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"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, 13 November 2005

Topic: World View

Reality Check: A Note to London from Paris via Hollywood

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, the weekly magazine-style parent site to this daily web log, was posted around midnight, Pacific Time, and there is already a response to Mick McCahill's "Our Man in London" column on the ongoing riots in riots in France as seen from the UK - Vive La Difference.

The response comes from "Our Man in Paris," Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis.

Mike says this:
The odd thing is just how far outwards. There are two things I've found bizarre about the French riots, and I'm hoping someone can explain either or both of them to me. Firstly, that the rioting has spread to such relatively calm, sleepy bourgeois destinations as Rouen, favoured spot for many a English school trip over the years. The other odd fact is just how precise details of the rioting have been. The other morning, the BBC's electronic text service Ceefax was reporting that "408 cars have been torched overnight". Either the rioters have been keeping count, or the journalists covering the story have been unusually precise in their reporting. And what were 400-plus cars still doing out on the streets, given the combustible nature of the nights which preceded it?"
As a reply for Mike McCahill, Ric offers this:

Rouen - has public housing estates just like every other French city. The situation in the HLMs away from Paris may be more hopeless - less optimistic - because the great Paris pot is not merely a metro or RER ride distant. There is simply less opportunity than in the Paris area.

'HLM' - habitation with moderate rent, or, council housing. In Paris, much sought by the vast lower middle-class, for fair rent/size value. Waiting lists are long. The poor face several kinds of discrimination hindering access - they don't have enough family income is a common one; the suburbs are cheaper. Consumer and anti-racist organizations turn up racial discrimination occasionally. It's against the law so it's concealed.

Precise Details

Precise details for the numbers of vehicles fried and arrests come daily from the head of the national police. Between the lines I read I suspect that there is a daily press conference, giving the details that the minister of the interior wants known. Number of convictions, as opposed to arrests, are not given so systematically. The minister likes high numbers.

As for owners leaving their cars where they can be attacked - the HLM estates have free, and usually assigned, parking. If not parked near where their owners live - where else then? France is not a big parking lot.

This raises another question - if there are so many police mobilized, for this emergency, how is it that so many cars can be destroyed? Or, put another way - how many cars are saved from destruction by police? Residents are increasingly out in the parking lots defending their property - except where they are forced to stay in because of local curfews.

A startling number has emerged - on average 80 cars are torched daily in the area around Paris, according to police. Apparently there are few arrests because first the cars are stolen, then joyridden, then torched. Perps seem to be seldom caught in the act.

Another unanswered question - what, exactly, do all the police do when they are not facing urban unrest? This weekend there are an extra 3000 police on duty in Paris - in case of an attack from the suburbs. Routes into the city are being watched. This is supposedly the result of reading other people's online mail, Web sites, telephone SMS messages. There are a lot of police in France but nobody knows what most of them are doing in 'normal' times.

Lacking facts, we live with a blurred reality, in France.
It's odd to be moderating an exchange between Paris and London from Hollywood, but why not?

Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, adds this -

Then again, this exchange began with your photo of "no cruising" zones in Hollywood, to which Ric replied that in his country, young guys have taken to burning cars (it was that first night of trouble, as I recall) instead of riding around in them to look at each other. [That is here. - AMP] I remember being tempted to return that I wish we here might live in a country where young people weren't so spoiled and frivolous and took serious matters more seriously. It would have been a statement made in ironic jest, of course, and now I'm glad I didn't make it.

But the Tale, I suppose, need not be one only of Two Cities, so to speak. The fact that the noise has spread to Belgium and Germany says it could spread through that tunnel under the channel, and causes one wonder if it's of a nature that might bring it even to the states, no?

Since the early and simpler story of it being all about pissed-off Muslims, the latest - probably smug - narrative to emerge here seems to the be that the land that gave a home to Josephine Baker where she seemed to have lost one in America, in fact, probably tries a bit too hard at equalité, and allows so much injustice to occur under the cloak of color blindness. After all, throughout it's history, hasn't the second land of liberty found itself constantly behind barricades, a stream of violent episodes that all run together into one big blur of undistinguished revolution that someone will eventually turn into an epic novel or heroic musical for the Broadway stage?

