Saturday, June 05, 2004

It Gets Worse/It's Been Worse

The AP reports that president Chirac says that to-morrow he intends to take "the opportunity to tell America and the Americans of the feelings of gratitude that are ours today. I will tell them that France says thank you and that she does not forget."

Yet with impeccable timing, the CSA poling company has released the results of a survey which found that 50% of the French public feel that France has no moral debt to the United States. This opinion is shared by 63% of those aged 18 to 24 years, 58% of those 25 to 34, 54% of those 35 to 49, 48% of those 50 to 64 and even 32% of those 65 and older. Among the professions, farmers thought this in the greatest majority (62%) while retirees and the self-employed were the least likely to share this view (39%). The study also found that 82% of the French felt that France was sufficiently grateful to the US and that as little as 3% admire the US.

Worse yet, the Figaro reports in a survey it commissioned which finds that 82% of French feel that Germany is France's strongest ally while only 55% feel that the US is a trustworthy ally. Thirty-seven percent (and 61% of National Front, i.e. fascist, voters) now feel that Iraq is the country that threatens them most (a head of Iran and North Korea.)

Strangely, fifty-seven percent of French people still feel that the D-Day landings were the event that has had the most profound effect on the present day, reports the AP, citing another CSA opinion poll. Seventy-two percent of French feel that the landings signify the Liberation of France.

Pro-American feeling often runs highest in the regions that saw the deadliest fighting and heaviest American sacrifices but in Caen, six local elected officials (Greens, Communists and members of the Radical Left Party — there are 47 seats on the regional council all together), will be leaving their places empty at the largest event of ceremonies at Arromanches to protest the presence of presidents Bush and Putin, they say. Regional Council vice-president Yannick Soubien, a Green, said, "The treatment of Iraqi prisoners by the Americans and the genocide committed by the Russians in Chechnya run counter to the values that unite us to-day to celebrate the victory against Nazism. We'll be at other ceremonies but not at those where Messrs. Bush and Putin will be." Alain Touret, another Regional Council vice-president, of the Radical Left Pary says, "It's no small thing to go against the feeling of unanimity brought on by the commemoration but, at any rate, perhaps we'll honor in a better way the sacrifice of all those young allies who shed their blood on our soil."

Le Monde's Benoît Hopquin has filed another historical report detailing the tribulations of decennial June 6 commemorations through the ages. "In the speeches, the memories and the behavior of those present, each commemoration has become a sort of snap shot of the mood on either side of the Atlantic," he writes.
"What remains of that dawn on June 6 1944 when everything seemed possible?" wrote Le Monde on that anniversary in 1954.

At that moment, France was beset with neurasthenia. The military defeat at Diên Biên Phú in Indochina a month earlier had profoundly shocked the country. Dreams of grandeur regained are wiped away and the "singing to-morrows" grow husky-voiced in the pettiness of the Fourth Republic.
In 1964, "the D-Day veterans returned to a France that was at peace once again and that was, frankly, ungrateful," writes Hopquin. President de Gaulle declined even to come to the ceremonies. General Omar Bradley and Deputy Defense Secretary Cyrus Vance were accompanied only by two cabinet minsiters (Veterans Affairs and Cooperation). In 1974, "though a reenactment with 2,000 participants was staged before a minister in fatigues, it all appeared a formality; so much so that a thousand French fighters and resisters lit a memorial flame in Washington rather than in Sainte-Mère-Eglise."

Springtime for Germany; Winter for the US

Well over a year ago, Le Monde's television critic Dominique Dhombres wrote the following incisive words:
ON JANUARY 22 1963, Charles de Gaulle embraced Konrad Adenauer in parlor of the Elysée Palace. This moving scene has been played repeatedly the last few days on every television channel in France, Germany and Navarre. We will see it again and again this Wednesday, on the fortieth anniversarty of the Elysée treaty. It is a deeply rooted image, just like the sight of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand holding hands in 1984 at Verdun. Franco-German reconciliation made European construction possible and we all agree on that. Waves of editorials are crashing down on us on this occasion, including in this newspaper, and so much the better.

Is it possible to discern a false note from this necessary and just chorus? It comes from a lengthy stay in England by the author of these lines. Why, our British friends wonder, such passionate demonstrations of friendship? Churchill, Thatcher and, to-day, Blair never saw fit to allow themselves such effusive sentiments with their German counterparts. Why? The answer is not pleasant to hear. The British do not need to act in this way. They have no problem of memory with the Second World War. They won it.

And what of us? Françoise Giroud mentioned this national wound, which is probably beyond repair, in the surprising interview she gave to Philippe Labro on September 11 and which France 3 rebroadcast Tuesday evening. For a warlike country, such as France was, June 1940 has never been digested. De Gaulle, who knew better than anyone that we lost the war, had the extraordinary design of having the French believe they won it, but things like that don't work, she said. That is why the French, whom she remembered from her youth before the war as being so spruce, have become doleful and circumspect. [...]
If only Dhombres had the balls to publish a similar statement right now. It would be very much appropriate. The cartoon that W. posted below — monuments to French and German soldiers holding hands as hearts float upwards from between them. Bush appears on a landing craft and says, "Oh, my God. We've landed at Bègles!" (Bègles is the town in which the mayor, former Green presidential candidate Noël Mamère, has long threatened to marry gay couples) — is commenting on the same reality that Dhombres described in January of last year. And this is a phenomenon that is now startlingly strong and growing stronger.

Yet it is not simply love for Germany that is on the rise but also what appears to be a negative corollary, anger at the US — the incontrovertible reminder of the wound that Giroud describes. Perhaps you were expecting that, as the D-Day anniversary grew closer, increasingly powerful displays of emotion, reemerging as if unchanged from so many years ago, along with abundant witness accounts and personal histories, would flood the pages of newspapers, making the story of D-Day inescapable, and that grief and gratitude would almost entirely drown out acrimony and anti-Americanism, allowing for a brief but tender moment of reconciliation?

You'd have been wrong. It seems that in more than a few quarters, just the opposite is happening. NBC may planning two full days of D-Day coverage but this elegiac atmosphere sure hasn't contaminated the pages of Le Monde.

