November 13, 2005

Quote of the Day: On the French Reality We Haven’t Heard About

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:01 pm

From Nidra Poller at the indispensable Tech Central Station (bolds are mine):

A reporter interviews a man standing in front of a mosque in full Islamist regalia and politely relays his complaints. Do readers know that these offended Islamists are calling for the de-Zionization of France? And the defeat of the United States of America? No offense meant there! Do readers understand that the banlieues are being shaped into a foreign and hostile nation?

….. The uprising began on October 27. But Jean-Claude Ivroas, a 56-year-old salesman for a company that markets urban lighting fixtures, was already dead in what might be treated as an “unrelated incident.” Monsieur Ivroas stopped on a street in Epinay-sur-Seine to take a picture of a lamppost. Three residents of the banlieue accosted him, grabbed his camera and, when he resisted, beat him to death in 90 seconds.

Riots broke out later that day in Clichy-sous-Bois, another neighborhood in the same department, familiarly known as the 9 cubed (93) after its department code. Three French Muslim kids who thought they were being pursued by the police scaled a high wall and landed inside a high-voltage relay station marked with all the appropriate signs of lethal danger; two were electrocuted, the third was badly burned. In the flash of a second the word went out that the innocent victims were martyrs of police harassment. It happens all the time. Kids steal a car, the police go after them, the kids drive like madmen, crash into a tree or a wall or another car, and get killed. Within hours the riots begin. Cars, buses, and police stations are torched. The riot police are attacked. Sooner or later calm is restored.

So it is not surprising that when President Jacques Chirac finally reacted after six days of outrageous violence, he begged for the restoration of calm. The calm he yearns for was marked by a rising tide of violence, including the torching of 20,000 cars in a year.

Ten days after the kickoff in Clichy-sous-Bois, the rioting has spread all over France and into other European countries. The normal reaction would be to declare martial law and impose a strict curfew. By failing to take these steps and instead shifting the blame from the rioters to presidential hopeful Sarkozy, the French government is opening a boulevard to further and ever more lethal unrest.

The banlieues are not equivalent to American inner cities. This is not a replay of “the fire next time.” The outcome will not be the kind of affirmative action that brought black stockbrokers to Wall Street and black actors to starring roles in TV commercials and sitcoms. What we are seeing is a jihad-style insurgency waged against a country that has fervently fostered the Eurabian fusion project.

About That Nov. 16-18 UN Internet Conference in Tunisia (UN-EU takeover attempt)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:45 am

Welcome InstaPundit readers! Also check out this post that updates the events and political machinations that have continued in the Kelo case since the Supreme Court handed down its infamous eminent-domain decision.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

To Kofi Annan and the other snakes who say that authority over the Internet “should be shared with the international community” (i.e., “surrendered unilaterally”), even while conceding that “The United States …. has exercised its oversight responsibilities fairly and honorably,” I say:

Wayne
Ya want it?
Just try to come and get it!
Better yet–Build your own.

DETAILED POST:

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Conference will take place in Tunisia this coming Wednesday through Friday (Nov. 16-18).

It has become very clear in the past few months that the European Union and the United Nations intend to use this conference to attempt to intimidate the United States into changing how the Internet is governed and managed.

The biggest concerns over changing how things are done now are:

  • Human rights will sufferThe concern (near end at link) is that an alternative governance and management regime might be hostile to fundamental human rights. The worries are not unfounded. A prominent press freedom group based in Paris(!) has strong reservations about changing the current operation and control structure:

    Those who oppose U.N. or other multilateral control note that some of the governments pushing hardest for a change are also the world’s most repressive when it comes to preventing free speech on the Internet.
    “Do we really want the countries that censor the Internet and throw its users in prison to be in charge of regulating the flow of information on it?” the independent media group Reporters Without Frontiers (RSF) asked Thursday, citing China, Cuba and others.
    The Paris-based organization also rejected the E.U. suggestion, calling it “too vague to be a credible alternative.”
    “It has to be admitted that the U.S. has managed to develop the Internet without major problems and that it broadly respects online freedom of expression,” it said.
    “So let us hope an acceptable compromise – that reduces government intervention to a minimum and guarantees freedom of expression – will be found at the WSIS.
    “If not, it would be best to leave things as they are.”

