France’s war on terrorism and collateral damage

January 15, 2015

The man who got on a Parisian bus with me Wednesday was an Arab who had not shaven in four days. He had dark olive skin and kinky black hair and was visibly unbalanced: drugs? He sang to a popular tune “I’m going on Jihad. Won’t you come on Jihad with me too?” He risks five years in prison and a 75 thousand euro fine.

In the first six days after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, 54 people were charged with “apology for terrorism” under a tough law voted in the French parliament last November which can jail someone, if they express their “support for terrorism” on the electronic media: FaceBook, Twitter etc., to up to seven years and fine them 100 thousand euros .

France’s “war on terrorism” has begun. The new law allows the “apologists” to be brought before a judge as soon as they are arrested in a process called “comparution immediate”; that is without time to prepare a defense.  It is a law for a time of war. Read the rest of this entry »

Charlie and the Banlieues

January 12, 2015

They came in their hundreds of thousands. Jews, Muslims (although fewer than hoped for), Christians and atheists: Students, workers, the unemployed and the bourgeoisie. They said “I am Charlie.” “I am Ahmed.” (the policeman executed at Charlie Hebdo). “I am a Jew.” Or, they just said nothing.

They were anarchists, communists and ultra nationalists, social democrats and conservatives. There were also islamophobes and anti-Semites. The one thing that united them all was their refusal to yield to fear and their desire to keep the freedom to think what they want and to be able to say it in public without facing obscurantist violence. This coming together of those who want the right to disagree with each is extraordinary. France, which gave us the enlightenment, 1789 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still Une Grande Nation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Je suis charlie

January 8, 2015

Last night I was at Place de la République with many hundreds of others to express our anger at what THEY did to Charlie Hebdo. It was the only place to be.

Unfortunately, there were no Muslims at the protest. Sure, there were Muslim journalists there, but they were there as reporters, not Muslims. I saw only two older women with head-scarves obviously there to say they disagree with the Jihadist murderers. And as they were the only two, the cameras were all over them, which could give the impression Muslims were present.

When the US and Britain invaded Iraq, millions of people took to the streets and chanted “Not in my name!” Muslims in France have to do this now or the anger of ethnic French will be justified. Silence, under the present circumstances, is complicity.

However, there was a group there with banner and flags in a totally unacceptable attempt to take advantage of the hideous killings.  The Union of Jewish Students in France, a pro-Israeli Lobby, complete with their star of David, was a sick attempt to give the killings a different color.  What happened on January 7 has nothing to do with Palestinians’ struggle against the murderous apartheid regime Israel has imposed on the occupied territories.

Lanzarote : an island sinking under the weight of its success

March 25, 2013

The tourist guide got off the bus and greeted the group of chubby British women with “Shopping in Playa Blanca ? Shopping in Playa Blanca?” He could have said “doggy wanna bone?” and it would have been the same. I knew I had to see this.

Playa Blanca, a sprawling resort on the southern coast of Lanzarote, is everything native born artist César Manrique did not want for his waterless, volcanic island. Thanks to Manrique, the farthest east and the most arid of the Canary Islands escaped the mega hotels which defaced La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Read the rest of this entry »

Crossing the Vietnamese-Cambodian border

July 17, 2012

Visas just seem to be a money making scheme for the Cambodians while for the Vietnamese it is an exercise in sadism. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hmong and the Vietnamese : Mésentente not so Cordiale

July 13, 2012

The Hmong are a fiercely independent people who see Vietnamese profiteers moving in on their land as a threat.  But the biggest threat to their way of life is probably tourism. Read the rest of this entry »

Vietnam – The Phoenix, the Turtle, the Dragon and the Unicorn

June 29, 2012

In which the Vietnamese try to destroy my prejudice and I search for the war that, as a young soldier, I could not support. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gambia and The Gay Diversion

May 8, 2012

Banjul, May 5, 2012 – When Europeans went to Berlin with their scissors in 1884 to cut up the map of Africa, they played a sick joke which is still felt today. The British wanted the Palm oil from the Gambia River so they took that out of French West Africa and today the place is called a country: 60 kilometers wide at the Atlantic it snakes 338 kilometers up river where it is just a dozen kilometers wide. French diplomats like to refer to it as the finger in the ass of Senegal. The metaphor is à propos this year as the country obsesses over all things anal. Read the rest of this entry »

Libya: the criminal silence of the press

April 2, 2012

The silence of the western press on the situation in Libya is deafening. This is no surprise as the pessimistic predictions of the critics of NATO’s war to oust Qaddafi become reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Mauritania and the Haratine — the Slavery we are not allowed to see

September 12, 2011

Nouakchott, Mauritania: On August fourth Mauritanian anti-slavery activists staged a sit-in before a Nouakchott   police station to prevent them from releasing a woman the public prosecutor had just indicted for slavery.  The police intervened.  Thirteen abolitionists were hospitalized and nine arrested with one sentenced to prison for “unauthorized gathering and rebellion”.  The suspected slave owner has disappeared as has the young girl allegedly enslaved. Read the rest of this entry »


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