Indeed, an interesting set of parallel arguments occurred yesterday In the pages of the two papers of record. In The New York Times, former ambassador to France Felix Rohatyn wrote that he had "seen France at its most tragic in 1940" and that the French are "grateful." Almost as a rejoinder to Rohatyn, Le Monde published on the same day an essay by documentary filmmaker and screenwriter Alain Moreau who wrote about "the hidden face of some liberators." His essay contends that American GIs deployed in Europe committed some 17,000 rapes (2,500 of them in France) from 1944 to 1945. (Moreau's assertions depend heavily on a book by J. Robert Lilly, professor of sociology and criminology at Northern Kentucky U., who also points out that thousands of Italian women were raped by French soldiers.)

Not only did Americans rape on D-Day, they killed the innocent, too. On June 1, we were treated to a heart-rending portrait of a man who lost his entire family to allied bombs on the very day of the landings in a town that was 90% destroyed.

Continue reading "Springtime for Germany; Winter for the US "...

He forgot the one shaped like his favorite Paris backroom Il a oublié la prison sous forme de son backroom préféré dans le Marais
The anti-Semite Willem shares one thing with the self-loathing George Soros: drawing a link between 9-11 and Abu Ghraib. Hey Willem, stick it in your glory hole, and break it off!
L'antisémite Willem partage quelque chose avec George Soros qui lui, pratique la haine de soi: établir un lien entre le 11-9-2001 et Abu Ghraib. Eh dis-donc Willem, enfoncez-le bien profond dans ton 'glory hole', et cassez-le net!

After the destruction of Abu Ghraib, what should the new Baghdad prison look like? The White House, the Roissy airport terminal, or the Twin Towers?

Answer: No, just you Réponse: Non, uniquement vous
Question frequently asked by French readers: Do you hate all French?
Question fréquemment posée par mes lecteurs franchouilles: Détestez-vous tous les français?

The Big Nine-Three: Where the Wild Things Are Au régal des vermines dans le 9-cube
Hey, he was probably humiliated or something. Isn't that always the case with these people? An inhuman scum in the Paris suburbs reminds us why it wasn't worth the bother to liberate the French. Some suburban kid stabs a Jew while yelling 'Allah Akbar'. The suburban filth that danced on 9-11 will be happy to know that the victim is in serious condition.
Bof, il était sans doute humilié ou un truc dans ce gènre. C'est toujours comme ça avec ces gens-là. Une vermine animalière dans le 9-cube nous rappelle pourquoi ce n'était vraiment pas la peine de libérer les franchouilles. Une chère tête blonde fwançaise de la banlieue poignarde un juif en criant 'Allah Akbar'. La caillera qui a dansé autour de Paris de façon endiablée au 11-9-2001 sera heureuse de savoir que l'état de la victime est jugé sérieux.

I got your 'root causes', swingin'! J'ai tes 'causes premières', elles me pendouillent entre les jambes!
The French continue to seek out 'root causes' to terrorism, failing to see that their own fear and self loathing are root causes.
Les franchouilles (= 'France' + 'trouille') continuent à chercher les 'causes premières' du terrorisme car ils se voilent la face en refusant de voir que leur propre peur et leur haine de soi en sont les 'causes premières'.

MiF 3:16 Non abruti, c'est plutôt mon pied dans ton cul
Allah spreads the word.
Allah fait courir le bruit.

Sacred cows: I pulled my lip stick out, I was in her, Yeah! (as in 'Stick it in and leave it there') Vaches sacrées: J'ai sorti mon baume pour les lèvres, j'étais en elle, Ouais! (comme 'Enfoncez-la bien, et laissez-la enfoncée')
Emmanuelle Béart made some ridiculous anti-American tirade on 'Tout le Monde en Parle' stating that she and Europe were waiting for the return of the true America or some such nonsense. She was her usual delirious dumb blond self. Tania de Montaigne, appearing on the book show 'Field dans Ta Chambre', never fails to trash any American novel that is translated into French, invariably accusing it's writer of being a hack who insults the intelligence of Zeropean readers. She's just written a book, the manuscript of which was probably written with her used Tampax on her make-up mirror before being submitted to her editor, about chicks that try to quit smoking. Here, smoke this pole. In fact, no one cares what these French broads have to say. The real question is: which one has the best cocksucker lips? The lucky winner will get down on a big ten inch.
Emmanuelle Béart a laché une diatribe anti-ricaine parfaitement riducule sur le plateau de 'Tout le Monde en Parle' déclarant qu'elle et toute l'Europe attendaient le retour de la vraie Amérique. Elle était fidèle à elle-même, c'est à dire qu'elle délirait comme la blondasse qu'elle est. Tania de Montaigne, chroniqueuse à l'émission littéraire 'Field dans Ta Chambre', ne cesse de dénigrer tout roman américain traduit en fwançais, systématiquement accusant son auteur d'être un rigolo qui insulte l'intelligence de ses lecteurs zéropéens. Elle vient de pondre un bouquin, dont le manuscrit était sans doute gribouillé sur le miroir de son poudrier avec ses serviettes hygiéniques usagées avant d'être balancé chez son éditeur, au sujet de gonzesses qui essaient d'arrêter de fumer. Tiens, fume cet havane. En fait, tout le monde se fout pas mal de ce que ces meufs franchouilles ont à dire. La question qui se pose est: laquelle a la meilleure bouche à pipe? L'heureuse gagnante aura droit, en guise de trophée, à la grosse bite à Dudule.

Emmanuelle Béart
Tania de Montaigne
In a drought
with the drinks left out
And the big shout
She's a winner

In a crowd
In a fixed out cloud
In her big mouth
She's a winner

Lyrics: Hoggboy, Urgh!!!, Or 8?
Paroles: Hoggboy, Urgh!!!, Or 8?

D-Day Softens Few Anti-U.S. hearts

Thomas Fuller has this in the International Herald Tribune:
Isabelle Bonhomme, a high-school teacher at the Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris, said her students had a "very simplified idea" of America.

"They have a vision of an America that believes it knows the truth and that tries to impose it on others," she said.

Americans "are people who need oil because of the way their economy works and thus they started the war in Iraq," she said, summarizing her students' views.

"There is a sort of consensus on this," Bonhomme said. "I've never had a student say, 'No, it's not true, Americans are not like that.'" …

Most French high school history textbooks are skimpy on the details of D-Day. They tend to focus closely on the challenges and dilemmas of living in occupied France. In a leading text, the Normandy invasion is described in just two paragraphs.

