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Violence No Fix

photo, willy ronis expo, rue rivoli

On the Rue de Rivoli, outside the Hôtel de Ville.

President Speaks, At Last

Paris:– Monday, 14. November 2005:– Président Jacques Chirac appeared on television in the national news slot this evening, looking focused by wearing glasses for the first time, to suggest that the République can counter discrimination as a response to the crises of judgement, crises of limits, crises of identity.

During the speech, almost the first to address the French public about the wave of urban violence, he proposed the creation of a voluntary civil service coupled with training, that could enroll 50,000 by 2007. "To aid youth in difficulty to find jobs," he said.

The president also repeated a firm message addressed to troublemakers. "Problems, difficulties, a lot of French have them. But violence never fixes anything. When one belongs to the community, one respects the rules."

But he softened this a bit by adding, "I want to say to the children of the hard neighborhoods, no matter what your origins, you are all daughters and sons of the Republic."

He underlined that it is 'the duty of the Republic is to offer, everywhere and to every one, equal chances.' Thenphoto, clock, hotel de ville he continued with a long list of actual plans, and said that France's major financial engagement in these was 'without precedent.'

Perhaps too much décor, but it's still a clock.

All the same he rejected an idea favored by Monsieur Sarkozy, of quotas or 'positive' discrimination for job seekers. He also said he would demand that mayors adhere to the law that stipulates that 20 percent of new buildings must be public housing.

In a final note he suggested that media concerns, especially television, should 'better respect the reality of today's France.' Then he went a step further and invited political parties to do the same – 'to reflect the diversity of France.' Then he closed with, "Vive la République, vive la France!"

State of Urgency Prolonged

Despite increasing calm, after the 18th night of urban violence, the government today decided to extend the law that establishes the current 'State of Urgency' in France.

Speaking to the conseil des ministres in a meeting advanced by two days, President Chirac, quotedphoto, avenue leclerc, saturday night by government spokesman Jean–François Copé, said that the measure was necessary to give the forces of public order all the means necessary for restoring definite calm.

Nights in Paris are usually dark.

According to the spokesman he added that the measure is strictly temporary and will only be applied where it is strictly necessary, in full accord with elected officials.

The 1955 law, initially voted during the Algerian War, will be discussed by the Assembly National on Tuesday and then it will go to the Senat where it is expected that it will be passed on Thursday.

The Score

On Sunday night according to the National Police, of 120 communes affected, only about 10 had five or more vehicles torched. No public buildings were destroyed and police experienced no battles with troublemakers. Firemen received only 810 calls. Overnight five police officers were injured, which brings the total of injured to 140. There were 11,700 officers on duty last night. No figure for civilian injuries is known.

All the same 115 were arrested on Sunday night. This brings the total to 2767 for the past three weeks. Of those arrested 593 have been imprisoned, including 107 minors. Convictions so far number 375 with the remainder waiting for their court dates. Judges have released 41 adults without charges. Arrested minors total 480, and the childrens' courts have released 373, some without being charged.

Mayor Slams Parents

The deputy–mayor of Draveil in Essonne, Georges Tron of the UMP party, today said that he intendedphoto, cheese by night to immediately cut off municipal aid to families with a member who has been convicted during the urban turmoil.

According to reports the official instructed the town's social services to stop distribution of food tickets, access to baby sitting or the community centres. This measure was announced last Wednesday in a letter to parents, but seems to have had little effect because nobody convicted seems to have a family receiving aid.

From the street opera – 'Cheese by Night.'

In fact, according to the report, the number of convicted is unknown. All the same the deputy–mayor intends to be absolutely firm. "I'll tell them that if they want their kids to eat in the school canteen they must start by not burning the canteen down." Draveil has had several public and municipal buildings targeted by troublemakers.

Verts Object to 'Urgency'

When the Assembly National meets on Tuesday to vote on the measure to prolong the 'sate of urgency,' the three deputies belonging to the Les Verts party will vote against it. Deputy Noël Mamère told France–2 that the Verts are not 'on the same line as the Socialists,' adding, 'which has hesitations.'

"It is not by force, by repression, order or fear, that the problems of the banlieues will be resolved," he said, adding, "It's only with an attack on the cause of this desperation, that we can open a dialogue."

Monsieur Mamère was commenting about the action of Georges Tron Draveil in Essonne. He guessed that this is already part of the presidential campaign. "It's a remake of 2001, about insecurity, but this time comes from the suburbs, with the people considered to be foreigners of the interior."

Attention Surprises France

The government, seemingly hardly aware that television news has evolved since 1960, has expressed surprise at coverage of events in France over the past three weeks by foreign audio–visual reports. Unable to call the images back, the government decided instead to hold a charm session this afternoon.

Government spokesman, Jean–François Copé, was again host. An attempt by him to 'de–shock some images that deformed the reality of facts,' kind of missed the essential, which is to put shocking images on TV–news regardless of whether they reflect reality.

Saying that it was merely a 'minority of international media that caricatured events' was pointless. "They talked about a France on fire, for example," he said, "that anyone could tell, is far from the truth."

But the clincher, Monsieur Copé asserted, "What's has happened in France has already happened in other countries and might happen in other countries tomorrow."

However the nominal host of the foreign press in France, foreign minister Philippe Douste–Blazy, chose to say that if he were invited, he intended to appear before all the Anglo and Latino television cameras possible.

He noted, "I've seen with pleasure that all of them have said it could happen to them too." He alsophoto, center of the world, vavin said he noted that foreign reporters have reported that the violence is decreasing, and that a poll claimed that three out of four French are behind the government on the subject.

Centre of the World at Vavin glitters more.

France is riding on tricky ground if it thinks its foreign image is going to improved by saying 'it could happen to you.' Of course it could, but TV–news isn't anybody's friend. If your house is burning today, then you are today's story. No hard feelings.

The government should be thinking about its own problems instead of trying to control external PR, The way it looks is not the problem. Saying 'it could happen to you' suggests the government doesn't have a clue about what's going on, or what to do about it.

Europe Chips in

Despite cool relations between Paris and the Portuguese patron of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, he is willing to send a gracious 50€ million to France to buy some calm, while letting it be known that more can follow.

The 'more' amounts to a billion but it is not exactly a gift either. The initial 50 million is part of an already–voted package called the 'Urban program,' for the period 2000–2006. As for the billion, it is part of the 'Structural Funds' available for problem regions in France, but has not yet been allotted for specific projects.

There will be a meeting this week between the Commission and French delegates to decide exactly how to cut this cake. Not on the menu are any embarrassing questions about what France did with the pieces of cake it has already received.

For news updates during the week look for News on the contents page.

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