bullies always pick on the wrong man

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Today's news from the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE:

Frontpage

Pace of Protectionism quickens, Economic fallout could be harsh

accompanied by photo of Industry Minister François Loos, looking particularly daffy yet dashing with euro-wirebrush hair, surrounded by three very dour non-descript men. Mixture of private and public officials.

Article detailing recent tide of protectionist schemes. Though the article cites British and American examples of protectionism, Centrica (British gas company) vs. Gazprom (state-owned Russian gas company) and Unocal (US oil company) vs. Cnooc (state-owned Chinese oil company), the article hinges particular on recent French protectionist efforts: the merger of GDF and Suez to prevent a takeover from Italy. This, coupled with the recent EU intervention preventing the takeover of Arcelor (French) by Mittal Steel (Dutch based Indian company), are the central foundations of the article. Though US, Britain and France are all implicated, the focus, as told by the photo, is on the obstinate French attitude. Protectionism given negative slant.

Photo of a young duck being injected
BIRD FLU SHOTS - "A french veterinarian vaccinating a duck against bird flu Monday. Vaccination of thousands of geese and ducks has begun in France."

Page 3
In France, a meal of intolerance. Nationalists assail multiculturalism.
accompanied by picture of a man, "former day laborer who now lives on the streets of Paris," eating a pork soup distributed by far-right groups.
Far right and nationalist soup kitchens distribute pork soup to homeless. They refuse to call their acts discriminatory and have labelled the soup "Identity Soup." "Our freedom is being threatened... If we prefer European civilaztion and Christian culture, that's our choice.... In France there is little tolerance for anything that challenges the republic's egalitarian ideals. But the authorities initially left the pork soup kitchen alone, shutting it down only once to avoid an altercation with a group of indignant French leftists."

Trial opens over Paris bombings
The apparent banker of the Paris Metro bombings of 1995 goes to trial after lengthy extradition trials. Allegations that "Islamist suspects were subjected to torture by interrogators in Paris and Lyon" are currently under investigation. The story ends with "the bloodiest attack, on July 25th, 1995, killed eight people at the Saint Michel Metro station and wounded 150. Two other people were killed in later attacks and scores more were wounded."

Page 4
France starts vaccination of poultry
Vaccination of geese and ducks has begun in Landes in southwest France under fears of the bird flu virus. Two other departments, Loire Atlantique and Vendée have also been opted vaccination but have opted for confinement. The spread of the virus is updated to being unchecked in Nigeria, Indonesia, China and Egypt. The Netherlands is also considering vaccination though Britain is anti-vaccination, believing that it only masks the effects though does little to check the spread.

Page 15
Suez deal poses quandary for French labor
Suez deal with GDF is a subtle and quiet way of privatising yet another state company. From business point of view, it's a shrewd manoeuver. The deal was government brokered and under the guardianship of Dominique de Villepin. A move towards privatisation has always been on the table, but was only made politically feasible with the imminent economic threat from outside the border. "The government is using the Enel [Italian] offer as a Trojan horse."

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If I didn't know better I'd say that France was a protectionist racist country which can't protect itself against migrating birds nor the dissolution of its socialist values. Pretty rough day for La France, according to this most venerable paper. Not to say that I have any arguments against the "facts" but, taken together, they do provide quite an unnecessarily alarmist picture of France. My question is was it necessary to highlight all of these stories today? Were they really of urgent international importance? Why is the international version different from the online international section, where more cogent issues like increased tensions between China and Taiwan when Taiwanese president Chen Shui-Bian scrapped the Unification Council, or the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA), a UN agency, new report saying that it has received little to no aid from Iran on its recent nuclear activity and weapons, are highlighted? I somehow feel these issues are much more important that sly threats on protectionism and economic sanctions, nor a surreptitious form of national bullying.

However, will say that that pork soup thing is a bloody huge disgrace and makes me STEAMING MAD! How can food be used as cultural blackmail?! How can anybody use starvation as a weapon for discrimination? Angry against these racist soup kitchen people, not France.