November 5, 2005

Memo to BBC: The Correct Term Is “FRENCH RIOTS” (see Updates)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:09 pm


From the BBC story explaining the map:

  • Clichy-sous-Bois: Two teenagers die in electricity sub-station on 27 October. Successive nights of rioting follow rumours they were fleeing police. A number of people arrested or injured.
  • Aulnay-sous-Bois: A flashpoint after violence spread from Clichy. Shots fired at police and cars and shops set ablaze. Further trouble in eight nearby suburbs, with more shots fired at police.
  • Elsewhere in Paris: Reports of incidents in towns in the suburban departments of the Val-d’Oise, Seine-et-Marne and Yvelines. Reports of petrol bombs thrown at a police station in the Hauts-de-Seine.
  • Elsewhere in France: Rouen, Lille, Toulouse, Nice and Marseille all see violence on Friday night.


UPDATE: The rioting has reached into the city limits of Paris for the first time–“The urban unrest that triggered scores of arson attacks on vehicles, nursery schools and other targets from the Mediterranean to the German border reached Paris overnight, with police saying early Sunday that 13 cars were burned in the French capital.”

UPDATE 2: Gregory Katz of The Houston Chronicle Foreign Service has written what I have feared is the truth, and what the rest of the media seem unwilling to admit–“French leaders seemed powerless Saturday night to quell the worst civil unrest in decades as clashes between Muslim immigrants and police escalated in rough Paris housing projects and spread ominously to other major regions. The 10 consecutive nights of riots have shaken the government to its core and opened a new front in the increasingly violent rupture between Muslims and non-Muslims in Western Europe.”

UPDATE 3, 10AM Nov. 6: More cities, more damage–“Copycat arson attacks hit the outskirts of Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Pau in the south, Rennes and Nantes in the west, Lille in the north and Mulhouse and Colmar in the east ….. Despite calls for calm Saturday, 1,295 cars were torched overnight compared with 897 the previous night, while arrests totalled 312, up from 253.”

Also, this should end the absurd argument about whether the rioters are “organized”–“Police found a gasoline bomb-making factory in a southern suburb of the city, with more than 100 bottles, gallons of fuel and hoods for hiding rioters’ faces, a senior Justice Ministry official said Sunday.”

Greedy Monopolistic Oil Companies Watch Helplessly as Pump Price of Gas Falls Below $2


From CNN

$3 gas — is it here to stay?
Experts say retreat from record oil prices is near, but relief could be modest, and brief.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – The pain of $3 at the pump could end soon for many Americans, but the respite in gasoline prices may be modest — and only temporary, energy experts said Wednesday.

In any event, gasoline prices rarely fall as quickly as they go up, so consumers should get used to higher prices at the pump.

From BBC, quoting a private industry observer–

“The scary thing is that the hurricane season is not over yet… so I don’t see prices coming down, said Tony Nunan, manager for energy risk management with Mitsubishi Corp’s international petroleum business in Tokyo.

Bloomberg News via The Seattle PI

Experts split on top price of gas–Some expect to see $4 a gallon at pump before next year

Motorists will pay $4 on average nationally for a gallon of regular gasoline before the end of the year as hurricane-damaged refineries stay shut and imports from Europe wane, Luis Giusti of the Center for Global Energy Studies predicted Tuesday.

The Reality:

Greater Cincinnati (3PM Nov. 5, reduction below $2 occurred earlier in the day)–


Metro Columbus




Experts, shmexperts.


UPDATE: As of 11 PM, the lowest price is lower, and there are more sub-$2 outlets, in all three metro areas.

UPDATE 2, Nov. 6: EU Rota, who previously linked to this post, helpfully provides this nationwide graph, from Department of Energy retail data, of gas prices, showing that they are below pre-Kartina levels (thanks, EUR!)–


Shhh–Here’s an Iraq Economic Recovery Report

You mean Iraq has ….. an economy?

Via LGF and an obscure section in The Washington Post, back to the original source at the American Enterprise Institute (bolds are mine), news the Mainstream Media thinks we apparently can’t use about economic progress in Iraq:

When pollsters instead ask Iraqis to prioritize their top-20 concerns, withdrawal of Coalition troops usually ranks near the bottom of the list. Restoring electricity, combating corruption, and maintaining security are consistently at the top priorities.

Iraqis are struggling to reconstruct their country and their lives, but they are not desperate. Unemployment is high–the Iraqi government estimates it to be 28 percent nationwide. Underemployment is higher. But the war did not create Iraq’s unemployment. Nor, for that matter, is U.S. bombing responsible for decrepit schools, potholed streets, and poor infrastructure shown so often on network and satellite-news channels. Forensic auditors who reconstructed Iraq’s prewar budget were astounded by Saddam Hussein’s disdain for his country. In fiscal year 2002, for example, the Iraqi government spent only $5 million total on the physical plant of school buildings. Saddam’s palaces, though, had elaborate fountains, Italian marble, and gold-plated inscriptions.

