Tuesday, November 08, 2005


'We hate France and France hates us'
From Guardian Unlimited

"On the radio they said the last time they used that law was in the Algerian war. Is that stupid or what? Ninety percent of the people who live here are Arabs. What does that tell them? Fifty years later, you're still different? We're not allowed outside, and everyone else is?" [...] Ali's friend was an Arsenal fan: "Thierry Henry, man! But he never scores for France." Does he feel French? "We hate France and France hates us," he spat, refusing to give even his first name. "I don't know what I am. Here's not home; my gran's in Algeria. But in any case France is just fucking with us. We're like mad dogs, you know? We bite everything we see. Go back to Paris, man."

Sylla summed it up. "We burn because it's the only way to make ourselves heard, because it's solidarity with the rest of the non-citizens in this country, with this whole underclass. Because it feels good to do something with your rage," he said.

"The guys whose cars get torched, they understand. OK, sometimes they do. We have to do this. Our parents, they should understand. They did nothing, they suffered in silence. We don't have a choice. We're sinking in shit, and France is standing on our heads. One way or another we're heading for prison. It might as well be for actually doing something." more

Europe faces 'fear of all things foreign'
From Guardian Unlimited

" ... But problems of discrimination, youth unemployment - half of the detained French rioters are under 18 - racial prejudice, religious intolerance, and xenophobia induced by fear of terrorism and globalisation are entrenched in most European countries, said Aurore Wanlin of the Centre for European Reform. And they have potential to cause more explosions."more

More liberty and equality
From Guardian Unlimited

"When, on Monday evening - the 12th day of the unprecedented wave of violence which has spread throughout France - the French prime minister Dominique de Villepin addressed the nation, he was careful not to say the word.

However, President Chirac and his government yesterday passed a decree giving full powers to the prefects of France to implement curfews wherever they deem it necessary. For the first time in 44 years, the political power in France feels compelled to use the act of April 3 1955, thus declaring a state of emergency, l'état d'urgence. This law was used by General de Gaulle, in 1961, to restore order in Algeria and Paris, where at least 200 French Algerians were shot dead by police." more

"France Beefs Up Response to Riots"

France Beefs Up Response to Riots
From Washington Post

Confronted by the most dramatic social uprising since 1968, the government of France remains largely helpless against gangs of angry youths. The response is being crafted by a lame-duck president and an interior minister and a prime minister who are slugging it out to replace him.

While many French leaders depict the rioters as simple criminals, political and social analysts and many French citizens see the fires that are burning across the country as reflecting a growing identity crisis in a nation where social policies have not kept up with rapidly changing profiles in religion, race and ethnicity.

"France is in a social and economic crisis," said Michelle Rosso, a 43-year-old music teacher from the town of Bagnolet in the northern suburbs of Paris, where the unrest has been most intense. "It's similar to the U.S. civil rights movement in the '60s. The integration policies of this country clearly do not work." more

President Bush's Walkabout

From New York Times

"After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long. [...] The place to begin is with Dick Cheney, the dark force behind many of the administration's most disastrous policies, like the Iraq invasion and the stubborn resistance to energy conservation. Right now, the vice president is devoting himself to beating back Congressional legislation that would prohibit the torture of prisoners. This is truly a remarkable set of priorities: his former chief aide was indicted, Mr. Cheney's back is against the wall, and he's declared war on the Geneva Conventions. more


"I don't support the riots," said one teenager. "But the people are enraged." A State of Emergency in the Grande Nation

From Der Spiegel "The violence just won't stop. Monday night saw the 12th night in a row of rioting, arson attacks and stone throwing as bands of suburban youth set alight some 1,170 cars in 226 municipalities across France. In addition, a nursery school was torched in the northern French town of Lille-Fives, a junior high school was set on fire in the Paris suburb of Sevran and youths threw gasoline bombs at a hospital in another Paris suburb. Rioters in the southern French city of Toulouse stopped a bus, ordered the passengers to disembark, and set it on fire. A total of 330 people were arrested on Monday night.

