Friday, December 28, 2007

A Deportation Camp?

Some 80 inmates at the Centre du Mesnil-Amelot near CDG airport staged a hunger strike to protest the allegedly inhumane conditions in which they are being held. They contend that they are victims of a deportation quota established by immigration minister Hortefeux, who wanted to expel a set number of immigrants before the end of the year. His plans were thwarted, however, by the refusal of the countries of origin to accept the deportees. Hence they are stuck in the transit camp at Le Mesnil-Amelot. Some have now been dispersed to other sites.

Eurozone Growth Predictions ...

... are down, according to the WSJ. An earlier note in the same blog suggested that growth in Spain, France, and Italy in particular had been fueled by easy credit and was now threatened by the tightening of credit in the wake of the subprime crisis.

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Défense de fumer

Ce n'est pas une révolte, Sire, c'est une révolution. On. January 1, it will no longer be legal to smoke in France "dans les lieux de convivialité." Americans will have to revise their favorite French stereotype: the café inhabited by vaguely louche philosophers with their beret-coiffed heads shrouded by clouds of Gauloise smoke languidly coiling its way toward the empyrean (Aristophanes updated, if you will). Buralistes worry that they won't be able to handle the fistfights expected to break out between the pro- and anti-tabac factions. The fact that Italy has managed this transition without major incident apparently offers little reassurance to the fiercely contentious French.

Of course this revolution, like most revolutions, would not have been possible in law had it not already occurred in mores. The younger generation, whether brainwashed, as some say, by American propaganda concerning the ravages of secondhand smoke or persuaded by Alan Brandt's The Cigarette Century that tobacco companies are not their friends, no longer denounces the idea of banning smoking as "fascist." The next L'Être et le Néant will probably be written on a laptop in Starbuck's rather than in a Cartesian-ruled carnet in a smoke-filled Deux Magots (I sacrifice here to the myth, while fully aware of the reality--poetic license, I assure you). Ainsi va le monde. Personally, I won't miss the smoke, and I expect that café culture will survive, even if the old men in the back of the café-bar-tabac in the forlorn rural bourg must chew Nicorette as they contemplate their next discard in the perpetual game of belote.

Incidentally, buraliste is an interesting word. Its etymology reveals that its root is bureau, but its kin are journaliste, criminaliste, and naturaliste rather than bureaucrate. The buraliste merely occupies his office (dispensing tobacco en l'occurrence) rather than ruling from it. Perhaps that makes me un bloggiste rather than un bloggeur.