Friday, July 17, 2009

French Soldiers Posed as Journalists

Two French military officers, in Somalia to train Somali troops, were kidnapped by rebels and are being held for ransom. The two officers had been posing as journalists. Reporters without Borders has expressed anger that the French military used journalism as a cover for its activities in Somalia--a practice that puts real journalists at risk.

I would say that I'm shocked, shocked to discover that this sort of thing is going on, but it happens that when I served in the U.S. Army, many moons ago, the military intelligence outfit I was with had placed a spy undercover among American journalists in Saigon. It took about a week before our rather inept secret agent managed to give himself away (he didn't know the journalists' secret handshake). The French agents seem to have been captured by renegades within the very military unit they were training. The secret agent's life is full of hazards.

Manipulating Opinion?

It seems that the Elysée has been paying for opinion polls whose results may or may not have been published in the press. The Socialists are alleging that Sarko financed the polls and then made them available to Le Figaro in order to show that he was doing well. The polling firm OpinonWay denies the charges and says that the published polls were not the ones it did for the Elysée.

So, to sum up, the PS alleges that Sarko was polling the public in order to persuade the same public that it liked him better than it actually did like him, whereas OpinionWay is claiming that the polls it did for the media weren't necessarily telling the same story as the polls it did for the Elysée.

I guess it's a good thing I don't put much stock in the polls.

Sarkozy in the Big Apple

Ah, it seems so long ago, that first summer at Lake Winnepasaukee, Carla Cécilia at this side, Rachida to keep him company, George Bush waiting at the grill, l'angine blanche, the jogging in the woods, the impromptu news conferences, the love handles lovingly airbrushed out of the photo spread in Match ...

The president is back in the US, but instead of chowing down on hot dogs with the Bushes he's having a "political lunch" with Ban Ki-Moon at the consulate. Carla will be joining Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin in a memorial concert for Nelson Mandela. It's all so very international. What happened to "Sarkozy l'Américain?" And no meeting with Obama? Truly, there seem to be no atomes crochus between these two, although Matt Drudge and Gawker did try to make it seem as if they shared at least one passionate interest in common. The film of the occasion proved, however, that Obama got a bum rap (forgive the pun). Sarko's interest appears to have been genuine, however (sorry, you'll have to bear with the commercial before getting to the point).


Marcel Gauchet on le nouveau Sarkozy:

"Il s'est franchouillardisé."