….. Iraq’s economy is booming. Many Iraqis–denied employment under Saddam Hussein’s regime for reasons of ethnicity, sectarian identity, or for refusal to join the Baath party, now have jobs. Iraqis’ own private investment, aided with capital remitted from family members abroad, has enabled the private sector to boom. Banks, restaurants, and furniture stores occupy what just last year were empty lots or abandoned storefronts. In August 2005, new business registrations have topped 30,000; this figure does not include the number of start-ups which still ignore Iraqi-registration rules.

Ordinary Iraqis are financially better off now than they were at any time in the past two decades. According to World Bank and International Monetary Fund estimates, per capita income has doubled since 2003. Iraq’s per capita gross domestic product is today almost twice that of Yemen and nearing that of Egypt and Syria, hardly a sign of failure in a country in which, just three years ago, antiwar groups insisted children were starving en masse. Statistics aside, the Iraqi economic boom is apparent to anyone who visits an Iraqi market. Not only are appliances and luxuries in the stores, but customers are actually purchasing them.

Iraqis today employ technologies that were nonexistent or off-limits to all but the Baathist elite just three years ago. As of September 2005, there were more than 3.5 million cell-phone subscribers in Iraq, for example. Under the Baath party, there was no cell-phone service, and possession of satellite phones was a capital offense. Internet cafés dot not only Baghdad thoroughfares, but also dusty back streets in provincial towns.

It looks like we need someone to do for business and economic news reporting of Iraq what Michael Yon is doing on the ground in the fight against the terrorist insurgency. Has Iraq the Model taken Econ 101 anywhere?

Nov. 6 Wizbang Weekend Carnival participant.

Quotes of the Day: Mark Steyn on the Euro-Muslim Riots

Steyn was his usual frank self in an eye-opening Hugh Hewitt radio interview on Thursday.

First, on what the Muslim outskirt communities are like, their normal degree of safety, and the true nature of what is happening in France and Europe:

I went to one of these suburbs that’s currently ablaze three years ago. And what was interesting to me is I had to bribe a taxi driver a considerable amount of money just to take me out there. They’re miserable places. But what was interesting to me is that after that, I then flew on to the Middle East, and I was in Yemen, and a couple of other places. And what was interesting to me was that I found more menace in the suburbs of Paris than I did in some pretty scary places in the Middle East. I mean, there is a real…this, I think, is the start of a long Eurabian civil war we’re witnessing here.

….. They’re places where people who are not Muslim feel very ill at ease. They’re places where the writ of the French state does not run. The police don’t police there. They basically figure if you go there, you’re on your own. You’re taking your own chances there. I mean, I don’t think Americans understand quite the degree of alienation of some of these groups.

Second, on the “culture” of these communities:

….. essentially, you’re dealing with communities that are totally isolated from the mainstream of French life. Where all kinds of practices that wouldn’t be tolerated, that are not officially tolerated by French law, such as polygamy, for example. Polygamy is openly practiced in these…in les Banlieux, as they call these suburbs, these Muslim quarters of Paris. I mean, we’re talking about five miles from the Elysee Palace. Five miles from where Jacques Chirac sits. And you finally got…you know, we kept hearing all this stuff ever since September 11th, you know, the Muslim street is going to explode in anger. Well, it finally did, and it was in Paris, not in the Middle East.

Third, on the poor Mainstream Media coverage of the rioting:

I think this is now basically becoming a willful effort at misleading. It’s not just the United States. Other countries, too, are reporting this as their youths, or their French youth. And it isn’t until you get thirteen paragraphs into the story, and they’re quoting one of these youths, and you realize he’s called Mohammed, that it occurs to you that there might be an ethno-cultural religious component to this situation. And this is absolutely grotesque, because the one…I’m sometimes accused of being terribly pessimistic when I speak in North America. And I always tell Americans and Canadians, that the one great advantage people have, you know, everything may…there may be a lot of bad news in the world, but the one advantage North Americans have, is that Europe is ahead of you in the line. And you have to learn what’s happening. You have to confront honestly what’s happening with these disaffected Muslim populations in Europe.

I obviously wish that the riots weren’t happening, but have to confess relief that we won’t be hearing too much of the “we in America ought to be more like the Europeans” horse manure for a while.

UPDATE: From Steyn’s must-read Nov. 6 Chicago Sun-Times column:

For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America’s Europhiles, France’s Arab street correctly identified Chirac’s opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.