    It’s worth noting that the European Union’s initial offensive to browbeat the US into changing its current Internet role, as the UK TimesOnline notes, “received the backing of states known to stifle free speech.” And how about a French-based organization in the heart of the EU admitting that we’re doing a good job with the Internet?

  • (The implied evil of) American “unilateralism” (when it is this unilateralism that has taken the Internet to its current remarkable state)–This isn’t an issue as much as it is an emotional appeal. Responding to this, US Ambassador David A. Gross, the senior diplomat representing the US at the upcoming conference, says that he consulted intensely (link requires subscription) with governments and industry before the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued its four perfectly reasonable principles of Internet governance in June (original not numbered; full text of the fourth principle is provided for clarity; my comments are in italics):
    1. The United States Government intends to preserve the security and stability of the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System (DNS). (No other entity can credibly make this guarantee.)
    2. Governments have legitimate interest in the management of their country code top level domains (ccTLD). (Of course they do, and no one is in their way, as long as they don’t mess with “security and stability.”)
    3. ICANN is the appropriate technical manager of the Internet DNS. (Is anyone claiming that ICANN isn’t doing its job well, or that it’s suffering from interference in carrying out its mission? I didn’t think so.)
    4. Dialogue related to Internet governance should continue in relevant multiple fora. Given the breadth of topics potentially encompassed under the rubric of Internet governance there is no one venue to appropriately address the subject in its entirety. While the United States recognizes that the current Internet system is working, we encourage an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders around the world in the various fora as a way to facilitate discussion and to advance our shared interest in the ongoing robustness and dynamism of the Internet. In these fora, the United States will continue to support market-based approaches and private sector leadership in Internet development broadly. (We’ll talk about anything relating to how the Internet is managed and how to further develop it, just not about how it is governed. The thing that REALLY bothers those who want to usurp Internet governance is the language in this fourth principle on markets and the private sector, i.e., NOT meddling governments.)
  • Substance (us) vs. process (them)–To quote the previously linked WSJ piece: “Europeans tend to value process more, while Americans prefer results. The EU itself was born out of a process whose aim was to prevent new war in Europe and, thus, the EU is valued for its own sake irrespective of its inefficiencies. Americans find it difficult to love multilateral bodies that don’t produce results — or might endanger achievement. You can’t come up with more succinct statement of our fundamental differences, or in the current situation, a better reason NOT to allow anyone from the EU or the UN to get their grubby “consensus-driven” hands on something as important as the inner workings of the Internet.

What will happen if, as expected, the US stares down the world’s interlopers in Tunisia? The Cassandras would have you believe that the world will devolve into a Babel-like collection of “multiple Internets” if the current dispute isn’t resolved. Bryan Carney at OpinionJournal.com essentially says “let them go” (link may require registration), and that mutual self-interest will prevent the feared communications nightmare:

The U.S. government has led many to believe that this is equivalent to dismantling the Internet itself. But it is bluffing.
Here’s how it might work. At some point, China will grow tired of the U.S. refusal to give up control to the U.N., and it will secede from the status quo. It will set up its own root server, tweaked to allow access only to those sites the government deems nonthreatening, and simply order every Internet service provider in the country to use it instead of Icann’s. The change will be seamless to most users, but China will have set up its own private Net, one answerable to the people’s revolutionaries rather than to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Others may follow suit. Root servers could spring up in France, or Cuba, or Iran. In time, the Internet might look less like the Internet and more like, say, the phone system, where there is no “controlling legal authority” on the international level. More liberal-minded countries would probably, if they did adopt a local root-server, allow users to specify which server they wanted to query when typing in, say, Microsoft.com.
As a technical means of content control, going “split root,” as they say in the business, is too compelling for governments not to give it a try. But the user experience would likely be much the same as it ever was most of the time. ISPs, as well as most vaguely democratic governments, would have an interest in ensuring broad interoperability, just as no one in Saudi Arabia or China has yet decided that dialing +1-202-456-1414–the White House switchboard number–from those countries should go somewhere else, like Moammar Gadhafi’s house. Nothing stops phone companies from doing things like that, except that the market expects a certain consistency in how phone calls are directed, so it is in the interests of the operators to supply what the market expects. The same principle would apply in a split-root world.
Would it be better if countries that want to muck around with the Net just didn’t? Sure. But they do want to, and they will, and it would be far better, in the long run, if they did so on their own, without a U.N. agency to corrupt or give them shelter. It’s time to drop the apocalyptic rhetoric about a split root file and start looking beyond the age of a U.S.-dominated Internet. Breaking up is hard to do, but in this case, the alternative would be worse.