"On the Normandy coast, the Anglo-Saxons led operation Overlord," says the history text, "The World from 1939 to the Present Day," used by many students in their final year of high school.

The text notes the number of ships involved and concludes: "Surprised by the choice of location for the attack and dominated in the air, the Germans were not able to repel into the sea the Americans, Canadians and British who established three beachheads."

This matter-of-fact description seems to assume that students already know about D-Day; the book does not mention that it was history's largest amphibious military operation.

Friday, June 04, 2004

"Not a single American flag in Paris"

One of France's prettiest maidens just walked in the door.

She is énervée. Here, the girl (an apolitical cynic who is not particularly pro- or anti-American or pro- or anti-anything-at-all) explains why.

There is not a single American flag in Paris.

Not on the Champs-Élysées, not anywhere.

I don't care what the French think of Bush's policies. The minimum of respect would have been to put out the Stars and Stripes for the US president's arrival. It is not Bush who is arriving, it is the president of the United States.

The Champs-Élysées are filled with flags when any other leader arrives, no matter what their régimes' policies or what their leaders have done. They even turned the Eiffel Tower red…

But… the French they dare to resist the United States. Quel courage!

Tomorrow Bush lands in the shithole Demain Bush débarque dans ce trou à merde
Ya know, in France.
En Fwance, quoi.

Stop complaining. On June 30th, Iraq will be all yours!

I always knew they were chocolate makers fudgepackers Je me doutais bien qu'ils étaient des lopettes
Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine fully supports marriage for fudgepackers. The problem with Zeropean fudgepackers is that due to the fact that they cannot reproduce they have to recruit.
Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine soutient sans condition le mariage pour les fiottes. Le problème avec ces tarlouzes zéropéens est que comme ils ne sont pas à même de se reproduire, ils sont obligés de recourir au recrutement.

'Four French hostages to be released from Guantanamo' 'Guantanamo : Quatre otages français bientôt libérés'
You read that right. Le Figaro calls them 'hostages'. Rip them to shreds. Thanks to Matthieu.
Vous avez bien lu le titre. Le Figaro les appelle des 'otages'. Mettez-les en bouillie. Merci à Matthieu.

Increasing "dislike" of "the American occupation" has led to "a rapid increase in the number of attacks on American soldiers"

A citizen of Sadr-City whispers that "the Americans liberated us from Saddam, but they have brought hatred", we are told by Le Monde (which suggests this is the general feeling in Iraq).

In the meantime, France's fears turn out to be correct: George W Bush continues to make parallels between the intervention in Iraq and World War II. Dieu merci, we have defense minister Michèle Alliot-Marie to set things straight: "Parallels are always difficult to make, even dangerous, when one is in circumstances that are completely different". (How lucky that the world has the French élite to put it on the right path.)

But an article in the New York Times seems to confirm the French people's legendary lucidité:

The … attitude toward the American occupation forces has swung from apathy and surface friendliness to active dislike. According to a military government official, this is finding expression in the organization of numerous local anti-American organizations … and in a rapid increase in the number of attacks on American soldiers. There were more such attacks in the first week of October than in the preceding five months of the occupation, this source declared.
I mean, what else do you need as proof that the invasion was a grave mistake? snorts David Kaspar on his Medienkritik.

Let's get out of here, asap.

Out of Germany, that is.


Read the rest on David's Medienkritik

Lire la version française

Thursday, June 03, 2004

No news from Iraq's other 8,000 towns and villages, nothing from Kurdistan, where complete peace prevails…

From John Keegan's Daily Telegraph article, History tells us that most conflicts end in chaos:
What monopolises the headlines and prime time television at the moment is news from Iraq on the activity of small, localised minorities struggling to entrench themselves before full peace is imposed and an effective state structure is restored. The news is, in fact, very repetitive: disorder in Najaf and Fallujah, misbehaviour by a tiny handful of US Army reservists — not properly trained regular soldiers — in one prison. There is nothing from Iraq's other 8,000 towns and villages, nothing from Kurdistan, where complete peace prevails, very little from Basra, where British forces are on good terms with the residents.

(Merci, Eursoc)

Use it like Charmin S'en servir comme PQ
It's time to put the Geneva Conventions in the circular file.
Il est temps de ranger les conventions de Genève au vertical.

He was cured all right Pour être guéri, il l'était
'... I would like to have tolchocked them both harder and ripped them to ribbons on their own floor.' Rip Them to Shreds. Some drawings of Willem were cut up real good at an exhibit in Chaumont. Of course, French indignation is expressed that such a thing can happen to an fartist who is anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist, and anti-American and benefits from the support of the Saddamites at Libération PropagandaStaffel.
'... je regrettais de ne pas avoir toltchocké plus fort ces deux-là et de ne pas en avoir fait de la charpie sur leur foutu plancher.' Tailladez-les en lambeaux. Des dessins de Willem étaient lacérés à une exposition à Chaumont. Naturellement, les franchouilles sont outrés devant ces actes gratuits contre un zartiste antisémite, pro-terroriste, et anti-américain et qui bénéficie d'un soutien sans faille de la part des Saddamites chez Libé PropagandaStaffel.

The "Irresponsible" President of the "Country Where Everything Is Built on the Dollar" Is the "Chief Culprit of the War"

We have nothing against the American people, I am often told, it’s only their leaders and their policies we disapprove of. Oh, I understand. Thanks for clearing that up. Thus, recently, one of Europe’s foreign ministers denounced America’s president as the “chief culprit of this war” and went on to bemoan the “American people” for having been betrayed by such an irresponsible leader.

Evoking America’s “historically unique and shameless ill treatment of truth and of right” as well as "a country where everything is built on the dollar", a European head of state added that the “so-called” president was “guilty of a series of the worst crimes against international law”and that "first, he incites war, then falsifies the causes, then odiously wraps himself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy, and slowly but surely leads mankind to war, not without calling God to witness the honesty of his attack."

But a question arises. Who were the courageous politicians making those stirring statements?…


Every war with fascism is our business Toute guerre contre le fascisme nous concerne directement
Tell it to the French who think it's good for them but not for others. Kill faster. Total war.
Il faut le dire aux franchouilles qui trouve que c'est bon pour eux mais pas pour les autres. Tuer plus vite. Guerre totale.