If this is true, I will feel much more comfortable allowing emigrant and native cultures to "celebrate" their pride than I've previously allowed myself. But somehow, I can't be so sure this idea that the French are just too preoccupied with idealism to deal with the reality of their existence is the true answer as to why this is all happening.

In short, is this a French thing? A European thing? Just something Americans will not be able to sink their teeth into, and something that they will eventually demand that our TV news shows stop showing, since it only serves to remind us how stupid we are about what's going on in the rest of the world?
Well, there seems to be no political agenda with those rioting in France, much less an Islamic agenda. Anyone seen a manifesto - some clear demands? The right-wing reaction over here - that this proves the Islamic hoards are coming for our women or whatever - posits something for which there is no evidence.

These rioters don't want to bring down the state - they seem to want some share in the state and just a few of the goodies. Disenfranchised and alienated beyond anything Camus imagined - remember where he was born - it seems to be "burn it all down" time. The excluded know they're not going to get any such thing. Hell, burn it all. At least one expresses one's frustration.

Yes, 1992 in Los Angeles. Same thing.

"The fact that the noise has spread to Belgium and Germany says it could spread through that tunnel under the channel, and causes one wonder if it's of a nature that might bring it even to the states, no?"

That is already a concern. Langston Hughes ended the poem about the "raisin in the sun" with "or does it explode?" - as this is not new. See A Dream Deferred, of course. That's from 1951.


French Riots Raise Spectre of Los Angeles Violence
AFP - Sunday, 13 November 2005 11:21:00 GMT
The explosion of urban violence in France has raised fears that Los Angeles, rocked by riots in 1992, could again fall prey to unrest as still-festering problems spawn the "quiet riots" of gang warfare.

Many of the same social, economic and racial tensions that led to the worst riots in US history remain rampant, generating anger, frustration, disaffection, street gangs and crime that could turn into full blown rioting if ignited by the right spark, experts and community leaders warned.

"All this is tinder for social and political unrest and, in America's urban ghettos and barrios, the frustration can lead to riots, triggered by an incident of police abuse or something else, as also happened in France," said Peter Dreier, politics professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

"While cars are burning on the streets of France, we in the US are experiencing the 'quiet riots' every day: suicides, gangs, alcoholism, drug use and other self-destructive behaviors.

"They don't explode like civil disobedience but they are result of the same sense of social frustration and they are with us every day," said Dreier, who is also director of Occidental's Urban and Environmental Policy Program. ...
Don't the French have an expression about how the more things change the more they remain the same?


For reference, direct links to specific pages in the new issue of Just Above Sunset, Volume 3, Number 46 for the week of Sunday, November 13, 2005

Current Events ______________________

Anticipation: The National Conversation Panned Out as Predicted
Oddities: What couldn't be so is so...
Entropy: Trying to Hold It all Together and Facing Facts
Too Much News: Lots of Things Blow Up in the Middle of the Week
Veterans Day: The World Gone Mad, or at Least Angry

The International Desk ______________________

Our Man In Paris: This Week
Our Man in London: Vive La Difference

Bob Patterson ______________________

WLJ Weekly: from the desk of the World's Laziest Journalist - "What we have here is..."
Book Wrangler: Venice, Frogs, and Racing Ferraris

Guest Photography ______________________

Paris Untouched: Christmas Lights and a Show at the Grand Palais
Our Eye on Paris: Three from Paris

Local Photography ______________________

Peculiarly Los Angeles: Melrose Avenue
Ephemera: Catching the Past in Los Angeles Before it Disappears - the Tail O' the Pup
Local Sports: The Cow

Quotes for the week of November 13, 2005 - Government and Reality

Links and Recommendations: New Photo Album

Posted by Alan at 10:40 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 13 November 2005 14:00 PST home

Saturday, 12 November 2005

Topic: Breaking News

Just in From Paris: Paris 'Quasi-Normal'
Today's news from France, from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis - an account of the situation on the ground there today, received in Hollywood just after four in the afternoon, well after midnight in Paris.

Paris 'Quasi-Normal'

PARIS - Saturday, November 12 –

On the 16th straight night of urban violence the number of incidents in the Ile-de-France region diminished but increased elsewhere in France. The hottest scenes last night were in Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Lille.