Still, despite the staggering violence, officials have managed to find the silver lining in Monday night's dark cloud. For the first time since the riots started on Oct. 27 -- after two Nothern African teens died while apparently trying to hide from the police in an electricity substation in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois -- the amount of violence seems to have gone down. On Sunday night, 300 towns had reported violence and over 1,400 cars were torched. There was also a reduction in the number of attacks on public buildings on Monday night and fewer clashes between rioters and police were reported." more

From Der Spiegel Rage in Blanc-Mesnil

"The parking lot in front of the commuter train station in the Parisian suburb Blanc-Mesnil presents a rather bizarre image. Among the dozens of cars -- parked here by commuters every morning before they jump on the train that will zip them into the center of the French capital -- there are also a number of burned out shells. The flames have left little more than a black skeleton. Everything else -- plastic parts, seats, tires, everything not made of metal -- has been melted beyond recognition or completely burned away." more

And from Democracy Now

Urban Unrest Escalates in France as Riots Continue for 11th Straight Night "Well, as you say, there was an incident in which two young boys of immigrant descent in Clichy-sous-Bois were coming home from a football match they had been playing, and it seems that they spotted a police patrol. They were afraid of one of the identity checks the police go in for heavily in these districts, and everybody scampered, fled. Two of the boys -- three of the boys hid in a substation. One was very badly injured. Two were killed. And the rumor spread that they had been chased into that substation by the police, the implication being, deliberately chased in, and that sparked the riot.

I think what that speaks to -- although the preliminary reports suggest that they weren't being chased at the time, but the fact that they climbed over a six-foot barbed wire wall to hide from police speaks volumes about the state of relations between young immigrant-origin youth and police in these sorts of places and also, generally, about how difficult it is to live in these quarters." more

Blacks and DNA Testing

From BlackProf.com

"In his Oct 31 New York Times editorial, “Why Race Isn’t as ‘Black’ and ‘White’ as We Think", Brent Staples reveals that he recently traced his ancestral origins through a genetic screening performed by DNAPrint Genomics and was “knocked off my chair” to find that one-fifth of his ancestry is Asian. Tracing one’s lineage is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States and African Americans are increasingly using commercially available technologies to determine their ancestry and genealogy. But there’s a new twist -- a growing segment of this business is devoted to genetic information about racial heritage. It seems that many African Americans see their genetic lineage as key to their racial identity. I’ve made it clear in my past postings that I don’t regard my genetic makeup as critical to my identity. But I’m intrigued that so many of my brothers and sisters do and am struggling to place the popularity of these technologies in the context of what I see as an ominous resurgence of biological definitions of race. (By the way, Patricia Williams gave a brilliant lecture at Northwestern last night and she, too, tied the growing interest in race-based biotechnology and biomedicine to increased racial profiling and restrictions on civil liberties, which she cast as a denial of the presumption of innocence."

Monday, November 07, 2005

The FBI's Secret Scrutiny

The FBI's Secret Scrutiny

"The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.

Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow."

Image from PBS Online News Hour


Ten years ago the writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian government. In this moving memoir, his son Ken Wiwa talks about his father's legacy and how he is continuing his fight for justice.

"By exposing the double standards of oil companies who preached sound ecological virtues in the north while singing from an entirely different song sheet in Nigeria, my father earned powerful enemies and became a marked man. Censored by editorial boards and denied a pulpit in a country where poverty made books a luxury, my father decided to abandon his writing and took his words to the streets. In 1990 he was instrumental in forming Mosop (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People), a grassroots organisation to mobilise our community to speak out for their rights. So successful was Mosop in raising awareness among the community that, within three years of forming the organisation, an estimated 300,000 of our people spilled out onto the streets of Ogoni during a protest march.

My father later insisted that if he had died that day he would have died a happy man. Instead, from that day, he was a marked man. He was arrested or detained on four separate occasions until his final arrest on 21 May 1994 following a riot in Ogoni at which four prominent chiefs were murdered. My father and hundreds of Ogoni were held for nine months without charge and when he was finally charged to court he was accused of procuring his supporters to murder the four chiefs."

"In the name of my father"



From Der Spiegel "As the rioting in Paris enters into its eleventh day, commentators in Germany look to neighboring France in dismay. Fortunately, there is no talk of a clash of civilizations, an unbridgeable religious divide or other nonsense. Most papers see it for what it is: a classic clash between the haves and have nots." more

From Common Dreams "In late 1991, after violent riots between youths and police scarred the suburbs of Lyon, Alain Touraine, the French sociologist, predicted: "It will only be a few years before we face the kind of massive urban explosion the Americans have experienced." The 11 nights of consecutive violence following the deaths of two young Muslim men of African descent in a Paris suburb show that Touraine's dark vision of a ghettoized, post-colonial France is now upon us. Clichy-sous-Bois, the impoverished and segregated north-eastern suburb of Paris where the two men lived and where the violent reaction to their deaths began, was a ticking bomb for the kind of dramatic social upheaval we are currently witnessing. Half its inhabitants are under 20, unemployment is above 40% and identity checks and police harassment are a daily experience." more