Blog Bits

Jews Rounded Up at Roland Garros?

Amélie Mauresmo, the last French contender at the French Open was soundly defeated 6-4, 6-3 by the Russian Elena Dementieva, prompting the Belgian Website Tribal to comment that "French hopes [have been] crushed."

This may not be the only reason for dismay (and that's putting it mildly) at Roland Garros. The Jerusalem Post's Mike Lebowitz reports that "the revered home of the French Open near Paris is said to have been a holding facility for French Jews before they were moved eastward to the Nazi concentration camps."

French resistance appeals for D-Day recognition

The AFP reports that "veterans of the French resistance are still pushing for full recognition of their role in ensuring that D-Day and its aftermath were an overwhelming success."

However, says the AFP, according to British journalist and military historian Max Hastings, 'Neither the Germans nor SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters of Allied Expeditionary Forces) had ever taken the French resistance entirely seriously, regarding it as a nuisance force rather than as a central feature of Allied planning.'"

Raffarin Warns Mamère on Gay Weddings

According to a day's end roundup of news by the Associated Press, PM Raffarin warned Noël Mamère that he would incur "the sanctions provided for by the law" if he officiates an homosexual marriage in the town hall of Bègles (Gironde) on Saturday. This looks to get funny, very fast.

It'd be an awful shame if something were to happen to...

In the same news roundup, the AP also reports that Nicholas Sarkozy, who has announced his intentions to run for the premiership, has expressed his desire for the ruling UMP to "own up to" defeat, should it happen, in the European elections of June 13. "I am one of those who feel that one owns up to a failure, especially if one is leader," he said at a joint press conference with former prime minister Alain Juppé. Raffarin often calls himself "leader of the majority."

France to send more troops to Afghanistan

The AFP reports that France has announced it will send another 3,000 troops to Afghanistan starting next August, at which point general Henri Bentégeat will assume overall control of Nato's International Security Assistance Force, a considerable addition to 5,500 currently serving as part of the force.

General Bentégeat is also the man who has repeatedly claimed that either ISAF men or French troops have come close to catching to catching bin Laden.

Bentégeat's claims and the sudden increase in troop levels might lead one to speculate that either he or France hopes to catch bin Laden (and if the guy's actually alive, I'll eat my shoe) in order to reshape diplomatic relations with the US. How might they feel vindicated in having resisted our entreaties to make war in Iraq while catching the man who harmed us so grievously. Just a thought...

Let's also bear in mind that Bentégeat personally awarded a medal to Anatolii Kvashnin, architect of the Russian genocide in Chechnya.

Air France to Fly 100 US WWII Vets to France for Ceremonies

PR Newswire: Air France has a reserved a flight to-day to fly 100 American World War II veterans and their wives to France from DC so that they can participate in the D-Day commemorations in Paris and Normandy.

Prior to the flight, a reception will be held for the passengers at French Embassy in Washington. On board, there will be specially prepared meals, custom in-flight films about the D-Day landing. Passengers will receive custom-designed hats and certificates marking the flight. Once in France, they will receive the Legion of Honor from Defense minister Michèle Alliot-Marie and in Normandy they will receive the insignia of the Legion of Honor from president Chirac.

Air France is also extending the period for reduced fares for all other veterans. (Only $704 from LA!!)

Congressional Delegation to Travel to France

A group of "at least 20" US lawmakers will lay a wreath at the American cemetery in Cambridge before traveling to Sainte-Mère Eglise (visit that link!) to witness a reenactment of the air-drop that began the landings. On Sunday, they travel to the ceremony at Omaha Beach for the larger ceremonies with presidents Bush and Chirac.

If he had any...

Over at MiF, W. points out that a torrent of "hate speech plain and simple" is emerging out of France in anticipation of Sunday's D-Day commemorations. This is a case of reality's surpassing even MiF's capacity to exaggerate. In this case, what would usually be tittilating hyperbole is actually a mere statement of fact. Such sentiments can be found even at the highest levels...

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Bush is "not angry" with France and that, in an interview to be published to-morrow in Paris-Match, the President says he was "never angry with France." He goes on to say, "I made a difficult decision and not everyone agreed with this decision (to make war in Iraq, — Ed.). But I understand this. To-day, it is time to work together and to promote the values in which we believe. Human rights, human dignity and the rule of law, of freedom and justice." Bush also says that Omaha Beach (Vierville-sur-mer, Saint-Laurent, Colleville) "is the very symbol of the work accomplished together in the name of the values that unite us. This is an interesting time in history to travel to Omaha."

Asked if Chirac will be invited to the Crawford ranch, Bush replied, "If he wants to come see the cows, he's welcome. He can come see the cows."

I am no fan of Bush but I think he's been instructed to behave as a perfect gentleman and has acquitted himself admirably, at least from what I can tell of that interview. We'll see more of it to-morrow, I guess.

Meanwhile, high-ranking officials at the Elysée palace have been instructed to discuss with the press how Chirac plans to participate in the ceremonies while holding his nose in Bush's presence. Yesterday, Le Monde's Claire Tréan reported
[...] the guest of honor will be George Bush, who is to deliver an address on Sunday morning, after Jacques Chirac, at the American cemetery of Colleville.

As the representative of the United States, it is George Bush who will receive the tributes paid to the "soldiers of freedom" of the Second World War. In France, this has not gone without provoking some grinding of teeth, scathing remarks on what is the "June 6 Paradox," according to Laurent Fabius, for whom Mr. Bush is "the exact opposite of the values that make us like America," and planned demonstrations.

Was it absolutely necessary to offer this platform to Mr. Bush, who doesn't hesitate to compare the fight for Europe's freedom and the current intervention in Iraq? Among Jacque Chirac's staff, the question is dodged: if the context of this ceremony is difficult for any one, it's George Bush! "He can't venture too far in historical comparison, else it might come back to bite him. Reality speaks for itself," they say at the Elysée Palace, implying that the photos from Abu Ghraib do not juxtapose well with the image of the heroes of D-Day.