I agree. A fragmented (but not for long) Internet beats a UN-controlled Internet by a mile.
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UPDATE: As I have noted before (outdated or unavailable links have been updated), I would expect a UN-controlled Internet to have:

UPDATE 2: Instapundit notes that Tunisia has “set the tone” for the conference by shutting down Internet dissent. And Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman is afraid the conference will turn into a “digital Munich” (HT CyberLawHarvard).

UPDATE 3: Instapundit updates with links to this great op-ed piece by Arch Puddington of Freedom House (“Keep the Internet Free”) and a succinct WaPo letter to the editor (“The Internet Is in Good Hands”).

UPDATE 4, Dec. 4: S.O.B. Alliance member NixGuy finds (and translates) the letter from Condi Rice to EU President Jack Straw that staked out the US position on Internet governance. The result was that the EU stuck with the US position after months of making noises about contesting it.
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Other reading matter:

Previous BizzyBlog Posts:

Positivity: After 20 Years, over 12,000 Families Served

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:09 am

At the Ann Arbor, Michigan Ronald McDonald House:

(more…)

Western European (Yes), Riot (the Word They Won’t Use), Report

“Denial” is a river that streams through Western Europe and courses its way into the reports of the worldwide Mainstream Media.

Oh, you didn’t know that riots have still been occurring in France and other Western European countries? Now you will.

France

As of Saturday at 11 PM, The New York Times’ home page only has a vague headline down in the International section (“Paris Police Are on Guard as Fear Rises Over Threats”) linking to this article, which twists itself into a pretzel to avoid the word “riot” and “Muslim,” and even spends a paragraph praising French gun control laws. But the fact is that rioting and destruction continue in France on a scale that would cause blanket news coverage and worldwide denunciation if it were happening here in the US. Ominously, the rioting is dampening everyday French existence in a major way:

The number of cars torched overnight in France climbed slightly over the previous night to 502 in a 16th night of unrest that took its heaviest toll on the French provinces, police said Saturday.

Security was boosted in the capital with some 3,000 police officers fanning out around strategic points to counter feared weekend attacks targeting Paris. Gatherings were banned from Saturday morning until Sunday morning.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but “gatherings” is a euphemism for “sporting events, concerts, weddings, wedding parties, church services, parties at hotels and meeting rooms, and any other occasions or events involving groups of people.” In other words, as I read it, much of life in France came to a screeching halt on Saturday and Saturday night.

Denmark

Perhaps you knew that riots were occurring in Denmark a bit ago. They still were, as of Wednesday night:

Police in the city of Århus were again called out to respond to disturbances in the Rosenhøj district Wednesday night.

Faint reverberations of recent French immigrant riots continued in the Danish city of Århus Wednesday night, as teenagers rampaged through its Rosenhøj quarter, setting dustbins on fire, smashing shop windows, and trying to set fire to one store.

I suppose we should be relieved that there were no car burnings.

Belgium

Riots in Belgium? You didn’t know? Well the Belgians don’t seem to either, even though it’s happening under their noses. Instead, they’re engaged in exercises of delusional self-congratulation (bolds are mine):

Preventative approach has ‘spared’ Belgium of riots

BRUSSELS — The Belgian government’s preventative approach has ensured that the riots in France have not blown across to Belgium, Interior Minister Patrick Dewael said on Thursday.

“At the moment, there are isolated incidents and no city guerrillas or organised uprisings,” the Liberal VLD minister told MPs.

During a mini-debate in the Belgian Parliament in Brussels, Dewael said the situation in Belgium — which has witnessed four successive nights of unrest and arson attacks — cannot be compared with France.

However, Dewael said it is not impossible for French-style rioting to occur in Belgium, but that the Belgian focus on prevention — via a close-knit network of street and neighbourhood workers — was bearing fruit.

….. The minister’s comments come after dozens of cars and trucks have been torched in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent in recent days. It sparked fears that French violence would jump the border.