While 416 vehicles were destroyed beyond the Ile-de-France region, 86 were set on fire in the area surrounding Paris. General Director of the National Police, Michel Gaudin, told reporters that the situation was 'quasi-normal' in the Paris region. The police arrested 206 overnight, bringing the total since October 27 to 2440.

Given menacing rumors police placed an extra 3000 police and CRS officers on guard in Paris. These joined a force 11,620 throughout France. Curfews were applied in communes in six departments, but none so far in the Paris area.

Tonight Nicolas Sarkozy was shown on TV-news inspecting forces under his command on the Champs-Elysées. Earlier he had been reported as saying that a combination of rain tonight and a football match between France and Germany at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, would 'calm' the troublemakers.

Injunction Against Sarkozy Refused

Saturday: Meeting today, the Conseil d'Etat rejected the injunction sought by anti-racist group SOS Racisme, to prevent the minister of the interior Nicholas Sarkozy from expelling foreigners convicted of violent acts during the current wave of urban unrest. On Wednesday the minister told deputies in the Assembly National that he was instructing pr?fets to deport foreigners.

SOS Racisme, despite the rejection, noted the argument of the judge, which pointed out that a ministerial declaration could not lead to administrative acts contrary to the law. Apparently the judge considered the fact that the minister issued no order for his directive to be carried out. If it had been, he would have been warned at least, about the legality.

SOS Racisme also pointed out that the actual number of foreigners that could have been deported as a result of an arrest and conviction was no more than 12 - merely one-tenth of the 120 foreigners mentioned to the Assembly National by the minister on Tuesday, November 8.

For his part Sarkozy stated in a press release that he was 'delighted' with the decision by the Conseil d'Etat. "The instructions given to préfets to deport foreigners seriously troubling public order are perfectly legal and not any way an infraction of fundamental rights," he said, adding, "Consequently, in all the cases that the law permits, foreign troublemakers will be deported to their countries of origin. The procedures are in preparation."

Once again Sarkozy has given potential law-and-order fans a reason for cheer without actually doing anything. Who will forget his stirring promise in the Assembly National to deport foreign scum? But who will note that today's injunction failed because Sarkozy failed to do something illegal that he said he would do? That he persists in saying he will do.

Photo: Saturday Night in Paris

Photo and Text, Copyright © 2005 © Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Posted by Alan at 16:30 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005 16:42 PST home

Friday, 11 November 2005

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Veterans Day: The World Gone Mad, or at Least Angry

President Wilson said that on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour of each year we should celebrate the end of the Great War, what was the first of the World Wars. In 1918 this was Armistice Day. Now it's Veterans Day, one more day in the Iraq war, a day we lost five more soldiers, bringing us to 2,065 or so.

Traditionally, the president gives a speech for this occasion. Usually this has to do honoring those who fought.

This Veterans Day was a bit different, with the president in some trouble - almost six in ten Americans think he lied to get us into this war (see the AP item here), and his approval ratings in all polls now in the mid-thirties, and disapproval ratings generally around sixty percent.

The New York Times noted, the day before, what was coming in the speech: His Image Tarnished, Bush Seeks to Restore Credibility - "Faced with a bleak public mood about Iraq and stung by Democratic accusations that he led the nation into war on false pretenses, President Bush is beginning a new effort to shore up his credibility and cast his critics as hypocrites."

And so he did. The text of the speech is here. There wasn't that much about the veterans - or anything about the Armistice of 1918 and it implications. This was something else.

The New York Times - Bush Forcefully Attacks Critics of His Strategy in Iraq - "President Bush lashed out today at critics of his Iraq policy, accusing them of trying to rewrite history about the decision to go to war, and saying their criticism is undercutting American forces in battle."

The Washington Post - Bush Attacks Iraq War Critics - Senator Kennedy Accuses Bush of Exploiting Veterans Day - "President Bush lashed out today at critics of his Iraq war policy, strongly denying any manipulation of prewar intelligence and accusing his detractors of sending "the wrong signal" to U.S. troops and America's enemies."

You get the idea.

And this "rewriting history" business?

The speech was centered on the hypocrisy of those claiming they were misled into this war. They voted for it, those Democrats, and they all thought Saddam was building nuclear weapons and had tons of bad stuff and all the rest. And they had the same information.

Well, they didn't have the same information. A lot of it was a summary of this or that with any doubts left out. It was "shaped." And much was information the administration knew fell between questionable and already disproved. But close enough? The White House now says yes, close enough, and the opposition says no. These people now say they wanted details?