"Democracy cannot be exported in armored vehicles," it is said dryly among Jacques Chirac's staff, who for months have been trying to explain to American officials that their "Greater Middle East" does not exist, that seeking to apply a global policy to countries that have only Islam in common is to bolster the idea of a clash of civilizations, that Europe didn't need American neo-conservatives to devote millions of euros to a mediterranean initiative conceived of in a spirit of dialogue and that Europe does not intend see itself dispossessed of this long-term effort in favor an American electoral slogan.
Continue reading "If he had any..."

Life of Nameless Man Thrown Away

From the Associated Press:
A homeless man was kicked and punched to death Tuesday evening by three men, in Montreuil-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis). The homeless man, somewhere between 40 and 50 years of age, was killed on a pétanque field where he lived, according to the preliminary findings of an investigation.

His body was found toward 11 PM on the field, hidden behind a garbage can, his face swollen, thanks to a witness who alerted the police, allowing the arrest of the three men, aged 17, 20 and 21. According to police, the witness saw the three men violently accost their victim. One of the alleged aggressors had traces of blood on his basketball shoes. They have been detained at the local office of the judicial police who have been assigned to the case.
Not exactly an international incident but such cases are increasingly common in France and it's a subject I find particularly moving and upsetting.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Just Whose Liberation Was Begun on June 6?

An interesting article by John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune concerning many Germans' efforts to be included on the roster of peoples liberated from Hitler's yoke.
On a historical scale that includes genocide, talk of Germany's liberation mandates caution. Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt reached for it a few weeks ago.

"Eisenhower would never have thought of it as a liberation," he said. Very clear and precise at 85, Schmidt sat in his office in Hamburg and recalled how he, as a 27-year-old anti-aircraft lieutenant back then, certainly did not feel liberated. Among Germans, it was those in jails and concentration camps who did. …

Seen in the abstract, the factions' tactics and strategic goals appeared identical: Germany's lumping itself in with the world's victims in order to rejoin the world's just.

On a somewhat unrelated note, one sentence in particular seemed of interest with regards to the Iraq situation:
… it took 10 years from the time of the Nazi surrender for the new Federal Republic of Germany to operate with full sovereignty.
Why, then, all the hurry and the (French and German) pressure to transfer full sovereignty to Baghdad as quickly as possible? Didn't Germany turn out as a success story in spite of the 10-year delay?

Spain's Newfound Respectability

Spain's exclusion from a new European accord on terrorism brought sharp criticism of the new Socialist government … with opposition leaders calling it an embarrassing snub for a country struck by terrorist bombings less than three months ago
a Reuters piece states in the International Herald Tribune (no link).
Ministers of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg agreed … in Brussels to the principles of the accord, which spells out new ways to intensify the fight against terrorism and other crimes by sharing DNA profiles, fingerprints and personal data on suspects. …

But Spain, which lost 191 people in the March 11 bombings blamed on Islamic terrorists, was not among the initial signatories. … Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero … dodged the issue when asked about it at a news conference.

[El afrancesado] said it was not his policy to criticize other EU members …

Nor is it the el caniche de Chiraque's policy to criticize the Ivory Coast. And Sudan. And Somalia. And Iran. And North Korea. Etc…

But Uncle Sam? And America's allies?

Oh. That's a different historia altogether.

(When the American flag passed by during last October's Columbus Day military parade, Zap made a point of sitting down, saying "It's not my flag".)

A month ago, John Vinocur wrote in the IHT that Bambi had gotten mostly nothing from returning Spain to the EU rank and file. Seems like his lucky streak is continuing…

Meanwhile, the last word belongs to Jaime Mayor Oreja, who effectively turned the Socialists' charge of "lying" on its head. "If this is what returning to Europe is," the Popular Party's leading candidate in the European Parliament elections said, "it is a fraud and a lie."

Besides Normandy, There Is a Second 60th Anniversary… in Iraq

I have been having a busy week referencing all the anti-American matter in Le Monde, on the occasion of the coming 60th anniversary of D-Day. One prime example: "Here in France, we do not care too much for the analogy that George W. Bush has been making openly for some time between the fight for freedom in Europe that the Normandy battle was and the current intervention in Iraq."

It's refreshing to learn that the French don't appreciate the analogy. Might it be that there are people, American and otherwise, who do not appreciate the practice that has become a habit in France, to compare Bush to Hitler, to compare the U.S. army to the Nazis, to compare Saddam Hussein's Iraq to 1939 Poland (and no, not because those persons are particularly enamored of Dubya ; no, because they find, from an objective viewpoint, those comparisons ever so slightly exagerrated, self-serving (to those making the comparisons), scornful, and, from a historical point of view, completely false).

In this article, which turns out to be another complete apology for the French government (not a single quote which is not from "a member of Jacques Chirac's inner circle" or from a member of the Paris élite or which is not supposed to show Americans in an ironic light), Claire Tréan asks the following question (while repeating the previous expression so that the wording cannot be mistaken): "Should we have gone so far and offered this platform to Mr. Bush, who does not shrink from making an analogy between the fight for freedom in Europe that the Normandy battle was and the current intervention in Iraq?"

So let there be no doubts. It's without a single shadow of a doubt that the Normandy battle does represent the fight for freedom (no disagreement, there; au contraire) just as much as it is without a single shadow of a doubt that the the current intervention in Iraq does not represent the fight for freedom. Here, frankly, I would like to make up my own mind, but Claire Tréan, the Monde editors, and the rest of France's élite will not allow me to do so. According to the question, another thing is also clear: democracy is only viable if it is not given to Yankees of the type represented by W. The only thing that must stand out is the self-serving point of view of the self-proclaimed humanists of Europe.

In another article, on its front page, Le Monde presents the "paradox of June 6". And the newspaper quotes Laurent Fabius at the University of Chicago (where the presidential hopeful serves as a visiting senior lecturer) : Arriving in France for the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings, George W Bush "will be received correctly in his capacity as president representing the brave men who died for freedom, but he will be considered as the exact opposite of the values which cause us to love America ". (The German ambassador, who was in the audience, added that has "very happy" to hear what he had just heard.)

Ah, you've recognized it, right? Europeans' legendary subtlety and modesty, right? These are the people who like nothing better than to sound off against Washington's so-called arrogance. But don't ever dream of speaking of arrogance in a case involving Europeans thus castigating a president and, through him, an entire people (since Dubya remains high in the polls, the remark touches, directly or otherwise, all those who, in America, support him, even if only partly so).

