France

La barbarie menace notre civilisation

Thursday, 8 January, 2015 0 Comments

“I am not afraid of retaliation. I have no kids, no wife, no car, no credit. It perhaps sounds a bit pompous, but I prefer to die standing than living on my knees.” — Stephane Charbonnier, publishing director of Charlie Hebdo, murdered alongside 12 others in an Islamist attack in Paris yesterday.

Stephane Charbonnier

Je suis Charlie


L’immobilisme is destabilizing France

Thursday, 6 November, 2014 0 Comments

“As the Hollande presidency stumbles past its half-way point, it is hard to overstate the depths of pessimism in the country.” So writes the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in a grim piece titled “French ‘mess’ threatens real civil strife.” The cause of the latest bout of l’immobilisme is “a melange of incompetence, powerlessness, timidity and indecision to which the country’s government has fallen prey.”

The hapless Hollande brings out the Churchillian in Schofield’s prose: “The president makes a boast of being ‘normal’, when the times require exception. He invites ridicule, when France needs someone of stature. He vacillates, when France looks for steel.” Tonight, in an “interview exceptionnelle” at prime time on TF1, Hollande will face the nation, but Atlantico is convinced that nothing will change — until everything changes.


Follow the bouncing ball

Saturday, 7 June, 2014 0 Comments

The World Cup kicks off next week so now’s the time to get into the mood. We’re getting an assist today from Guillaume Blanchet, a French filmmaker based in Montreal.


Benedict Cumberbatch reads the news from D-Day

Friday, 6 June, 2014 0 Comments

Seventy years ago today, 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. D-Day was one of the most superbly planned and conducted invasions in military history and Europe owes a huge debt to the unique generation of British, Canadians and Americans who gave so much for the freedom that we enjoy today. Listen now to Benedict Cumberbatch reading the 8am BBC news from D-Day.


Revolution and Revolt in France

Tuesday, 11 February, 2014 0 Comments

Revolution: Yesterday, the French business daily, Les Echos, launched a news aggregator called Les Echos 360. To be precise, it’s not an aggregator, it’s an “aggrefilter” says Frederic Filloux, the head of digital at Les Echos, who explains that the word means an aggregation and filtering system that collects technology news and ranks it based on its importance to the news cycle. As Filloux points out in his Monday Note blog post, this move required courage and a lot of clever thinking:

“For Les Echos‘ digital division, this aggrefilter is a proof of concept, a way to learn a set of technologies we consider essential for the company’s future. The digital news business will be increasingly driven by semantic processes; these will allow publishers to extract much more value from news items, whether they are produced in-house or aggregated/filtered. That is especially true for a business news provider: the more specialized the corpus, the higher the need for advanced processing.”

Liberation

Revolt: Journalists at France’s third-biggest national newspaper, Libération, have responded with rage at a plan by the owners to try to save the declining daily by transforming it into a “social network”. The owners also want to convert the central Paris building rented by the newsroom into a cultural centre with a café, TV studio and business area for start-ups. Liberation staff voiced their opposition on the cover of the weekend edition: “We are a newspaper, not a restaurant, not a social network, not a cultural space, not a TV studio, not a bar, not a start-up incubator.”

Started by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973, Libération is a leftist fixture on Parisian newsstands, but it has long trailed Le Monde and Le Figaro, and, with a circulation of just 100,000, it has proved to be a bottomless pit for its shareholders. Last year, it lost more than €500,000 as sales sank 15 percent. Marx would be delighted with such energetic destruction of capital.

Prediction: Les Echos will survive. Libération will not.


The mistress ménage of M. Hollande

Tuesday, 14 January, 2014 0 Comments

The observation that “when one marries one’s mistress one creates a vacancy” is attributed to Sir James Goldsmith. Someone should have passed the quip along to the French First Lady Valérie Trierweiler. She’s still in hospital suffering from depression and shock, three days after Closer magazine revealed that her “boyfriend”, President François Hollande, was having a love affair with a 41-year-old actress, Julie Gayet.

Although Médiapart, the left-leaning online investigative journal created by the former editor-in-chief of Le Monde Edwy Plene, has revealed that the Hollande-Gayet “love nest” was linked to the Mafia, Renaud Revel, who writes a media blog for L’Express, sharply criticizes the embarrassed silence of France’s mainstream media about the affair. “We’re in the middle of a tabloid drama and the media has taken a vow of silence,” he says. “In a mature democracy it would be a given that they would have done their homework, like Médiapart is now doing. What kind of country is it where most media hide behind the sublime argument of respect for a person’s private life?”

Sir James Goldsmith, by the way, had three wives, innumerable mistresses and eight children, two born in the late 1980s to the last love of his life, the well-connected French journalist Laure de Boulay de la Meurthe, a reporter for Paris Match magazine and a member of the Bourbon family. Coincidentally, Valérie Trierweiler is a journalist and she’s under contract with Paris Match. She’s a socialist/socialite, however, not a Bourbon.

