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December 21, 2003 Odds and Ends

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Selected items from the daily weblog (blog) As seen from Just Above Sunset

Free Trade: How Airplanes Get Purchased

The December 19th issue of Le Figaro looks at the issue of shrimps for Airbuses.

France wants to sell Airbuses to Thailand but Thailand wants to sell its shrimps to Europe.

Prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra says Thailand will buy Boeings from America unless the French authorities lobby Brussels to ensure that Thai shrimps are given a better chance in Europe.

An anomaly in trade rules means Thai shrimps face a twelve percent import levy in Europe whereas shrimps from Malaysia can be sold to Europe at only a four percent customs charge.

Bring our shrimps into line with Malaysia's, say the Thais, or we'll buy Boeings.

Boeing is in a bit of a slump.  They've got
a new plane, but no one much wants that new 7E7 "Dreamliner" thing.  This could help.

No link here - the article is only available for a fee on the net.

La Thaïlande veut faire voler les crevettes
Véziane de Vezins, le Fiagro, 19 décembre 2003

Amérique, par exemple et au hasard. Bangkok commandera des escadrilles de Boeing aux Etats-Unis qui, eux, se feront un plaisir d'accueillir à des tarifs préférentiels les nuées de...

As for Saturday's issue on the 20th, you dont even want to know about this one:

Enquête sur l'affaire Halliburton
Eric Decouty, le Fiagro, 20 décembre 2003

Pour la première fois en France, une information judiciaire a été ouverte pour «corruption d'agent public étranger». Elle vise notamment la société française Technip et l'américaine Halliburton associées dans une opération au Nigeria. Une telle enquête internationale est possible depuis l'adoption en 1997 de la convention de l'OCDE «sur la lutte contre la corruption d'agents publics étrangers dans les négociations commerciales», entrée en vigueur en droit français depuis 2000. C'est donc dans ce nouveau cadre juridique que le juge Renaud Van Ruymbeke mène ses investigations et que le parquet de Paris envisage la mise en cause de l'actuel vice-président de Etats-Unis, Richard Cheney, en sa qualité d'ex-PDG de Halliburton... .

You get the idea.

Culinary note from l'Agence France-Presse (AFP) by way of The Tocqueville Connection:

Yes, "Robin Poachers" are out there, doing evil things for fine restaurants!

BREST, France, Dec 2 (AFP) -

Christmas is coming - time for little robin red-breasts to pose on spade-handles and gladden hearts. Except in France, that is, where they spit them on kebabs.

Two poachers were caught red-handed in Brittany on Friday trapping robins for the dinner table, according to the National Office for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) in the Finistere department.

"At this time of year we get a lot of hunters from the south who come to shoot woodcock. But this is something else. It is absolutely shocking," said the agency's Yannick Huchet.

The poachers, who were both from southern France, were caught near the town of Morlaix with 25 traps in their knapsacks baited with flying ants. ONCFS officials found five more traps already laid, with two dead robins in them.

"We have never had a case of robin-poaching here in Brittany before, but when I described the traps to my colleague in the Var department (in the south) he said - yes, that's a robin-trap," said Huchet.

And officials in the Var confirmed that robin-hunting there is a major problem.

"It comes in two waves here -- in October and then again in May," said Daniel Matthieu of the ONCFS's Var office.

"Every year we arrest seven or eight poachers and take them to court. It's a tradition here. They sell the robins to restaurants where they grill them on brochettes. They go for 40 euros (48 dollars) the half dozen. I've never tried one but they say they are very good," he said.

The robin is a protected species in France and the poachers face a maximum penalty of four months in prison, a fine of 3,810 euros and a five year hunting ban.


Haven't these French folks learned of chicken-fried steak and pork rinds?