:
Wilkerson also called David Addington, the vice president's lawyer, "a staunch advocate of allowing the president in his capacity as commander-in-chief to deviate from the Geneva Conventions."

On Monday, Cheney promoted Addington to his chief of staff to replace I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, who has been indicted over the unmasking of a CIA agent.

Wilkerson also told National Public Radio that Cheney's office ran an "alternate national security staff" that spied on and undermined the president's formal National Security Council.

He said National Security Council staff stopped sending emails when they found out Cheney's staffers were reading their messages.

He said he believed that Cheney's staff prevented Bush from seeing a National Security Council memo arguing strongly that the US needed far more troops for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Yes, the amusing parts are in bold.

It seems Uncle Dick has taken things into his own hands, sensing the president doesn't have the brains or the balls, or the experience, or even much interest in running the country.

Someone has to get things done.

Did he suggest the trip to Argentina to give the hopeless kid something to do, so the frat-boy could feel important, or pretend to be?

This is serious stuff. The word "coup" comes to mind. The former Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell first says the war was devised and executed by a select group bypassing this rather worthless president, and now he has documents that the same group promulgated an illegal torture policy contradicting what the president said should be done, then implemented that policy behind his back. And there's a paper trail?

Holy cow!

Many on the left aren't surprised. They never saw the president as the sharpest knife in the drawer. And they've said this sort of thing all the time - the fellow was never up to the job and something else is going on here.

But now a former State Department bigwig says this, not Michael Moore?

And Friday night, November 4, the PBS "News Hour" broadcast is quoting the guy? And there's a panel discussion? The Bush defender is saying this is no big deal - saying everyone was frustrated with the State Department and CIA and all they rest, so they set up their own equivalents, to just work around the overly cautious, negative-thinking dinosaurs that didn't think boldly about what the nation had to do, these dreadful pessimists who wanted details and worried about things that might go wrong. The fellow is not addressing whether they also had to work around the inattentive and slow-on-the-uptake president.

Well, Richelieu ran France well enough. So why not? As mentioned in these pages April 11, 2004, in Richelieu in the White House, Sidney Blumenthal was already seeing this clearly -
The story of the Middle East debacle, like that of the pre-9/11 terrorism fiasco, reveals the inner workings of Bush's White House: the president -aggressive and manipulated, ignorant of his own policies and their consequences, negligent; the secretary of state - proud, instinctively subordinate, constantly in retreat; the vice-president - as Richelieu, conniving, at the head of a neoconservative cabal, the power behind the throne; the national security adviser - seemingly open, even vulnerable, posing as the honest broker, but deceitful and derelict, an underhanded lightweight.
Ah, this then is not news, really. This is not the first time the word "cabal" has been used.

This is just when the perception moves from the world of left-side-loonies into the general conversation - not a tin-foil hat thing any longer, but something plausible, that may even have documentation.

It's not exactly "the great awakening" - but it will do.

Posted by Alan at 20:03 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005 20:07 PST home

All Quiet in Paris
Topic: Breaking News

Paris Follow-Up: All Quiet in Paris
Some additional thoughts from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, an account of the situation on the ground there, just after midnight, Saturday morning. This is a supplement to Riots Continue - Politicians Wrangle While Suburbs Burn.

All Quiet in Paris

PARIS, Saturday, November 5 -

I'm tired of 'fair and balanced.' It's 12:30 at night and I've just been out for a little tour, to the tabac and back. Now the roller rando is passing beneath my window.

It's gotten cooler but it's Friday night and there were four high-heeled honeys in jeans looking for a taxi to take them to the club, and groups of other couples after dinner looking for a café, plus the usual folks sleeping rough on the avenue under the brown lights. Three blocks from the big police station, I passed a big crowd outside the Zango, wreathed in clouds of pot fumes. If you stay in, you can forget that all sorts of people are out at night, all the time. In half a hour I saw no patrolling police, heard no sirens, saw no law at all, and no fires.

The loudest noise came from a party with all the windows open, above the horse butcher on Daguerre. The people out in the suburbs, the other thing they're complaining about, is all the police, fire and ambulance sirens, all night and every night. They think they are being blitzed.

I am not the only one who attributes the riots to Sarkozy's provocation. It was this that led to the kids getting electrocuted. They didn't want the hassle of showing their IDs to the police, knowing they'd probably get bounced around a bit. The police are unpredictable. They must have been scared though, to go over that wall with the barbed-wire on top. If they didn't see the danger signs they knew they were there.

What there was, after the first night of battles with the police in Clichy-sous-Bois, was nothing. The president was mum. The prime minister said nothing. Sarkozy was still muttering threats, but he's always got something to say.

Then the following night there's more riot. The Imams are trying to cool tempers, the 'big brothers' are out trying to channel the kids away from the cops, but they cops are there, dressed and equipped for street battles. With their shields, helmets, batons, tear-gas and flash-balls.

Meanwhile some politicians, mainly members of Sarkozy's own UMP, are wondering if he's flipped out. They should because on Sunday night he's on TV-news saying his 'zero tolerance' mantra-cum-slogan. The riot rages anew, beginning ever earlier.

Basically, here in Paris, it seemed like the government was somewhere else. Nobody said anything of any consequence. On Tuesday the prime minister's planned visit to Canada was still on.

Then he canceled it, and on Thursday Le Parisien's headline says, '10 Reasons for Hope.' There's a 'hip-hoptimiste,' the big brothers, the ghetto guys who've done good, plans for houses instead of the towers, return of businesses, and other dreams. The following page has the previous night's score including buses added to the 40 cars cooked up, and attacks on firemen.

From last night it's total situation of 'fed-up.' From Wednesday to Thursday 315 cars are fried, the RER is attacked, schools are burnt, despite a thousand police on the spot. The prime minister begins saying that the République isn't going to give in.

The prosecutor in Bobigny closed the investigation into the deaths of the two electrocuted kids, but a criminal proceeding by an investigating judge is launched against 'X' for manslaughter. The kids' parents reportedly refuse to meet Sarkozy.

The right-wing begins its theories of 'civil wars' and continues its arguments against voting for foreigners - which, curiously, has only been recently proposed by Sarkozy. 'The only solution to avoid ethnic war is stop immigration,' they say, no different from the Front National.

When the riots spread to suburbs controlled by the Communists they speak out, but usually to blame the government for years of inaction. The Socialists are silent, supposedly solely concerned with their coming congress at Le Mans.

I made a mistake last night saying that radio FIP had zero news. Actually, there is no news on FIP at night, but it doesn't mean any other station is out there covering the latest actions in the battle, which is not quite a civil war.

Copyright © 2005 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis


Posted by Alan at 17:06 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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