140114match


Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Sunday, 12 January, 2014 0 Comments

Mother Goose is often cited as the author of hundreds of children’s rhymes that have been passed down through oral and written tradition over the generations. French texts that refer to stories by Mother Goose date back as early as the 17th century and contain the terms mere l’oye or mere oye (Mother Goose). Charles […]

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The disgusting quenelle of the repulsive Nicolas Anelka

Monday, 30 December, 2013 0 Comments

Anti-Semitism is a hallmark of savagery, and one cannot expect anything from savages except further savagery. That’s the context in which the quenelle gesture used by West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka during Saturday’s Premiership match with West Ham United has to be viewed. Anelka is a friend of the racist comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala whose provocative downward version of the Nazi salute has won him a huge following in France.

“Anti-Semitism is the sign of profound mental and social failure — and a harbinger of more failures and errors to come,” notes Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest. The essay is titled “Jon Stewart, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the Zionist Takeover of Egypt.” Snippet:

“Rabid anti-Semitism coupled with an addiction to implausible conspiracy theories is a very strong predictor of national doom; Nazi Germany isn’t the only country to have followed these dark stars to the graveyard of history. Many liberal minded Americans (though loathing both anti-Semitism and chowderheaded conspiracy thinking themselves) don’t like to look this truth in the eye. It leads to some very uncomfortable reflections about the potential for democracy in many countries beyond Egypt, and casts a dark shadow over the prospects for the development of a stable and prosperous Palestinian state. It suggests that there are narrow limits on what we can expect from diplomacy with Iran.”

There is no place in football for the poison that Anelka is spreading. Boot him out!


Camus discovers the sweet side of social networking

Friday, 8 November, 2013 0 Comments

The great Algerian-French writer Albert Camus, whose 100th birthday was celebrated yesterday, wasn’t a typical diarist, but he jotted down enough daily impressions to produce three published collections. Camus, by the way, never felt comfortable with the Parisian intelligentsia. He once called La Nouvelle Revue Française, a “curious milieu” whose function “is to create writers” but where, however, “they lose the joy of writing and creating.”

8 November 1937: “In the local cinema, you can buy mint flavoured lozenges with the words: ‘Will you marry me one day?’, ‘Do you love me?’, written on them, together with the replies: ‘This evening’, ‘A lot,’ etc. You pass them to the girl next to you, who replies in the same way. Lives become linked together by an exchange of mint lozenges.” Albert Camus

Hearts


On the uses of drones

Friday, 6 September, 2013 0 Comments

According to the Reuters news agency, a suspected US drone killed at least six terrorists in Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal region on the Afghan border. Hardly any fair-minded person would think that this is unjust, given the crimes committed by the region’s gangsters, yet there is considerable opposition to drone warfare. The United Nations has condemned US drone strikes in Pakistan, saying that they violate the country’s sovereignty. The UN, of course, ignores the fact that the Pashtun region is an infamous sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaeda thugs. Heard of Waziristan? “These proud and independent people have been self-governing for generations, and have a rich tribal history that has been too little understood in the West,” said a person called Bill Emmerson, who bears the ludicrous title of “UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism”. Inevitably, not a word was heard from Bill Emmerson about the Taliban murdering Indian writer Sushmita Banerjee in southeastern Afghanistan earlier this week.

But back to drones. The really cool thing about this clip is that it was filmed by a drone, in one continuous shot, flying around the French band, Phoenix. Founded in Versailles, the group consists of Thomas Mars, Deck d’Arcy, Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz. They became rich and famous in 2004 when their track “Too Young” was featured on the soundtrack of Lost in Translation, which was directed by Sofia Coppola. A romantic after-effect saw the same Sofia Coppola marry Thomas Mars in 2011 at her family’s villa at Bernalda in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata. By the way, Phoenix will co-headline the Austin City Limits Music Festival next month, alongside the Kings of Leon, Wilco and Depeche Mode.


The French neurosis becomes the German neurosis

Monday, 12 August, 2013 0 Comments

In his book Anti-Americanism, the late French philosopher, Jean-François Revel, wrote:

“…at the very time when Europeans were benefitting from the Marshall Plan, leftist parties were opposed to it, putting it down as an American plot to put Western Europe under her thumb — yet another neocolonialist Stern and imperialistic manoeuvre, as could easily be deduced from Marxist theory. Yet the socialist or Christian-Democratic parties of the centre-right that were then in power in most European countries also eschewed any feelings of gratitude, reasoning that by acting generously, America was acting purely in her own interests — as if she really ought to have opposed them! For Americans to have understood that that it was to their own advantage to aid Europe’s economic recovery was not credited to their political intelligence. In keeping with the habitually contradictory rules of anti-Americanism reasoning, we accused and keep accusing Americans of being opposed to a strong Europe; hence, the United States strengthens Europe because she wants to weaken Europe. In this regard, European thinking is a model of coherence.”

Like the Dreyfus espionage affair that gripped France at the end of the 19th century, and which was driven by anti-Semitism and hatred of Germany, the Snowden espionage affair that’s now gripping Germany is driven by anti-capitalism and a corrosive hatred of the United States that Jean-François Revel identified in Anti-Americanism. In many ways, this hatred echoes the anti-Semitism that once was central to German culture and which led to a cataclysm for all involved.

By the way, all those Europeans who opposed The Marshall Plan ignored the fact that it replaced The Morgenthau Plan, which advocated that the Allies should destroy Germany’s industrial capacity and reduce it to a mainly agricultural state. That didn’t happen, of course. And today we find Dimitri B. Papadimitriou writing in ekathimerini.com that “Greece needs a 21st Century Marshall Plan“. Good luck with that, Dimitri.