And the vote was to send a message to get the UN inspectors and Iraq to let us know all - we were serious. But the administrations says these folks who claim to have been deceived must have know that they were voting for what actually happened - telling the inspectors to stop immediately, get out for their own safety, and then we invade and occupy. When the president said they were voting for a form of pressure and that war was his "last resort," they should have KNOWN he didn't mean that? That seems to be the implicit message - they were too dumb to understand what they were voting for, and now is no time cry foul.

And this bellyaching sends "the wrong signal" to our troops and "America's enemies." It's unpatriotic. As Glenn Reynolds, one of the main voices on the right, says of all this here - "And yes, he should question their patriotism. Because they're acting unpatriotically." Well, the charge could be hurled the other way - conning us into a war on bullshit information doesn't seem too patriotic.

If they administration conned themselves? Well, then we're in real trouble - but we really don't have to keep participating in this madness.

This speech? It would have been nice if he thanked the veterans. Well, to be fair, he did. But he also had other, bigger fish to fry. Too bad. They deserve better.

And there was nothing new here. In fact, you might want to look at this table - the speech is almost word for word what he gave to the National Endowment for Democracy, Oct. 6, 2005.

Ah well.

But for a different bit of discourse you might turn to a slightly different way of dealing with people who disagree with you, something that entered the national dialog late in the week. You call for their death and destruction, as in these.

In Tuesday's off year election voters in San Francisco decided military recruiters would be banned from public schools. The schools weren't the right place for that. Enter Bill O'Reilly, the voice of sensible America, the "no spin" guy, as reported here:
Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.
So they're not part of America any longer? Bill has decided that? Well, they're all queers, of course. Cut 'em off. (As for Coit Tower, would its removal be that much of a loss?)

The same day CNN was reporting this from the Reuters wire - Pat Robertson, the voice of the Christian conservative right, the evangelical leader with a pipeline into the White House - was upset with the off year election results in Dover, Pennsylvania, where the school board that was advancing "intelligent design" in the public schools there, in a trial that got worldwide attention, was voted out office. Now they want science taught in science class, and discussion of the supernatural, that science doesn't cover, taught in classes that cover religion and philosophy. It seems they feel one ought not to confuse the one with the other. Pat's not happy, and says God isn't happy either.
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.
Citizens of San Francisco, and citizens of Dover - you voted, and now you have been cast out.

Well, some people just don't count, as in last Thursday's senate vote. Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees - "The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured 'enemy combatants' at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts."

Well, that will end the lawsuits, and the reaction was immediate from the right, as in Michelle Malkin calling this Sanity in the Senate. She loves this move by senator Lindsay Graham. Of course, she's been calling for internment camps for all American Muslims too. Her point? Some people just don't deserve the right to know what they're charged with, or the right to explain themselves, or the right to humane treatment. They're a "different sort" of people.

From the left? Steven Clemons - Lindsey Graham Leads on Shameful Legislation. And out here at UCAL, Mark Kleiman doesn't know whether to Laugh, cry, or puke: "How Graham intends to square this with Article 1, Section 9 - The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. - is beyond me." (And he consults some legal experts here.)

That famous criminal defense attorney from Denver you see on television off and on does the legal thing with No Habeas for Them, No Habeas for Us - Tinkering with habeas corpus ?. Habeas Corpus is now being discussed all over, and nine democratic senators who missed the vote are asking for a new vote.

So who gets to have rights? And who doesn't?

Anyone can see what's at the core of this. Those who we capture who seem to be bad guys, or may know what the bad guys are up to, or who are just damned unlucky to have been picked up by mistake, are not really like us. Are they really humans like us? The question underlies the whole argument as to whether we, who never would torture anyone, should be allowed to practice torture. It's the argument for this being a "special case" in each circumstance - they're not really fully human, or we're so frightened we cannot allow that they are.

And this torture issue won't go away.

Put aside what it says about those who practice it, and their humanity. The problem is that it just doesn't work. Even the guys in the CIA, at the "worker bee" level, say so in this bit of digging from Knight-Ridder - Operatives Say CIA Exemption on Torture a Mistake. It's detailed, but boils down to use torture and you get unreliable information - folks say lots of things to stop the pain - and too those others who might have been inclined at sometime in the future to help you out will hate your guts, and so all your sources dry up. It just screws things up.