Despite the tension though, the national crisis centre has said no large gatherings of youths have been witnessed and the situation was in general calmer on Wednesday evening than on previous nights.

I’m sure the law-abiding citizens of Belgium are dancing in their homes (dancing in the streets would be dangerous, after all) that “only” dozens of cars and trucks have been torched.

I think we’re beginning to see a language devolution that is creating another politically incorrect word: riot. It seems to heading into total disuse, though I suspect the word will be employed “liberally” to describe any disturbance in the US involving three or more people.

The Netherlands

No, there haven’t been riots (Nov. 13 UPDATE: But awfully close“In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, four cars were torched and a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a home.” Were 4 cars torched in YOUR town last night?). But the forces of political correctness, willful blindness, and cultural suicide appear to have the upper hand (bolds are mine):

….. According to a new survey the Dutch public wants more attention to positive events. Half of the 845 people surveyed by the Millward Brown market research bureau described the atmosphere in the Netherlands as negative or very negative.

….. Enter the United Smile organisation. United Smile – which commissioned the poll – is headed by 27-year-old Ward Schepman. It is launching a campaign in November entitled ‘Nederland verandert, verander Nederland’ (the Netherlands is changing, change the Netherlands).

Complete with a television advert, the campaign aims to recruit young people into ‘action teams’ to draw attention on the streets to positive changes in society. People can also help by contributing positive ideas to the website.

Schepman, a native of Utrecht, is a graduate of a culture and society education course. He launched United Smile a year ago because he felt there was too much emphasis on the negative in the Netherlands: the murder of populist Pim Fortuyn in May 2002; the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh on 2 November 2004; threats to teachers and politicians forced into hiding.

A counterbalance to this litany of bad news is essential; positive aspects of Dutch life have to be mobilised, Schepman says. “A smile is the first opening for mutual recognition and appreciation.”

Sixty young people are currently working with United Smile. They help to organise educational programmes in schools and in community centres.

The organisation also takes an artistic approach to educate young people about themes such as public safety, integration, liveability and co-existence. It is inviting volunteers to join ‘action teams’ to take to the streets and be “creative, a little bit crazy, but above all…positive”. The aim is to make onlookers smile.

I can smile with the best of them, and those who follow this blog know I have a Positivity post every day, but this Dutch effort has all the earmarkings of “la-la-la, nothing’s wrong” denial of reality, or worse, a “permanent Kumbaya campaign.” Earth to Mr. Schepman: Something is definitely wrong when people are killed and politicians are forced into hiding. For cryin’ out loud, this guy started his United la-la-la Smile endeavor just days after Theo Van Gogh’s murder at the hands of a Muslim jihadist thug! Does anyone think Van Gogh would have been spared if he had only smiled?
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UPDATE: A reminder from this post:

– The 1967 Detroit riots lasted 5 days.
– The 1967 Newark riots lasted 5 days.

The French riots have now entered their 17th day.

UPDATE 2: I have it from a reliable source, an unknown source, and a shaky one that the following is true–easy to believe, hard to accept that people think this way, but true. Excerpted from the reliable source (bold is mine):

As not seen on (French) tv
Images of Paris’s suburbs on fire shocked the world – but not the French, because France’s media took it upon themselves to censor them, reports Jason Burke.

….. Jean-Claude Dassier, the director-general of the rolling news service LCI, effectively admitted censoring his own broadcasts of the riots. Speaking at a conference in Amsterdam, he said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been ‘excessive’.

What shocked observers most, however, was his admission that his decisions had been made for political reasons. ‘Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want right-wing politicians back in second, [let alone] first, place because we showed burning cars on television,’ Dassier told an audience of broadcasters.

UPDATE 3: Two weeks of facts and figures on the French riots (as of last Thursday). Lowlights: 300 districts affected; one death; 115 injuries; 32 towns under curfew; “more than 6,600 vehicles torched and dozens of buses, schools, gymnasiums, nurseries, libraries, shops and businesses destroyed in arson attacks”; damages in the hundreds of millions of euros (ahem–the torched vehicles “only” account for about 25 million euros, so there is a dreadful amount of property damage other than to cars); 1,800 arrests.

UPDATE 4: EU Rota has more on what the French and Belgians are trying to pass off as “calming.”
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Nov. 13 Wizbang Weekend Carnival Participant.