All these opinions are without appeal. Let noone make the mistake of comparing the Ba'aasist régime with that of the Nazis. Let noone make the mistake of comparing the fall of the Third Reich with that of the Iraqi butcher. Let no one make the mistake of comparing Adolf Hitler with Saddam Hussein! To compare the Führer with George Bush, that, yes, sure, go ahead — but with Saddam, don't be ridiculous. The Europeans' viewpoint is of a remarkable clarity, don't you think? And with that legendary lucidité of theirs! …

My article could end at this point. But I've been wondering: had Saddam stayed in office, would one have made so much out of expressing one's disagreements during the 2004 celebrations? No, I'm not speaking of those in Normandy, I'm speaking of those in Baghdad (or those that would have occurred had Saddam survived). Let me tell you what I'm talking about: it turns out that there is another 60th birthday this year. That of the Ba'ath party. Yes. It was founded by a Syrian (a Christian, incidentally) in 1944.

I am currently reading a book by an author variously described as "our greatest modern military historian" and "the most readable and most original of living military historians". In The Iraq War, John Keegan does not only describe the military operations from March to April 2003, but gives the context and background of the Iraq conflict, from the history of Mesopotamia to the historic break between Sunnis and Shi'ites, from the fall of the Ottoman empire to the contemporary rivalries. What caught my attention (and what, if truth be told, got a flame of anger burning inside me) was the information on the last page of chapter 3 relating to the origin of the Ba'ath party.

Speaking of Saddam Hussein : "The nature of his régime owed more to twentieth-century ideologies of intolerance and systems of repression than to anything derived from the more distant past."

Speaking of Saddam's Ba'ath party: "Michel Aflaq, the founder of Ba'athism, had modelled the organization of his party on Hitler's Nazi movement, of which he was an admirer."

Let us remember the Iraqi citizens quoted in Steven Vincent's Reason article: "European and Arab journalists talk to us, but they don’t care about our happiness in being liberated. They only want us to make anti-American comments." One lone, isolated article appeared in Le Monde in March, which put the lie to the initiatives of Paris and the rest of the peace camp of the past 20 months, but it is the the type of which the French press is content to keep from us although it gives an understanding of the Middle East. To return to the Normandy beaches, here's another article which gives a message that is just as isolated from the maddening crowds' anti-Americanism: "Freedom is something you need to be deprived of to understand what it means".

As Winston Churchill once said: "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.".

So go ahead, Claire Tréan, tell us again. We need to hear it one more time. "We do not care too much for the analogy that Bush has been making between the fight for freedom in Europe and the intervention in Iraq." And you, Laurent Fabius, come on, let's hear more about the people who fought the Ba'ath party having totally different values than those who fought the Nazis. You self-declared specialists on fascism and neo-fascism, we can't wait to hear your self-serving voices sound off again.

Lire la version française

June 6: Bush should kick Chiraq in the nuts 6 juin: Bush devrait donner à Chirak un coup de pied aux burnes

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

In Algiers, a tragic end to Jamel Talib's golden dream

He rushed through security into courtyard of the Tahar-Djaout press building. A safe place at the heart of the capital; most Algerian dailies have their offices there. Nothing might have hinted at his intentions save the fact that he appeared to be soaked. Before the chattering reporters, he lit a cigarette lighter. His clothes, soused in gasoline, instantly burst into flames. Transformed into a torch, the man ran ten meters. His screaming, the smell, the smoke... When at last an extinguisher was found and emptied on him, Jamel Talib was still alive. He was even conscious. Spread out on the ground, his arms in a cross, he complained and begged loudly that his messaged be relayed. He spoke of injustice, of hogra ("contempt"), of sacrifice and of an investigating magistrate who was responsible, he said, for his misery. He interspersed his sentences with "O, my God," "Long live Algeria" and "Down with corruption..." He died Friday, May 21, three days after being admitted to an Algiers hospital.

Though 15 reporters witnessed the scene, only those of El Watan bothered to look into the man's identity. Jamel Talib was just over 40 years old. A father of three children, he lived in Djelfa, 300 kilometers to the south of the capital. After two years of law studies, he had several lines of work: shop-keeper, martial arts trainer, taxi driver. In 1991, he acquired a plot of land and hoped to put a shopping center there. He gave it name: "Djelfa's golden dream." But the dream turned into a nightmare. Too many debts, scams and unscrupulous creditors. When Jamel Talib tried to negotiate, he bumped up against Algeria's open wound: "administrative terrorism," as he called it. In July 2002, his parcel of land was sold for a song by the bank to a powerful businessman. Jamel Talib spoke of fraud, wailed, demanding an investigation, and knocked on every door. On May 17, he left Djelfa for Algiers. The following day, Tuesday, he immolated himself.

Florence Beaugé

"Even if Saddam has these weapons, so what?"

The French simply didn’t consider Iraqi weapons of mass destruction a threat. It was an attitude that I would hear repeated again and again by French officials and politicians from all sides of the political debate. “Even if Saddam has these weapons, so what?” was the refrain. “He has never threatened France.”
Friends of Saddam has a long excerpt from Kenneth Timmermann's The French Betrayal of America.

In April 2000, Indict [a non-profit organization partially funded by the U.S. Congress under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998] had organized an international conference in Paris, to raise awareness in the French media of the horrendous human rights record of Saddam’s regime. They brought in victims of torture, who described in detail the methods used by Saddam’s eldest son Uday and the security services to punish suspected enemies. (One of Uday’s favorites was to plunge his victim into a vat of acid and listen to him scream as the acid burned off his skin). Indict had gathered testimony from survivors of the poison gas attacks on Kurdish villages, and had interviewed parents who had been forced to watch as their children were raped before their eyes. … The litany of horrors uncovered by Indict, compiled into evidence books against some two dozen top Baath Party members, was overwhelming. And it was systematically ignored by the most of the French press.

De Villepin Mop Up

The AP reports reports:
Domonique de Villepin called the rabbi of Boulogne-Billancourt, Victor Bellahcem, Monday, following the physical assault of his son in front of his home on Sunday. De Villepin also telephoned Aziz el Alaouani, head of the Regional Muslim Faith Council in Alsace, after an arson in front of his house in the early morning of the same day.

