Saturday, January 30, 2010

WaPo Watch: "The Gallic Dean Martin"

You might have to be of a certain age to appreciate this:

Who but Sarkozy could make a diatribe on international economics so entertaining? The man is the most animated figure on the international stage: He scowls, he shrugs, he struts. Dressed in one of his skinny "Rat Pack" suits, he might be a Gallic Dean Martin. 

Well, they say (falsely) that the French like Jerry Lewis, so I guess it's no surprise that they're partnered with Dean, even if the teetotaling, diminutive Sarko really doesn't bear much resemblance to the tall, boozy crooner. What was Ignatius thinking? Gotta turn in that column on deadline, probably.

Foreign Aid Hall of Shame


France is below average, the US in the cellar.

Does a Gentlemen Stoop to Pick Up a Lady's Lost Shoe?

This looks like a contingency for which neither the French president nor the American secretary of state was briefed. (By the way, this is the first time I've linked to "Hollywood Life," and it may be the last. I had seen the story reported elsewhere, but this was the best photomontage, for which I thank the ever-alert Polly-Vous Français).

Software Piracy

The virulent opposition to the HADOPI Law in France suggests a certain ambivalence, to say the least, about the concept of intellectual property. It is therefore interesting to note that a report on software piracy by the Business Software Alliance shows that while France belongs, along with other advanced economies, to the group of 25 countries having the lowest software piracy rates, it is the worst in that group, with a piracy rate of 41%, compared with 20% in the US, 27% in Germany and the UK, and 32% in Canada.

Georgia is the most buccaneering country in the world when it comes to software, with an astounding 95% piracy rate, but apparently it paid the price in its recent war with the Russians. Since even the Georgia government is using pirated (and therefore unpatched) software, it is particularly vulnerable to cyber-attack, and the Russians fully exploited this weakness.

The Muslim Community

It is easy to read in the French press about the Muslim community in France, but it is rarer to hear accounts from inside about conflicts within that community. Here is one such report, about a conflict involving an imam, Hassen Chalghoumi, with an "ecumenical reputation" for bridge-building, especially with the Jewish community (and in Drancy, of all places). Because of this, he has allegedly become the target of attacks by militant Islamists. Recently, it was reported that "a commando of 80 militants" had disrupted a meeting at Chalghoumi's mosque. The cited article, by Hicham Hamza, does not purport to be an objective account of the incident (which Hamza, who questions the use of the word "commando" in press reports, says was nonviolent), but it does give links to articles of all stripes concerning both the event and the Imam's past positions. What does emerge clearly from the report is the way in which the national identity debate, and the animus focused on the burqa and niqab, have created dissension rather than convergence toward consensus and how the issue has become a flash point among Muslims. Indeed, the argument often made by "defenders of republican values" such as M. Copé, is that the burqa is a provocation by radicals intended to "test" the Republic. If so, this article shows how the eagerness of Copé and others to take the bait has played into the hands of the radicals by persuading a much wider circle of Muslims that a "counter-defense" is needed. In any case, the story, which I had not come across in the "mainstream media" although it was evidently reported by the AFP and covered by the TV networks, is an interesting one.