But of course the Knight-Ridder item doesn't cover the obvious. If you want lies to support your view of the world then torture can provide those lies, and you can tell others, and yourself perhaps, that things really are as bad as they seem. The poor devil will tell you anything you want to hear. The key is you really want to hear it. And that's your problem. The long-cultivated sources aren't telling you what you want.

Ah well, this too doesn't matter. The trades are full of stories that the Knight-Ridder chain is up for sale, and the key bidder is a rich Republican operative. Such stories will disappear. Cheney will be a hero again.

Out here, the Chicago-based Tribune folks who own the Los Angeles Times are cleaning house. They just fired their liberal columnist Robert Sheer after twenty-eight years, the one who Bill O'Reilly wanted fired when he made fun of Bill, and fired their political cartoonist. Circulation is down. Shift right?

In any event, the Times is now contracting with various folks while building a new "stable" of editorial writers. In the transition you get a bit of this and a bit of that, as in what they came up with on Friday, November 11, on this torture thing.

David Gelernter here argues the usual - what if you had someone who knew where a nuclear bomb was set to go off in Manhattan and you had no time? You'd have to torture him to get to the bomb and disarm it and all the rest. You save the city!

Hollywood stuff. You have to do what you have to do, or millions die? Yeah, yeah. What if, to stop the unbearable pain, he (or she) tells you this bomb is in a storage room uptown at 7th and 52nd Street, when it's really in a basement down on lower Broadway? They win. The unbearable pain stops. The bomb goes off. What are you going to do? Sue them? Hurt them more?

The Times also prints this from Larry C. Johnson: "I think Dick Cheney has been watching too many Hollywood flicks that glorify torture. He needs to get out of his undisclosed location and talk to the people on the ground."

Johnson is a retired career officer from the CIA and covers the same ground as in the Knight-Ridder item, but with personal stories. He says even the Israelis have given up on torture - they play cards with their captives and let them call home and all the rest. And they do get their information. Yeah, it's sneaky, and not very heroic, but in the real world it actually works.

But what if, what if, what if...

All these special cases, all this talk that these are the worst of the worst and really different from "real" people, and we have to do what we have to do, even if it doesn't work, makes one wonder if we have two realities here.

As for special cases, on a lighter topic, you have to love this one, concerning the new nominee to the Supreme Court. From the Washington Post, Alito Defends His Actions In Two Appeals Court Cases: "In Letter to Senators, Nominee Denies Conflict of Interest - Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. said yesterday that he did nothing improper when he ruled in cases involving two financial firms in which he held accounts." Except he's on record saying he would recuse himself. He was kidding? No, these were "special cases." Duncan Black's take on this? Alito: I Lied and I'm Proud of It.

Whatever. He will be confirmed. People can be so picky.

On the other hand, one cannot take the whole crew in Washington too seriously.

We're in some fiscal difficulty. Big federal deficit (record), big trade deficit (record), all those hurricane recovery costs (record number this year), an expensive war, tax cuts for the wealthy reducing tax revenue by a third or more - quite a mess.

But there's this: House Leaders Postpone Vote on Budget Bill: "Facing defeat, House Republican leaders on Thursday abruptly called off a vote on a contentious budget-cutting bill in a striking display of the discord and political anxiety running through the party's ranks."

Some objected to oil drilling in protected areas Alaska (ANWAR), some to cutting 300,000 kids from the food stamp program, some to cutting Medicaid benefits so fewer people could see a doctor on the government's dime even if they paid taxes for just that, some, from the northeast, objected to cutting funds to help the poor meet their heating bills with fuel prices at record highs and oil companies making record profits. No one wants to be the bad guy. And people vote when they're angry.

One of our congressmen from out here in California said, "We are not cutting Medicaid for those truly in need." He seems to think there are upper and middle-income Medicaid beneficiaries. Say what?

Reactions? From the left: GOP: The gang that can't shoot straight. From the right: Republican Bedwetters on the Hill.

Well, Tom DeLay is no longer running the shop and is not there to slap everyone around. Karl Rove is occupied with the possibility he will be indicted for a felony or two and hasn't the time to warn any one of these folks if they don't vote right they will be personally destroyed and their families will go down with them. What the president wants? Who cares?