From Znet "As someone who lived in France for nearly a decade, and who has visited those suburban ghettos, where the violence started, on reporting trips any number of times, I have not been surprised by this tsunami of inchoate youth rebellion that is engulfing France. It is the result of thirty years of government neglect: of the failure of the French political classes -- of both right and left -- to make any serious effort to integrate its Muslim and black populations into the larger French economy and culture; and of the deep-seated, searing, soul-destroying racism that the unemployed and profoundly alienated young of the ghettos face every day of their lives, both from the police, and when trying to find a job or decent housing." more


Is the violence in France an uprising or a riot? Like the events in Los Angeles following the not-guilty verdict in the first trial of the officers for beating Rodney King.

Disenfrachisement, incarceration, "law & order," inhuman, humans.

I. 1. a. intr. To live in a wanton, dissipated, or unrestrained manner; to revel; to indulge to excess in something. Now somewhat rare.
c. To revel in, to take great delight or pleasure in, something. Also const. upon.
II. 4. Sc. and north. To ravage, harry, spoil (a country, etc.). Obs. rare.
5. a. To force (a person) to do some action by persistence or importunity; so, to prevent (one) from doing something. Obs.
b. Of rioters: To attack (persons or property).

6. a. intr. To make a disturbance; to storm.
b. To engage in a riot or violent disturbance.


7. (uprising.) An insurrection; a popular rising against authority or for some common purpose.

8. The process or fact of coming into existence or notice.

"What's Wrong with Europe?"

From Der Spiegel

For 11 nights running, French police and firefighters have battled rioters on the streets of Paris suburbs -- and the violence seems to be spreading. But the unrest in France is only the latest chapter in the difficulties Europe has been having integrating its immigrants.

Local youths watch as firemen extinguish burning vehicles in Paris last week.
Mayor Claude Dilain sits on the edge of his chair in his community's wedding banquet hall. His hands are folded on the table in front of him, and his face is a tortured reflection of the doubts and fears inside him.

For the past 10 years, Claude Dilain, 57, has been the mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, a suburb in northeastern Paris with 28,100 inhabitants, mostly immigrants. Dilain calls it "a powder keg." He slightly resembles the French author Michel Houellebecq, but today he is paler than even the author normally is. The strain of the last few nights is no doubt part of it. But so too is a growing suspicion -- that the modern welfare state may be fully incapable of addressing some of his community's most pressing problems.

""We Aren't Going to Let Up! Are You Stupid?""

From Der Spiegel

The riots in France are spreading -- and not just to cities across the country. An intense debate is also taking place on the Internet. Many are horrified by the riots. Others are planning them.

Official Paris is in an uproar. For 11 straight days, riots have consumed Paris and now they are spreading across the country. French President Jacques Chirac finally broke his silence on Sunday night and went on television to talk to his shell-shocked fellow citizens.

But the real debate about the nightly riots is taking place far from the halls of power. It's taking place on the Internet. Here, people who normally would never come into contact with each other, are exchanging views on the violence. Others -- many of whom have been ignored by France for years -- have found a platform for their views. One blog, which has since been blocked, showed a photo of a burning car. Beneath the picture was the sentence, "Good job people."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Revolt in Paris

"Revolt in Paris"

Matt Reichel writes: The mainstream press has been telling Europeans that "riots" have broken out in the Parisian suburbs (Banlieu) of Paris this week. In calling them "riots", the popular imagination likens them to fires and other sorts of largely uncontrollable disasters. It's as if the French are merely being faced with an outbreak of civil unrest, and that someone from the ranks of the government will most assuredly figure out how to weather the storm within the coming days.

These aren't "riots". This is social rebellion, directed at decades of French imperial rule, and ultra-capitalist and racist policymaking at home. After the "decolonization" process finished in Africa (oddly leaving the former colonies entirely dependent on the Banque de France for their monetary policymaking and at the whim of French military decision-making), the colonized were supposed to be offered life in France as a sort of reparation for the destruction that went along with the imperial era. This, predictably, has turned out to be nothing more than a bone that the French have thrown at their dependents to try to keep them quiet. The idea is this: give them cheap, shitty housing away from the beautiful Metropole of Paris, give them minimum wage paying work, and hope that they shut up.

Obviously, "they" haven't shut up.