Saturday, February 21, 2004

We have no bananas to-day!

Let's check in on our friend Dieudonné. Where do we find his career?

The stunt he pulled seems to be costing him dearly, according to Le Monde. The paper writes that the show he was supposed to have yesterday at L'Olympia was canceled. The venue's directors issued a press release stating that, after receiving anonymous threats, they were canceling the show due to the "climate of extreme tension we have observed over several days." They say that Olympia would "not have the means to guarantee the security of its audience and employees." Indeed, Olympia claim that on Tuesday they received a letter from police headquarters that "reminded [the director] of his responsibilities" and pointed out "that the staff in private establishments are responsible for safety and security on their premises." Contacted by the AFP, Dieudo's agent said the "funny man" didn't want to "react in anger."

So much for that. Dieudonné decided to hold his show in the street outside the theater.
They came by the hundred to chant the slogan "freedom of speech" and to support Dieudonné, who decided to have his show on a platform erected on the sidewalk opposite Olympia, the venue where he was supposed to have performed on Friday and which canceled this.

The humorist raised his arms, greeted his fans, the "descendants of slaves," the "Arabs," the "blacks" and also the whites of all ages who had massed on the boulevard des Capucines in Paris, surrounded by anti-riot police. "We love you," shouted young girls, waving their cameras.
Libération is writing derisively that now Diedonné "takes himself for a defender of the black cause" and reports that the "comedian" said "400 years of slavery and we don't have the right to speak!"

Alain Finkielkraut is criticizing those who leveled threats against l'Olympia (causing the venue to fear for its safety), as he thinks they are "transforming [Dieudonné] into a martyr for human rights and freedom of speech."

Dieudonné is now claiming that he's been banned from French public television. "I've been banned from the TV... just like Coluche and Bedos once were." This was categorically denied however by France 2. Do you imagine they have any interest in seeing him ever again? Do you think many other venues will want to book him now? Can we now ask, as W. once did, "Dis donc Dieudo, les recettes de ton dernier spectacle, ça achète beaucoup de bananes?"


Le Monde is also offering a slide show of reconnaissance photos (note that in French reconnaissance means "gratitude") from World War II. Some are from the Imperial War Museum, some from the Aerial Reconnaissance Achives and some from the Public Record Office. They include that now famous photo of Auschwitz-Birkenau ("at its criminal apex") and of Omaha Beach (on D-day).

On décompresse...

Ça se fait comme ça... con nosotros

Friday, February 20, 2004

Let's cool off Il faut décompresser
Being a tad worried about my reputation I have decided to not write any controversial posts on this blog. Therefore, I will commentate on France's current events with all the psychotic calm and serenity of a Palestinian father who explains that he can't wait for his two surviving sons to become martyrs. How's that?
Etant un tant soit peu soucieux de ma réputation, je tâcherai de me limiter à des postes qui ne provoquent point de polémiques sur ce blog. Donc, je vous relaterai la situation en Fwance avec tout le calme et toute la sérenité psychotiques normalement employés par un père palestinien qui vous explique qu'il a hâte de voir ses deux fils survivants se transformer en martyres. Ça vous va?

United States

Le Monde's website is advertising a "lexicon for better understanding the United States" on the right-hand side of its front page. Although you have to pay in order to access the dictionary that contains over 400 "words of America," the advertisement is telling. If you click on the ad, a slide show opens with the following definitions:

(1) Sex: Sodomy remains illegal in a number of American states, and Bush promotes abstinence.
(2) Botox: 7.4 million Americans spent 7.7 billion euros on plastic surgery in 2000.
(3) Televangelists: The successors of nineteenth century traveling preachers, televangelists are television stars.

It's comforting to know that Le Monde is doing its part to break down misunderstandings and stereotypes between French and Americans. Now we just need Conan O'Brien to come up with a dictionary for Americans to understand France.
International Law:

Last month, the ship, Bugaled Breizh, sunk off of southern England. Five Frenchmen died. The culprit was allegedly a Philippine-registered vessel called the Seattle Trader, which may have collided with the Bugaled Breizh. Although the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea indicates that vessels are under the jurisdiction of the country in which they are registered and therefore any action with respect to the Seattle Trader should be authorized by the Philippine government, France is bringing justice to the alleged culprits and is hunting them down. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has denounced France's actions as "gun-boat diplomacy."
International Law:

Three years after the Convention was created, France has ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which restricts production of certain pesticides, industrial chemicals and unintended byproducts of combustion such as DDT, PCBs and dioxin. France was the fiftieth country to ratify the Convention, and "fifty" was the number required for the Convention to enter into force.

The United States is a signatory to the treaty, and President Bush submitted the Convention for ratification to the Senate back in 2002.