Will the next three years be like this, a free-for-all?

Nothing will get done. Well, the bad stuff won't get done. But the good stuff won't get done either.

Finally, just a note. Like a dog gnawing an old bone, Steven Hadley, one of the guys who really, really, really wanted this war, now in Condoleezza Rice's old job as National Security Advisor, is still at it.

Bush Aide Fires Back at Critics On Justification for War in Iraq - "The White House went on the offensive in the debate over the Iraq war yesterday, insisting that U.S. intelligence had compiled a 'very strong case' that Saddam Hussein harbored banned weapons and accusing congressional critics ... "

What? Steve, we've moved on. They weren't there. Get over it.

So the week ended with Veterans Day, and no end to the madness.

Posted by Alan at 21:49 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005 22:02 PST home

Topic: Breaking News

Just In: Police Pack Paris on Veterans Day (Armistice Day)
Today's news from France, from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis - an account of the situation on the ground there today, Armistice Day, celebrating the end of the first World War.

Police Pack Paris

PARIS - Friday, November 11 - Security was reinforced today in Paris to prevent any incidents during the traditional ceremony to mark the end of World War I at the tomb of the unknown soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe at the Etoile.

The ceremony passed without incident this morning. Jacques Chirac placed the wreath in the presence of World War II veterans and the minister of defense, Michèle Alliot-Marie. The six poilus still living who participated in WWI are all over 100 years old and a bit too fragile for even short ceremonies.

In total, 3000 extra police were mobilized for the long weekend in the city. The préfet of police in Paris decided to forbid all public demonstrations on Saturday, from 10:00 until Sunday morning at 8:00, in reaction to calls for 'violent action' posted on the Web or distributed via SMS messages.

Today's demonstration in favor of urban peace, called by 'Banlieues Respects' for 15:00 at the Peace Wall on the Champ de Mars, drew 250-300 persons. Similar demonstrations are planned for Lyon and Toulouse tomorrow.

Overnight violence diminished again, with concentrations in 20 areas out of 160 communes affected. In Bordeaux police cars parked at the Palais de Justice were set on fire, while the number torched in the Paris suburbs rose slightly to 111, up from 82 on Wednesday night. Throughout France 463 vehicles were destroyed Thursday night. Police arrested 201 persons.

Also on Thursday night, minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy appeared on the France-2 TV program 'A Vous de Juger.' He refused the idea of confusing the kids from poor suburbs with hoodlums, saying, "When I say they are hooligans or rabble, I persist and sign - and in no case in this sense do I mean all youth" - repeating controversial terms used in Argenteuil.

Insurance companies have estimated that the cost of damage from the urban unrest is going to total 200 million euros. On TV-news tonight a spokesman said that owners are burned cars would be compensated, regardless of whether they had clauses covering fire.

Marseille Strike Resumes

Transport workers in Marseille voted to resume their strike of municipal buses and the Métro after a five-day pause. Part one of the strike lasted 32 days, causing many residents to become foot-weary, even with a belated system of replacement buses. The employees are protesting against a city plan to have a private company operate the Marseille tram lines when they are built.

Photo, Paris, Friday, November 11, 2005 -

Photo and Text, Copyright © 2005 – Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Posted by Alan at 16:02 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Photos

New Photo Album: Melrose Avenue - Peculiarly Los Angeles

Melrose Avenue - not "Melrose Place" from the television show - is where the excruciatingly hip and cutting-edge hang out. The core area, forming the southern border of Hollywood, from Highland to Fairfax, is all that people expect when they imagine stars shopping for what no one else has yet considered imperative to wear, or dropping into some new restaurant for what no one else has yet considered appetizing. It's a bit of the Village in New York and the Marais in Paris (lots of hip French industry folks and pop stars stop by) - with celebrities and seedy but cool locals. Melrose to the west becomes tame (Melrose Place itself is full of expensive antique shops), and to the east it becomes industrial.

Click here for a photo album of sixty shots from Thursday, November 10, 2005 - late morning, before the action.

Some of these will appear in this Sunday's Just Above Sunset, along with new botanical shots, and a very strange cow (don't ask).

Here's one of the shots you will find in the album:

Posted by Alan at 14:53 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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