Concerning the violence directed against the Jewish adolescent, the Interior minister told Mr. Bellahcem of his "profound consternation before such unspeakable acts" and he expressed his "most severe condemnation of this assault of an obviously anti-Semitic nature."

He assured him that "everything would be done to locate the malefactors as soon as possible," according to the ministry.

Regarding the fire started before the home of Mr. El Alaouani in Strasbourg and the racist and nazi inscriptions seen on the wall outside his house, the minister told the Muslim official, "on behalf of the state," of his "vivid emotion" and of his "solidarity in these trying circumstances."

He also expressed "his most severe condemnation of these ignominious acts and his powerful determination to find those responsible as soon as possible."

Germany's Top Media Blogger Delivers the Goods

For several weeks, I've been wanting to make a link to No Pasarán et al's across-the-Rhine equivalent, David's Medienkritik, which skewers "the stale anti-American fare coming from the German media", and this time is as good as any. Actually, this time is better than any, for several reasons (nudge nudge), but perhaps especially because one of David Kaspar's latest posts concerns a Welt am Sonntag article that starts out by skewering France's foreign minister and his country's policies. It is by Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute office in Berlin.
I am not convinced, Monsieur Barnier!

Even if the Bush-haters don't like it — Iraq is not lost.

French Foreign Minister Barnier warned the US that the coming 'transfer of power to the new [Iraqi] government must be comprehensive, genuine, and without any ambiguity.'

The minister added that it was high time that the US behaved 'credibly.' We need not, as long as a French politician can make such comments, fear for the survival of cynicism. …

The two closely related ideologies, EU-nationalism and anti-Americanism like to keep themselves above mere facts…

America, Great Britain, Germany, France, Israel, the Arab world, and Peter Scholl-Latour all believed that Saddam had secret, illegal weapons depots. We should ask ourselves what went wrong, what could we have done better, how much do our intelligence services actually know about what the North Koreans and the Iranians have in their arsenals. But “Bush lied” sounds wonderful — so why bother to be at all concerned with unpleasant details?

Make sure you read the rest of the article

A previous post concerns an analysis by Prof. Joachim Krause of Kiel University's Institute for Security Policy. His main conclusions (in "The Iraq Crisis and the International Order") :

There is no indication of any basis for the assumption that US policy is guided by a selfish interest in securing energy sources. By contrast, one is led to conclude that, above all, the French and Russian positions have been determined by very narrowly defined financial interests in crude oil exploration in Iraq.

The German position on the Iraq crisis has been characterized by an undifferentiated pacificism and an anti-American populism that has led to a serious degradation of trans-Atlantic solidarity.

David's conclusion: "Given his advocacy of these theses, Prof. Krause has little hope of being cited frequently as an expert by the German media. "

A third and final example concerns an interview Dubya gave last week. "Although he was speaking to a domestic audience, some of the President's remarks clearly counter the prejudices and misinformation spread about Mr. Bush in the German media." (That could apply to the French media too, needless to say.) One quote, in particular, seems to put the lie to the argument that W is a religious fanatic:

My job is to make sure that, as President, people understand that in this country you can worship any way you choose. And I'll take that a step further. You can be a patriot if you don't believe in the Almighty. You can honor your country and be as patriotic as your neighbor.
Bush also discourses on Iraq, Cuba, history, and the 2000 election. David's conclusion (which might apply to the French political class as well): "No wonder German Chancellor Schroeder doesn't get along with this guy.

"Bush has principles."

At this point, it is perhaps time to remember that yesterday and today were the birthdays of two great Americans. Here is one quote from each. (It is not altogether unfitting to ask whether they apply to the current crisis in Iraq, and the various responses of the "coalition of the willing" and the "peace camp".)

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.

Norman Vincent Peale

Lire la version française

Monday, May 31, 2004

Bad Moon Rising

I remain convinced something bad is about to happen in Ivory Coast even though I blogged on the matter two weeks ago and war obviously hasn't broken out since. I don't know when or where the "event horizon" will come and perhaps it can still be averted but it seems pretty obvious that things have gone from bad to worse and are now heading straight for disastrous.

When I last blogged the matter, rebel forces were seeding rumors about staging events to provoke a riot and a subsequent military confrontation that would involve "attacking the civilian population." The day after I wrote that post, all French schools in Ivory Coast were closed following an attempt by a few dozen members of student union linked to president Gbagbo to force their way into a French high school. A group of about 15 youths hopped the outer wall of the property and ran riot, physically assaulting two students and a teacher.

At that very moment, president Gbagbo was announcing measures to send the rebel representatives in the power-sharing government packing, canceling their salaries and denying them access to government buildings. They'd been boycotting government functions since March anyhow. Rebel leader Guillaume Soro then told the members of his movement to regroup in Bouaké.

Furthermore, a French magistrate (who must be very brave) has had someone very close to president Gbagbo (Michel Legré, Gbagbo's wife's brother-in-law) arrested as an accomplice in the April 16 disappearance of a francophone Canadian reporter, Guy-André Kieffer. The investigation is apparently also turning up a whole list of names of people in power and close to the president. The theory of the case puts Kieffer at a supermarket parking lot whence he was abducted, all of which indicates that there was a high-level conspiracy to silence him. Kieffer's beat was primary materials exports, particularly cocoa (of which Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer).

Yesterday, African news agency PANA reported that an anonymous French woman recently returned from Abidjan claims that a black list of 70 French nationals likely to be held as hostages to put pressure on France has been drawn up in Abidjan.

"It was asked of me that I return to France from Abidjan, where I lived for 30 years, because my name appears on this black list of 70 persons. The aim of the lists' authors is to kidnap the French in order to put pressure on France so that it will intervene in the conflict," said the French national. Pana continues:
According to her, the black list, on which the names of French nationals of various professions have been written, may have been drawn up "by those who have had a taste of the Republic's treasure and who do not want the situation in Ivory Coast to be normalized."

"The climate of insecurity in Ivory Coast favors certain gangs who profit from it. For those people, the end of the war means the end of their position of income. ..."
There are around 16,000 French nationals currently living in Ivory Coast and some 4,700 French soldiers have been deployed to maintain peace since the start of the insurrection in late 2002.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Abu Ghraib, Aussaresses... Enough!

