Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Times Profiles Lauvergeon

The New York Times offers a profile of Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon.

Split in Student Movement Deepens

Bruno Julliard met with Valérie Pécresse and called on striking students to take into account the "advances" the minister was proposing. But students meeting at Nanterre were having none of it and called for Julliard's ouster.

Aux Grands Hommes, La Patrie Reconnaissante

It seems that a guerrilla band infiltrated one of Paris's most famous monuments ... in order to restore its clock.

The Centre of National Monuments, embarrassed by the way the group entered the building so easily, did not take to the news kindly, taking legal action and replacing the administrator.

Getting into the building was the easiest part, according to Klausmann. The squad allowed themselves to be locked into the Panthéon one night, and then identified a side entrance near some stairs leading up to their future hiding place. "Opening a lock is the easiest thing for a clockmaker," said Klausmann. From then on, they sneaked in day or night under the unsuspecting noses of the Panthéon's officials.

"I've been working here for years," said a ticket officer at the Panthéon who wished to remain anonymous. "I know every corner of the building. And I never noticed anything."

Aux grands hommes, la patrie reconnaissante ...

Pour la petite histoire:
in 1977 I lived à deux pas du Panthéon at 214, rue des Médicis, the very place where Jean Calvin lived when he was a young student in theology. I went every day to write in the Café Soufflot, just down the rue Soufflot from the Panthéon, not far from where this picture may have been taken. Michel Foucault frequently took his lunch in the same café.


There has been no shortage of warning signs. Robert Castel, writing in Le Nouvel Obs a month and a half ago, said that "threats of an explosion are accumulating." Less than a month ago, the Cour des Comptes issued a report denouncing, among other things, "the inconsistency of policy," "delays in payments to associations," "cumbersome mechanisms," and in general neglect of the suburbs by the state. So there is no reason for surprise that what appears to have been an unfortunate traffic accident has erupted into two nights of violence reminiscent of the riots of 2005. Sarkozy, still in China, is monitoring the situation closely and has announced a meeting with the parents of the two dead adolescents upon his return. But thus far he has shown no sign of considering a reversal of the policy he initiated, to end the police de proximité and rely on riot police to maintain order in the suburbs. Fadela Amara is on the scene, but we really have no idea whether her talents include the bureaucratic skills needed to overcome inertia and get the suburbs what they need. Michèle Alliot-Marie, who occupies the position that Sarkozy held during the 2005 riots, has not helped matters by blaming the violence on "organized gangs."

Videos here.

Sauce Hollandaise

There was a time when I was writing nearly every day about the Socialist Party. In the wake of the electoral loss, l'ouverture sarkozyenne, the candidate's repudiation of part of the platform on which she had run for president, and the règlements de comptes among party leaders, it seemed essential to try to figure out whether and how the party would reconstitute itself. Yet the posts became increasingly repetitious. Sniping from this or that quarter, a meeting of quadragénaires seeking not so much to define a new program as to settle on an order of succession, or yet another "analysis" of defeat that amounted to no more than a reaffirmation of banalities such as "we accept the market"--none of this seemed worth saying more than once, if that. So the "renovation" of the party has proceeded without much comment from me or much discernible interest from anyone other than the participants, who rarely include even a decent quorum of surviving Socialist leaders. Meeting in Avignon this weekend, the Hollandaise rump of the party failed to attract Royal, Fabius, and who knows how many others ... it seemed not worth the effort to try to assemble a list of absentees.

So this morning's news that François Hollande, meeting with reporters aboard the train returning from Avignon, still regards himself as a présidentiable for 2012, seemed as good an occasion as any to advert to the virtual absence of the PS from the national scene. Perhaps the upcoming municipal elections will reveal that the party is less moribund than it appears. But if the PS was waiting for massive strikes to destabilize the new regime and inaugurate an era of cohabitation as in 1995, it would seem to have miscalculated. It will have to reconquer power with a program of its own, not wait for control to be ceded to it by default. Or else, if it concludes that its internal divisions are too deep to permit any such reconquest, it had better disband and allow its various factions to strike out on their own in quest of a new political philosophy, which may abandon the label "socialist" altogether (as Manuel Valls has proposed). Many who voted socialist out a sense of "family obligation" no longer identify with the party's current philosophy, if they can even articulate what it is or differentiate it convincingly from that of the parti en face. And countless "family members," from BHL to Julien Dray, from Jack Lang to Claude Allègre, have intimated in one way or another that they are as fascinated by Sarkozy's energy as a moth is by a candle flame, and more or less indifferent to the personalities of the left.

This is not a healthy situation. One cannot disguise rotting leftovers with dollops of sauce hollandaise, especially when the sauce has not entirely prise.