….. What to do? In Paris, while ”youths” fired on the gendarmerie, burned down a gym and disrupted commuter trains, the French Cabinet split in two, as the ”minister for social cohesion” (a Cabinet position I hope America never requires) and other colleagues distance themselves from the interior minister, the tough-talking Nicolas Sarkozy who dismissed the rioters as ”scum.” President Chirac seems to have come down on the side of those who feel the scum’s grievances need to be addressed. He called for ”a spirit of dialogue and respect.” As is the way with the political class, they seem to see the riots as an excellent opportunity to scuttle Sarkozy’s presidential ambitions rather than as a call to save the Republic.


Nov. 5: Wizbang Weekend Carnival participant.

This Weekend’s Unanswered Questions (110505)

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Economy,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 7:10 am

Another installment in a nearly-regular series of mysteries and pseudo-mysteries (usually 3-4) this inquiring mind would like to have answers for (some links included may require free registration):

QUESTION 1: Do you know that Western Europe and Scandanavia have “No-Go Areas”?

Talk about well-kept secrets:

For some years now West European city folk and police officers have been familiar with the reality that certain areas of major European cities are no-go areas, especially at night and certainly if you are white or wearing a uniform.

Detailed examples come from Sweden, France, Belgium, and Denmark. Read the whole thing.

The US has its fair share of dangerous neighborhoods, but relatively few where a person would not feel comfortable during broad daylight. Not so in the countries just mentioned (“especially at night” means it must be dangerous during the day too).

Over the past 20-plus years, Western Europe has allowed itself to develop into a tinderbox waiting to happen. Now it appears to be happening. There’s a lesson in this for US leaders and voters, if we’re willing to heed it.

QUESTION 2: What would YOU do if you were stuck in a permanent internship?

You might do what interns in France are doing (link requires subscription):

Stagiaires — interns — …. took to the streets. Wearing white masks and bearing banners (“no contract, no salary, no rights”), they marched on Tuesday for steady wages and benefits in their internships, claiming companies were getting around labor laws by taking so many of them on. In other words, they want a proper job, as opposed to, well, a stage, which they choose to take, presumably voluntarily. A nationwide strike of interns is scheduled for November 14.

In the spirit of the day, this social movement came to life on the Internet. Exasperated by serial unpaid internships that produced no permanent employment, “Katy” created a blog in September. “At 32, I am stuck in adolescence,” wrote the holder of two university degrees. “I don’t even have the right to unemployment insurance.” Imagine. It turns out that thousands share her fate. A movement — and of course a Web site — soon followed: Génération précaire (the precarious generation).

So the revolt of the well-educated, middle-class youth is on. By definition, internships give young people a taste of the working world. In France, an “intern strike” thus makes perfect sense because the country’s workers have made an art out of striking.

Such exploitation in the land of the 35-hour work week. Well, somebody has to do the work.

QUESTION 3: Why don’t more big-money donors put conditions like these on their gifts?

This is a very impressive gift (HT American Thinker):

The founder of eBay and his wife have donated $100 million to Tufts University, the school’s largest gift ever, but also one with a unique twist: All the money will be invested in microfinance, which involves tiny loans as low as $40, designed to help poor people in the developing world start small businesses, such as selling hand-woven cloth or goat’s milk.

Pierre and Pam Omidyar intend the gift to generate healthy returns for their alma mater and in so doing to demonstrate to other investors that microfinance deserves a hefty infusion of private capital, not just charitable and government dollars. Tufts and the Omidyars believe that the gift is the largest private allocation of capital to microfinance by any individual or family.

Unfortunately, I know part of the answer to the question: The beneficiaries won’t accept the money if it has certain conditions, regardless of the good the money might do. Two examples–

  • In the mid-1990s, Yale turned down a $20 million gift from 1979 alum Lee Bass, which was intended to fund an intensive course in Western civilization. The link has lots of excuses, but another donor stated the blunt truth, that it was about hostility to the topic:

    The delay grew from political issues, due to a liberal activist faculty, he said. Escridge called Administration statements that content was not a factor in the delays “lame excuses.” “It’s patently, obviously a political response, and it’s a negative one,” he said.

  • A planned $200 million donation to Detroit’s public schools was withdrawn in October 2003, because it generated intense opposition from the entrenched:

    Detroit businessman and philanthropist Robert Thompson has withdrawn an offer to fund new charter schools in Detroit after the proposal drew angry criticism from the city’s teachers union, which argued that the schools would drain millions of dollars from public schools, the Associated Press reports.

    Thompson, the former owner of road building company Thompson-McCully Co., had planned to give $200 million through his foundation to open fifteen new charter high schools in the city. The move drew the ire of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, however, which held a large rally two weeks ago to protest the creation of additional charter schools in the state.

Such agenda-driven intransigence by beneficiaries will hurt them in the long run if more donors think through what they want done with their money, attach tough conditions to its use, and stick to their guns when challenged.

Positivity: 10 Year-old Saves Over 100 from Tsunami

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:11 am

Thank goodness Tilly Smith paid attention in geography class (HT Happy News):