Paris Mayor Betrand Delanoë and historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet have christened a place in Paris in memory of Maurice Audin. The place is at the intersection of rue des Ecoles, rue Saint Victor and rue Monge in the 5th arrondissement.

Audin was a young communist militant and mathematician murdered at age 25 in Algeria as punishment for his anti-colonial activities. (View his doctoral thesis here — it was defended and published posthumously) The awful truth at long last grudgingly admitted is that Audin was killed by the French army, specifically by forces under the command of the now notorious general Aussaresses. (See here for Human Rights Watch's letter to president Chirac on the matter of Aussaresses and torture in Algeria.)

Apart from his heroism, his legacy remains as an indictment of France's past, such that in its most serious endeavors the country was opposed by its best and bravest citizens, for whom it reserved an ignominious end. Vidal-Naquet, the son of Holocaust survivors, is a pro-Palestinian historian who has also long waged a campaign against negationists, (against Robert Faurisson and Roger Garaudy in particular, but also against Chomsky, who prefaced an edition of a negationist book by Faurisson). Vidal-Naquet led the Audin Committee from 1957 to 1959. The committee attempted to establish the truth of the Audin case and he was also among the first to denounce the French army's use of torture.

Communist representatives on the Paris city council were the first to take the initiative in naming the place for Audin. In July 2001, they brought a resolution to a vote which stated: "The revelations of general Aussaresses about the torture practiced by the French army during the Algerian war have brought to life a part of our country's history that is far from recognized. Maurice Audin, a young intellectual, was most likely killed by Aussaresses' men."

During the ceremonies, Vidal-Naquet recalled the facts as they are currently known. In Algiers on June 11, 1957, the young mathematician was arrested at the home he shared with his wife Josette and his three children. Henri Alleg, then editor of the newspaper Alger républicain, and who would later write the book La Question, the decisive work on torture in Algeria, published in 1958 (four years before the end of the war), was arrested in the same place the next day. Alleg was present at the ceremony and heard Vidal-Naquet call him "one of the last witnesses, apart from his murders, to see Audin alive." Vidal-Naquet added, "to this day, the Republic has not solemnly recognized the murder of Maurice Audin. The one accused of the murder continued his career in the army and died having been awarded the legion of honor. I repeat, of honor."

The mayor, who made Mumia abu Jamal an honorary citizen of Paris last October, couldn't resist linking the case of French torture in Algeria to American torture in Iraq: "How many decades will it take to recognize that some French were collaborators and handed Jews over to the Nazis? Is torture an outdated struggle in 2004? In Iraq or elsewhere?"

It seems some in France are incapable of commenting on revelations of torture in Iraq without reference to Algeria. Really, the two are not comparable. There should be no comparison drawn. At all. Yet here is a review of a book on photographs of torture in Algeria. The title of the review, which is accompanied by a photo of Abu Ghraib, reads "Iraq, seen through the lens of the torture employed during the war of Algeria." The reviewer concludes that returning to such difficult matters is "to protect us from a vicious cycle that constantly threatens to crush our humanity, be it in Indochina, in Iraq, in Algeria or elsewhere."

Fortunately freelance journalist Hicham Ettayebi Ouzzani added a small measure of respectability to the discussion when he published an essay in Le Monde on May 24th entitled "Arab Jails."
[Arabs] know that torture defines them as citizens of their countries as much as laughter defines the human being, according to Aristotle. It is a common practice and many Arab states, doubtless in the name of a cultural exception, are eager to preserve it. In all honesty, few powers in the Arab world would have held up if they had not savagely inscribed their brazen laws in the flesh their opponents. [...]
Continue reading "Abu Ghraib, Aussaresses... Enough!" ...

Lanzmann Screens 'Shoah' for High School students of the "9-3"

On May 25, this was on the front page of Le Monde:
When the lights came back on, Monday May 24, at the Utrillo de Stains high school in Seine-Saint-Denis, there was a silence such as a class room has never known: total, heavy, overpowering. The same degree of attention, without any snickering or whispering, had been shown the screening of Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, which came before. Subject: "the process of execution at Treblinka." The same serenity again while the filmmaker answered at length the questions of a hundred or so juniors and seniors. "What did they do with the ladies' hair?" ; "Why don't you mention the gypsies?" ; "What does 'Shoah' mean?"

Standing opposite the students for nearly two hours, Claude Lanzmann had chosen a school with a bad reputation in which to speak to these students, most of whom are the children of immigrants, "because of what's going on." But at no point was there talk of "what's going on," of the renewal of anti-Semitism, of the importation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Not that the students had been selected in advance, obviously, or that their questions bad been screened. But viewing the film, which is "stabbing"(*), to repeat the pretty slip of the tongue made by a teary-eyed girl, and the presence of this impressive man with a grave voice who said he was moved and "honored" to be present, imposed not a submissive silence but absolute respect.

"When you see that nazi, you know it's true. When you see that barber who worked in the gas chambers, you know it will haunt him his whole life," said Djoudi, 17. So is it possible to teach the Shoah in the "9-3" serenely? "When I get to this subject in class, I hear some students say that the Jews were asking for it or that, because they suffered this, they're imposing the same fate on the Palestinians," says one of the history teachers who organized the event. "Some of those who made these statements were present for the screening. But I think the power of the film 'stabbed' them." The educational edition of the DVD of Shoah that Jack Lang had produced when he was Education minister "is sleeping in the drawers," laments the filmmaker, who, delighted, left Utrillo high school, repeating: "You have to talk to the students. You have to go talk to them."

Philippe Bernard
[(*) The slip of the tongue doesn't work in English. The verb poignarder, "to stab," gives the gerundive poignardant, which is close to "poignant."]
The 9-3 refers to the department number (93) for Seine-Saint-Denis (metropolitan Paris, for example, is 75 and all Paris license plates begin with that number). To be a "9-3" is often how hot-headed youths announce they're bad-asses. The students in this article will have been in large majority Arabs, many of whom, prior to seeing this film, could easily have participated in discussions like this one.

UPDATE: W. emails to say that "'le 9-3' [neuf-trois] is now being referred to as the 'neuf-cube' [as in '9 to the third power' or '9 cubes'] by the 93 kids themselves. Must be the ones that got a high school diploma or something." Thanks, Mr. W.