When you consider the French police raider her fucking apartment, that she's the chief of the fucking IMF, and that the "[i]nvestigators suspect her of complicity in embezzling public funds after she overruled objections from advisers to proceeding with the €285m (£244m) payment to Tapie," what isn't possible?
no surprise: Sarkozy, Royal appear headed for runoff. The AP reports: Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal appeared headed to a runoff for the French presidency, according to pollsters' projections from the Sunday vote, setting up a stark choice of left or right for a nation hungry for new direction.
Four polling agencies put Sarkozy ahead of Royal, and both of them in the May 6 runoff, eliminating the 10 other first-round candidates. The projections were based on actual vote counts from representative samples of hundreds of polling stations across the country. Official results from the election that drew a huge turnout were expected later Sunday evening.
Turnout was over 80 percent, the polling agencies said, nearing the record of 84.8 percent set for a first round in 1965. The intense interest testified to the high stakes for France and the personalities — inspiring for some, divisive for others — involved in an election that was wrapped in surprises and suspense.
Fun stuff I've learned about the leading candidates: Sarkozy, a rightwing asshole but not nearly as rightwing at the uber asshole Jean-Marie Le Pen, referred to the Islamic youth who rioted as "scum." Sarkozy is the son of Hungarian immigrants, promises to limit immigration to France. Of course he does. He also likes George Bush. Sadly, Mr. Anti-immigration is unlikely to garner many voters from the uber asshole Le Pen because he is the son of immigrants, so he's not really French. Ironic, no? Just in case you don't recall much about Le Pen, the AP was able to nail him in one clause: an extreme-right nationalist with repeat convictions for anti-Semitic and racist comments. Nice.
to save New Orleans, but the city is not without supporters. Reuters reports: Shortcomings in aid from the U.S. government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city.
Nagin, who has hosted a steady stream of foreign dignitaries since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, says he may seek international assistance because U.S. aid has not been sufficient to get the city back on its feet.
* * *
Jordan's King Abdullah also visited New Orleans on Friday and Nagin said he would encourage foreign interests to help redevelop some of the areas hardest hit by the storm.
"France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward," he said, referring to two of the city's neighborhoods.
* * *
French Transport Minister Dominique Perben, leading the French delegation to a city that was founded by France in 1718, said, "This catastrophe has deeply upset the French people and the French government."
France, Perben said through a translator, "wants to be a long-term partner for Louisiana and New Orleans."
Well at least a government gives a shit about the destruction of one of the greatest of U.S. cities. This administration's response? A fucking disgrace.
Out of Them. The LA Times reports: If the French marauders known as The Deflated waged their brand of urban subversion in Southern California, the mecca of the sport utility vehicle, by now they would probably have been jailed, beaten, shot or at least sued.
But five weeks after the clandestine crew of environmentalists launched a low-intensity war on SUVs in Paris, there are no casualties to report. Except, of course, for dozens of deflated gas-guzzling vehicles, said Sous-Adjudant Marrant (Sub-Warrant Officer Joker), the mysterious, masked leader of Les Dégonflés.
Under cover of night, Marrant's troops target Jeep Cherokees, Porsche Cayennes and other four-wheel-drive vehicles parked on the tree-lined avenues and cobblestoned lanes of wealthy neighborhoods. The eco-guerrillas deflate tires without damaging them, smear doors with mud and paste handbills on windshields proclaiming that the vehicles are dangerous, polluting behemoths that do not belong in the city.
"We use the mud to say that if the owners will not take the four-wheel-drives to the countryside, we will bring the countryside to the four-wheel-drives," said Marrant, 28, who uses an alias because angry drivers deluge his website, http://degonfle.blogg.org with e-mails threatening mayhem and questioning his manhood.
* * *
"We emphasize the comic, the burlesque side," Marrant said with the earnest, wide-eyed look of a prankster trying to keep a straight face. "It would be hard to take us to court. We don't slash tires, we deflate them. Air doesn't cost anything. As for getting cars dirty, that's nothing. I would plead guilty to that. Our rules are to never run from the police. And always run from the owners."
The rise of anti-SUV activism in France shows that one man's vandal can be another man's avenger. The deflators are on the fringe of a movement that has considerable support at City Hall, which is governed by an alliance of the Socialist and Green parties.
Christophe Delabre, the president of a French association of SUV owners, has appeared in a television debate with Marrant, who wore sunglasses, a baseball cap and a bandanna to conceal his identity. Delabre does not find his adversary amusing.
"It's comparable to extremism, to discrimination, to inciting hate," Delabre said. "You can't stigmatize a category of the population with impunity under the pretext that they drive a kind of vehicle…. [The Deflated] put others' lives in danger, and that's unacceptable. It's out of the question that this kind of action is tolerated in France. I don't understand how the police can arrest deflators and let them go a few hours later."
* * *
Like other historic European capitals, Paris struggles with overwhelming traffic that challenges even the smallest cars and steeliest drivers. Double-parked delivery trucks block narrow streets. Swarms of motorcyclists zoom the wrong way on congested boulevards. Parking garages, impossibly small, seem designed by sadists.
Spurred by the take-back-the-streets attitude of the Greens, City Hall is trying to discourage cars in favor of mass transit, biking and walking. In addition, the national government has imposed a new tax on high-polluting vehicles that works out to about $300 per owner, but varies depending on emission levels.
* * *
The Deflated have made contact with like-minded activists in the United States. Marrant is familiar with the U.S. television advertising campaign that equated buying an SUV with financing Islamic terrorism. But he finds it too gloomy.
He says the French public supports his group's approach. People send e-mails asking to participate or suggesting tactics, such as a special tool the activists now use for lightning-fast deflations.
I love this story. A couple dozen people have come up with a clever way to discourage SUVs in one of the world's loveliest cities and they do it without causing any damage to vehicle or man. And the city is thinking of ways to discourage cars in favor of public transportation, walking and cycling. Close your eyes and just imagine. One day.
General's patriotic effort to get the recruits the military needs by going to the horse's mouth: the 56th College Republican National Convention (June 24-26) and the Young Republican National Convention (July 6-10). Why the conventions have to be jammed packed with future soldiers for W. Sure, a lot of them are probably patsy, fat and not particularly active, but that's what boot camp's for. I can't wait to hear about the General's recruitment drive numbers. Be sure to check his site during the conventions. I'm sure he'll have lots of good news to report.
American Lives. The AP states: Nearly all U.S. respondents said faith was important to them and only 2 percent [ed. note: this number is very low and, I believe, questionable] said they did not believe in God, according to the polling conducted for the AP by Ipsos.
Almost 40 percent in this country said religious leaders should try to sway policymakers, notably higher than in other countries.
"Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian policies and religious leaders have an obligation to speak out on public policy, otherwise they're wimps," said David Black, a retiree from Osborne, Pa., who agreed to be interviewed after he was polled.
Still, 61 percent said they didn't think religious leaders should influence government decisions.
Ok, 61% think religious leader shouldn't influence government decisions. There is some hope. That said, the articles adds: "The United States is a much more religious country than other similar countries, looks a lot like what you call developing countries, like Mexico, Iran and Indonesia," said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron.